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Eamonn Conrad Headshot

Living in the Chemo Ward

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There are two ways to get chemotherapy that I know of: in-patient or outpatient.

I had both ways, but I found in-patient to be much more difficult to deal with. As an out patient at least I could go feel like garbage at home.

I didn't have a lot of visitors when I was an in patient. I got used to being without a lot of people around me, and only a friend or two and the nursing staff to keep me company. They made sure I never spent a night in the chemo ward alone. For whatever reason, patients didn't seem to talk too much to one another. Not much to say I guess. It may have been the age gap. Everyone except one guy was older then me, by a wide margin. I don't view this as a bad thing. I will never forget the first day I was in the chemo ward, someone came in with a fever/infection and died a few hours later. This would set the tone for the fear for me with every chemo treatment and every infection I had. The man's mother crying and screaming is something I won't ever forget

I found it really hard being in the chemo ward, but I won't complain about it. Some people had to stay much longer than me. Some people were there for weeks, or even months at a time. I am sure some people I met never left. That is the saddest part. I had to stay five days at a time, longer if I got sick. the first day in was always really long, blood tests, meeting with the doctors. Making sure I was in good enough shape to get the chemo. Some days you weren't. It was really hard to go home and prepare yourself mentally again for the next week. But even though these days were long, the week itself was really more difficult. Thursday was the worst. Knowing I only had one more day to go. I always wanted to leave so bad. My doctor would let me leave for an hour or so when I finished chemo each day. It was the best part of my day. Sometimes I would get out at breakfast too if chemo was delayed, it felt like escaping from prison.

I always had to go in to their emergency room when I got sick. This would usually end up with another three to four day stay. This happened basically happen a week after every chemo treatment, save a few times. I never felt like it was an "emergency" but when you have a fever and people are calling in doctors from their homes at midnight, as much as you don't want to believe it is serious, you know it is. I was usually too sick to care though. The chemo ward is depressing is easily the most depressing place I have ever been. The smell, the pain, it was hard. I have gone back though, stepping back onto that floor, after all I had been through, it was tough, but as I volunteer there now, i do it on my own terms, which makes it manageable. I am not scared of it any more.

I am glad for the people that work their though, they are easily some of the most dedicated and important people I have ever met. They were professional, honest, and organized! I could not imagine how busy and difficult that job must be!

I spent the better part of half a year in the chemo ward. It is one of the biggest things that drives me to continue to help people who are there, and keep people from having to go there. I look forward to a day where the chemo ward is not a prison for anyone, and is completely unnecessary.

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