Sometimes when Josh seems to be dealing with everything so well I forget how much poison we’re pumping into him day by day. Today, it was a combination of so many things bothering him that reminded me how the effects of chemo are cumulative and how it acts on so many parts of the body. The nurse hangs a bag of chemo and we go on like it’s nothing; watch a movie, play a game, take a walk and we’ll play some cards. When some ache or pain bothers him, we get some Benadryl, some Zofran…some morphine if it’s really bad. We treat the symptoms and then try to distract him or let him rest. Meanwhile, he’ll get some relief, but there’s no respite. The next bag of chemo comes up right on schedule. Poison, killing the healthy cells right along with the diseased cells. And, gradually, as we pump more and more into him the cumulative affect becomes visible.
Sometimes he puts on such a good act I forget he’s in pain. He can’t get comfortable to rest with the acid reflux and the heartburn. A pressure headache behind the eyes. The incision site from his catheter itches. And his dad’s telling him what he needs to do, but he doesn’t need that right now. He yells; I yell back and he sobs. I hold him. One of those rare (very rare) times he needs someone. Needs to release it.
Food is beginning to lose its appeal. We have to watch spice or greasy food now, due to the heartburn. Pudding is the food of choice for now. And all the while his body has to process the chemo and pass it through and out of his body. And he has to fight off the side-effects. The dry eyes, the nausea, the general ache in his bones. Incessant. Yet he’s awake now. Joking. Laughing at the 5’ cardboard cut-out of Marilyn Monroe his grandma sent up while he was sleeping. Once again, life is good.