yesterday (graphic.. if you have a heart condition be warned)

Yesterday afternoon I had the worst time I’ve had yet with chemo.

I went in as usual to get plugged in for my three day stint.  I showed the doc what was happening with my skin.  There was gleeful hand rubbing.

“what you have is probably about a 2 out of 5.. no 6!”

“I don’t find that comforting, doc.”

We elected to wait until tuesday (today) to do the erbitux, just to avoid a full six hours in the chair.  So what I had was identical to what I was getting every two weeks for those six months in 08/09.

As we were finishing up, and he was setting up the pump to send me home, I started to feel nauseous.  I decided to sit for a moment before leaving.  It finally overcame me and I went to the bathroom to puke.  Felt much better then, and decided that I should probably make a break for it and head home.

I went outside and flagged down a cab (those of you who know me know that this is already pretty grim).  I got in.

“122nd and Manhattan ave, please”


We were at a light.  There was a pause.  I looked around the cab..  looked out the window.

“Um.  I’m really sorry.  I’m going to vomit.  I think I’d better get out.”


I got out of the car and went to a trash can, and puked up something that I know I hadn’t eaten..  Foam and sickly yellow bile.  On the upper east side of NYC.  People walking by. “drunk..” they were thinking. “how embarrassing at 2:30 in the afternoon.”

This is when I made what, in retrospect, I realize was a really bad decision.  Once again, I felt as though puking had fixed me up a little.  I really wanted to get home.  So I decided to walk.  I was only a half block from my doctors office, but wanted to be home.  It’s only three miles.  And I knew that if I stated by walking across central park, I could take a cab, or the train, on the other side if I felt that the fresh air had fixed me up enough.

As I entered the park, I called Hill.  Realized that I was having a little trouble speaking.  Tried to tell her the situation, but just at the mention of puking I had to do some more, “I have to get off the phone..”

She called me back 5 minutes later.  Enough time for me to scare some more upper east siders.

“where are you.  I’m coming to find you.”

I told her were I was headed, and kept picking my way across the park.  I didn’t get too far.  I stopped on a bench for a while..  puked over the back of it, and then just settled into the grass where I thought I might be more comfortable.  I simply couldn’t move.  Every three minutes or so I would puke up more bile.  This seemed to be accompanied with intestinal spasms, and before long I was aware that my shit bag was filling up with what I had to guess was diarrhea.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt more powerless.  Where on earth was the steel will when I needed it!  I could feel my brain drifting back into my head taking a more and more dreamy observant roll.

By the time Hill found me, I was collapsed on the ground, exhausted.  I knew it would still be impossible to get in a cab.  At this point we were about a third of the way into the park and the only way to get back out was to walk.  The most pressing issue *cough* had become the fact that my shit bag was full to bursting with what I knew was going to be some pretty messy shit.

Hill called the office to see if we could come back and use the bathroom. After pointing out that he was aware that I was vomiting, and there was nothing he could do for it, he said that he was on his way out, but that Dianne was there and of course we could come back.   Hill helped me up and we started to walk.  Longest half mile ever.  I realized just how cold I had gotten from being under dressed on the cold damp ground.  The neuropathy in my hands and face had kicked in full force.  I was numb.  One numb hand in my vest pocket to stay warm.  The other down my pants to keep the shit bag from unclasping, or falling off.  Staggering down the street with HIll holding me up..  “Oh my.. some nice cyclist girl decided to help that drunk homeless man..  I wonder if she knows what she’s getting herself into?”  If they knew just what a profound question that was, they’d demand that she be canonized on the spot.

We got back to office.  Barely.  I had to run to the toilet and let loose.. first from the top.  Then emptied the bag.  It was full. Absolutely full.  I would have to guess that in its full state it holds a shade under a liter. I released the velcro clasp and the thing ruptured into the toilet..  mostly..  and before I could clean it up and re close the bag another volley passed right through it.  Up to a liter now, no question.

I went back to the chemo chair I’d been in all day and collapsed.  They covered me in blankets, but I was still shaking uncontrollably.  My temperature was 92.5.  That’s a little low.

I was still farther back in my brain at this point.  Aware of people speaking, but nearly unable to respond.  They were just a couple of feet away speaking about me in the third person.  I tried to drink some water.  It came back up.  It was pretty clear that I had become severely dehydrated.  The doc came back from his home.  They dripped me with lots of fluids and some anti-nausea, and some benedryl.  I dozed in and out, convulsing under the covers a little less and less.  An hour or so later, my body had calmed down.

