I had an infusion today. With herceptin, infusions are fast and easy. The actual infusion takes maybe 45 minutes, max. Of course, that doesn't include the waiting. All told, I plan on 1.5 hours per infusion, which compared to chemo is a breeze. Plus, herceptin, while it tends to make me bitchy, otherwise doesn't seem to have any negative immediate side effects (it is cardio toxic so it could have some pretty crappy long term side effects, but in general, I don't feel bad when I get these infusions).
Unlike the chemo patients, herceptin only patients have it easy, plus most of us have hair.
In a sense, I guess you could say we are the "graduates" who are coming back to school to visit.
Today, when I was waiting to go into the infusion suite, I was sitting next to a quite elderly African-American gentleman. He was still, solemn. Very still. As I was waiting, one of the infusion nurses came out and told him he could come back and bring his wife her crocheting and see how she was doing. Away he went.
When I finally got back into the suite, I ended up striking up a conversation with her. She struck me as quite a bit younger than her husband, but what do I know? Anyway, it became clear that today was her first chemo infusion, and it was clear that she and her husband really love each other.
Later he came back into the suite, carrying her large purse. Holding it comfortably, yet as if it were a foreign object. He just wanted to check on her. He wanted to know how, exactly the infusion machine worked. It's sort of magic. It's like an IV drip with a regulator on it, or something like that. He inquired about her crochet project...a kelly green and white afghan with 3-D flowers on it, for her grandson.
Overall, he exuded concern.
He was wearing pleated slacks that bagged on his slight, stooped frame and a long sleeved dress shirt, buttoned up to the top button. She asked him to bend over, and my first thought was that she was going to give him a peck on his cheek. Instead, she straightened the back of his collar.
After he left, she and I struck up a conversation and she told me that he had been her pastor for 19 years. Then his wife died and five years later, they were married. They are approaching their 13th anniversary.
Knowing he'd already lost one wife helps explain his concern, solemnity, and quietude.
I've heard horror stories of husbands not "getting it" when it comes to their wives' chemo treatment, men who think women should be up to sex on on chemo weeks, men who think their wives should be making them dinner, men who don't understand the deep fatigue that comes with chemo. Honestly, I've met several women I've been quite concerned about.
But this woman today, I feel she will be well taken care of in the weeks and months to come.
That man obviously adored her. And she him.