C11: Better Than the Alternative


I came into Mumbai via Delhi this time around. I feel I’ve neglected Delhi and it’s such a good program it doesn’t deserve neglect, it deserves extra attention. So I flew Bali-KL-Delhi using Malindo Air which, in theory, took nine hours, so no overnight flying ( I don’t sleep on planes), but in reality took ten and a half hours because the flight from KL was delayed. Not a major problem. However, this is what made the ten and a half hours seem like three months, four days, seventeen hours, sixteen minutes and forty-three point six nine seconds.

No booze.

I’ll repeat that.

No booze.

What do they think they’re playing at? The in-cabin entertainment was crap as well, but I can live with that by reading a good book. But …..

No booze.

Good grief!

How do they expect me to take my tablets? I’m actually an expert at dry swallowing (no comments please) but it’s not something I do out of choice (as the actress said to ….)

And the ‘bland’ food which had been ordered was far from bland. It was spicy. Not your usual Indian set your ass on fire spicy, but spicy nonetheless. So food was off the menu. That’s an oxymoron, surely.

The bad news is I’m booked Malindo on the return journey, Mumbai to Bali. Note to self: find a way of smuggling booze onboard. Suggestions are welcome.

New Delhi airport is a terrible design (lots of moaning and groaning, today, eh?) You have to walk forever to get from the plane to Customs. Mumbai is bad for that, but Delhi is on another planet. You actually walk to another planet. Mumbai tops the league for slowness of Immigration. I know it should be Emigration but, worldwide, it’s Immigration. The individual officers are OK, they’re efficient and friendly, but there are never enough gates/stations open: bad management. Result: long, slow queues.

In front of me were a group of five ‘senior citizen’ American women. It doesn’t take much to suss out Americans in any public place does it, because they all talk loudly enough to wake the dead. Their voices cut through the ambient atmosphere and impose themselves on everyone else’s conversation. Many times (most times?) it’s a pain in the butt, but sometimes it’s delightful to encounter. This was one of those times.

They spotted my imposing neck brace (I was tired) and started to ask questions. Long story short; four of the five were cancer survivors. I asked what the fifth had done wrong and they described her as “the baby” of the group, so I guess she’ll have to wait. I explained the neck fractures and we discussed chemo. Their unanimous verdict: better than the alternative. And so say all of us.

Which is a great segue into Chemo 2.

I was originally told the date for Chemo 2 was 19 Feb but I pointed out to my Oncologist that 19 was a Sunday. Oops! Change to 20th. However, my hair obviously didn’t receive the message. It had started to drop a few days previously but on the 19th, the very day they had been told they were due for refilling, the nasty chemicals decided to go into overdrive: hair dropping all over the place. When I rub my head over the sink I can block the drain. The major problem there is when I’ve finished playing drain-blocking games I forget that a zillion tiny hairs have lodged themselves behind my ears so when I stand up they either itch or fall all over the floor.

I have a “good head of hair”. Martini thinks I’m going bald at the back of the crown but Hannah assures me I’m not and she’s a hairdresser!!! However, Martini is winning this one at the moment. I’m a bit worried about the looks because my skull is bumpy. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

The good news is Hannah tells me that sometimes you re-grow a whole new color and/or texture so I want my shoulder-length, blonde-going-on-yellowy-white curls back. Tom, building me up, said I could look more like Gandhi but then changed tack and agreed that I could turn back time to the blonde bombshell of my youth. Good boy.

So, Chemo 2: (Spoiler alert: it’s boring).

I was told to arrive at 9.00 and the estimate was four hours. Yeah, right.

I arrived early. Don’t have a problem with that so let’s start at the scheduled 9.00. I find my way through the rabbit warren which is Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre and arrive at the Chemotherapy Unit. Usual thing, I guess: lots of recline-able medical chairs phentermine without prescription with drip stands hovering in anticipation; nurses gently gliding into their day; consultants in conspicuous absence – way too early for those Emperors of their medical worlds. Then my Oncologist appeared. Good guy. Totally bald on top so I told him I was well on the way to emulation.

Prep and pre-med take forever so the red jungle juice didn’t start its insidious course until about mid-day; so much for the four-hour estimate, but, all-in-all, as I said, boring; nothing to report and very little to distort. The chemo-port thingy is a great idea, they simply stab you in the chest and away the transfusion goes.

Towards the end of my first cycle, I had attention span problems. During meetings, I would completely zone out after about an hour whereas, normally, I’d be able to make at least 65 minutes! Only joking. This time I’ve been told I get cranky after a couple of hours and I also have the shakes which seem to be diminishing 24 hours in.

I was more awake and comparatively alert late last night whereas previously I was falling asleep every two hours.

So, apart from my hair falling out and my fingers tingling when I take vodka, or tonic water, from the fridge, I have no side effects. I hesitate to say it, but I feel somewhat cheated. Chemo has a reputation for extreme nastiness. My Dad’s chemo was horrendous, but that was thirty years ago so I guess things aren’t going to be the same. What do I do? Ask for nastier experiences? Take thanks in the absence of them? I am perplexed.

See you when there’s something more interesting to report.

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