Because goodbye seem so ordinary. So this is the Swedish version, in honor of Peter Forsberg, Sven the Volvo, and some of my ancestors.
I'm done. Too much. Or, in the words of Bill Paxton, "Game over, man!"
For one thing, I'm getting sicker. There's a thing called CRCI -- chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment. I'm pretty sure I have it, and while it gets better for some people, for some people it never gets better. It's a bit alarming that it become so bad so soon. The last three days I have deteriorated so much that I can't drive anymore (I confuse left and right, and I get lost in neighborhoods I know well.) I have trouble holding a conversation. I can't remember words.I have trouble typing. (I will not tell you how long it has taken to type this correctly. I spell a lot of things wrong and use words that don't mean what I intend them to. A lot of sentences are really poorly constructed, but I don't know how to fix them anymore)
So I've got some decisions to make. If there's even a small chance that this will become permanent with more chemotherapy, I'm not sure what I'll do. In some cases, there are permanent effects on the brain, like having a series of small strokes. Being a writer and designer relies completely on cognitive function. Other than something happening to my husband or kids, the thing that has always scared me most is having something go wrong in my brain. That would kill me faster than any cancer. So even if there's just a 10% chance that this will become permanent and I'll never write again, I think I will stop the chemotherapy and just roll the dice. Besides my kids, I now have nothing left except my mind. Everything else is gone. And if I can't work to support the kids and they end up spending all their time trying to take care of me, or I can't ever do the thing that defines me (writing) -- then there is finally nothing left. This moment I am as terrified as I have ever been in my life.
I'm going to scrape up the money for another copay and see my oncologist and learn about my options. Maybe there is some way around it. But any chance that this will become permanent is a deal-breaker. I don't care how good the odds are. Besides, I've been in the 10% group every step of the way! Why should it stop now?
Secondly, I've again been told that by writing anything that expresses my anger or discontent toward my situation toward the one person I blame (Oh, and you know who you are -- even if your smokescreen is to always play innocent and take absolutely no responsibility for your actions) I am an evil bitch who is "attacking" innocent people.
And, yes, I am angry. Boundlessly angry. I have never spent so much time being absolutely furious as I have since July 15th. And I will admit that sometimes I open a little steam valve, because if I don't release some of the absolute poison in my head about what's happened to me and the children, I feel like I'll explode. I thought that this was a much better option than going full metal vengeance, which has been soooooo tempting because it would give me at least a few moments away from the absolutely crushing heartache and dismay I feel nearly every moment of every day. But I'm not that person. Or at least I fight really hard constantly to not be that person. Today I will really fail and allow myself to be that person for a few minutes. (Think of it as the goodbye tour where I got really drunk and trashed the hotel room.) Because no matter how hard I try, and very often when I didn't even do anything at all, I still get the blame. I never get credit for the times I try and make things better, for the times I try so hard to be reasonable, for all the really horrible things I've forgiven. I may get in a little dig every once in a while, but even that's unacceptable. Never mind what people have said about me, I must not express any negative emotions. If I step one toe over the invisible line, I'm the worst person ever. Apparently the victim has no right to be angry and no right to redress, while the perpetrators go on with their lives except for the time out they take to blame the victim and plot ways to make it seem like they haven't done what they've done at all. Oh, and I'm sure there would be a TON of blame coming my way today if I hadn't already sobbed my way through the morning and then finally, because I have nothing left to lose, said "Fuck it." I'll still probably hear about it some time, maybe even today. I'm sure there must still be some ways not attempted yet to punish me for having emotions.
So, I don't play that anymore. After today, I'll swallow my anger, despair, and need for some balancing of the scales and just let it fester away. I guess the best way to not get blamed for everything is to just not do anything at all anymore, no matter how innocent. I'll go back to being invisible so that, dog forbid, I don't make anyone uncomfortable, so that my very existence doesn't offend them.
So there -- anyone who wants to understand what happened can read between the lines, or think whatever they want, because apparently that's what people will do anyway. (Look away if you want to, because I am going to express my anger one last time before I disappear. Dog knows I've earned at least that much. Yeah, I feel a little vindictive, but if I've got wear the label, I should at least get something out of it. Nothing worse than being blamed for something you didn't do. I'm only human, and I wish so much I didn't feel this way, but that's a cross I bear alone.)
