Last night before he fell asleep, JJ told me that he thought he might be starting to lose his hair already. He thought there was a little bald spot near his temple. “You aren’t going to cry about me losing my hair, are you?” he asked. No, I said. I’ll just go around saying, “Shiny!” (A quote from Firefly, a favorite TV series from 2002-2003.) Or I’ll use your bald head to reflect light and signal for help. He replied, “I could be like Captain Picard on Star Trek and say, ‘Make it so!'” “Excellent idea!” I thought I’d order JJ a Star Trek hat and/or T-shirt for when his hair falls out…if it does.
We didn’t have to be at the Cancer Center until 11 a.m., so everyone got to sleep in. My alarm is always set for an hour and a half before we have to leave, although I often get up earlier. Once everyone is up, there is a flurry of busyness to get ready, get the pets fed, make sure we have everything packed that we want to take with us, and so forth. Today we packed EJ’s laptop. His laptop is smaller than mine and more manageable in the small rooms we find ourselves in. EJ and I shared the laptop. Some of this post was written in JJ’s infusion room.
Every day we are in a different room. We were scheduled to be in Infusion Room 10 today, but we were given Room 2. All the rooms are small, but this one seemed particularly small and there was no window. It’s just as well that we were in this room because we weren’t there long before there was a Code Blue at the end of the hall across from Room 10. The hallway was filled with medical staff attending to the patient who, EJ heard, had suffered an allergic reaction to her meds. We were concerned about this patient, and I prayed that she would be ok. Later, a nurse came to our room to tell us that the patient was going to be ok, and that she was moved to another part of the hospital. This incident brings home the life and death seriousness of where we are at.
Periodically during our hospital visits, whether we were waiting as JJ was in surgery or while sitting in the Cancer Center, we’ve heard lullaby music played over the PA systems. We speculated about what it meant. I just realized when I heard it today that–Duh!–lullabies and babies go together so that it probably meant that a baby had just been born at the hospital. I researched it and discovered that I was right. What a wonderful reminder, in the midst of sickness and pain and Code Blues, of the joy of a new life!
Because of his young age, JJ could have been placed with either the pediatric cancer patients or the adults. He was placed with the adults. EJ said he was glad JJ wasn’t in the pediatric department because he couldn’t have endured seeing the little children suffering. JJ is the youngest patient among the adults. All the others that we have seen are middle-aged or older. It’s hard sometimes walking by the Infusion rooms and seeing suffering people inside. I pray for them.
Last night JJ struggled with nausea. The nurse told him today that if it gets any worse, they will give him a different type of anti-nausea medication. Their goal, the nurse said, is for him not to experience any nausea at all.
The meds are making JJ more drowsy, and he is feeling less well. He sleeps most of the time while in his Infusion chair and at home. He is smiling less and struggling with lack of appetite. Sometimes JJ looks so young and vulnerable to me as he lays in his chair with toxic fluids being pumped into him. Still, he is always polite to the nurses and thanks them whenever they care for him.
Here are some pictures I took today:
As the nurse was preparing JJ to go home, she noted that he looked a bit flush and was retaining some fluid so tonight I have to watch carefully for signs of a temperature, itching, trouble breathing, and so forth. If he has those signs, I must call the Cancer Center right away. It’s possible that JJ will not be given chemo tomorrow if his symptoms continue.
On the way home, JJ asked if we could stop at his McDonald’s for a shake. Mostly, I think, he wanted to interact with his co-workers. When we came in, many–even more than yesterday–came up to tell JJ how much they missed him and to ask when he was coming back. The manager gave him a free meal. It really made JJ feel loved.
As soon as we came home, JJ fell asleep on the couch.