A bad day

This isn’t going to be a pretty journal entry. If you are squeamish or don’t want to read all of the gory details of this particular day, then I highly recommend that you read up until the warning point in this entry, and then skip to the end.


There have been many bad days for Geraldine in this battle, but the worst that I’ve personally witnessed had to be Saturday, January 24th 2009. She had been in the hospital for less than a week (checked in that Tuesday) and had been in relatively good spirits up until then. Her chemo regimen this time consists of different drugs, whereas last time she only had the Melphalan. On Saturday, she was having the last chemotherapy drug for this transplant.  Unfortunately, it is also one of the most toxic.

The drug’s name is Cytoxan. For those of you who may just be tuning in, the second bone marrow transplant (she’s doing two back-to-back) will work just like the first one, where her existing bone marrow is killed off by high-dose chemotherapy drugs. Her own stem cells, which were harvested around Thanksgiving, are given back to her so that new bone marrow can be regrown. This process completely destroys her entire immune system, replacing it with a brand new one. It takes about a month and a half, with a major danger period being during the first three weeks of that process.

That’s if she can survive the chemo. The doses used here are near lethal and extremely toxic. On Saturday, I walked in to find her in seriously bad shape.

Warning – if you are easily grossed out, skip to the end of this post (The next morning…)

I’m used to her sleeping, and even getting nauseous from time to time. There’s a convenient little device built into the toilets of these hospital rooms. It’s basically like a shower-head on an arm that swings down over the bowl. It allows you to hold the “bucket” that they give patients to vomit into over the toilet, bring the arm down, and flush the contents into the drain. It makes it very easy to clean this out and return it to the patient without getting your hands too dirty. It also gives them some comfort, because they don’t have to keep puking into the already filled container.

I emptied that container at least 10 times in one hour. Just when I thought there was nothing left, there would be more. It was bile, all bile. It looked like Mountain Dew, and at times it was thick. It smelled awful. I can’t imagine how hard it was on her. From my understanding, she had been doing this for at least 6 hours straight, and it was getting worse.

She didn’t look right either. They had to give her a lot of fluids. I’m also used to seeing her a bit puffy when they do this, but she looked swollen this time. Her eyes were dark, sunken, and almost closed. She wasn’t coherent. She really couldn’t talk much. She couldn’t sleep, no matter how much they encouraged her by eliminating all noise and light. When she wasn’t puking, she would lay down, but there was this constant sound of heaving – almost sounded like hiccups, only worse. With these heaves, her whole body would twitch. It was constant at one point, and the twitching heaves were about 2 seconds apart. They had given her as many anti-nausea drugs as they could, and the medical professional that was taking care of her, well to me he looked really worried. He was doing everything he could think of to calm this whole thing down. Finally, with the addition of some morphine to ease the heaving/twitching, she fell asleep. The vomiting stopped. I left for the evening and went to stay with some friends who were kind enough to put me up for the night in Richmond. (Thanks Emily and Jeff!)

The next morning, when I got to her room, I was very surprised and relieved to see her up and smiling at me, albeit weakly. She even cracked a joke or two. I watched her order food and eat it without fear of it coming back up. I was amazed and very, very grateful. That day by comparison was one of her best. She had tons of visitors, including her daughter and parents.

I went to say goodbye that evening, and she was sleepy, but happy. And of course, she was still talking shit. You know she’s feeling better when she’s busting on you or saying some ridiculously dirty thing.

Ah, Geraldine. You have such strength and resilience. And you’re a complete pain in the ass. 😉

20 Responses to “A bad day”

  1. 1 Brooke January 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    My heart was breaking as I read this post. G, you’re such a fighter. Always in my thoghts.

  2. 2 Brooke January 26, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Oops- I meant thoughts.

  3. 3 Harvey Lynch January 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Hello Geraldine,

    Wow, it sounds like you have been having a really hard time. I was expecting this round of chemo to be harder than before, but this was more than I imagined. I am at a loss for words. Although the content of the posting was disturbing, be assured that I am still with you in thought and heart, not only as much as before, but even more. All of us out here are pulling for you, and you will eventually be back to join us in your laughs, your loves, and your vibrant life.



  4. 4 Harvey Lynch January 26, 2009 at 10:56 pm


    Thank you for all that you do for Geraldine and her family. You are showing what a marvelous thing a real human being can be. Geraldine — and for that matter the world — is richer because of your caring actions.