So, Mazel Tov, person who can't be named. Enjoy everything you've fought so hard to take. I guess that's pretty easy for someone with no moral center and no conscience. How you could do what you've done (over and over apparently) to another human being, I'll never understand. I would never do that to anyone, not even my worst enemy. But who cares what I think? So henceforth I will speak no more of anything, ever. Full steam ahead with your rehabilitation tour. I'm sure some people will fall for it. You're precious reputation will remain intact, until the next time you do something unforgivable and it finally comes back to bite you. I know what people say, more people than I would ever have imagined, and it's not very flattering. Buy, hey, I'm sure you'll be as oblivious to that as you are to everything else. (Yoga class, really?????) I've also been told by several people that while Karma might take a while to come around, it eventually does, and if you're lucky enough, you get to see it. But Karma is not in my job description, so as far as I'm concerned, you have ceased to exist. You name will never be spoken of in our house again. And when we forget about you, you will cease to have the power to hurt us anymore. (And even as I'm typing this, I'm knowing on some level that I will regret it greatly, because it will hurt someone I've tried to never hurt. On the other hand, I might as well go out with a bang! This will be a clean breaking point and I can henceforth think of this as before and after. As the day when I stopped trying to fix things that are unfixable and just gave the hell up. Anybody who is pissed off, good for you. I'm just as awful as I've been told I am. Don't you feel vindicated now? You are the special snowflake, after all! You win ALL the prizes!)
In fact, I'm never going to speak of anything publicly again -- or at least for a long, long while. So this is goodbye (in whatever language you would like to hear it in). No more Facebook, no more Twitter, no more Spectral Obelisk. I said goodbye to the person I love most in the world this morning, the person I will love until the day I die. I took a vow and meant it, and, in my heart, I can't change that, so I will keep that vow forever, quietly and out of everyone's way. In my current state, that was the hardest thing I've ever, ever done. But I can't take any of it anymore. If I'm going to save myself and the kids, I just need to be shut of this. Apparently that can be extraordinarily easy for some people -- but I think for me it won't be. But I refuse to be the dog that keeps walking up and wagging it's tail, only to be kicked again.
I would like to thank all the people who have been so wonderful, so helpful, so caring, so understanding, so supportive. It truly has been the only thing that has kept me going. (Well, that and blogging -- but that's all over with now.) I know I've been pretty grumpy for a while, and thank you all for putting up with me at my absolute worst. Oh, and you know my problems with the heater and the wiring? Well, several really swell people have helped me solve those problems, and they did it out of kindness and generosity of the soul. They saw that I needed help, and they gave it. I can't ever thank them enough.These are really the best people I've ever known and I won't name names, but you know who you are.
I'm going to miss everybody. Maybe I'll be back later when at least some of this nightmare is over. In the meantime, I wish everyone strength and happiness, joy and wellbeing. I'm going to try really hard to take care of myself and the kids and get us all through this with as little damage as possible. I'm going to try and get well. I'm going to continue to work to be a better person, and not give into anger or sorrow. It's always a struggle, and I know I fail a lot of the time. In fact, I may the failingest person I know. But I do have faith that someday things will be better.
Be kind to each other. Try your best and don't be too hard on yourself when you stumble. Try every day to do one thing, no matter how small, to make the world a better place or make someone happy or show someone you love them. In the end that's what defines us when it's all said and done: kindness, compassion, love.
I am tired and feeling the effects (I think) of the hyperparathyroidism, which include diminished fine motor skills and some cognitive difficulties. This is not helpful at all, seeing as I work with my brain and my hands. They say it all goes away with surgery. I sure hope so, because otherwise I'm slowly grinding to a halt.
I'm trying to get so much work out to clients, but nothing will attach in email. No matter how small the file. The glorious effects of living in an internet black hole. I need to bill people, but it's impossible if I can't deliver any files because THEY WON'T FREAKING ATTACH.
Avs lost in overtime. Again. On paper our offense should be explosive. In reality, not so much. YET. (I DO have a sincere pumpkin patch. Maybe the most sincerest.) Sigh. This has been a tremendously depressing hockey season so far. Also, I think the Jets had an illegal force field around their net.
