Dr. P gave me the big chemo pep talk with the very clear expectation that i would be starting as soon as possible. I tried to worm out of it for a week jus to get my head wrapped it. Her resonse was pretty simple.
However, before you can begin chemo therapy - and ps therapy to me is scented candles a tissue and empathy for your pathetic life while sitting in a comfy chair. Chemo therapy - as i was about to learn is anything but that but you will need tissues.
Liza and i sat in the rear of the classroom - bad ass style - we went early - to get the seats at the back of the bus - but not so early that we looked desperate. HA. We so were. As if i have to sit thru this so i don't kill myself by catching a cold or something.
Slowly others came in and spaced themselves out in that don't sit too close to each other until somebody has to ask "Is anyone sitting here?". What a motley crew. A mid summers night de- streaming circa 1917 to me. I was the youngest - so i felt - in the class - until the 25 year old nurse came in. My arrogance was front and centre. - " No one can teach a "teacher." Liza quickly wiped the smug from my face and told me to pay attention. PS. people with ADHD need to fidget - give me back my pencil. (s)
I was super curious to see what was in my hand out package - oooooo powerpoint - love - and i was was doodling in the margins within seconds.
Admittedly, i was also very, very curious as to how this instructor was going to meet the needs of the multi lingual racially intersectional lgbt sprinkled - 40 year age spread with some of us having benefit$ - some clearly having le$$ and could you please speak up? continuum - that made up the whopping 20 of us in the room. And the 20 thousand of us around the province…and beyond..
Cancer - unlike healthcare - is very inclusive.
Essentially what you learn is that it can kill you. That getting an infection of ANY kind can kill you. That you will feel wretched. That you will likely wretch. That your hair will fall out. That your white blood cells will die along with everything else. That it hurts. Burns. And some of us will have a port put surgically in out chest - like a gas can direct to your artery, some will have a pic line hanging out of theirs arm, and some will take it right in the vein.
Right in the vein.
HA HAhahahahah.. that rhymes with pain hahahhahha and inane and Insane - annnnnnddddd how did i get in the hallway?
" Yes, I'm fine" i said to the nice nurse teacher lady who was holding my arm and walking with me towards the chemo room for the tour.
"Right this way everyone!" Sang the sweetest, cheeriest, most positive death deliverer ever. Who despite my best efforts to break free from - was not going to let me go - anywhere but forward.
SO - i can assure you i was schooled by that educator - her - patience - focus - positive vibe - knowledge - caring - understanding - ( have you noted the majority of care givers i have mentioned thus far are women?) and she added personal attention to the fact that i was going to get the kitchen sink of chemo and most of the others were going to have just the taps. ( not the Cruise private military school ( although as my mentor Bill Batten ( amazing artist - google him ) says cancer is war ) version where every one gets killed - ok just some... most of them….. us ..)
And thus with the help of Liza and nurse CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN! I got as far as the waiting - we are all now waiting - waiting to live - waiting to die - waiting for a resolution that will never come - ( sometimes i love ptsd - hello titanic)
i tried to go into the room… just like i tried in 1987 when my Mom… was there - but not here- it is a different place a different time and space and yet the time and space between the pain and the fear and my fear is that we will be in the someplace…. the same place --- i too will wear her face...
And i am way too scared right now to face this.
ENTER MY FATHER. MWO BILL DEAR.
"mouse - turn around - go home - i have a pencil (s) for you."
Like i said.
Sometimes i love PTSD.
I was called in to see my ( but really our - it is a team and i choose team tallen ) oncologist right after the blood moment, arm still bent, sweater clutched at my chin, eyes glazed over., lingering merry round round we go music in my ears...
The super cool dog loving nurse looked at me and wheeled something out of the room.
" Umm i think we should wait wait to check your blood pressure. "
We sat and sat.
Finally i was semi human looking and whoosh enters DR. P. She had more papers in a file than Duffy had in his shredder. Blood pressure 498 0ver 6 million.
( Oh ya - the tests - did i pass - did i fail - am i dead woman walking - if i have brain cancer how will they know - i am so bloody weird - if my brain malfunctions i might actually be a functioning human for a day…)
Nothing. No other evidence.
Except for a few bone plates , spurs, arthritis, and a zillion other places my stupid metatastic disease could move into.
"All we have to do is throw the best standard of care - and the kitchen sink at you - and hope that when it shows up again it is in an operable place."
But not for me. Heck with that. Pass me that sink Doc - actually toss at me - but watch my teeth - i have had braces twice for a total of 12 years and seriously i can't deal with that again. yes. really.
So the sink landed in my lap with the tap running. Dr. P explained what the next year or two of my - our life - lives - no one does this alone - might look like. I stopped listening at
"AHA!! NEXT YEAR!! OR TWO!!!" I'll take that.
