Meet Andrea “Slip Stitch” Erion — athlete, activist and local Tributaries committee member, all while in active treatment. We asked Andrea to journal what 48 hours feels like juggling work, Ragnar relay training, dating, groceries and chemotherapy.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
6:30 A.M. Alarm goes off — hit snooze. I barely slept last night. I had full intentions of going for a morning bike ride — always do — as predicted, it didn’t happen. 6:45 A.M. Snooze. 7 A.M. Snooze. 7:15 A.M. Snooze. Do I really have to get up? These sleeping pills are making me move like a turtle with weights on its back. 7:30 A.M. My cat, Bettie Page, reminds me that I don’t have to go to work, but I must feed her. No time to make lunch. I’ll have to buy something — again. I hate when I don’t have time to grocery shop. I choose a vegetarian sandwich because it seems like a healthy option — no chips and no soda, even though I am craving a Cherry Coke like nobody’s business. Back at work, before I know it, clock says 5:10 P.M. Must leave now — or I’ll never make it to my 5:30 P.M. therapy appointment, but my therapist knows I never leave work on time. I’ve stopped apologizing for my tardiness, because he told me to. Tonight’s conversation covered how I tried canceling my chemo appointment last week, like it was a hotel reservation or something. I felt out of control. I kept thinking, “How am I going to be able to do the 100-mile FD Orlando Trib bike ride two days after chemo?” I begged for another day or time, even held back tears. I tipped my head toward the ceiling, like that would keep the tears from falling out (doesn’t work). I desperately wanted to say, “Forget about it, take me off your books! I don’t want to have chemo anyway!” I settled for Wednesday morning even though I hate morning treatments. Walking to my car after therapy I wonder, “What would happen if I just stopped chemo?” I quickly rolled my eyes at my own question. My therapist tells me to focus on doing the ride and having fun. He is quick to remind me that I have done stuff like this before. The encouragement is comforting. 6:30 P.M. I’ve got plans to run with my friend Geoff at 7:30 P.M. Make it home, consider canceling since I am so tired from no sleep. I change my clothes and fill my running band with the essentials; it’s not a long run, but I grab a few gels. My body is unpredictable. I like to be prepared in case it gets mad at me. Out running at night with a headlamp — training for my 15.4-mile Ragnar relay for my First Descents Out Living It Project — it sucks. It’s too dark. I wonder if my headlamp will work better in the woods and then my mind starts running…what animals live in Texas? Someone told me panthers. Really is that true? Must do a Google search. 8:30 P.M. 3.8 miles in the bank! 9 P.M. Sitting on my patio, Florida fall breeze feels great. Post a photo of my run to Facebook. Hoping my daily activity photo will encourage donations to my FD fundraising page. While I’m cooling down, I get a reminder text from cute guy about our plans for a 6 a.m. meet up at the gym over the weekend. Dang, why did I agree to a 6 a.m. workout? Oh yeah, he is cute. 10 P.M. I need to shower. Anddddd…I still need dinner. I scavenge the cabinet for quick food options, then grab a saucepan and get it going on the stove. I put it on low so I can shower at the same time. It won’t burn the house down, will it? I turn the dial down another notch to be safe. Shovel food into mouth, write this entry, check work emails, personal emails, update calendar to include volunteer church opportunity. 11:49 P.M. Cut sleeping pill in half, with my teeth, because I am frankly too lazy to go looking for the pill cutter. Pray that I really get some sleep tonight.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Chemo day. Ugh, I think that says it all. 7:30 A.M. Wake up, breakfast, cat snuggles. 8:30 A.M. I’m out the door and into rush hour traffic. 9:27 A.M. Arrive at cancer center for 9:30 a.m. appointment. Check in. The lobby is so quiet due to Yom Kippur. I’m alone in the waiting room. There’s a brief moment of peace. 9:36 A.M. Medical assistant escorts me back and asks ‘the usual’ questions that I reply to on autopilot. This is so routine. Go to the chemo room to get a blood draw from my port to make sure my counts are up and okay to do treatment. I’ve fainted in the past from MAs using my skinny veins so I have to use my port. It has become a bit of an ordeal, so they’ve marked my file for this, since it is not the norm and is a longer process. I grab a chair and get my port accessed. It stings this time for some reason. I am not into it. I distract myself by talking with my nurse. Blood is sent to lab. I go see my advanced registered nurse practitioner — she is part of my Kicking Cancer’s Ass team — we talk about the particular shot and the side effects that it gave me last time. No bueno. I want to see what other options there are. It was so painful two weeks ago; I just don’t want to deal with getting it next month. She will talk to my incredible doctor, who always looks out for my quality of life when it comes to treatment, per my request. But she’s quick to be honest and, more importantly, realistic. This is why I love her. Fingers crossed. 10:15 A.M. I’m cleared for chemo! Is that a good thing? Ha, yes. Pre drugs start. By 11:20 A.M. I’m still waiting for chemo meds. Look around, where are they? Assess average age of patient in my section. I would guess 73 1⁄2. 11:25 A.M. I am getting antsy. I have to meet a client in two hours. If we don’t get started now, I am not going to make it. I grab the eye of my nurse and she lets me know that she will check with the pharmacy. 11:35 A.M. and chemo meds are here. Another moment of strange excitement. Nurse tells me that I might not make my client appointment in time. I start to well up. Ugh, why does cancer have to be so complicated? 12 P.M. I pass time by talking to a friend about FD bike plans and what time we are leaving tomorrow. Unfortunately, it depends on what time they want to administer my shot tomorrow. I don’t have an answer for her. 12:30 P.M. My nurse heads out to lunch and assigns me to someone else. 12:37 P.M. My machine is beeping. I am done with treatment and try to get the new nurse’s attention, but she is busy helping someone else. I’m annoyed, but I shouldn’t be. I am not more important than that guy. He’s got places to be too, I’m sure. I unplug machine and go to nurse’s station. I would pull this thing out myself if I could. Six years, I’ve been doing this. Why haven’t I learned how to unplug myself? Finally, unattached and on the road. 1:22 P.M. Made it to lunch just a few minutes late with a stupid Band-Aid over my port…as if it’s not totally obvious. 3 P.M. Make it back to work, catch up on emails and phone calls. 6:07 P.M. I need to lie down, I feel like puking. Pull it together to continue. 6:55 P.M. My brother Nick calls for second time today, I have to ignore it because I’ve got a Ragnar relay training at 7 P.M.