Chanel No. 5

by Phyllis Zellmer, HPCCR patient

Chanel No 5There are certain chemo drugs that prevent a patient from using fragrant lotions.  I’ve learned all about the non-fragrant products and decided to lend my considerable consumer influence to champion Aveeno.  This product is great for those undergoing any type of medical treatment that has you scouring the aisles of Rite Aid while scratching your back, butt, and legs at the same time.  You will not look like Jennifer Aniston after two-weeks usage but your skin will repair itself.

All this being said was not to minimize how much a woman desires her fragrant lotions.  My son exclaimed, “My God, Mom has her own Bath & Body Works store in this drawer!  And there is more upstairs.”  Nonsense.  I only buy some of my favorites products online during their closeout sales.

It is just awful to have a favorite signature fragrance, like Clean Cotton, only to wake up one day and discover the marketing department of Bath & Body Works has decided to slightly change the formula to appeal to a wider audience.  This really translated into “not to just old ladies.” So the newer fragrance became Sea Island Cotton.  I even checked out the ingredients to make sure this savvy consumer was not being ripped off.

During my third year of chemo, my friend, who I call the “Elizabeth Taylor Look-Alike”, gave me a bottle of Channel No. 5 lotion.  Oh my gosh, one sniff of that fragrance and it was as if the Sea Islands had fallen to the bottom of the ocean.

Unfortunately, I was on Gemzar which meant I could use only non-fragrant lotions, avoid sun, yada, yada, yada.  I dutifully did all the right things while the pink bottle of Channel stood haugh­tily in the fancy storage caddy next to my tub. Every month or so, the dust would get wiped off the black cap and I’d think, “Could I use that now?” Then those nasty side effects would appear just from trying Sea Island Cotton again, so my Channel went back to collecting dust.

One of the things that hospice does is provide help for every conceivable comfort that can be reasonably managed.  This includes sending out a CNA to help with bathing if needed.  Sorry to say, that little issue had to be addressed our first hospice week because I was just too weak to stand and wash my own back.  You hate it, but what are you gonna do?  The Lord has sent you some support, so are you going to say, “Nay Lord. I think that I’ll just pass out in the shower and stink for the rest of the day?”

Today when Janee, my CNA, came to help me with my toiletry, things got very aromatic around here.  I have been so nauseous for two days.  In this condition, you get weak and weaker as the malady literally drains you.  Of course, there is a shower seat inside our ample new bathroom but it does not prevent you from falling off the “half-moon” if you are not holding onto something besides a scrubby.  After shower time was over, the drying-off phase of “the lady’s toilet” started.

During the towelling-off time, I sit on a stool and behave like a baby.  I get dried from head to toe before I am allowed to stand.  No matter that Janee could slip and fall in the water we’ve splashed onto the floor, but I digress.  When the patting dry began, I looked over at the basket holding all of the fine toiletries a lady could ever want.  Janee and I eyed that little pink bottle at the same time.

“Miss Phyllis, what do you want to smell like today?” is barely out of her mouth before I lift the dust-covered bottle and ask her opinion of Chanel No. 5.  “Elizabeth Taylor Look-Alike” would have been proud to hear of Janee’s endorsement of this elite fragrance.

Janee dusted off that bottle and started smoothing lotion on my back and arms, and then took a break to gather crushed ice for the nausea, but nothing stopped us from getting that lotion rubbed in from my head to toes.

Our bathroom smelled like a salon and the fragrance followed me as I hiked from the bathroom to the screened porch where I spent the rest of the day admiring how nice I smelled, despite filling up a couple of barf bags.

Isn’t the Lord grand?  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  The Chanel did not camouflage the reality of nausea, but it just did not seem to be as awful as it could have been.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, blog, cancer, caregiving, hospice

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