Tomorrow is the first day of Joel's very last chemo week. As I type those words I can hardly believe that I am. It has been such a long, long 14 months. People have asked us how we will feel once this is all over. Our answer-weird. I remember at the start just the smell as we entered the hospital would send shivers through my body. I would think of going back and my teeth would start to chatter. We both just detested it. But we are all so much more adaptable then we ever think we could be and somewhere along the way it all became familiar and safe. I relinquished all my inhibitions and gave myself over to the process completely. Once I stopped fighting it-I was able to make peace with it. Of course our journey isn't really completely over after this week. We still have a trip to Houston in the next few weeks. After that we will have CT scans and blood tests every 3 months to make sure this disease doesn't return. We know that for the rest of his life this will always be something that will need to be monitored and we are ok with that. But after this week and after our Houston trip we can finally try to begin to pick up the pieces again and try to return to some kind of a normal life. Of course, we will never be as we were. The Joel and Sarah that existed before May 20th are gone forever. In its place are people who have had such a monumental life-changing experience that it'll take awhile to figure out how to process and move forward from it. As long I am bidding adieu to that couple that once existed I would also like to say goodbye to a few other close friends that we won't need after this week. First up:
Hand sanitizer! No I am not talking about the occasional squirt from the tiny bottle in my purse. I am talking about the 2-3 bottles constantly in my purse and the numerous bottles stashed in both of our cars and nearly every room in our home. I am saying goodbye to the cracked and bloody knuckles that come from incessant use. I am saying goodbye to whipping out the bottle as soon as anyone touches us and freaking out about being around anyone that has even the slightest of sniffles. Goodbye to my religious ritual of taking Clorox bleach wipes to every surface of my house. Goodbye to white blood cell counts and the like-goodbye forever. The next thing up is:
Masks. Although I can count on one hand how many time's Joel would wear these things-he was supposed to wear it any time he left home. It is the main accessory worn by people walking around at MD Anderson. It sat on top of our fridge for a full year and every time I saw it-it was a glaring reminder and just how fragile Joel's health was. Last on the list:
Prescriptions lots and lots of prescriptions! We had so many prescriptions in our home we started to forget what they were all for. We then started to just label them "hiccups" "gas" "heartburn" "pain""nausea" "major nausea" etc. We knew it was getting really bad when we were out at dinner a few weeks ago and Joel said "Hey that guy over there's the pharmacist at Wal-Mart on 12th street." The picture above is the amount of prescriptions that he normally uses throughout a chemo week and the week after. It's alot. It made me nervous. I hate drugs. I am glad they will be gone soon.
We can say goodbye to living our life in 3 week cycles and Sunday nights of dreading what's to come the next chemo day. Goodbye to working on laptops in hospital rooms. Goodbye to sick days and sleepless nights. Goodbye to nausea, heartburn, and sedatives. Goodbye to IV's and soon enough goodbye to his port. The feeling is so exhilarating it nearly takes your breath away. We are so blessed. We look forward to more days like this:
Just being together and not inside the walls of a hospital and certainly not tethered to a pole. In a word-bliss.
We love you,
Sarah & Joel