During my recent treatment for breast cancer, I found myself spiking a fever after the 10th chemotherapy dose. It had been smooth sailing up until then, minus just a bit of fatigue, thanks to all of the integrative treatments I was doing, but this time, I ended up in the emergency room.
It turned out that the port catheter they installed under the muscle in my right chest to administer the chemotherapy was infected. It was puffy and swollen and had to be taken out before I became septic. For most people with stage IV cancer, being hospitalized is the norm; but I was very proud to only be in the hospital for four days. When your immune system is weak, the last place you want to be is where sick people are.
After they removed the catheter, I was left with an open wound that looked like a mouth in my chest. I learned that it needed to heal from the inside-out, so I was dealing with a hole in my chest about three inches deep and three inches wide.
It was very uncomfortable and delicate and probably the most real and painful part of the entire cancer treatment journey. I was referred to a place called Wound Care, which I later learned is one of the most brutal departments in the hospital. At my first appointment, I found myself waiting to get my vitals taken, looking at a tray of metal instruments that did not look very fun. (One of them, for instance, looked similar to a melon baller tool, only very small and metal.) These were tools they used to “stimulate new tissue growth,” or, in other words, to dig around in my open wound.
I tried to be brave, but I can never explain the torture those wound care appointments were. My juicer has a certified therapy dog, and I was able to bring him to the next appointment to sit with me while I quietly endured the pain. It helped so much. The dog, a small 8-year-old purebred Papillon, was very sensitive and would lick my hand when I was tensed up. It really did calm me down. The love he gave me was pure and real, and it worked.
I don’t know what I would have done without that comfort, so I am happy to tell you there is an app for anyone who might need to borrow a furry friend for whatever reason. Bark’N’Borrow is a network for dog owners, professional sitters and borrowers. Dog owners in Honolulu sign up and always have access to dog sitters or “borrowers” when they need to go to work or take a trip. Dog sitters sign up for extra gigs, and borrowers just sign up for when they need some extra love.
We all know that dogs love you unconditionally and hate being left alone, so this app also is for them in a sense. That’s why I don’t have a dog — I just couldn’t bear to ever leave it alone. If I ever have the type of life where my dog can come with me everywhere, then it’s on, but until then, I can use Bark’N’ Borrow.
CHRISTA WITTMIER IS “SUPERCW” ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA. FIND HER ON SNAPCHAT, SOUNDCLOUD, TWITTER, VINE AND INSTAGRAM. BY NIGHT, SHE IS KNOWN AS DJ SUPERCW. BY DAY, SHE IS KNOWN AS SENIOR MARKETING DIRECTOR FOR YOUNG’S MARKET COM PANY OF HAWAII. HER NIGHTLIFE BLOG SUPERCITY RUNS EVERY WEDNESDAY ON HONOLULUPULSE.COM.