(Procol Harum reference)
This past week has been one of those weeks (okay, two weeks… I lose track).
Nothing to complain about, but a bit different.
To begin with, I managed to get my butt into the Chemo Palace, all by myself, for the beginning of the last cycle Thursday before last. They took my blood, as they usually do, but we are now up to four vials, for some reason, and after that they took a slender tube of more of me that came from a box labeled ‘TB’. To me, that means tuberculosis, so I had to ask about that, and I did it in the wrong way.
Note to self: Don’t ask a question by answering it.
You see, my question was, ‘Is this what you use to check the blood thinness thing?’, to which she, the vampiress, could easily respond with a nod or a simple ‘Yes’. Had I asked, instead, “What the heck is THAT for?” she would have had to give me an answer. A minor distinction, but one that becomes more important as days go by, only because it gives me something to worry about, as if I need something to worry about.
For now, I am going along with her seemingly nonchalant affirmation that they use that slender tube for the purpose I hope it is used for. No sense in worrying about TB when it is really rather rare anyway, right?
I did tell her I was feeling jittery, the kind of jittery that usually comes from not eating for a long while, even though I had eaten plenty before going to the Palace, if eating means dropping some 1.5 Jevity down the tube through, not one beaker, but two! Yeah. Trying to get back on track nutritionally, so it was not a nutritional problem. I was jittery.
She took the blood anyway. She is, after all, a paid vampiress, and a good one at that, using the exact same bruised area the last vampiress created, and not expanding it a bit.
I must say this, though: I don’t care what anyone says, it really does start to hurt more and more as time goes by. I came to feel that way about the finger pricks, and now I am feeling that way about the vein sticks. For some reason, it hurts more when you are not under the influence of morphine, I suppose :).
She got me, and she took her share, and she sent me on my way. I roamed into OncoMan’s area and dropped my paperwork in his basket and thought I’d have a few moments (hours?) to read while waiting, but OncoMan’s extremely efficient and kind nurse recognized me at once and told me not to go anywhere.
Immediately to the scales went we, and I was right about where I was last time, maybe a pound short, but no worries. And then into the room, the one where you wait for OncoMan or his Physician’s Assistant (which is what I expected this time), where there is some garage sale art on the walls (yes, I’ve seen enough of it that I even have some in my house now!), and where there are a couple of chairs, a sink (luckily), a bed sort of thing, you know, the one with the piece of paper covering it, about three, four feet off of the floor, that you never want to lie on, else they come in, catch you at it, and call the ambulance squad, and that stool, with the warning for you not to try sitting on the stool, as you are not a trained professional.
So that is what they teach you in medical school!
I have not sat on the stool, although some of you might suspect that I have, rebel that I am :). No, I have not. I figure I will be the one person who spins around, falls off, breaks a chunk out of his skull and bleeds all over the place, only then to hear from a chorus of medical angels in perfect harmony: I TOLD YOU SO!
So I haven’t done it. Okay. I’m going to, next time. Time to live dangerously. :). But I haven’t done it yet.
I AM sitting there and the nurse asks how I am and I repeat the bit about jittery and having eaten and she checks my vital signs, and it turns out I am still alive and well, or so she opines, and then she leaves, and I break out in a sweat, and not because I am hot for her, although a good attorney might argue the point successfully, but because my jitteriness is becoming something else, something even less desirable.
Fortunately, PA comes in, and I tell her the same. Unfortunately, her response is the same. She leaves to find OncoMan, and I am left alone to stare at the garage sale art and try to read magazines that are making me dizzy, sort of like when you try to read while your wife is driving like a mad woman, and so I keep putting the magazines back, keep pulling them back out to try again, put them back, and finally barf in the perfectly sterile stainless steel sink.
It is not pleasant, and it is not something I can remember doing before in my life, puking in a doctor’s office. The way I was raised, you puke at home and THEN go to the doctor’s office. Leave it to me to puke before chemo, in fact, instead of after. I am, it turns out, a rebel without a gauze.
For the detail-oriented, I do manage to make it to the sink, and I do manage to keep my upsetting episode limited to the sink. In fact, I am able to clean it all up without much problem, even though a part of me wants OncoMan to know how sick I am.
Weird, I know.
Soon enough, he is in the room, and he is obviously aware of my illness. I guess I was not able to hide it with my sweat beads on the forehead, the ashen complexion, the most pleasant breath emanating from me, and the shakiness that always come after you divulge all that you have eaten that has still not moved on to other areas of importance within the body. Some secrets should remain secrets, I maintain. Still, it is nice that I had only liquids that morning, and, as they say, one should seek the silver lining in every situation.
My clothes were clean, and I was apparently done regurgitating (note the emphasis on the word apparently), so all was good.
OncoMan was concerned. He suggested that maybe I had suffered from something called anticipatory nausea. As he explained, some people get sick in anticipation of getting sick after chemotherapy. I love the guy, I do, but he comes up with the weirdest stuff.
To begin with, this particular chemo doesn’t even seem to bother me. Why would I get sick in anticipation of something that hasn’t happened with this particular potion? Following that, I am almost done, so why now? It did not compute and I told him so, and he seemed to agree. He suggested that if I wanted to quit chemo altogether, I could.
I considered it.
We are talking about ending the whole thing and moving on with life without the inconvenience and the built-in drama and the, yeah, minor effects of this particular chemo, including the racehorse feeling of the decadron for a day and night. Being done with it!
But I said I wanted to do what he suggested and he suggested, per statistics, that I should do the last cycle. I said, then, let’s do it. He asked if I was up for it on that day (cruel dude, isn’t he?) and I said I would have to pass, if he didn’t mind, and he didn’t, and all I had to do was wait for 30 excruciating minutes after that, at least, while some slow lady made my future appointments for me, and took longer than Michelangelo did painting the Sistine Chapel (a bit of learning for some of you 🙂 ). She answered the phone twice, one clearly a business call, to which she responded “I’m with a patient”, the other clearly a social call, which she took.
Everybody needs a life, I know, and I am really not complaining, but I had the taste of bile in my mouth and was wondering if I would be able to drive home, quite honestly, as it is, I think, easier to drive home drunk than it is to drive home sick, although that may just be a matter of practice.
When she finally made my appointments (there was a very fine blonde lady of about my age waiting behind me, and I felt completely left out at the moment, even embarrassed, as I was completely sick, completely decimated and ravaged by disease (okay, an upset tummy), married, of course, and, most important, not even interested) she made them for early in the morning, contrary to my wishes and, in fact, my reality, as I am NOT going to get chemotherapy at nine o’clock in the morning, night person that I am, AND combined one of the chemo treatments with a quickly following CAT scan at another joint.
NOT going to happen. My wife will tell the world: I am good for one major thing per day. That is it. It can be major. It can be REALLY major. It can take all day, it can run late into the night, but it had pretty much better be just one thing. Don’t ask me why. It is mostly so.
And among the very least likely things I am going to combine are receiving poison and going into a tube.
I was not too sick to bring this up to Appointment Lady, but I was too sick to argue, so I accepted it. And then promptly dismissed the next trip to the Chemo Palace as an unrealistic expectation on everyone’s part.
I was right!