Was reminded today why I make sure I'm always with my kids. Some people just can't help themselves, no matter how many times they have been expressly told to STOP DOING SOMETHING THAT HURTS PEOPLE. Kids are mad, and now I'm mad, and I am tremendously exhausted by all the times I've been forced to be mad. STILL MAD EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT. (Stupidity or Evil? Why not both?)
It's become rather inconvenient having to unplug the fridge and plug in the washer every time we need to wash clothes. We either need to stop eating anything refrigerated or start throwing out our clothes when they get dirty.
Forgot I had another doctor's appointment tomorrow, 45 minutes away, in the middle of the day. (This is that whole cognitive difficulties thing.) Going to doctors 4-5 times a week is really meddling with my freaking work schedule, at the time when I can't really afford it. And by "afford it," I mean I HAVE NO MONEY. I can't work when I'm at the doctors, and I can't bill for the work I have done, because NOTHING WILL ATTACH TO EMAIL.
In the words of Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy, "My easygoing nature is being sorely fucking tested." Amen.
Update: files won't even upload if I use Google Docs or Box.com. I'm going to have to trap some carrier pigeons and equip them with snap drives. And some of my clients live very, very far away. Like Europe and Australia. I'm not sure carrier pigeons can even make that trip unless they find a wormhole.
So, yeah, a little shouty and a little stabby today. Hopefully Walking Dead tonight will be as good as the last two episodes. (LESS EUGENE PLEASE.) When I go to bed tonight, I'm going to erase this day from my memory, and start over fresh. (Does electroshock therapy help with that? With the wiring in the house, I could probably arrange a home treatment for myself. )
In short *grumble grumble grumble, yell, grumble grumble grumble*
You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming, which is hopefully not an Avalanche game or an episode of The Walking Dead featuring any Eugene.
Man, am I getting tired of being all complainy. I really try hard to look at the positives, which is sometimes quite difficult, being the normally gloomy pessimist that I was born. But things do just keep getting better and better (she said sarcastically).
Needed labwork yesterday to check on the worrisome hypercalcimia and to make sure my white count, platelet count, and hematocrit weren't taking a dive. Went to the lab bright and early -- well, at 10:00 -- and there was a room full of people. The tech said, "Sorry, Ma'am, we're closed," which seemed odd because there was obviously a room full of people and it was, after all, only 10:00 in the morning. I must have looked non-plussed, because she further explained, "After I see all these clients, I'm closing up." It seemed perfectly normal for me to ask when she would reopen. She replied, "I have no way of knowing, Sometime this afternoon, but you'll have to check back to find out the afternoon hours." This struck me as a very shoddy way to run a business. Still, I had little choice.
We took fancy take-out lunch to one kid (well, as fancy at Taco Bell gets -- for some reason the kids think it's haute cuisine) because he was having a particularly rough time and I hoped it would make him feel better. Then we walked around Walgreens for 45 minutes, because, why not? We drove back to the lab, found out they would be open again at 1:00, so did defensive driving maneuvers in the parking lot for a half an hour, just in case a zombie apocalypse broke out while we were inside. You never know.
Blood taken, went home, just in time to go back and start picking up kids. Another day shot! Dropped one kid off at drama and took the other kid to get some Taco Bell for dinner -- important rule: if one kid gets Taco Bell, the other kid must also get Taco Bell within 24 hours or there is a rip in the space/time continuum. Or as Nicky calls it, a rip in the space/time condominium.
Got kid back from drama, came home, opened the fridge. The fridge was not on. Checked around, found the breaker for that part of the kitchen (stove and fridge) was tripped. Switched it back, it tripped again. Once more, with the same result. Pulled up info from the interwebs which said, "If a tripped breaker immediately trips again, DO NOT TRY TO FLIP IT BACK ON." Oops. Clearly said to call an electrician immediately before your house burns down and you all die. This was alarming. Not as alarming of as the smell of smoke in the hallway, though. It turned out to be from a power strip in the boys' room which was kind of scorched. Yeah, no idea. Unplugged it and threw it away. By this time the alarmed feeling was definitely increasing. Unplugged fridge and stove. Tried to calm kids down. Debated whether we could all fit in the car, along with the dogs and cats, overnight in case the house did decide to burn down. This seemed unworkable. No help from any quarter. Didn't want the food to go bad, so took the extension cord that runs the washer (the laundry room outlet that regularly runs the washer had shorted out about 18 months ago -- and there's also a shorted out outlet in one of the bathrooms -- yes, the house was apparently wired by meth-addled woodchucks and is probably a deathtrap in ways I haven't even considered) and found that if I plugged that in in a different hallway, we could alternate plugging appliances in. So most of the time we'll run the refrigerator off the extension cord, only unplugging it when we have to do laundry. And we can unplug that if we have to plug in the oven, or simply only eat things that can be heated in a microwave or eaten cold.)
And, yes, you're asking why I haven't called an electrician. Well, like doctors, electricians like to charge for their skills. Unfortunately doctors have already taken up all the money, and there is currently none left over for electricians. (Which is also why we have no working heater in the house -- hoping for a mild winter!) Come to think of it, though, if we lived totally without any utilities for a while, we might be able to afford to choose one item to get repaired! Maybe we can score a reality show about people who live like pioneers, or possibly cavemen! Really, there's opportunity everywhere you look.
Also, went back to the oncologist today to check yesterday's labwork. My WBC, RBC, Platelets, and Hematocrit all look good. So no expensive Neulasta shots to boost my immune system. Yay! But -- and there's always a but anymore -- the high blood calcium is yet higher and and the parathyroid hormone analyte is also way high The good news is that doesn't indicate any kind of cancer. The bad news is that it does indicate a wonky set of parathyroid glands. This, unfortunately, necessitates seeing an endocrinologist that is located over an hour away (because that's the only endocrinologist anywhere within driving distance that is covered under my insurance). It also means another surgery to remove my parathyroid glands. Yippee! The trifecta. I asked if this was something that needed to be done soon. My oncologist replied, "Well, soon-ish. Within the next two months." I asked because, even though I have already hit my out of pocket insurance limit with copays alone, it's all happened so fast that nothing is showing up on my insurance yet. And being that they won't take my word for it in any fine doctoring establishments that I am currently frequenting, I'm still paying hundreds of dollars in copays every week, with no end in sight. The copay well has run dry. After this week, it will be a choice between copays or eating food or defaulting on all the household bills. I'm supposed to be on a conference call with my insurance company case worker and the benefits department tomorrow to see if we can get all the claims expedited, but, honestly, at this point, I don't hold out much hope. Maybe they'll take an organ in exchange for enough money to pay for the next chemo round. Although I'm starting to get low on the organ front. I think most of the ones I still have left are pretty vital. So we'll see.
I was recently told that my health problems are "very convenient" and quite burdensome to the delicate sensibilities of certain people. Something about making me too sympathetic for some people's tastes. To which I say: Why, yes, this is all very convenient! Just as I planned it. Muhahahahahahaha. Even I can't understand my own evil genius.
So there, I groused about it, and now I go forward. I don't think people are bound to feeling sympathetic to me, because as bad as things are, there are tons of people who have it worse. Lots of people who have things that are waaaaay worse. Things I probably couldn't even imagine dealing with. And there are people who suck, and have to live with the fact that they suck, while at least I feel pretty good about myself 90% of the time. (And of course there are people too self-involved to realize how much they suck, but what are you going to do? Live and let live. I'll worry about myself, thanks.) In some respects, I'm quite, quite fortunate, and don't think I'm not grateful for that.
