Day 4 of chemotherapy and I have been blessed with no bad reactions to the cocktail of drugs that flow into my veins 24 hours a day. Unless you count the 18 pounds of fluid that have accumulated around my belly. 18 POUNDS!!!

That extra umbilical chord is a tube that drains other fluids from around my heart into a plastic bottle shaped like a grenade. It hangs like an annoying nut sack below my waist and the doctor won’t remove it until it only produces 30 ml of fluid in a 24-hour period. Several times now I’ve woken up and realized that what I thought was another bout of night sweats was actually that disgusting Kool-aid-like fluid sticking to my pajamas because I accidentally popped the cap off the bottle in my sleep. That’s happened more than once! I’ve started taping it shut now.

That fluid is the result of the tumor that lingers near my right lung like the weirdo at a party that wasn’t invited by anyone. My doctors say my violent coughing fits are a sign that the tumor is already shrinking because my lungs are getting more air. I’d cheers to that if I could take a breath long enough to do so.

So this is the first of six chemo treatments. Each time I’ll spend five days in the hospital hooked up to an IV. It’s rather anti-climactic. Just a lot of reading, staring at the wall, sending reassuring texts to family and friends who can’t be here and making small-talk with those who are. Then I’ll go home for 7 to 10 days of what doctors are warning could be a misery worse than any hell that even Stephen King could imagine. They don’t say it like that, but that’s how I picture it in my head. What they say instead is, “You COULD experience nausea.” Or, “You COULD get mouth sores that run down your throat and into your stomach.” Or, “You MAY not even experience any symptoms at all!!!” They claim that sometimes happens. I‘ll let you know if I‘m one of the lucky ones.

What doctors do seem certain about is that I will feel extremely fatigued. I’m already starting to feel it. It’s giving me an awesome excuse to lay around in bed and sleep all day. You’d think that would get old but, eh, hasn’t happened yet! Then after the 7 to 10 days of supposed “hell” are over I will have six or seven days where I will allegedly feel great! That’s when it’s best to have visitors. Then I come back in for another five days of chemo. There’s no telling when my hair will start to fall out. One doctor says in three weeks I’ll notice an uncomfortable feeling in my head as clumps start to come out. Another doctor says it may not happen for a few months. They all try to keep it positive by saying, “And some people don’t lose their hair at all!” Again, I’ll let you know if I’m one of the lucky ones.

Oh, and another side effect? Remember that 18 pounds of fluid I mentioned earlier? It’s starting to drain. The typical way. Through my bladder. I’ve gone to the bathroom 11 times since I sat down to write this. I’m two bathroom breaks away from buying Depends.

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