Communique 8-19-2020 Greetings From The Chemo Lounge (Glad You Are Not Here)
By Philip Drucker
Wednesday. What does that mean to you? Today is my infusion day. That means I’ll spend most of my day in the Chemo Lounge ™ sipping on my chemo cocktail while sitting in the Big Comfy Chair watching the mix dripping down from the tower of power and straight into my heart for a quick and efficient delivery to all locations including the outer extremities. From the tips of my fingers to the top of my toes, it’s a neither rain, sleet, snow, nor homicidal wannabe dictators will stop it, USPS kind of commitment to excellence. Good to the last drop. I call it happy hour.
To help complete the illusion, I am wearing my turquoise button-down shirt with the flamingo print pattern. It was a gift from a friend of mine that I reckon thought I needed more flamingos in my life. As it turns out, he was right. You might scoff, but a positive frame of mind is essential to a fast, effective and lasting recovery. The bonus being if you can laugh at cancer, you can laugh at anything.
A few thoughts about treatment during the time of Covid-19. Before entering a hospital for surgery or any continuing treatments you must get tested for the virus. I did the drive-thru do you want fries with that corona testing process. You get in line and wait till you get to the window. A nurse then has you roll down a window, remove your mask and proceeds to stick a plastic tube so far up your nose you think she poked you in the eyeball. “30 more seconds” she said as my eye began to water. At that point I was willing to confess to the Lindburgh Baby kidnapping if it would help stop the torture.
When the intrusive and offensive instrument of mad crazy inconvenience was finally removed, and after drawing a breath I said to my tormentor “Thanks Trump!”. It took her a second or two to realize I was making a political funny at the expense of our incompetent and inept president. She did not look pleased. I started to wonder if she was going to make an excuse to shove another instrument up my nose, or perhaps some other orifice. Fortunately, the line was long, and I used the moment to roll up my window and tell the driver to floor it. Is it just me, or am I the only one who thinks Trump supporters have absolutely no sense of humor?
Except of course for juvenile bodily functions and sex jokes. At least as long as they are aimed at democrats. You don’t believe me? Well, the other day I managed to find myself reading a rightwingnut FB site thread “discussing” Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris for VP. Let’s just say the only political discourse, if you could even call it that, involved comparisons of Senator Harris and Monica Lewinski. Leading to an actual inquiry into the number of times the now official candidate for the second highest office in the land had to go down on Willie Brown to jump start her early political career and if it was worth it.
It was all downhill from there, the thread essentially devolving into a series of sewer level accusations and assumption that for “a woman like her” sexual favors were not only the surest way to garner political favors, it was the only way for her to skip to the head of the class. These are the same people who think Melania is glamorous and speaks five different languages, one of which might be English. I bet she can say “That costs extra” in any number of languages, but still don’t make her the proper recipient of an Einstein visa, now does it. Speaking of which, I wonder what or how many favors she did to get where she is today. My take? When is a boat not a boat? When it is afloat(us). And once a boat, a boat is still a boat even if it’s in dry dock for the moment. Speaking of dry dock, I can’t help wondering if Trump is actually still getting any, or has the SS Melania dry dock blocked and left him high and dry. Canada dry. If you get my continental drift and I’m sure you do.
Right about now is when I start to sweat from what feels like every known pore to mankind and then some as a result of my now flooding with chemotized body. You do get used to it and it is a very small cross to bear considering the alternative side effects and negative reactions wholly possible when this amount of unpronounceable chemicals, and combined chemical reactions are in play. It also tells me I’m near the end of today’s in-house session. Last call anyone?
Before I leave, I will be given a fanny pack with a mobile pump and a 24-hour supply of chemo and two oatmeal cookies to go. The drip will go on until tomorrow, at which time I make another pit stop at the Lounge to pick-up yet another 24 hours of tiki punch with a punch, that unfortunately, is not from Hawaii. However, with that said, right about now, you can call me punchy and get no arguments from my end.
For it is also right about now when I start to feel the internal and infernal effects of the chemo upon my lucidity and ability to function in at least a rational, linear fashion. It starts with a feeling that is akin to stuffing the area around my eyes and nasal passages with mothball flavored cotton candy. Fuzzy Wuzzy on the railroad tracks, if you remember the children’s rhyme. If not, suffice to say it like getting hit by a papier mâché freight train. Hammered, and I do mean hammered, but not in a good way.
If you have not guessed by now, I’m one of those rare personality disorders that prefers to live inside my brain. Distressed by the details associated with and invariably leading to the mediocraty of every day, ordinary life. In layman’s terms, I hate it when my eyes start to blur, and I can’t think straight. Like right about now. I’ve been told quite a few serial killers and assorted psychopaths feel similarly. Good thing I don’t wet my bed, or we might have us a sticky situation on our hands.
If the trend continues, at some point in the not too distant future I will begin to feel the fuzz moving in a downward direction. This may sound odd, but my gums will become “itchy” while the “dry mouth” sets in. Followed shortly by a somewhat sore, “scratchy” throat (catch the Simpson’s reference? I bet you did!) leading to the most annoying of raspy coughs and in some instances but not always laryngitis. The masses may cheer the golden silence, but the closer I come to being “Helen Keller Phil” the less “capable” I feel. Not so self-assured, my independence seeming to vanish in the breeze. Help, anyone? For indeed, I am feeling down.
But not out by any stretch of the imagination. For it is times like these I reach for the humor pills and I remind myself not to take myself all too seriously and that this too will, as all things must, pass. Besides, being “important” all the time is a terrible thing to be. A wise man is like dust. He is humble and walks at all times with his head bowed. I think Master Po said these very words to a young Grasshopper during an episode of “Kung Fu.” It was either there or perhaps written in the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead, the Mayan Popol Vue, or quite possibly in Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. But please, don’t ask me to “grok” you anytime soon. I’m not even sure I can spell Kurt Vonnegut right now. Or, maybe I can…no Lenny and squiggly red underlining is a good sign. I love spell check, don’t you?
And so, as the chemo bag beeps empty, I will soon have my walking papers (times, dates, and instructions for next week) in hand and so, accordingly, I bid you all a fond farewell for now. Be safe, be well. Exit stage right. BTW I’m doing fine. Maybe it’s the healing light circles, maybe not. Who knows? Who cares? I sure don’t. Eyes wide shut for now. Bye.