Communique 9-2-2020 "Late Night Chemo Selfie Glam Shot"
By Philip Drucker
I write to you today not with a heavy heart but one with a pin pushed into an internal port pumping pickled peppers, steroids, anti-nausea medication, Avastin and My Chemo ™ and saline (a little pinch of salt for flavor don’t you know) through my cardiovascular system on a search and destroy mission of attrition to put my cancer into a deep state of remission.
I’m sipping on some cranberry juice out of a white plastic container but secretly thinking sangria would be a better choice. If nothing else, goes better with the blood theme doesn’t it? On the other hand, I don’t know which wine goes better with chemotherapy, red or white? Might have to consult my local pharmacy, or Bev Mo as the case may be.
Labs are back. Everything is looking good. The all-important cancer marker is down (see chart). Additional highlights include no excess protein in the urine, liver functioning normally, and my overworked but underpaid lymphocytes are holding their own. I’m still a bit anemic, but that is a to be expected as a side effect of the treatments. So, other than not wanting to be here in the first place, not much to complain about. The chair is comfy, the blanket in an otherwise cold room is a definite plus and the nurses are proof you do not have to go to heaven to find an angel (or two!)
I wish I could say you get used to it, not the poking and prodding, that becomes second nature, but the knowledge an invader bent on your destruction is trying to pull an all you can eat buffet style dining experience where your good cells are the main course, but you never do. It’s all part of the gambling atmosphere and experience. The big difference being if you bet on red and the roulette wheel comes up black, well, you might just find yourself involuntarily cashing in your chips if you know what I mean and I’m sure you do.
Right about now is where I start to feel nauseated and today is no exception. Small headache? Check. Twitches and muscle tremors of various strength and magnitude? Check. Staring at the screen trying to figure out where I’m going with all this? Priceless. Familiarity with the process does not offer any particular solace or understanding. You just deal with it as best one can and as I like to say, “Keep on Dripping.” Like R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, Keep on Trucking? Forget I said anything. It’s probably best this way. Be best, right?
If I could offer one small piece of advice for the as yet but hopefully never initiated into Cancer Club, talk as much as you feel comfortable with, but also never hesitate to use humor, in my case, as I like my chocolate, the darker the better, to help alleviate the inevitable feelings of doom, destruction, distress and depression. If you can’t laugh at a potentially debilitating and deadly disease, well, you’re going to need to learn how.
Fortunately, it’s easier than you think. Oh, maybe not when during the night your lungs are filling with fluid and you wake up coughing up a kind of strangely thick and weirdly textured phlegm that you will soon enough discover is an unidentifiable color somewhere on the color wheel between green and brown. If I had to specify a Crayola hue, I’d call it “Drain the Swamp” or possibly “A Crayon Spray on Tan Taken Too Far.” See? Laughter really is the best medicine. That with CBD laced Gummies a close second to be sure.
Did I mention that chemo treatments are hot? No, not like the late night chemo selfie glam shot I tried to take but didn’t work out type of steam heat I failed miserably to capture (my intentions, at least for me, were good) but hot as in my temperature is rising and I’m starting to physically sweat an unnatural who turned on the faucet dripping with irony hot? A what did I need this blanket for rise in temperature that I might mention is at this moment soaking through my mask hot?
Yes, that’s right. This time around I’m doing my 5-8 hour treatments with a mask on. The one currently being inundated by sweat and sticking to my lips, my chin and my nose. But I won’t take it off. Because I understand the necessity of working together as one to end the Covid-19 virus. Not as selfish individuals who think they have a right to infect their fellow Americans with a deadly disease in the middle of the worst pandemic since 1918.
I must say I fail to see where in the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution it says your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness includes the right to threaten or possibly terminate my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Suffice to say if I can go through my chemotherapy sessions wearing a mask, you can certainly cover your pie-hole when out and about buying groceries or next in line to your neighbor picking up a prescription that he can no longer wait for the Post Office to deliver on time. My advice? Try to get a life before you manage to take one.
And on that note, my tower is beeping and that means for now, my time in the Chemo Lounge is at an end. Next time, maybe I’ll ask for two olives, down and dirty, shaken or stirred, nurse’s choice.