A lifelong traveler, as well as being the daughter and the sister of pilots, the Kindly Hermudgeon has always adored flying.
It has been awhile since KH last was aloft, so it was with a renewed sense of adventure and excitement that I boarded my first flight on Air Cancer this week 😉
As part of my pre-boarding travel requirements, I was booked to attend an “education” session regarding my chemotherapy routine. I suppose there are some who, when prescribed chemo, just blindly accept whatever the Doc dishes out. Not so for KH ! By the time of our education session, we had acquired our own Ph.D. in Google and thought we pretty much knew everything there was to know about the evil sisters Carboplatin and Taxol.
Nurse Carrie, our assigned educator and one-stick wonder when it comes to blood draws and IV start-ups, proffered a 10-page handout and reviewed the precautionary warnings with me. Her patience was admirable as I asked the remaining zillion questions that somehow had not been answered by the internet.
The main questions looming in my mind were, of course, regarding the much-touted side effects of said noxious chemicals. The handout made reference to them but couched them in “maybes” and “possibles” in typical lawyerly fashion. This, of course, is intended to prevent you from suing anyone’s a** because, by golly, they did inform you and you chose to proceed.
Her explanations of the risks overwith, Nurse Carrie then detailed the many “pre-meds.” The oncology community seems to be getting this chemo stuff down to a science. They pre-medicate with various non-toxic meds to prevent some of the side effects of the noxious loads: something akin to Pepto to soothe your stomach and prevent nausea and an antihistamine to prevent allergic reactions. I’d also take — 5 the night before and 5 the morning of — the little white pills the Doc had prescribed. Regrettably, there was no discussion of those … or I may have been alerted to what would transpire….
So, having dutifully ingested said morning-of pills and nibbled at breakfast, ol’ KH checked in promptly at 9 AM. The counter attendant, er, receptionist dispensed a menu and asked me to circle my choice of sandwich or salad and choice of beverage for lunch. My boarding pass was a bar-graphed, plastic hospital bracelet.
Soon, we were all seated, about 20 passengers, men and women of all ages in various stages of fear-of-flying. Our cabin was outfitted with full recliners in shades of hospital green and yellow, each complemented with its own TV on a retractable arm and its own infusion pole on wheels, and everyone had a window seat. I didn’t remember booking a first-class flight, but the $9108.27 fare should’ve been a tipoff !
Our crew of oncology nurse-angels (NA’s) dispensed pillows and heated blankets to all, together with ample doses of reassurance, and it was time for takeoff. Vein located? Check! Alcohol swabbed ? Check! Needle ready? Check! Infusion flowing? Check! Suddenly, we all were airborne….
Some of my fellow passengers drifted off to sleep. Others plugged into MP3 players and grooved through the flight or read or chatted. The NA’s circulated throughout the cabin checking tubing, taking blood pressure, and adjusting pillows. Before we knew it, several hours had passed and the on-board lunch was dispensed. A cute, little cardboard box was deposited on one chair arm together with a beverage. Air Cancer had, unfortunately, suspended liquor service for the duration of the flight.
The afternoon pretty much paralleled the morning. No adverse reactions. Nothing really eventful at all. With the last of the travelers soon to depart, the NA’s began collecting the pillows and blankets and putting all recliners in an upright position after a quick wipedown. At precisely 4:15 PM, Air Cancer Flight 101 landed.
“Piece of cake,” I thought to myself as I located my car in the parking garage.
(to be continued)