Have you ever had moments in your life when Spirit sends you the same message over and over again? And did you ignore it? Did you wish you had listened? Such was the case with my chemotherapy treatment.
Messages began coming through from Spirit right from the start.
My cancer journey this time around has been a bit of a gong show from the get-go, including the medical establishment insisting that I travel all the way to Victoria to meet with the oncologist assigned to my case, even before my surgery.
I resisted travelling to Victoria, because I have been down this road before. It does not seem to me that there could be anything done in Victoria that could not be done at my local hospital. There isn’t anything that needed to be said by the oncologist that could not be said over the phone or by teleconference. But oh no! You must meet with the oncologist in person.
After much pressure I capitulated and agreed to travel to Victoria. I scheduled my trip with Wheels For Wellness. I was not concerned so much with driving down to Victoria as I was about driving home after my appointment. I knew that there was a high probability that I would be very upset. That is not a very good state to be in while driving.
Sure enough, the appointment with the oncologist’s was a waste of time, in my opinion. For the oncologist, it is only one hour, if that, in their day. For me, the appointment took the entire day! Maybe I have just become a bit cynical about conventional medicine. I can’t help but feel that the oncology visit was less about me and my health, and more about a very aggressive oncologist getting me alone in a small room, to pound the fear down my throat, so that I would agree to an expensive treatment protocol that had a high probability of killing me.
I was alone, cornered, full of fear, and with the oncologist’s fear mongering ringing in my ears, I agree to the chemotherapy treatment. I cried all the way home feeling like I had literally just signed my life away.
I suggest that you bring a bag with you to your appointment, as well as box of Kleenex! I was sent home with pamphlet after pamphlet, books, and even more literature on breast cancer. I did not read most of it, to be quite honest. I felt that, with its many graphic stories and disturbing photos, it was just more fear mongering. I did not want the stories and photos to be supplanted into my subconscious.
Once home, I was assigned another doctor from my hospital to represent the oncologist in Victoria during my treatment. What?! That’s right. Our medical system is paying for two doctors to perform the same task. And, of course, I ended up with the short straw and was assigned a doctor that has the reputation of having the worst bedside manner in our entire hospital. Great!
I asked to have my doctor replaced, but it was a no go. My first appointment with this doctor was a disaster. What a jerk. Not only was he late, but he was unapologetic. He flipped quickly through my file. He then close my file, looked at me, and said “So, do you have any questions?”
“About what?” I said. “You have not said anything to me so, how can I have any questions?”
“Did you not receive any literature?” He said rudely.
“Yes, I received quite a stack of papers.”
“Did you read it?” He asked.
“No.” I said. “I did not want to have disturbing images and stories supplanted in my head.”
“Well, if you cannot be bothered to prepare for treatment maybe we should just cancel the chemotherapy altogether!” He bullied me.
At this point I really should have got up and left. But instead, I tried to appease him. I scrambled around in my head to try and come up with a question. “Could you explain the procedure to me?”
“No. You will have to ask the nurses.” He said curtly.
Shocked, I just sat there my mouth hanging open.
After a lengthy pause he said, “If you don’t have any questions, why did you bother coming in?” He kept looking at me like I was just a nuisance.
“You made the appointment,” I replied. “I assumed that meant you wanted to speak with me about my chemotherapy treatment, explain the procedure to me, and then answer any questions I might have as a result of our conversation.”
“I know nothing about the procedure. Go ask the nurses.” He then put my file away, indicating that the appointment was over.
I walked out of the oncology ward in a daze. It took a while for me to come to a slow boil. This is how they treat people with a life-threatening illness?! It was truly shocking and shameful.
I went to hospital administration the following day to file a complaint and to request a transfer to a different doctor. The hospital refused to transfer me. To make matters worse, they refused to accept my complaint saying that my complaint was not their department. Are you kidding me?! How can complaining about one of their employees not be their department? Am I missing something?
My chemotherapy was first cancelled by my surgeon. He preferred to extend my healing time before my body was assaulted again.
Another red flag was my port implant, which I wrote about in my last blog post. It was also a disaster, from my point of view anyways. Five trips to emergency within a 10 day period. Awful. Just awful.
But, despite everything, the day finally arrived for my first chemotherapy treatment.
All along this cancer journey, I have felt my sister Hanne close by, sending me messages of encouragement. She had also been sending me messages NOT to proceed with chemotherapy. Combine that with my “lovely” doctor, my many trips to the ER, and one would think I would be running as fast and as far as I could from any hospital. But, fear is a very powerful force.
My mom went with me for moral support. The cancer ward at my hospital is a very small room with four maybe five chairs with IVs. I got as comfortable as possible in my chair considering the circumstances. With my mom holding my right hand, the nurse began connecting my IV up on my left side.
To distract myself, I began telling the nurse about my journey so far and especially about all the recent difficulties with the port implant. She asked a lot of questions.
I am looking at this bag of poison hanging next to my chair, and how the tube that ran down from the poison was now attached to the port in my chest. My heart was pounding, and I was starting to panic. I hadn’t even noticed that the nurse had left the room.
The nurse came back into the room and had begun walking towards me. I braced myself, taking a few deep breathes to try and calm myself. She stopped in front of me. Then she began to unhook me from the IV. What was going on?
“We will not be proceeding with the chemotherapy today, Nina.” The nurse said. “The doctor is concerned about the various symptoms that you have been having due to the port. He is not willing to proceed until he is satisfied that the port has been implanted correctly.”
A rush of relief flooded my body! Relieved, I turned to my mom, “Maybe this is a sign that I should not be having chemo!”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth, when the IV alarm on the chair beside me when off! The nurse rushed over to turn off the alarm. As soon as she did so, the IV alarm on the next chair when off! It gave me goosebumps. My mom and I looked at each other. We knew, without a doubt, that it was my sister Hanne setting off the alarms.
We got up to leave and my doctor appeared. “I am here to escort you to emergency.”
Alarmed, I said “Why?”
“We need to get to the bottom of all the problems you are having with the port implant. Despite what the ER doctors think, I don’t believe it is all in your head. The port could be pushing on a nerve, it could have perforated your esophagus. If you are in emergency rather than an out patient, we can push to have the necessary tests done.”
I kept staring at my doctor like he had grown two heads. For an a$$h@l *, with the worst bedside manner I have ever experienced, that was the nicest thing he had ever said to me.
The three of us walked over to emergency and so began test after awful test, trying to determine the cause of the symptoms. As I mentioned in my previous blog they were never able to determine cause. The majority of issues resolved themselves after I fell into a deep sleep brought on by exhaustion, resulting in my sleeping on my left side, which somehow shifted the port.
Once my doctor was satisfied that it was safe for me to proceed with chemotherapy (isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron?), my treatment was rescheduled.
It was a bit of déjà vu, to say the least. My mom came with me again to the cancer ward. All the messages from Spirit and Hanne were clambering in my head with every step. But fear still had its claws in my heart.
I ended up sitting in the same chair. Ha. The nurse began connecting me up, again. My mom was holding my hand, again. I was staring at that bag of poison, again. I watched, as if in slow motion, as each drop fell into the tube that was now connected to my heart.
I had not listened to all the messages and signs. I had not trusted what I saw and heard. Spirit had tried so hard to tell me. My sister Hanne had tried so hard to tell me. As the poison disappeared inside my body, the tears began to pool in my eyes then slowly they spilled over to roll down my cheeks. I had made a mistake! I knew deep in my soul that I was making a mistake.
In frustration and sadness, Hanne set off a loud car alarm right outside the cancer ward. As the alarm rang and rang and rang, it was as if my sister and I were crying together.
What have I done? What have I done?