  5. 5 Nicole January 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Malcolm, I don’t know you, but you are the greatest friend Geraldine has! You are so supportive and so caring! Can I adopt you?
    Geraldine, “Petit Coeur” Hurrah! you got over the worst day with flying colors! What a girl! Your determination, your resilience, your courage will get you well. In the meantime, take care, be patient, listen to the doctors …. and keep that sharp spirit which is your trademark! Love ya!

  6. 6 Candis January 27, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Visiting Geraldine on Sunday was easily the highlight of my weekend. Not that it isn’t difficult to see a friend in that condition but because Geraldine has such an inner light that cancer can’t even upstage it.

    G-You’re a sick chick and I’m not talking about the big C! I love you and I think about you everyday. C.

  7. 7 Allie January 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Oh G – it was so good to see you smiling on Sunday, even moreso now that I have read Malcom’s narrative of Saturday. I knew it was bad, but he really brought home how dangerous the Cytoxan is. Thank God that’s the last of it. Here’s to Day 1!
    Love you,

  8. 8 Gwen January 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    “Ah, Geraldine. You have such strength and resilience. And you’re a complete pain in the ass. ;)”
    Rarely have I seen a more accurate quote. Love you lots Geraldine.

  9. 9 Jeff Rock January 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Anytime. Hopefully Geraldine will be well enough to watch Amelie on Saturday.

  10. 10 Courtney January 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Hi sweetie! Just reading this post. So so scary. I can’t imagine going through that. So thankful that you are feeling better. Sorry I wasn’t able to talk to you Sunday night. So glad that your Sunday was much better and that you had so many loved ones around you. Big hug coming your way. I love you.

  11. 11 Diana January 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    You amaze me every time I read your/Malcom’s post. I was so excited to talk to you a couple days ago. You are one tough cookie and then some! Keep up the tough fight!
    Love PPU

  12. 12 Libby February 1, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Keep your head up, Super Duckie Woman. Or were you Super Pelican Woman? Either way, you are a strong, SILLY superhero and I’m thinking about you.

    Hurry up and get yourself out of that hospital so you can come to CA for some sun and fun! Say hello to your parents and Viv Babe for me.

    – L

  13. 13 Vanda February 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    My dear Geraldine, your determination is astounding!
    I wish you that very soon all that you are going through will be forgotten and you life will be just a flowery path of joy.

  14. 14 Risa February 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Hey sweetie!
    It was so good to see you yesterday. I am glad you are feeling much better than this last post. You looked beautiful as always…
    Keep your chin up!


  15. 15 kim February 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Seeing you on Sunday, it was tough to imagine how different things were for you just the day before. You remain so beautiful inside and out, even when you’re talking crap. I felt priveleged to be able to come and see you and I think about you each and every day.
    And, Malcom, who knew you’d turn out to be such a hero?
    Love you G.

  16. 16 Bill Blake February 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Hey G-Bug,
    Have you moved out to your swanky Richmond apartment yet???

    Did Viv like her roses?

    You are an amazing young woman. It was great seeing and talking with you last week.

  17. 17 Mary Wilborn February 6, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Malcolm, Thanks for taking care of her for ALL of us! I have never meet you but hope to one day. Thankfully there a people in the world like you! It makes me happy just knowing that! Mare

    Giga, I am SO sorry you had to go through that! It does not surprise we you were back to your normally crazy, FUN, self the next day. You are the strongest women I know!

    I have not had time to tell you yet….I was able to talk an Elementary school in P-Town to do a Mini Relay for Life at their school which is this coming Tuesday. They finally said yes during your first treatment…With every meeting I have had and every phone call I have made you have been in my thoughts! I love you so much and cannot way to see you! 🙂


  18. 18 Brooke February 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Hi honey, Sorry I haven’t made it up to see you yet. Had sore throats in my household (strep was going around my classroom but luckily we didn’t get it). Definitely couldn’t go up there with my germs. I will give you a ring. Always in my thoughts. 🙂

  1. 1 Rotten Tomatoes and Hot Dogs at Trackback on February 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm
  2. 2 Rotten Tomatoes and Hot Dogs « Friends of Geraldine Trackback on March 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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