My prize for all of this is that the doc disconnected the pump and sent me home without it for the night.

Hill’s brother, Tripp is in town, and he came into the office as well.  Accompanied me home in a cab while hill rode (she arrived as we put the key in the door).  I lay on the couch and ate crackers.  My folks came by.  Emily made a big pot of beautiful soup.  My mom rubbed my feet.  I felt better.  I slept well.

Now I need to stop writing and go back in for more.

0 Replies to “yesterday (graphic.. if you have a heart condition be warned)”

  1. Longtime lurker…moved to comment. Your fortitude and determination are impressive. You’re tough as nails. Stay strong and rest peacefully.

  2. ezra ezra ezra…..please give hillary a squeeze of her hand and a hug for me. just so sorry bout all that. scary & unpleasant…..thinking of you both from my heart.

  3. Oh man…..unbelievable……both the situation you are enduring and the strength with which are you doing it. Just keep going brother.

  4. man Ez, i could picture every excruciating step and yet have no sense of what that must have actually been like. so, so, sorry. my practical self is devising contingency plans — extra bags, hired car rather than cab, phone tree in the event that hill isn’t so close next time. Can you tell I am practicing for being a stay-at-home mom?

  5. Hillary, You’re fantastic for doing all of this.

    Ezra, there’s no prize for being tough enough to walk back and forth. I’m certain you have LOTS of friends who are:

    1. willing to run you back and forth

    2. have had both vomit and shit and probably other bodily fluids in their cars and won’t be shocked by a little more from your body.

    look around and I suspect you’ll have offers coming out of the woodwork.

    if I were in ny, I’d be happy to let you puke in eunice’s car.


  6. jeepers dan ez, what a craptastic experience that turned into. here’s hoping for no more of that!!
    i’m so glad you have people around you that love you and can help you. sending love and hugs from MA to you all.

  7. dear ezra; am too far away to offer a ride, otherwise I’d put down some plastic, get a bucket and bustle you in my car.. i don’t care about the puke and poo, Please! I hope you get lifts arranged from now on..

  8. Cannonization paperwork in process. Oh, guys that was rugged. Nothing but good vibes and love from Philly. . . .stay strong, Ez.

  9. Super-Ezra and Super-Hill, you are my super heroes. What a god-awful bout of suckage. The only good thing about this horrible experience is that you came out the other side. If we can all just keep doing that…

  10. good god Ez, I don’t know what to say. that must have been awful. if only we all could do some of the ralphing and being in pain for you. its rotten. it really is. I don’t know what else to say

  11. Very few words to convey, but didn’t want to simply lurk wordlessly given all those that you’re sharing and all that they contain. All of which continues to humble and amaze me. You – and, yes, of course, Santa Hillary – are beacons.

    All my strength to you, to top back up that apparently boundless cup of yours.

  12. Hey Ezra,
    This morning I googled your name because suddenly I felt curious about that American choreographer I’d met a long time ago in Italy. What a surprise that he designs bikes now. What an unpleasant surprise that he’s to struggle cancer.
    For what it’s worth: I wish you all the best and strength needed to beat this.
    Hugs, Thomas

  13. Keep hanging tough, Ezra. So very sorry to see this episode happen; I hope a cracking good respite – and some more wonderful food! – comes soon. All my best wishes your way.

  14. A shitbag filled to bursting is the worst. I still remember the feel of that horrible heaviness. If it continues, ask the docs if Imodium is ok to take. If that doesn’t work, see if they can prescribe tincture of opium to slow things down.

    Sucks sucks SUCKS.

  15. Hells bells. Hard to candy coat that. Sounds like a day from hell the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’m so sorry that you did, Ezra. I hope yesterday was better. That may sound trite but it’s no less true.

  16. I don’t even know what to say – this sucks really, really bad and you’re really, really tough – but here is a hug from a distance if you want one. *hugs*

  17. this brought quite a visceral reaction out in me; tears and i felt your pain (as much as one can from my perspective…mark of good writing, though i wish you hadn’t needed to.)

    glad to hear you are better and thankful for you that you have so much love surrounding you…rest up.

  18. the thought of you shivering in a park somewhere breaks my heart. here’s the good news: it will be worth it. you will survive this and just think, what will you blog about then!? it will be soooo boring. no more ass or shit or pimples or vomit or blood or other stuff we love to read about! 🙂

    i’m out here rooting for THE EZRA. we all are.

