The Disney classic Mary Poppins is one of my favorite movies. Here’s a great song from that movie:
Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way. What a song! It’s light, it’s catchy…and it’s not true. Mary Poppins is full of it.
As you may know, my sister Lib has cancer and is taking chemo. She takes 4 pills a night for five nights in a row, and then repeats the process the next month. She just finished one year of treatment and we are all delighted that the tumor has shrunk.
The thing is, the process is getting harder for her as the months go by. It’s not the nausea so much; that’s not fun, but it’s an expected side effect of chemo. The problem is that with or without a spoonful of sugar, the medicine won’t go down.
She can’t get the pills to stay in her stomach long enough to fully do their job.
The first night of each cycle isn’t so bad, but by nights 4 and 5 it’s a fight.
She’s tried taking them with applesauce, Jell-O and assorted other disguises. She takes anti-anxiety pills beforehand. She’s tried eating a normal dinner, a light dinner or no dinner. She’s gone over to our parents to take them, thinking a change of scenery might work. Nothing seems to help.
Lib called me at 10 pm on the 4th night of her last go round. She said she was going to skip the chemo that night; she just wasn’t up to it. I think she really wanted me talk her into doing what she knew she had to do. So I did. I tried to take her mind off the task at hand. I told her about the prior weekend’s jaunt up to Chicago to cheer on our cousin in the Avon Breast Cancer walk. I described the day and recounted all the news from that side of the family. I was light and breezy, amusing and informative.
You know how when some people talk, it’s music to your ears? How they have the knack of speaking words to live by? Apparently I speak words to barf by.
When I paused in my rambling to take a breath, Lib broke in to weakly report the mission had NOT been accomplished. She had thoughtfully muted her phone so I hadn’t shared in the experience.
I think I know what’s going on here; the two sides of her brain don’t agree on this treatment and they’re duking it out.
The analytical, left side of her brain knows that this has got to be done to knock out the tumor. The left side listens to her doctors, sends her to the pharmacy to get her pills and sets up the schedule. This side of the brain controls that crucial, pill-popping right hand.
The creative, right side of the brain isn’t “feeling it” with the chemo. It would rather chill out with some good jazz and write poetry. This side is in charge of the stomach. It would prefer ice cream to pills, maybe washed down with a fruity white wine.
The left side says, “We need this.” It tells the hand to put those pills in her mouth.
The right side says, “We need THIS like we need a hole in the head.”
The left side says. “This is good stuff- it will kill the tumor.”
The right side says. “Like hell; this sh*t will kill us!”
The left side says, “Just do as you’re told and take those pills!”
The right side says, “I don’t like it, I don’t want it, you can’t make me, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!” and sticks out its tongue – pppbblllssstt!!! It tells the stomach to send everything back up.
This issue is going to come up again soon. Any hints on how to keep EVERYTHING from coming up again would be appreciated.
In the meantime, Dr. Peg advises that Lib get on the good side of her brain’s right side. I prescribe:
- Writing an epic poem; “Ode On The Commode” or “How Do I Hate Thee, Temador? Let Me Count The Ways”.
- Drinking a lot of cheap Muscato.
- Taking massive doses of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy until it’s time, once again, for chemotherapy.