No point in checking my blood pressure. You could see the relief on my face and no longer see the veins hanging out of my arms.
Take a number...Read Now
And onto the next day...
Back to the Cancer Clinic. Result time. Next steps time.
" Next please. " Said the nicest woman ever. Until she checks to see that i have not had my blood work done. " You have to have your blood taken before you can see the Dr." (look of shame from the line. My 4th visit and still a rookie.)
"Over there dear." Points grumpy Mc Grumpy pants without looking up. ( oh no sweetheart - we are gonna make nice here - i am going to be a lot and i want good care.)
"Ohhh" i Chuckled - "Mmmm that is funny - How did you know Dear is my last name. So bossy Doris." ( not her real name)
She looked up. Eye contact. Warm smile. "Over there Dear Kelly, and don"t forget to take a number."
"So that is what that is for. I was hoping for a nice Bagel. When you have cancer who cares about carbs."
Liza hauled me away and herded me towards the blood room. Which has a bakery style number dispenser right outside the open and i mean really open door. BARF. (Beetlejuice flashback - please let me be Thorndock)
Now as i have noted - i have but one fear. Having blood taken. I have never given it. I will never give it. It is mine i made it. Only i can spill it…. Oh god the room….. spinning canned music spinning
'….hello pretty pony i want to ride you next after i barf up all this cotton candy and popcorn….'
Wake up Kelly. Wake up. eyes wide shut. sans nicole. Deep breath in and and pry your lids over your head. So, there i was sitting in a giant green pleathery chair across from a grinning older fellow - in a filthy ball cap - fifty mission style - whom i can only place as the inspiration for "Out for a Rip are ya Bud"s grandfather."
His arm was tied off like a shipping line and his vein was bulging like a pregnant whale. He was quickly punctured, released, drained, cottoned and bent.
"You'll be alright kid." He grinned through a tooth. "Hey, Linda ( not her name) - giver 'er the big one!"
What little blood i had to give drained from my face and I went out cold. But not for long because 'Linda' in a millisecond had peeled me out of my sweater and was slapping the vein in my left arm with her right arm and and tying me up with a rubber tube with her right one.
What a pro. Knew i was scared shitless. Didn't care. Didn't let me be. Looked right into my eyes. Used a peds needle, drained 4 tubes in the time it took me to gasp " Hi.. sorry.."
"Now sit there and hold your arm up. Next time use Emla creme - ya think needles don't hurt? really? I used four tubes for this baby and two for this."
I looked up to see tattoos from Utah to Banff. Well not from there - they just took up that much real estate on her arms and legs.
I laughed weakly but I felt ok. Strangely brave that even she felt pain and too was afraid. Fear is the one thing we all have in common. And you can smell it. Taste it. As my gaze shifted from Linda to the other side of the room...
... in the big blue pleathery chair was the next - new - person. Next because there are too many of us and new like me in that she was all whites of her eyes terrified. But most importantly - nothing like me all all.
Because as common as fear is - it is uniquely our own.
Please don't be Next.
And never allow yourself to be a number.
Unless it it is for a really tasty bagel.
"OH Kelly…. i am so sorry...Read Now
There are many indicators that your life sucks. You go more celebrations of life than birthday parties. The birthday parties you do go to serve cupcakes, pepperoni pizza and wet naps to cleanse yourself of toddler fodder and icing from a tin. Another simple one is that you to use waterproof mascara on both ends as to not look 45 in a bathing suit. Not that you wear one anymore because buying a swim suit after age 11 takes three months of Goodlife - which is code for no life and you have to try and eat more low no fat light sour cream than Mr Weston can sell in a year. So too your life is entering the suck zone when fun in the West -End on a Saturday afternoon is watching Tootie on roller-skates and you remembering that the last time you had fun on a Saturday afternoon was when you were wearing roller-skates at 13 Acres.
There are loads more indicators. But my favourite one - of all time - was the day i went to see my therapist right after i had those creepy tampony tests.
Now the great thing about this person is i have known them for 9 years and they still like me. Trust me. This is rare. I start out pretty shinny and sharp but then i rust into the cheese grater of a human i really am and take you out at the knuckles. As one former friend said " I can only take her in small doses." ( so i reduced her dose to none)
Perhaps it is because we only see each in small doses - or maybe it is because they are being paid to talk with me - but this human is amazing. Gives me the tools, spit, kleenex and Oprah inspired reading list to put me back together and get the rust off my edges.
She has heard it all. Dead parents, being gay - getting dumped, - well essentially fired - i was really more of a staff member than a partner - the hell that ADHD is everyday - suicides, of kids, and dear dear friends, and the death of my dreams as an educator.
But - Coming out as having the kind of Cancer that you have forever - where your odds are better of winning the lottery without a ticket - however, was not expected.
