After each chemo, I become what I think most people envision when they think she has cancer: very sick.

I sleep twelve hour nights. I watch movies. I cannot decide sometimes whether I am insanely hungry or horribly nauseated. I sip ginger ale and suck on ginger tablets and wager if I can get buy with less of the dreaded steroids that make me feel so jittery. I wear pajamas all day. I take long naps. I ask Sammy to buy out ginger-chew Gravol (like Dramamine) at the drug store. I marvel at how much my bald head looks like an alien in the mirror. I eat apple sauce and frozen grapes, and sometimes plain rice. I have zero desire to cook, though I’m always trying to think of other easy-to-prep and easy-to-digest options.

I had chemo Friday. I even start to feel sick just thinking about it, it’s that awesome. I’m immediately OK after chemo, but it doesn’t last long. Soon after, the blood drains from my face and I turn ghostly pale. As I’ve gone through the treatments, this happens faster and faster. After the first chemo, I woke up the next morning and went to a dissertation committee meeting. Chemo numbers 2 and 3? Definitely sleeping the next morning.

The sick feeling generally lasts four days. The first day, my pee is the color of koolaid, like the cocktail they inject with me. After that, I’m left to lull around in a half-awake, really-yucky state for a few more days. On the fifth day, I’m still very tired, but I can creep out into the world, and kind of pretend I’m healthy. Then I have some really great days to write my way out of five lost dissertating days before chemo again on day 13. Those are the days people generally say, “Wow, you look so good!” Trust me, I don’t look good on the post-chemo days, but thankfully there’s a bit of a reprieve between the infusions.

I’m already dreading January 23, the next chemo, though I imagine afterwards I can cautiously celebrate that Jan 23 will be the last of the cocktail that causes flu-like symptoms, before I switch to one that folks describe as making you feel like you “have a really bad cold.”

So that’s chemo for you.


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