I had a dental appointment yesterday. It was the first time I’d been to the dentist in more than eighteen months. I’d had a cleaning scheduled in late June last year, but my cancer diagnosis put everything, including getting my teeth polished, on hold. My wife reminded me that yesterday was also an anniversary. July 7th, 2014 was my first day of chemotherapy. It would take a little time before I’d learn the lesson that I now pass on to everyone who has to fight The Crab: chemo is boring.
It wasn’t until yesterday, as I was lying back in a leather chair, strapped down, with a bright light in my face, being jabbed, poked, prodded, stabbed, scraped, pricked, sliced, and sprayed with foul-tasting chemicals, that I realized why chemo terrified me before I’d started. I thought it would be like a dental appointment. I thought it would be hours of painful treatments with doctors occasionally coming in to say, “And just for fun, Mr. Waldrop, we’re going to hammer a chisel into your pelvis.” No one told me that chemotherapy, which sounds so intimidating, would be nothing more than a single needle stick followed by several hours of patiently waiting for IV bags to drain into my veins. The side effects may be horrendous, and for a lot of cancer patients they are. I was lucky. I had the worst side effects before I started chemo. Yes, I would have a few bouts of nausea and lose my hair along with some fingernails and toenails, and I’d have an allergic reaction to sunlight that would keep me indoors for most of the summer. Getting chemo turned out not to be so bad.
I thought it would be like this:
It turned out to be like this: