Thursday, October 16, 2014

Either This Wallpaper Goes Or I Do

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.....

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