Friday, September 28, 2018

Rare, Medium, or Well-done

Have you gotten a little curious about what I do on the “exotic vacation days” I spend at the Cancer Treatment Center?   Well, I’m curious about what’s going on, too, and I’m right there watching it all!  Whirring, clicking machines spitting out radiation and IV bag after IV bag dripping strong chemicals with unpronounceable names into my veins are much too complicated for me to understand.

The closest thing I can think of to compare it all to is a backyard barbecue of a special, precious piece of meat (the meat, that’s me!) First the grill begins the process of preparing the meat.  While I lie motionless on a very hard table, huge machines whir and beep as they move around me in circles.  This step of “searing” the meat only lasts about ten minutes.  But it is done five days a week.

Then, once a week on Mondays, it’s off to get ready for the “marinade” stage.  First, I have to stop by the lab to be sure my implanted port is not plugged up.  Then the lab tech draws a sample of blood to check and see if it is still running as it should. They check the levels of the various blood components and then decide what “spices” to add to my “marinade”.

If all is healthy, then I’m off to the chemo infusion suite (the “marinade” room). There I lie comfortably in a cushy chair for about three or four hours as the nurses pump the various bags of “marinade” into my veins,  I usually sleep during this stage of the “barbeque,” dreaming of what flavor I will become today!

I can already recognize that there has been improvement in my condition: the cough has decreased, my anxiety level has improved, I’m getting more comfortable and trusting with the doctors and the staff.  I hope that means that I am progressing beyond the “rare” stage of my “barbeque” into the “medium” level. As of today, I have completed three of my six weeks treatment plan -  and I have the two week-end days free from my personal “barbeque!”

I am hoping and praying that the treatments will continue to “marinade” and “barbeque” me right into the “well done” stage.  In the meantime, I hope those nasty cancer cells get burned to a crisp! 

28 September 2018 – mshr

Thursday, September 27, 2018

To Bathe or Not to Bathe....

To Bathe or Not to Bathe ….

…. that was our question! The doctor who skillfully inserted the port in the skin below my right collarbone said, “Now, keep that dry for ten days.”

Dry for ten days?  Right!  So how do you shower and shampoo and keep your chest wall dry?

It took us a few days to make a plan.  But we had to figure something out before the house began to smell like a cow stall!  So a day or so later we gave it a try.

I knelt on the bathroom floor outside the bathtub on a thick cushion of towels (in my birthday suit, of course).  I leaned far forward and Bruce held the hand held shower and drenched my head over the bathtub.  When thoroughly wet. I quickly shampooed my hair and he rinsed it.

After a quick towel dry -- thank goodness for short hair! -- I stood up and carefully stepped across into the bathtub.  There I knelt on a stack of folded towels again to save my knees from the hard bathtub floor.  Bruce quickly scrubbed the back parts I couldn’t reach as I cleaned the front!  Not a pretty picture but it worked, and the port on my chest stayed dry.

We perfected this weird routine during the next few days until my ten days were done.  Now we’re thinking of marketing the plan as a new exercise program for seniors: Bath-er-cize, we might call it!

10 September 2018 mshr

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Foreign Travel

It’s been a very long time since I’ve needed to prepare for travel to an unknown and unfamiliar country.  But I’m being told by people who seem to know what they are talking about that it’s time for me to travel to foreign places again.  How shall I prepare?

Oh, the passport, of course; an essential document for any travel across national boundaries.  Apparently I’ll not be crossing such lines, I seem to be headed for a world that cannot be compared with any other!  So I’d better get my documents ready.

But I’ll need not worry about losing my passport on this trip.  My destination nation has its own unique system.  They require that the (access) port be inserted into the chest wall and be sutured in place!  Not much risk of that (access) port getting lost or stolen from such an intimate location!

My ticket for travel, too, is unique.  It’s not paper or cardboard which is so easy to misplace.  It’s not even a e-ticket that can get lost in the internet wilderness.  My ticket is a plastic strip on which are clearly written my name and my birth date and it will quickly be attached to my wrist as a bracelet!  (Unfortunately, that bracelet doesn’t come off as easily as it goes on.)  My hosts apparently want to be sure my travel documents are always available!

I’ll not need to pack many clothes.  There is a standard uniform worn by all guests at this vacation destination.  It’s a large cotton gown with tie closures.  It’s loose and comfortable but not very concealing; a kind of “one size fits nobody” sizing.

Oh, and I must remember to stick in my little ”upchuck utensils.”  There’s no doubt I’ll need them and since I won’t be traveling by air I’ll not be able to hijack a few air sick bags!

I wish I could find a little time to squeeze in some language study before I go.  They tell me they speak the same language in my exotic little foreign ‘get away’ as I do here at home.  I find that hard to believe.  Even their informal conversations are peppered with a secret code I can’t understand.  Most of their secret code consists of 8 to 10 syllable words which include sounds like “–cycline”, “–itis”, “oma”, “milliliters”, “protocol” “–therapy”, “stage...”, “malignant”, and other terrifying words I can’t pronounce.  Maybe I’ll just skip language study in order to avoid depression!

My journey will only last about 6 weeks and I’ll come home every night.  So what’s the big deal, you may wonder?  During my travels into that foreign land, skilled professionals will be shooting me with radioactive rays and dripping high powered and toxic pharmaceuticals into my veins.  Both will be aimed at some sneaky cancer cells that have tried to hide in my lung.  That feels like a big deal to me!

So wish me “Bon Voyage”!  I’ll soon be departing on my trip to that foreign country which is really only half an hour away!  “What are you talking about?” you may wonder.  Well, I’m headed for that romantic, exotic, “vacation par excellence” at the local Cancer Treatment Center!

4 Sept 2018 - mshr