Well, today was an eye-opener.
Given that I've had such a crap time this round, and that I had that rescheduled appointment with Miss Sunshine on Tuesday, I'd arranged to have my pre-chemo blood test today at the chemo suite instead of yesterday at Sullivan Nicolaides Vampires. It saved me having three trips to town (a two-hour round trip) in three days, which sounded like good sense.
I was also aware, if the truth be told, that an extra day to recover from the chest infection gave me a better chance of being sufficiently recovered to actually have the chemo. (I am a stubborn and manipulative bitch a times. You'd better believe it.)
See, I knew that missing a session at the scheduled interval would not be good news. Dr Mellow had explained the timing of the 21-day cycle quite clearly- it's to do with new generations of cancer cells getting to their most vulnerable stage for successful and widespread attack by systemic poisoning. Miss a window, and you may miss some of the Freeloader's spores. Completely.
Not what either Dr M or I had in mind.
Thanks heavens I'd decided to get there early; given my previous blood results, the staff were confident that I could just go in, get blood taken (painlessly through the port-a-cath), get set up as usual (it takes an hour as they wait for the anti-emetic to take hold), and then away we go when the test results come back in a very conveniently synchronised hour or so.
I hadn't enlightened them, when I spoke with the unit manager about all this on the phone, about my illness.
Which may have been a touch- um, overconfident perhaps? Or even self-deceptive, or (again) manipulative. Not even sure myself.
Maybe I just have an unshakable faith that things will be okay if I wish it enough, and prod events in the right direction.
I did tell them about the chest infection when I arrived, of course, but I was just looking and acting so damn well by today (thanks, Megwig, Look Good and stronger drug regime- a fine joint effort!) that Margaret wasn't too fussed. Though of course she enquired most carefully about the drugs I'd been taking, and how far through the course I was, as she took the blood. She's a consummate professional.
Anyway, what should have been a short cut turned into a marathon. It was rather like doing one of the cycling courses on the Wii, and forgetting which one I was on, and having to retrace my steps over and over to find the flags.
The first retrace was when the test results arrived back and I watched the faces fall.
"Your white cell count is over 16. Look, it's been 5, 5, 8... that's normal. And now 16? That's screaming at us that you've got an infection."
My face fell right through the floor then, landing in a squished-up puddle on the ground floor landing, because I was terrified that I was about to be sent home. Fortunately, Margaret was willing to seek another opinion before sending me packing.
"You look well enough for treatment, but the numbers don't lie. We'll have to ring Dr Mellow" (no, she didn't call him that of course) "and see what he thinks."
At which point I started praying to the God of All That's Fair, in whom I so passionately don't believe.
Somewhere along the way, a second test on my ruby red fluid was ordered. Another lengthy wait ensued. Nobody was willing to hook me up to the saline yet; wait and see.
The minute hand crawled round.
Thank the lord for my wonderful cousin, who kept my mind off the anxiety as we reminisced about our childhood holidays at our grandparents' country property.
My grandfather making a huge pot of rolled oats, enough for all the humans- with the exception of my brother and I, who wouldn't touch chook food like that with a bargepole and reached instead for the home made blackberry jam and cream from the house cow on white bread from the local bakery (can't imagine how my hips got this size). Somehow there was always plenty of porridge left over for each beloved cat to have a bowl.
Trips to the creek to go yabbying, to learn how to pan for gold from my amateur-geologist father, to build dams in the sand (me) or to dare hot-footing it over the large pipe strung perilously high across the creek (Nancy, who copped seven bells of hell for the feat when my aunt found out).
Laughing, I reminded her of our unscheduled excursion out the front gate (it was, believe me, a long driveway) and up Mount Mutton on the memorable Christmas Day when every last one of the adults fell asleep after lunch. The seven bells of hell my brother (the oldest of us all, and expected to know better) had similarly copped for that.
She couldn't remember it.
I realised, counting carefully back over the years, that she probably wasn't even born yet. Damn, she's so young.
(She begged to differ, but that baby isn't even fifty yet.)
Eventually the second test came back with better results. There were relieved faces all over; perhaps Margaret had sensed an argument brewing if she'd tried to turf me out. Or maybe she just really wanted me to succeed.
Probably the latter. She's a good, kind woman.
So having arrived a good hour early, I got started on the chemo a good hour late. Add the hour's driving each way, and it was, um, a bloody long day.
Dr Mellow turned up during his lunch break, checking on another patient having a few issues before eyeballing me briefly from the other side of the counter with a slightly confused expression (who is that woman? Is it Meg Ryan?) and issuing strict instructions that I was to take the rest of my course of antibiotics religiously, followed by the full repeat, and get myself another blood test next week to see what the hell was happening then.
So I am on a good behaviour bond, and I've had something of a reality check. (Probably not a moment too soon.) I will be taking it easy a little longer yet, and checking my pill pack with OCD fervour till the ten day double-course is done.
Sigh. This is going to be boring. Thank god Nancy brought me a new supply of books.
Oh, and Ferdinand is already in residence. Double-sigh. He's promised to keep me busy greasing his scales.
Boredom, schmoredom, he grins. Happy Valentine's Day, Candy. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. And then allow me to send you to the kitchen every two hours or so throughout the night to fetch me choice morsels, alternating on the hour with your saline-packed bladder sending you out the veranda door, where you'll need the Bear's brush hook to cut through the ravaging hordes of mossies to find the bathroom. You won't have time to be bored.
I had to get the bloody high-maintenance fish with the warped sense of humour, didn't I.