Chemo, Round 1, Goes to…

August 6th, 2015

Remember yesterday when I felt fantastic? Back when I’d crushed chemo?

Because I am such a winner, Chris and I toddled off to the Art Institute on our Divvy Bikes. He’s never been there, and it’s one of the most amazing museums in the world. And even though all the doctors say to make sure you stay ahead of the nausea and take the meds as soon as you feel it, we leave the meds behind. I’m not chemo’s bitch. Chemo is my bitch. Chemo can suck it.

Here’s a picture of me and Chris in front of the Chagall Windows.

photo (7)

So we’re wandering around the Impressionism section, and I’m thinking about writing. The amazing thing about all of these paintings is the voice of the painter. These paintings all took talent, skill, and practice, but the thing that got them in this museum is their unique voice. This is true of writing, too. It’s what gets a book published.

I’m somewhere near the water lilies and haystacks when a wave of nausea hits me. I tell Chris, and we realize we don’t have any medicine. “Do you want me to ride back and get it?”

No. Jesus. Don’t leave me here. If I throw up in the Monet water lilies, that Finnish couple will eviscerate me. “Let’s just sit for a minute.” So we move on, sit and feign interest in the Seurat painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Chris is watching me.

“Do you want to leave?” Chris is here to take care of me, after all. Now’s his chance. The attention feels heavy.

“No. I just need a minute.” We sit, then proceed through the armor, the paperweights, and the miniature rooms. I’m exhausted, truly, and also astonished. Those miniature rooms…what kind of person was Mrs. Thorn to have made so many exquisite dollhouse rooms?

I press on.

I need to sit.

Chris wants to know if I need to take a taxi home or if I want to take the bikes. Because a taxi is his idea and not my idea, I choose bikes.

I’d joked with him earlier in the week about this stubbornness. Whenever he suggests something, I say no. Then I wait fifteen minutes, long enough for it to be my idea, and then say yes.

His reaction to this had been: “Do you want the D?”

I’d laughed. (If you don’t know what the “D” is: He’s a man. Think about it. All men can wait fifteen minutes for this, even with stubborn wives.)

Anyway. We bike to the hotel. And while the bike ride to the museum was a joy, the ride to the hotel is a slog.

All I do that night is lie on the bed and listen to a book on tape with my eyes closed. I can’t do anything else. I smell the chemo seeping out of my pores, warning me to pay attention. 

14 Responses to “Chemo, Round 1, Goes to…”

  1. Tim (aka: Mr. Pink) on August 6, 2015 12:34 pm

    You avoided adding patina to the water lilies. I’d say that qualifies you as winning round #1.

  2. Laurie J. Edwards on August 6, 2015 12:57 pm

    Karen, I admire your grit and determination, but it’s OK to let someone take care of you too. Hard to do, I know (I’m the same way), but as time goes on, you may need to surrender a bit of control. (((Hugs)))

    But overall, you go, girl! You’re awesome.

  3. Mom on August 6, 2015 1:38 pm

    How awful! Having gotten my MA at U. of Illinois, I used Chicago for R and R. That museum is absolutely fantastic! I hope you can take Chris some day when he doesn’t have to watch you. Feeling nausia in that museum is the pits. Hope you feel better now.

    Love, Mom

  4. Jenny on August 6, 2015 2:01 pm

    I’m sending good thoughts your way.

  5. Beki on August 6, 2015 2:20 pm

    Lucky that Chris is patient. That man is a big ole glass of grape Kool-Aid on a hot summer day in the 70’s. Oh yeah! Feel better soon.

  6. Julia on August 6, 2015 3:06 pm

    It’s a long fight right? The Chemo fight? Day 1 is the Chicago museum of art… I think you’re still doing pretty good. I mean, I still hear your voice – so I say, Chemo is your Bi-Atch.

  7. Pat on August 6, 2015 9:48 pm

    BAH. I hope this phase has a quick exit, and you get back to enjoying Chicago.

  8. Liz Hollar on August 6, 2015 10:03 pm

    Oh man. Well definitely try the museum again (with meds!) You have time. Take it slow. And you have a great hubby. (Watch our for those eviscerating fins.)

  9. Dave Kwee on August 6, 2015 10:50 pm

    Ondansetron keeps you dancing, girl. Think of it as ecstasy for the chemo set.

    I’m sorry you got hit in the Impressionist wing. They were geniuses. Gotta make your audience a willing participant. Invite them in, but just give them a little look. Let their minds do the rest. Like it was their idea! Art husbandry if you will. Guess that’s what makes good writing, too.

    You didn’t like the Seurat? Dude was CGI before computers were invented.

    Keep fighting (don’t forget the anti-nausea weaponry next time). This is your time.

  10. Laura Staman on August 7, 2015 12:29 am

    I can give u distance “reiki” on Sat morning or evening. Let me know when would be a good time for u…and I can give it to u again on Sunday. Text me what time you might like to lie down or are sleeping for a session. Lots of love! Laura

  11. Nathan on August 7, 2015 8:10 am

    I have no frame of reference to anything you are going through on this, but I am very impressed with how strong you are and send love and hugs. Lots of both!

  12. Michelle on August 7, 2015 9:31 am

    I go through life thinking that all of my experiences are part of some master plan the universe cooks up to help me learn something that I didn’t know before, to make me stronger. Wonder what the universe wants you to master?

    Sending you wicked good vibes! Soak ’em up.

  13. Karen Staman on August 7, 2015 9:47 am

    If I had to guess, I’d say the Universe wants met to learn to ask for help.

  14. Melanie on August 12, 2015 5:51 pm

    Damn those eviscerating Finns.

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