Message for the day? I don't think I have one. I've expended a lot of words in a lot of different mediums lately -- should that be media? I dunno anymore. And for all I say, a lot of times it just feels like messages in a bottle or scraps thrown into a wind storm. But at least saying things gets them out of my head. It's the only way I have left to deal with things, because every other avenue has been blocked off or bricked over or shunted into another dimension. Every signpost I relied on for the past 20 years to show me the way to safety has been systematically dismantled and burned until there aren't even any ashed left. So maybe the message is, as usual lately, to do your best. Do what you need to get by, to stay sane, to protect yourself and those you love. Sometimes it's a little to much to try to save everyone or help everyone, especially those who see your help as a hindrance (or an evil plan). Do what you can, when you can. Pick your battles. Decided which hill is the one you're bound to die one, the one that is truly worth it, and make that one count. Think good thoughts for those who have it tougher than you, no matter how tough you have it. Because no matter how tough you have it, there's ALWAYS somebody who has it tougher. Understanding that helps you keep your perspective and stalls the little pity-party that sometimes springs up. It's all right to feel sorry for yourself. To feel pissed off. To rail at the unfairness of something. To scream at someone that this, this right here, is the final straw. To want someone to hold you or take your side or just make you feel that everything isn't an unmitigated disaster, to make you feel safe, to tell you everything is going to be okay and make you believe it. But sometimes all you've got is you, and it seems like that's just not going to be enough. So you cry or fall apart a little, or even a lot. And after you've got that out of your system, go forward. There's no other direction that's going to take you anywhere good or anywhere worth being. .
So, chemotherapy kind of kicked my ass. Not the first day or the second day. But the third day was pretty brutal. Feeling like crap intensified my pre-existing soul-crushing depression issue. (Health care providers keep asking me if my depression is related to my cancer diagnosis -- which is apparently pretty common -- and I keep telling them, "No, trust me, finding out I had cancer was NOT the worst thing that happened to me this summer." And then I explain the situation and everybody feels bad. Right now I am the opposite of whatever a ray of sunshine is, spreading darkness and gloom wherever I go.)
So this weekend I mostly tried to make myself eat, vomited repeatedly -- in the parking lot at the SLU homecoming game, once so violently that I vomited blood, every time I thought about ingesting anything -- and randomly burst into tears. It wasn't so much physical nausea as the trauma-induced anorexia I've been fighting with since July, so the anti-nausea meds aren't really helping, because it's mostly in my head. Oh, and the body aches. The heating pad was not large enough to cover everything that hurt. The dogs all got up on the bed and cuddled me, because even as dumb as they are I think the realized how pathetic I was, and that helped some, but still.
So Monday it was back to my GP, who prescribed a new drug to add to the regimen to help with the anxiety, insomnia, and anorexia. And some great news -- other than the crippling sadness and cancer, I'm really, really healthy! So last night I took the new pill along with my regular anti-depressant, and within an hour I was asleep. I didn't have any disturbing dreams -- in fact I had a rather affirming dream. And I didn't pop awake at 3 AM or 4 AM. I did however sleep through the first and second alarms, and only woke up when it was 10 minutes before the kids had to leave for school. (It seems Nickolas kept helpfully hitting the snooze bar....) But I got lunches and snacks made and got them dressed, kitted up, and brushed and combed in time for them to make it. I went back to bed for a bit, because I was still a little groggy, and didn't get back up till 9:00. So either I've got to take the pill earlier or try cutting it in half. I feel enough like a zombie right now that I don't need any chemical zombie enhancement.
When I did get up, I managed to go shopping without feeling too nauseous -- even seeing food in the store is a bit too much lately -- and also managed to make three phone calls. Then I managed to eat a chicken strip, a snack cake, and a quart of skim milk. An hour after that, I also had a package of oatmeal/brown sugar/nut granola (thanks to my daughter who is trying desperately to supply me with snacks I can eat) and a cranberry Sprite. And, so far, knock wood, I haven't thrown up! So, yay, me.
And there was something else I realized this weekend, when I was laying there feeling like hell. Sometimes the only way is through. Sometimes you have to have a whole lot of patience. You definitely have to have a lot of faith. And if you do your best, keep your faith, and try to be true to the things that are most important to you, there is always hope, no matter how hopeless things may temporarily seem. And while it's really tempting to rise to the bait that some people of bad intention throw out, that only sinks you to their level, and there is nothing to be gained there, so it's best to just walk on by and not give them the satisfaction of screwing up the universe any more than they already have. I've been told by several people lately that karma works, sometimes it just works really, really, almost glacially slowly. That there is a righting of things. And while things seem so unworkable and hard and terrifying and heartbreaking right now, in the end I do have complete and utter faith that it's going to be okay. Someone I love very, very, very much once told me that certain things are fate, that there is no explaining them. And sometimes those things that are most important to us become temporarily lost -- through carelessness, through a passing lack of faith, through a web of circumstance that seems impossible to navigate back to through to where you're supposed to be. A lot of people give up, cut their losses, shut down a piece of their heart, and crawl away. But that is not in my nature. And so, despite the transient moments of despair, I will not give up. I will repair whatever needs repairing, do my best to replace anger with love, and always be there for the people who need me, whether they notice it or not. And I won't succeed every day -- in fact, I imagine there will be days that I feel like I can't succeed at all and I'll fall prey to worst things in my nature. But I will remind myself that this too shall pass, and with every setback I'll learn something. And when it comes down to it, I have nothing but time. And with enough love, faith, and time, nothing is truly lost and nothing is impossible.
