Mom has started her first cycle of salvage chemotherapy. Salvage– it sounds desperate, and she hates the word, but that’s what it is. It alludes to dwindling options, the scramble for a cure, a prayer for deliverance after a long, cold night.
There are a number of acronyms for the treatment formulations, and in contrast to “salvage”, which is just a bit too honest, these sound mysterious and sexy. ICE. HyperCVAD. DHAP. ESHAP. Mom is getting ICE, plus a new biologic agent, ofatumamab– now that’s a real mouthful. Four drugs, infused over four days.
I won’t be with her until Monday, and its been driving me crazy that my mother is recieving this toxic cocktail while I’m over 1000 miles away. Yesterday, the nurse that started up this treatment cycle was one of those tired out types that just don’t get it– no, I wasn’t there, but I heard enough second hand to recognize what was going on immediately. Lecturing my mom to relax when she was in pain. Discouraging my mother from taking more narcotics since it would involve calling a doctor. Nurses, we can be your best friend or your worst enemy. She’s lucky I wasn’t there– I’d give her a taste of “worst enemy.”
I’ve been an inpatient oncology nurse- I’ve hung bags of ICE, in between antibiotics, blood and everything else under the sun. Yes, its too difficult to take in the gravity of every story, in every bed, shift after shift after shift. BUT no, its not too difficult to smile with compassion, and attempt to get patient whatever he or she needs to make her comfortable. Or if it is, its time to leave nursing.