Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Post Chemo Thots (Chapter 1) - What to Bring?

Packing for chemotherapy? Ever wish you knew what to bring with you?

Just as travelers and trekkers  - for decades - have been putting together packing lists to help their fellow travelers and trekkers know what to bring along when you don't know what to bring along, I've put together the following handy list of items Liz and I successfully schlepped to/from 19 chemotherapy treatments. You don't want to be caught without any of these items!
- Bag (to carry it all in). We first bought a pretty, easily tote-able bag from Amazon. Brightly-colored (think "joyful"), multiple handled options (over the shoulder and or hand-held), with multiple zippered access points for a tidy look. We quickly realized, that "fashion over function" wasn't going to do it. The bag was too small to carry EVERYTHING I needed (or might need), the zippered access points - while keeping the various pockets, etc closed and tidy - were not practical when I began to madly dig around in it while hooked to my IV. I needed "easy access", not "tidy". And so when my colleagues gave me THIS - THIS was perfect!

As you can see, it's bigger than the "pretty" bag, has NO zippers, and can haul a shit-ton of crap for you and your chemo patient. Plus, the message on the outside of this thing always brought an equal amount of good-natured giggles and "I would never say THAT word"- snickers. To the later form of humans, Fuck you. You get cancer and see if your snootiness doesn't dig deep to find humor (and a ting of anger) in everything and anything you do/see/hear/taste/breathe....Anyway, I digress......
 - What to call "the bag" - Ok, first, it was simply known as the "chemo bag". Do you have the "chemo bag'? Did you put xx in the "chemo bag"? Where's the "chemo bag"? But that name soon became too negative, too sad, too much of a reminder of all of this horrible, awful, frightening stuff. So we renamed the "chemo bag" the "happy bag". Genus, right?   It stuck. It worked. Again, fuck you.
- Contents of "Happy Bag".  Ok, here's a brief list (in no particular order) of what we brought with us to EVERY SINGLE CHEMO TREATMENT.  Just in case, you never know, I never thot of that arose in the weekly 3 plus hours I was hooked to an IV (and very importantly an IV pole) via a device sunk into my chest wall.
  • Ipad (I watched an entire season of "The Americans" and half a season of "Man in the  High Castle", both good shows);
  • A book (I read Sheryl Sandberg's "Option B" - very appropriate - but most of the time I found it very difficult to concentrate); 
  • Bag of various chargers and charging devices (does this need explanation?); 
  • Fleece jacket (the chemo room was always cold - or at least I was always cold); 
  • Stocking cap (again, always cold);
  • Snacks:
    • Throat lozenges (chemo particularly the A/C combo I had at the start - is known to cause mouth and throat sores. Be sure they are SUGARLESS - sugar can acerbate the sores);
    • Nuts and dried fruit (cause Liz is my wife);
    • Kettle chips (I craved salt during my chemo);
    • Various snacks for Liz (very important);
    • Trader Joe's Nut and Dark Chocolate bar - OK maybe more than one of these for when my blood sugar ran low or when I didn't crave salt - don't judge, whatever;
  • Lip moisturizer;
  •  Hand moisturizer;
  •  $20 (for emergencies such as parking, an extra Trader Joe's Nut and Dark Chocolate bar, etc.).
Like a pair of expectant parents, we had the "Happy Bag"     always packed, stored in the same spot, and ready to go. It made it easier on the morning's of chemotherapy when I had too much flying around in my head to think straight and it all fell on Liz to keep it (and me) together, to just grab the bag and head out the door. We got pretty good at the routine of it.

As days get farther from the chemo phase of my fight and my head begins to clear, I will post more about the "behind the scenes" of a chemo patient. I hope this helps both those about to enter this fight, those in the midst of the fight,and for those caring for and loving the fighters.

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