Tuesday, July 8, 2008

DAY 41 - Another Day in Paradise

Quite a long day...the day I have been waiting for for 40 days. The First day of the Rest of my Life. Treatment started today with Radiation at 9 am. Got to play my Steppenwolf CD....much better than the house CD and they even jacked it up for me with my thumbs up response.

This is somewhat like the underlying masochistic tendencies of dentists to shoot you full of Novocaine, put two hands and 4 instruments in your mouth and then ask " Say, how have things been going for you....something that will not get an answer - BECAUSE YOU CAN'T TALK!". The same here - I have this giant mask, just short of uncomfortably tight on my face, a giant rubber spatula in my mouth pressing my tongue down and THEN they ask if I need anything else or if I want the music louder. The thumbs up worked. Thanks to Steppenwolf: Born to be Wild....I got my motor running and got out on the highway.

While talking about the custom environment - they told me about a previous patient - big burly biker guy that had made a promise to his 5 year old granddaughter. She didn't want him to be scared, so she loaned him her favorite teddy bear to hold during treatment. She would meet him in the lobby after each treatment and ask him if he had held on to the teddy bear, so he wouldn't be afraid. The power of a beautiuful little girl can crack the toughest facade - the techs said he held it tight for all 35 treatments - and as he was a 6'+ , 200lb+ guy - nobody said a word.

Odd feeling - the radiation #1. It could be my overactive - vivid imagination (like that would be new), but it seemed like I felt bubbling in my neck. Like blowing bubbles through a straw in your milkshake---you can feel it through the glass...doesn't hurt, just odd. So, I created the thought that the radiation was cooking the cancer cells...probably not what was happening {if anything} but it was at least a vivid pro-active thought.

We thought we would have to pay the co-pay each time (x 5 days a week for radiation- but not applicable once treatment starts)- that saves us about $1200 - that I can now spend on cases of 250 calorie Ensure shakes.

After treatment, jetted out to the airport 30+ miles west and then back to near the treatment center - another 30+ mile trip (and then back to the Chemo treatment center 20+ miles) to pick up my youngest son [age 20] who had arrived back in the states from visiting [for the weekend] his "we're just friends" female roommate who is Spanish immersion studying in Mexico. She is very good for him and very smart - so his first big adventure turned out well. Now he has the first of many good life stories to tell.

My wife Lise also had to back-track several more times to pick up our 9 year old daughter at Zoo camp and take to Ballet lessons - back to check on me and back to pick up our little ballerina and then back to pick me up at the hospital and then back home for us to start dinner. This is a perfect example of the support system you NEED in this "life experience"- as much as any of us think we are the center of the Universe [and yes - we all do] especially when we are diagnosed with Cancer - guess what - the world does not stop. Lives of Others (fantastic movie, btw - put it on your must see list) continue to swirl around you. Your family, friends, co-workers still have their pre: now-you-have-cancer priorities and as painful as it may be to wrap your around this thought: Everyone else is the center of their Universe also and you have a [hopefully] loved PART in their movie {with a bad script during this chapter}. You may be a featured bit player or have a major role in all our companion's life movies....but it is their movie you pass in and out of.... just as they are players in your movie. I remind myself constantly: Try to not impose on my family and friend's daily lives any more than is necessary. Mentally, try being the spouse, child, friend, co-worker for a day, or better yet 7 weeks or even better yet 7 months - being married, connected, work with, etc to the the screwed-up gig you are engaged in: Big fun for them too, eh (Canadian for Don't Ya Think!). Try to make it light and funny and they will magically have more time for you. Funny how that works.

Back across town for the first Chemo (unfortunately the two oncology centers [Kaiser] are 20+ miles apart. This 2nd part to the day was more involved. I have to say that the quality of care and genuine caring quotient skyrockets in the Cancer ward. In a Dark Humor world - one could say I was in a Deluxe Spa Environment ( the rates are about the same and so is the level of attention). Nice GIANT recliner to sit in - would easily fit someone three times my size and twice my height. I felt like the little kid in grandpa's chair - feet didn't even come close to touching the floor. Got hooked up to the IV ("Wow- you have great veins!" Unfortunately, that and long eyelashes are my two best features....go figure!). I came ready for the long haul- iPod, notebook, newspapers etc. A three hour session turned in to a four hour session. Lots of saline drip and the chemo treatment followed by another quart of saline drip. A few trips to the bathroom, pushing a metal Christmas tree with IV bag ornaments was involved - you are sipping on sodas, and they are pushing several quarts of liquid into your veins - and a I have a bladder about the same dimensions and features of a small tea infusion ball - I got to make the trek a few times.

They included a liquid version of the "nausea-be-gone" med in with the drip and advised me to take another at home tonight to prevent vomiting. I have a strict regimen of anti-nausea meds to take all day tomorrow and Thursday also. I took a half a Vicadin for the increasingly sore throat and uncomfortable IV hook-up [dragging my cart around with the tubes wasn't helpful]. Another cheery thought: If I am vomiting and having Diarhea and my throat is so sore I can't swallow the meds - THEY COME IN SUPPOSITORIES also. I must ask if can crush up my Vicodin and inhale it. Late 60's revisited; latex and restraints, Vicodin and rock and roll on the CD. Be careful if you even think about missing the good old days...it is like the Butterfly Effect (another great movie) - this version is slightly altered and won't be as good as you remember it.

Great part of my day: got a fabulous long email from my Mother-n-Law in Chico. We haven't communicated as much as we should and this one communication probably made up for all that and more. A very positive boost. Loved it.

My other Mother-n-Law in Dallas (don't most of us have at least 2?), calls regularly to check on me and will come out for a week this month for my daughter's 10th birthday. She also is very caring to me and has grand advice and great recommendations ( as she is a survivor herself). I am lucky to have those two great ladies in my corner. They have lead a more virtuous & harmonious life than I have and must have many good street creds in Heaven. Has to be good Karma - I am lucky.

A special thought for my wife Lise- as she took the day off and taxied me, encouraged me ('Hey, you are doing great!") all day. Was taxi driver, caregiver, photographer, extraordinary companion, Mother to our little princess (ballet dancer/cello player) and daughter/step-daughter to the two great women who have bestowed extra love in my direction.

Intent is to go into work tomorrow, until it is time for my 2/35 radiation treatment at 3pm (just to spice up the experience, a large section of the freeway between my office and the hospital is closed 24/7 for a week in the direction I need to go every day-ha...remember this is just a test- if it were easy: ANYBODY COULD DO IT...and you don't want to be anybody - you want to be in the group that survives to live Another Day in Paradise).

Tomorrow's CD will be Janis Joplin: Try [just a little bit harder].

If one can associate the cancer mass in my neck personified as the Wicked Witch of the West- then it is only a short hop to have my oncologists be Dorothy, the Tin Man, The Lion, the Scarecrow and yes, even Toto. Today we threw water on the Witch. Great Video clip. Today we started the shrink and melt attack plan. . From my earliest years this is the classic example of triumph of Good over Evil.

Song of the Day: The Beatles: Let it Be

No comments:

Post a Comment