Today almost did not happen.
Through a bureaucratic oversight, I had not scheduled chemo for today. When I realized this, two weeks ago, today was already booked up -- not so surprising, since the ward was closed Sunday and Monday for Shavuot. (Translation: everyone who usually gets chemo on Sunday or Monday rescheduled for this Tuesday).
I have everything in order for chemo on Tuesdays: someone regularly picks up my kids from school and brings them home, I have no "extracurricular" activities on my schedule, my kids do not need me to bring them anywhere or pick them up, and someone cooks dinner for us (I do not do anything. My friend coordinates the "dinner project" and makes sure that someone magically turns up on our doorstep with a nutritious meal for my family).
The secretary at the chemo ward did not know the back story. To her, the solution was simple: just come in on Wednesday or Thursday. But, for me, Thursday was impossible and Wednesday was near impossible. I teach swimming on Thursdays. Even if you disregard the fact that I am exhausted after chemo, I could not be certain that I would finish chemo before I needed to be at the pool, teaching my first class. (In fact, I was almost certain that I would NOT be at the pool in time to teach my first class). Wednesday was almost as difficult. Again, disregarding the fact that I would be extra tired on Thursday, and have to push myself that much harder to get to the pool, there was no way I could get to school in time to pick up my kids. When I rescheduled chemo for the Wednesday after my retreat, I went straight from chemo to pick up my kids. That was a short chemo day and, even so, I was late. This was going to be a long chemo day.... Not to mention that I would definitely have to cancel my OT appointment.
As if this would not be bad enough on one day, since I have to wait a week between treatments, I would have to repeat this nightmare the following week!
Ironically, I would have liked to be home on Tuesday, since it was Isru Chag (the day after a pilgrimage holiday in Israel) and the kids have off from school. Isru Chag is like an extra gift day with the kids. But the nightmare of chemo on TWO Wednesdays was enough to motivate me to keep chemo on Tuesday.
The secretary directed me to the head nurse, who would have to approve the addition of any more patients to the day's roster. I explained my entire scenario to the head nurse, who listened patiently and then added me to the list. (God bless her!)
So, I turned up today (Tuesday), with about a thousand other chemo patients.
I was prepared for the worst.
All the nurses, though harrowed, harried, and somewhat harassed, were kind to me.
I finished LATE, around 5:00, and no one, not even once, made any sort of joke or comment about how long it took.
I cannot express how much I appreciate that. It made all the difference in the world to me.
It was a LONG day. I got all three drugs. And no massage! (Due to the extra patients, there was no room available). But the nurses were patient and pleasant and I was happy.
My doctor was even able to squeeze us in (despite the aforementioned bureaucratic oversight), and answered a few of my more urgent questions (the regular exam will wait until next week).
My "coffee and chemo date" was a bit late, due to a combination of his going to the wrong hospital (not again!), my having his old cellphone number, and my cellphone's battery not working. But, all's well that ends well. We still had plenty of time to hang out, and ES brought great food for lunch and BOGGLE, which is one of my all time favorite games! (I am quite competitive at games, and pretty good at Boggle, but ES had an impressive vocabulary (better than mine) and was better at spelling. We were fairly evenly matched.)
I forgot how much I like Boggle. I used to have the game, but have not seen it since we moved, almost four years ago. It must be in the same not-yet-unpacked box as my Pente game-- the best birthday present I ever received until last year, and probably my most favorite game, also missing since we moved....
Anyway, the day passed pleasantly, and soon enough I was home with my kids. I had figured that my kids would be so tired after Shavuot, that they would sleep at least until noon. If I was home, they probably would have. But, instead, they woke up fairly early... for them. A ended up going with her friend, AV, to Keiftzuba (a kids' fun park). When I got home, I spent a bit of time with Y and MD, then Y went off to run a peulah (activity) for her snif (youth group branch). Her madricha (counselor) could not come today, and asked Y to organize a peulah in her stead. MD made pasta for dinner. I just enjoyed the activity and my kids' good moods.
Then, I got a ride to a leil limmud (learning evening) organized for the mothers of my son's class. I was so tired, but I was impressed that one of the mother's initiated such an evening, and I wanted to be supportive. I am glad I went. It was a very nice evening.
When I got home, everyone was in bed.
Y was not quite asleep yet. I asked her how her peulah went. She reported that only three girls came, not enough for the activity. I realized how disappointed she must be. I told her that I would have come....
Then I had an epiphany.
I told her about tonight's leil limmud -- how, out of a class of 24 kids, only four mothers came (not including our hostess). Still, we had a good time, talking and learning. The evening was a success, even though most mothers did not show up.
"But you went," my daughter looked up at me, with a smile.
"Yes," I told her, "I went to be supportive. I would have come to your activity as well...."
Then, she closed her eyes and went to sleep.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
Rav Chaim Kanievsky on the hetter mechira
2 hours ago