So yeah, a chicken strip and some orange juice is a victory of sorts. Getting out of bed and making a phone call is a victory. Helping your kid with a tough piece homework is a victory. Cuddling your kid when he feels like his world has fallen apart and making him believe that things will be better is a victory. Celebrating with your kid when she accomplishes something that seemed so intimidating is a victory. Telling someone how much you love them is a victory. Holding your tongue when you are tempted to say something petty or hurtful is a victory. Remembering the good things in the midst of all the bad is a victory. String enough of those things together, and you've gotten through a day, a week, a month, a year. String enough of those things together and you've gotten back to where you were supposed to be. Be truthful and faithful and do your best to make the world a little better whenever you have the opportunity. Don't beat yourself up when you fail to match up to your own ideals, but try harder next time. Admit when you are wrong, apologize to those you harm or hurt. It's the small victories that will get you through to where you need to be. I know where I need to be, and I'm not stopping until I get there.
So, today was the first chemotherapy session. I entered with a lot of trepidation, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. (Portions of this narrative have been redacted to avoid any pearl-clutching or fainting couch usage. Thanks, William Vitka! You're my hero. Fill in the blanks with whatever your heart desires. It'll probably be funnier than what actually happened. Also, remember that the visible length of the redacted portions has little relation to actual length of the un-redacted original, because math is hard and hockey is coming on. So make your answers as elaborate as you like!)
Woke up this morning at 5:15, gave up on sleep. I've been having really vivid dreams that wake me like a bucket of cold water, both good dreams and bad, bad ones. The other night I had a dream where I found a lovely old Victorian I wanted to buy, but there was already someone in it refusing to leave. A squatter, if you will. Eventually the remaining members of SAMCRO and Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder came to take care of the problem -- and if you watch those programs you can guess how the problem was taken care of. Let's just say, the person left. Maybe in several pieces. So that was a bad dread that turned into the type of dream that might disturb some people who don't regularly watch the full FX lineup. Do you know why they don't schedule anything important next to Sons of Anarchy? The gunfire is bound to spill over into other timeslots and kill a lot of innocent TV bystanders. So this morning I had a dream about REDACTED , which I guess was a good dream, but still left me awake.
Got kids up and dressed for school. Went and got them up again and told them to brush their teeth. Went and got them up again and told them NOT TO LAY BACK DOWN IN BED. Eventually they were out the door. REDACTED, which was nice, and left me in a better mood. Then I went to get some biscuits from Piggly Wiggly, where I noticed they had a case of expired meat. Yay! I came home with six biscuits and $40 worth of expired meat. (For those of you not familiar with the expired meat trade, that's a lot of meat.)
Finally, at the doctor's. Amazingly on the way there we didn't see any REDACTED which I was beginning to think was unavoidable. So I didn't have to pull out any of my embarrassing "rollin' in my Volvo" moves, which will probably someday get me arrested.
At the oncologist there was weight (Minus two more pounds since last week, which will make Doctor Davis hit me with her clipboard), blood pressure, temperature and then a visit with Doctor Davis to go over labs. She asked me questions and then gave me a concerned face, the kind of face Doctor Handsome (that's not his real name, but that's how I remember him) gave me whenever he had to talk to me in the hospital and tell me something worrisome. Seems my blood calcium is high -- for those playing at home that's hypercalcemia. She looked back and saw that my blood calcium had been high for quite a while, and wondered why no one had ever mentioned it. I'm thinking with the giant REDACTED tumor, they were probably thinking a little extra calcium was the least of my problems. But she said we need to figure out why (bone cancer (highly unlikely) a problem with my parathyroid glands, or good old-fashioned dehydration). She also said that if we can't resolve it, she'll need to refer me to an endocrinologist, at which point the voice in my head went to Bill-Paxton-In-Aliens-Game-Over-Man mode, because if add one more doctor to my posse I will be able to field a freaking baseball team -- not a good one, mind you, unless we can bring Doctor Handsome in as a ringer -- but a team, nevertheless. (And you should hear some things the voice in my head says -- if you get agitated by anything I say, just remember the things that get caught in the filters are so, so much worse and so much more plentiful.)
