Written by a mom who’s “been there”. Your head is spinning. Blood tests, biopsies, CT scans, radiation schedules, chemo drugs (Who can pronounce them?). There is so much to learn and too much to remember. Right? Well, put that all aside for a minute. Take a deep breath (that’s right – in and out, a little slower this time). Center yourself. Think happy thoughts. Now, that you are calm and somewhat rational (well, at least calm!), you need to prepare one little thing critical to your overall peace of mind and well-being. You never want to leave home without it. Having this one, small item with you at all times, will save you and your teenager the worst indignity of all. What could be so important? The insurance card? No. The syringe of epinephrine? Nope. The cell phone? Not that either.

Seasoned parents already know what I’m talking about – it’s the Puke Bucket, of course.

OK, I know it sounds a bit uncouth and very ill mannered but trust me, you’ll be glad you have it when you need it. Here’s everything you need to know: * First, most chemotherapy drugs cause some level of nausea and vomiting. Often, the worst hits several hours after the drug is administered – usually just as you are ready to bundle your kid up and take him or her home.

  • Make sure that anti-nausea drugs have been given prior to the chemo. Sometimes you can preempt an attack by giving an anti-emetic as soon as your teen begins to feel nauseous. Over time, you’ll get to know which ones work better than others.
  • Don’t be surprised if a wave of nausea hits when least expected. Over time, you’ll learn the triggers – the smell of the hospital food tray is a biggy, sometimes extreme heat will do it, a bumpy car ride, fevers, nerves, the moon and stars aligning, who knows?
  • The trick is to have a bucket and clean towels nearby at all times. Stash them in every room of your house and in your car. Don’t be embarrassed to carry one with you enroute from the parking garage into the hospital.
  • Teens tell us that puking in public or in the car is the worst. You just never know. So, be prepared.

You’ll learn to cope with this, too. It’s just one more thing that will cause your teen to be forever grateful. When things settle down, don’t be surprised if you both laugh about the ever-present “Puke Bucket”.