The familiar droning sound of measured chemo drugs dripping from the IV tower into Dylan’s chest port has returned us to this place: the 12th floor of Swedish Hospital in Seattle. A few things have changed since our departure, the Oncology floor is filled with patients which saddens me because when we left half the rooms were empty. Cancer has been busy while we were away. In each room there is a story of discovery, shock, and pain. We have a new room, a smaller room which Dylan has already decided isn’t big enough for the two of us, he said last night as he got up for one of his multiple trips to the bathroom, “We need to ask for a new room,” as if the Maitre d has given us the table next to the kitchen door. While the room is much smaller, it has a better view of the Cascade Mountains, so for me it is an equitable change.
The second round of chemo has started. Overnight, Dylan got filled to the brim with the drug he had the worst reaction to in the first round, so far he has not had a fever or needed pain meds, I’m sure that won’t last long, but for now, he is sleeping comfortably. This round he is getting eye drops every six hours, which he hates but there are a few new drugs in round two and one of them can damage the cornea of the eye so they are proactively providing his eyes with steroids to prevent permanent loss of eyesight.
The days we were home rushed by. For me there was a flurry of social activity, which was exactly what my doctor (who I see once every ten years) prescribed. Dylan spent his time between his three home activities, sleeping, eating, and playing video games. He was able to gain four or five pounds. It almost felt normal.
As we got closer to returning we talked about what round two would be like. He was a little anxious, not from fear, but facing the fact that for two weeks his life is going to suck hard. On the night before we left, he had difficulty sleeping and was pretty tired but both of us knew that once we arrived at the hospital there would be plenty of time to catch up on naps. Knowing what we are facing from the treatment aspect is reassuring, but knowing what is ahead fills the empty times with dread of what is around the next turn.
On one of the evenings I was home, I was outside getting something from the garage and I looked up. The dark blue skies were clear, the crescent moon lit the ground well enough to see, and a few stars blinked somewhere out there in the cold. I took a moment and spent time feeling my place in all this vast darkness. Here I was, one of seven billion people on a planet floating improbably amidst all this emptiness, while at the same time, surrounded by loving friends and family. This thing, this cancer thing, is a universe in itself, frightening, dark, and vast, but at the same time, this thing has brought more comfort and support than I believed was out there.