Finally it was time for the chemo. Now, I had read up on "what to bring to chemo" so I had a bag with two novels -- both Neil Gaimen, a bottle of water, carmex, socks, a sleeve of Fig Newtons, a Milky Way bar, and a cold Mango Madness Snapple from the Dollar Store, where they always hide one behind the fruit punch and strawberry-kiwi and you have to dig for it. I also brought my squishy pillow in it's festive, happy, dancing Dio des las Meurtes skeletons pillow case and a blanket. They told me to pick a chair so I picked one in the corner, and then the nurse came to hook me up. First, I told her that I was having an allergic reaction to the steri strips and they were itching like crazy, so she pulled a couple of them off in the middle, uncovering some decent-sized blisters. She trimmed the others down to the bare minimum, which helped a lot. Then she cleaned the area with alcohol.
I screamed. Loudly. I managed not to blurt out any colorful expletives like REDACTED REDACTED, which I picked up from The Bridge -- ON FX. (I see a pattern here -- and trust me, you don't want me to say that one out loud.) You know what, if you ever want to go all Jack-Bauer on me, all you need is a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a papercut. The alcohol in that fresh incision hurt like a REDACTED. A few rounds of that and I would break like a dry twig.
Then she put the butterfly needle/valve thing in --which didn't hurt, but felt creepy -- and started the pre-chemo drugs, which take about 20 minutes to infuse. So there I was, and it hadn't been so bad. Then the guy across and down started talking about REDACTED and REDACTED, which upset me to the point that I did use some choice expletives possibly just within hearing. In my head I immediately dubbed him Racist Gerald McRaney, because he looked like Gerald McRaney (no offense to Gerald McRaney, I was a huge fan of Simon and Simon!) He tried to engage me in conversation at some point, at which time I feigned sleep. Eventually I was no longer feigning, and when I woke up they started 3 hours of Taxol. Note to self: bring headphones, because even if you're not listening to anything, people will still not try to engage you in unacceptable conversations that might cause you to become a little stabby, and will eventually escalate into something untoward.
So now the lines of chairs were starting to fill up. I was the youngest person in there by about 25 years. I was also the only person in there with hair, which made me feel guilty when I took my scrunchy off and shook out my hair so I could get the tendrils back up, and realized I was swinging my hair around like a girl from a '70s Breck commercial. (Do you remember the Breck Girls? I also remember Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, which my children refuse to believe is actually a product name, because it just seems like an open invitation to stalkers and pedophiles.) Anyway, it felt kind of like telling an anti-Semetic joke in the Catskills, where everyone just looked at me in silence. I quickly put my hair back up. Anyway, the joke's on me, because all my hair is going to fall out soon anyway.
Also, everyone in there was dressed like it was a Polka Festival in 1978 Des Moines, Iowa. Very popular were track suits. You know the kind, a little shiny and baggy with white racing stripes and a zippy little jacket, the kind now only worn by white rappers, mid-level Russian mobsters, and elementary school PE teachers who don't realize that 1983 HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. I always think they should hand out an enormous clock necklace with those things. Or at least several gold chains. (Once REDACTED and I went to a wedding reception where there was a cadre of guests in those track suits and we spent an amusing hour mocking them and wondering what failed heist they were going to pull when they left all hopped up on Blue Hawaiian daquiries.) But I digress. Suffice to say that I -- in my scoop neck black tank top, fashionably old Levis, black suede mocs and hoodie -- was positively stylin'. Also, note to others, even Dr. Dre doesn't wear a track suit anymore. Give it up. It is not hip, in fact, it's whatever the opposite of hip is. (Hey, maybe I can get Dr. Dre on my all-doc fantasy baseball team. If I can add Dr. Pepper and Doctor Who -- we'll be unstoppable!)