  19. Guys, I know some days are worse than others in this thing. When you look back, you can’t believe you’ve endured so much. I’m so sorry that you had such huge spike of awful. You never can anticipate when it is going to happen and that helps to overwhelm even more. Maybe from here on out you need to become more of a pessimist, just for the sake of being prepared for terrible experiences. You know, the studies don’t support any better survival for optimists.

    Definitely consult the colon club board for the experiences of others managing allergic reactions to chemo. I know there have been many and there are a few who are currently active posters and going through this.

    Big hugs to you both.

  20. Oh Ezra, will of steel? How about backbone of steel. Soul of steel. That is some serious fortitude my friend. I know you have no choice about what you’re going through but your courage to share and character through every last bit reveals a beauty in the human spirit that you just don’t see a lot of. Although all you have to do is look at the woman standing next to you to see it. Best of the best wishes to you and all of yours. And I hope you’re system settles down a little soon.

  21. Oh, Ez… so sorry to hear about it. Please give Hill a big hug for me.

    I’m happy to hear you can write about it with some humor. But no more post-chemo walks in the park alone, OK?

  22. Dear Ezra, I am so glad you finally made it home after your awful, awful day. Getting to lay down on your couch must have felt so good. Thank you to Hillary for coming to your rescue, literally. If I lived closer, I would drive you back and forth from your appointments but I am in chilly Wisconsin and that is not possible. Take the best care of yourself and keep surrounding your wife and you with friends, family, and their love.

  23. I hate thinking of how scary this must have been for you and Hillary. I think one of the worst parts of cancer treatment has to be the loss of independence. And with that, the loss of confidence in one’s ability to do simple things and make simple choices. Making decisions becomes so difficult because you have so many “what if..?” scenarios to consider. It SUCKS. Glad your doc came back and didn’t just phone it in. Hugs to both of you.

  24. harrowing. goddam! yer lady’s a saint (no doubt and a hero!).

    and yer a strong (and funny, paradoxically) guy. a way strong guy. dag, ezra. shit’s hard. . .all great things to you. here’s to strength, hope, (fuck hope–yer gonna win), not pukein’, keepin’ the bag empty. . .all good stuff. just dealin’ gracefully and honestly.

    like you do.

  25. this takes me back to when my partner was on chemo and we had a somewhat similar but not as severe lost in the park incident with overheating/ dehydration issues. a kind stranger stepped in and saved the day… that was scary and stressful and not nearly as bad as what you just described.

    i’m sure this was one hell of a scary experience for you (not to mention miserable in every possible way), but hang in there! you’re doing such a great job! i really admire that you had the grit to walk into that park, even if it wasn’t ultimately a good decision. what spunk! i can’t say it enough: you’re doing great, you’re doing fantastic, you’re doing better than i ever would have imagined that anyone would have done in your shoes. and we’re all out here rooting for you. go ezra!

  26. Oh no! what an experience so hard!, how can people just think you’re a drunk?, I become sad after reading, but I know that you are very strong and brave and this will only remain in your memory (and ours) as something that happened, and now, is part of the past. We are all with you, I would you have been in my own arms! you have my positive energy every minute, I know you’re the best and strongest man in the word, and you must think some of this road trip have been done. We are all with you, you are always in our minds, relax and smile, that helps a lot. Hugs

  27. I’ve got nothing to say but I’m too moved by this to say nothing… you may have felt like your steel will deserted you but it’s there in your writing for all to see. Wishing you strength and rest.

  28. Holy shit. That was a beautiful and heart wrenching post. I say that because I felt so emotional after reading it that it must have been beautiful and heart wrenching. The fact that you can still eat seem heroic to me.

  29. Ezra and Hillary: all who love you from near and far feel the pain and the love that helps you deal with it. Jonathan is right–this is an emotional experience for all of us. Your heroism may not seem evident to you as you go through all this misery, but your sharing these ups and downs with us is a humbling and ennobling experience. Hang tough as only you know how. Your admirer from Alabama.

  30. Oh, Ezra… I had no idea you were struggling with cancer again. I followed your writing and photos through your first C&R, and just imagined you off enjoying your new life. I just dropped in to see what was new. I’m so sorry to see you going through this again, and worse. Oh oh oh. I did a lot of oncology nursing over 8 years so I’m familiar with a lot of these scenarios, but only you know how it feels. I am so glad when people like you can narrate it for others so that they (and you) may try to understand and deal. Your writing and photos are incredible and cathartic. More happy, healthy mojo funneled your way from me! Hang in there. You are strong.

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