Punchy Mommy Believes in Life

How I evicted the worst uninvited overnight guest and took back my life

On being a drug lord


Drugs, beautiful drugs. Before my diagnosis I rarely took anything. Ibuprofen was my pain medication of choice. I used an inhaler maybe once a year to manage the remnants of childhood asthma. And, there was of course a multi-vitamin here or there. Enter cancer. Within a day of my diagnosis, I needed, no depended on, the use of multiple drugs to keep me going, to keep me sane, and to keep me healthy. Some I learned to love and some I learned to hate and boy was it a beautiful thing when I figured out the perfect cocktail.

Mom and Dad were my drug mules, making dozens of trips to the local pharmacy. Sometimes they were there three times a day. Sometimes they had to seek out the pharmacy that was open 24 hours because I couldn’t go the night without my meds. They made the rounds to all the local pharmacies and often had to call ahead to make sure they were well stocked before they ventured out. The pharmacy staff knew them so well that DH was questioned when he went to pick up one of my prescriptions after Mom and Dad went home. Can I see your ID sir? Where’s your mother-in-law? Did she go home? Tell her I say hello. Seriously? 

I became the local drug lord. Couldn’t sleep? I’ve got something for that? Feeling anxious? I’ve got something for that too. With My Team’s creativity and endless pharmaceutical knowledge and my instant access to prescriptions, which were automatically transmitted to the pharmacy who texted me when it was ready for pick up. We were a modern day full fledged drug operation. Goal: to make me feel the best I could feel. At. All. Costs.

I’m amazed at how many drugs were thrown my way. Although I never took this many at one time, here’s the official round-up:

  1. Compazine
  2. Phenergan
  3. Kytril
  4. Marinol
  5. Kytrll Patch/Sancuso Patch
  6. Zofran
  7. Allopurinol
  8. Neurontin
  9. Imitrex
  10. Topamax
  11. Fiorecet
  12. Lovenox
  13. Ativan
  14. Xanax
  15. Ambien
  16. Lunesta
  17. Vicodin
  18. Magic Mouthwash
  19. Nystatin
  20. Fluconazole
  21. Nuelasta
  22. Neupogen
  23. Potassium
  24. Acyclovir
  25. Bactrum
  26. Decadron
  27. Protonix

Oh, and blood! Beautiful blood! Well, that’s not how I felt the first time I got a unit. Your counts are low and we need to give you a unit of blood. Red blood cells take about a month to regenerate and the chemo is killing them faster than you can generate. Jesus christ! Getting someone else blood is the strangest of feelings. At first, I felt so icky. Whose blood is this? Where is that person from? What kind of life do they lead? Is it clean? I couldn’t stop thinking about these questions while I watched it slowly drip through my IV. One time, the blood was too thick and couldn’t run through the IV tubing. Did they eat a steak before they don’t? I would LOVE a steak right now. But, the blood did make me feel a lot better. My body needed it. The more chemo I got the more I needed the blood. Pretty soon I was getting a unit about every other week. And by the fifth unit, I started to wonder what type of selfless person donated their blood? What motivated them? Do they know that I’m getting it? The blood bank was on the same floor as the outpatient cancer center, where I spent every day I wasn’t in the hospital. Often, I was getting blood while just around the corner people were donating. My nurse told me that cancer patients need the blood the most and they are giving it to patients as soon as it’s collected. Is the blood I’m getting still warm from it’s donor? I always wanted to peer around the corner. Give a big smile, a wave, and say thanks for the blood. You’re saving my life.

Facing the facts

It’s finally morning and you’re in your hospital room after a long and sleepless night in the emergency room where you wound up after one week in the hospital after receiving the first of six rounds of chemotherapy because you were feeling short of breadth and fainty after you were discharged. In walks your new doctor, whom you’ve never met, his fellow, resident, intern, your doctor’s assistant, a social worker, pharmacist, your nurse, a nurse navigator, a cardiologist, and the cardiologist’s fellow and intern. All of them have a sad face on. They form a semi-circle at the foot of your bed. The cardiologist approaches you and says, I’d like to draw you a picture of the tumor in your heart and explain to you what’s happening. You:

a) Jump up out of bed, rip out your IVs, and run screaming from the room;

b) Pretend like you’re sleeping. Hopefully they will go away; or

c) Ignore the endless sad-faces, allow the Cardiologist to draw his pictures and hope and pray that he will eventually get to a point where he’ll say, the good news is…


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