Also, I sat lotus style the whole time, even when I slept, because that's how I always sit. Apparently I was bucking the flow there. The lady across from me whispered to nurse about how could I sit like that? She commented that she couldn't even bend her legs like that, let alone sleep. So now everything was falling into the normal rhythm. I was the weird girl in the corner, with all the hair and no track suit, sitting funny, pretending she didn't hear Racist Gerald McRaney trying to start a conversation, nibbling her snooty Fig Newtons and sipping her West Coast Mango Madness Snapple, with her skeleton pillow. Then my son brought me a chocolate malt from Sonic, which I think the woman across from me found a little quease-inducining, in the vain attempt that Doctor Davis wouldn't berate me for not eating. But I ate five Fig Newtons, most of the chocolate malt, half a junior cheeseburger, and my Snapple. So that's a win in my book. I guess I'll save the Milky Way for next time.
The time came when I decided I was too hot instead of too cold, so I attempted to remove the hoodie. I had not realized that the nurse had taped the infusion line to the hoodie, which led to me wrapping both the hoodie and the infusion line around my head, and trying to signal the nurse with my one free hand to come help me before I pulled the port right out of the not-quite-healed incision, for dog's sake, because now I'm like a toddler who has his underwear on his head and can't quite get the snowsuit on over them. Eventually I was untangled and retaped and all was right with the world. I texted for a couple of hours, which made me realize that I need a full-size keyboard attached to my phone to text adequately, because it took me forever to get all the corrections, especially since the "A" is right next to the Shift, so every letter ends up a capital A, and the BACKSPACE it next to the M, so every M ends up erasing the letter that preceded it. I could always do the thing where I speak into the phone, but then people could hear what I was saying, and nothing good would come of that. Really. But the texting was really good and calming despite the corrections. REDACTED It kept me occupied and made me happy.
The rest of the session was uneventful, and after only 5.5 hours, I was unhooked and allowed to leave racist Gerald McRaney and his track-suited minions behind, with a bright blue Scooby Doo bandaid over the hole in my chest. Luckily it was just in time to get one kid from school and take him to speech, get the other kid from another school and take him shopping for the cookie guts he needs to make two dozen cookies for Robotics class tomorrow, go back and pick up the first kid again, and get home to bake said cookies, finish a science poster, and whatever else I'm sure I forgot. Luckily the older kids have really stepped up and are taking on driving, cookie-baking, and poster-finalizing with only some input from me, so it'll be okay.
I don't feel too bad, just a lil tired, but the nurse said any bad fatigue and nausea will probably hit Saturday, so there's that to look forward to. Still it's not worse than learning Varly has gone on IR for a non-specific groin injury, the fact that they haven't renewed The Bridge yet, and REDACTED REDACTED. Oh, and I think the heater has decided not to participate in warming the house anymore. I think it's in cahoots with the washer, where you have to use a safety pin to pop the button out to make it work. I tell you, watch it, once the appliances become sentient, we're all doomed.......
And don't get me wrong, especially after today I know how lucky, lucky, lucky I am that this is a temporary blip on my screen. Six months is nothing. I can do six months standing on my head. Well, maybe not actually standing on my head, but you get the idea. I'm Steve McQeen, underneath your radar screen. I'm the Cooler King, Baby, and it's all going to be copasetic. Just a little patience.....
I'm going to finish my thrilling hospital tale, I promise. I've just been busy rearranging my entire personal and financial life and all that entails, getting back to work, and suddenly having six doctor's and other professional appointments every couple of days. Add the kid stuff, and it's exhausting. So I haven't had much to say that wouldn't just be depressing, and I figure there's enough depressing out there already. I'm trying to regain my sense of humor, but it may be temporarily in hibernation.
So in the meantime, be kind to each other. Tell someone you love them. Hug your kids, just because. Play a little extra fetch with your dogs. Do something good for yourself that you've been putting off. Time is short, and it goes by so fast -- make those moments count.
I'm a writer. Things that make me happy: hockey, zombie movies, good books, ginger beer, my DVR.
Things that make me unhappy: bad writing, a lack of intellectual curiosity.
Favorite Authors: Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, James Lee Burke, Carol O'Connell, Edward Gorey.