Friday, December 14, 2012

The Needle and the Damage Done

Every two weeks for the past year and a half, Joe has disconnected my portable chemo bottle. But not today. Today I decided to go it alone. I laid out the saline and heparin. I took two alcohol swabs, a band aid and adhesive remover for my bandages. I put on the surgical gloves.  There was something empowering about doing it myself; taking charge of my own health. We've done it so many times, I knew exactly what to do. Clean the port, inject the saline then the heparin, squeeze both sides of the external port and pull out the chest needle. Then I am free to shower unencumbered by the port and the bottle and the need to keep them dry. But, again, not today. After the disconnect I stood there staring at the needle that 5 seconds earlier was in my chest. The needle that has delivered chemo to my body for the last 17 months. The needle that saved my life. 

"Is this really over?", I asked myself. A huge part of me can't believe it. Unless you've been through it, you will never understand how an experience like this changes you. It does more than shakes your foundation. It jackhammers it until there is nothing left but rubble. It is then up to you to decide what to rebuild. Right now, I feel like a shell of a human being. Everything is so raw. I sit out back and let the sun warm my face. This feeling will pass, I know. All I can do now is keep breathing. 

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