When a loved one gets sick, especially a long-term illness, you find yourself becoming very familiar with hospitals, doctors’ office, pharmacies, physical therapy offices and other places along that line.
When my beloved Sally was diagnosed with vulvar cancer, we had to adjust our lives and schedules for her treatments. The strength she had for this was amazing. The doctors said the treatment was going to be intense and were uncertain if she was going to be able to so much in a short period of time. But she did, with dignity and grace.
In a span of 7 weeks, during the holiday season of 2016, she had to go through 6 chemo therapies and 32 radiation treatments. In addition to those treatments, there were numerous trips to the pharmacy, a trip to the emergency room when her fever spiked from the chemotherapy, plus other trips that had to be made for blood tests, blood transfusions and magnesium supplements and other procedures that I can barely remember. She rarely complained, and I didn’t either. You do what you have to do.
Watching what the treatments did to her was hard to say the least. She developed a new side effect called lymphedema. We never heard of that one until her legs and feet swelled to the point she could barely walk. It’s a blockage with the lymph system due to the treatment. Physical therapy and constant massages was the only thing that could be done. No medication is available for that condition.
Going to the doctor’s office for checkups was difficult. I literally could not sit in the room when she was being examined, even though the doctor said that I could. I would go outside to the waiting room and sit and wait.
I remember one occasion when one of the doctors pointed at me to come over. I braced myself for the worst, but at that time, he informed me that the tumor was shrinking, and things were looking better. That’s the one thing with hospitals and doctor’s visits. There are good days and very bad ones.
There was one trip to the emergency room when they did x-rays. There was a blood clot in her leg and a spot on her lung. I worried about that spot, but there wasn’t too much concern for that at the time as the focus was the area for the cancer treatment.
I remember the trips, sometimes two days a week, to an office that specializes and tests for blood thickness. They were amazing and wonderful to Sally. They were very saddened when I had to break the horrible news.
I will say that practically all the medical people that treated my wife were extremely kind and supportive. There were a few days when she was feeling worse than usual and the medical facility would take her in right away. Sally had me bake cookies for them during the holidays. I’m not much of a baker, but I was glad to do it. At least the cookies tasted pretty good.
On her last chemotherapy treatment in late December of 2016, at least I thought it was before the cancer spread, the nurses came out and played the song, “Hit the Road Jack.” I thought it was very cool.