CaringBridge Journal for Shira Ballon
Flying home from Chicago and a lovely visit with Shira, Marty, and of all people, Debbie! (Yes, it seems odd to "visit" my wife in Chicago, but she’s been there over two weeks now supporting Shira in so many ways—physically and emotionally above all. I don't question the importance of my lending some moral support on the day of Shira's first chemotherapy treatment. I also acknowledge that all the heavy lifting had been done before my arrival including, as I was en route, the surgical procedure to install the infusion port.
With that accomplished all of the truly challenging tasks of a long week were complete. The results of the pulmonary test and the PET scan were favorable. Not to diminish the significance of the first chemo, but Shira said that it was a much easier day than the one that preceded it. My impression of Swedish Covenant Hospital's infusion center was 100% favorable. Every single person from the receptionist to the oncologist to the nurses, the social worker, the art therapist, the cafeteria workers, and last but not least the massage therapist could not have been more pleasant, supportive, and competent.
It was a long day. The first infusion requires additional safeguards to assure the patient doesn't have an adverse reaction to the medicines. They placed Shira in a chair in a location that provided ample room for Marty, Debbie and me to be at Shira's side. We would take turns taking care of our own needs as well as Shira's (I walked to a nearby Greek restaurant to get her some chicken kebabs that she requested only to discover it was the place lampooned by SNL—"You lika da juice?")
It was comforting for Shira to hear the nurse’s comment that the port had been installed exceedingly well—with very little redness or swelling that is often the case. I suppose the highlight was the massage therapist giving us caregivers a rub as well as the patient!
After Shira's day in the chair the four of us managed to have a weekend film/food-a-thon, culminated by a sumptuous Fathers Day brunch that had me in a food coma until well into this flight! Marty’s hospitality and talent in the kitchen is beyond abundant.
I confess, waltzing in and out as I had the good fortune to do may not make me the most reliable witness to what has transpired and continues to. Sure, there were difficult moments for all of us. I wouldn't want to misstate the physical symptoms and emotional challenges. Those moments, however, seem to be obscured, at least for me, by Shira's courage and resilience, Marty's devotion, Debbie's selfless nursing/mothering, and the unending support of family and friends from all over.
Shira was feeling well enough to contemplate going to work for a bit on Monday. Debbie plans to return to Palo Alto on Tuesday (I think she misses her garden.) Parting will not be easy, but will be eased by the continued support from Shira's posse in Chicago. Brother Jake and sister Becca plan to be on hand for the next 2 infusions respectively, and then Debbie may return. Time will tell when the treatments give Shira relief from the debilitating symptoms of the lymphoma—soon, we all pray.
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