If you remember where we left off, I was standing in the parking lot, praying with a cop after locking my keys in my car.
Welcome to Cancer Camp
A few minutes after we were done praying, my friend Candace pulled up and we headed back over to radiology to meet up with Kevin. There is a whole beautiful story that I will share about Candace and how God brought her into my life, but for now, all you need to know is that she and her husband literally walked this exact same path as us three years ago. So Candace agreed to spend the first day at the hospital with us to calm my nerves, show me around, and help us get settled in for hospital life.
After Kevin got his PICC line put in, we headed over to see his oncologist, Dr. Lawson. Then he had blood drawn and x-rays to give them a baseline in case there were any issues during treatment. Once he was finished, we enjoyed a last hour of freedom with a late brunch at Rise N Dine, where Kevin had his favorite omelette.
Around 2:00, we got checked into his room. While the nurse hooked Kevin up to fluids, Candace and I went down to the cars to get all our “gear.” You would have laughed if you’d seen us hauling this huge garbage bag filled with a foam bed pad, two rolling suitcases, a lamp, and various bags and accoutrements across Clifton Road, through the emergency room, and up to Tower E. We bustled around setting things up and getting Kevin and me all settled in. It’s amazing what a difference the little things make, like an incandescent lamp and some silk flowers. They completely warm up the room. We had blanket to toss over the back of the couch and to brighten up Kevin’s bed.
Candace had brought posters with some of our favorite verses written out and blank ones for me to decorate.
And a big ole basket of snacks.
Once we felt pretty settled in, Candace prayed with us and headed out. We sat and looked at each other, wondering what we should do now. We both decided that a nap sounded like a good idea, so we rested and then read until treatment time.
The view from our room is pretty lovely.
At 10PM the nurse came in and administered his first dose of IL-2. At the exact moment that she plugged in the medicine bag, a huge crack of lightning and crash of thunder came through the window. I remember thinking, I’ve got to quit writing about all this poetic stuff like storms brewing and running into the fire or we’re gonna end up with our house burning down!
But after that ominous start, we both just dozed off and tried to sleep a little more, wondering what exactly was going to happen. It all felt a little anti-climactic. Then an hour later, he woke up with severe chills and nausea. The nurse gave him a dose of Demerol, which was amazing and got rid of his chills almost immediately. We got the nausea under control and then fell back asleep. He ended up pretty much sleeping through the 6AM dose, and we both slept in late (thank you Candace for the sleep masks to block the morning sun!) We puttered around, read a little, walked laps in the hallway (21 laps equals a mile!) and watched some DVDs. He did pretty well with his 2PM dose, as well as his next 10PM dose. So far, the most consistent side effect has been fatigue.
We are in our third day here and really our second full day of treatment. He just received his 7th dose this evening, and the side effects are getting worse. He had more severe chills, which are called rigors, and they cause his entire body to shake. He had some nausea, and he currently has a low fever that they are trying to get rid of. His treatment does not suppress his immune system like many other cancer treatments, but they still take fevers very seriously around here.
Mostly, I’ve been puttering around, keeping the room picked up and feeling homey. When he feels well, I play music and chat with him, when he doesn’t, I try to be quiet so he can sleep. I’ve not had as much free time as I thought I would because I’ve slept a LOT. I was embarrassed yesterday morning how late I slept, and felt the need to explain to the nurse that we were still on LA time and recovering. Silly, I know. But truly, I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to sleep. I’ve also taken care of little details like running paperwork over to the clinic for his leave from work, picking up prescriptions, and of course making a starbucks run for Kevin.
This is what our room looked like this afternoon when I started writing this post. We just got through the chills from the evening dose, it’s after midnight, and time for me to go to bed. Keep Kevin in your thoughts and prayers. We are so incredibly grateful, no overwhelmed, by the outpouring of love, prayers, words of encouragement, gifts, snacks, visitors, and more from each and every one of you. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. All of you who read these words keep me encouraged and give me energy that I can then pour into him. He reads your comments and cards and verses and is encouraged as well. Truly, you are all carrying us. Thank you.