chair 22

December 5, 2006 § 1 Comment

Sunday evening my some of my closest friends took me out for a last hoorah before treatment; hot tubing and fine dining at Oleana Restaurant. Our group of foodies ordered it all and we shared each and every morsel without an ounce of pretense it was perfect. I love them.

It was prefect timing. Now that I can claim my first chemo treatment under belt and in my veins there are small clues as to how things may change. Fine dining might be lost on me for a period of time. Almost immediately I developed a lead pit in my stomach. It threatened to rise up, but generally settles back down. Four varieties of anti nausea meds show some muscle. I slept most of that first day and into the early evening.

For the record, I chalk today’s napping up to mental exhaustion. The onset of true chemo fatigue has not yet hit. In fact, this is likely to be one of the best weeks ever. I am doing my best to enjoy it.

We arrived at Outpatient Oncology on the 9th floor close to 8a. I saw Chair 22. I pulled out my camera and looked for dramatic angles but it was all pretty drab. Chair 22 does not fly solo, Nurse Julie Fioadelli is it’s pilot.

Moments later I was told that the use of photography was not allowed. I suspect the grumpy receptionist outed me. Cancer patients goofing around is bad form in the clinic. Who else can I piss off? I’m feeling feisty.

So as not to be bored, every 30 minutes or so a troop of very cheery cancer survivor volunteers make their rounds to each of the chairs paying special attention to newbie’s like me.

“Something to eat? Cookies, cakes, this one is home made. Juice? It’s good for you.” They were gloriously upbeat and I though ideal for a show; I asked if they could sing a Christmas Carol for me. I doubted they’d know the draidel song or other Hanukkah hits. How about Patsy Cline? Maybe a scene from White Christmas? I settled for water. They concluded I was odd and didn’t return except to say good-bye. Maybe they went off to practice for next time.

The entertainment if you want to call it that was ongoing. Dr Patnaik came by – the Fellow to discuss my treamments every three weeks. Excuse me, we discussed dense dosing every two weeks. This un-nerves me. Dr Come arrives alomg with his with gracious bedside manner and a touch of new age calm that comes from 40+ years of experience on the front lines.

I realize this will be nothing but surprises; Forget making a plan. If the tumor responds, surgery could come sooner. If the tumor doesn’t respond, surgery could come sooner. If I can’t tolerate chemo ever two weeks it will spread to three weeks.

I had a calendar and every two weeks I plugged in chemo and I could see an end to this in March and then Surgery and then hair again in the spring and life, as I once knew it in the summer. Oh I am going to need to breath so deeply into this chaos and the unexpected and pray for miracles, and good news and throw out the damn calendar.

Once the docs agreed on the dosing, the first of the two chemo drugs was administered by hand into the IV. Bright red; Adriamycin. This was a controlled injection under Julie’s careful and consistent pressure. Any slip onto my skin or into a muscle could cause serious damage, a more benign out come is a lovely pinky pee.

A laid back Cytoxin drip followed the Adriamycin. “kill the cancer, kill the cancer”. I need to meditate on that more. Marty pulled out his cell phone and capture me deep in the midst of a Cytoxin drip.

But there is more… While the IV dripped the geneticist came in with a 40-page power point deck all about what genetic testing means to me. I think she was 28 years old.

I’m not one to moralize. Give me the test and tell me what lies ahead. I am grateful my daughter has her own legacy and Buddah birthparents in China. Happily she will be immune to my Ashekazi mishigas; breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, tsoris and guilt. I am sure you can find these on a pair of genes with markers for a love of money and an appreciation for a bargain.

The way I look at it, my mother spent 10 + years in a concentration camp, an overdose of PTSD at an early age was bound to have adverse effects.

Give me the blood test and I will read it, or rip it up or feature it in the center of a collage.

BTW I love the booties

Xoxo Momo


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