Their face is now one i am very familiar with. When you tell people this ( some not all - it is very personal) their eyes dim. Then they widen, and disappear into their own narrative with the disease. Then they project all sorts of images of yet to come horror on you. From Tears of Endearment, Beaches, Dana, The Big C, their grandmother, neighbour, cousin.. anyone but you.
Then they cry.
Watching a therapist cry is HORRIBLE. Give me limping kittens dying in a mall pet store, make me watch 32 hours of Latter Day Saint ads, but please do not make me watch the one human of hope i have sob into a clipboard. That is a lot of pressure. Oddly, just the pressure i needed released.
"Oh Kelly…" " I … "….. I am so sorry… Oh Kelly…this is so not fair …" I could barley here them over all the sobbing. And there was a lot of sobbing because i had joined in.
FINALLY i was REALLY sad, scared, angry, afraid, pouty, shaking with terror, my chest heaving with years of pain -
" No it is not fair. I did not do anything to deserve this. I am a really good person with a big heart - i love love my job - I love life - as hard as it is sometimes - and i do not want to go out like this - I want to go out on the front page not on the back page in some tiny black and white photo with some sad write up about all the people i left behind.."
"What am i gonna do?"
"Oh Kelly, "They said in a soft smart voice, "You are going to do what you always do. Survive. One day at a time."
So far so good.
The next week i was off to scientific experiments - on the insides of my entire body. My nodes, although they lit up like the Enterprise's warp core on melt down - were seemingly cancer free - but my incredibly intense and madly brilliant oncologist wanted to know if even one rogue cell of my stupid genetic Her 2 Neu positive multi focal metastatic disease ( i had been reading my binder) was throwing a party elsewhere. If it was she was gonna crash it like Mellisa Mcarthy as Dr. Crusher in Star Trek the Next Next Generation episode 4 " Silently it grows - Loudly it dies."
This was going to require a cat scan, a bone scan and a muga heart scan. And an I.V.
The idea of a CAT scan - to this lesbionic is HILARIOUS. That is all. For now. Next Book.
However, the other tests are not so funny, unless you can imagine yourself swaddled in warm giant sheets and stuffed into a long narrow white tubes while radio active material travels around your inner galactic road map looking for sleazy diners where cancer is replicating itself. That visual helps. But nothing helps the visual of an I.V.
In order to get images from these various machines you have to not eat past 8 am and then drink a right stupid amount of Warf would never drink this - water. But not pee. Cross your legs your eyes and your fingers you hope do not urinate - because if you do - ya gotta do it all over again - another day. Like the poor sod beside me in hallway who was on try number 3. Then you have to have some sick baby test tube thingy taped to your arm that is attached to your throbbing 2x punctured vein with a teeny plastic tube so that the blue scrubs can all take turns shooting red dye hot dye into you like Paula Dean Filling a cherry cupcake.
YES obviously i took a sedative.
First up was the h20 and the CAT scan. A super, gentle young fellow did this one for me. (He also did the I.V. and it was like a butterfly kiss ) Which is gross but it did not hurt.
CAT scans are quick, and painless - the tube is spacious - in comparison to the tomb that is an MRI but there is one teeny quirk. You can experience one or maybe both of these sensations. Peeing your pants or having an orgasm.
Thank god i needed to pee because that was i got. If it had been the other i would have DIED.
Next was the heart muga scan. Again they shoot you up, smother you in sheets so you do not freeze or move and send you into the worm hole. The Muga is cool as it goes for 500 heart beats - four times - and if you are super nervous like me it takes like 15 mins.
The bone scan is similar but in a way way tighter tube and it is longer as your whole bod goes in and as in the muga an exterior station circles your chest and head. This one did not go so well. We knew this because this is small city. I have been an active member of my community for 22 years. Liza too. We love this town. We know and care about a lot of people in this ancient Champlain Sea - (you made your) Bed don't lie about it - So we knew the looks they shared. And we know they could not share.
They look like 'hot spots'. My neck and spine was like the Milky Way. The possibility that i had bone cancer was right there in front of us. Totally inoperable. Hello radiation.
Goodbye teaching… so long seeing SNL live….sorry Vegas… next life….i love you Liza…
and thank god for the man who could not pass his urine test as the enhanced scanner - the big gun that really illuminates your calcium was available - right then and there. So
over we went.
I was re-wrapped in fresh sheets as i had sweat soaked the last set and i was placed on the tray. I was trembling. I did not think i had the strength to hold my arms at my side and lie still for another 40 minuets. My lower lip was 3.2 on the richter scale about to send a tsumani of tears. ( quick adhd/ptsd kick in ) Go to 80's songs go to Tears for Fears - pop your collar and move on...
But i did not have to. Dark Blue Scrubs asked me if i wanted her to secure my arms.
" Yes please."
She returned with a leather laderhosen wrap strap and essentially mummied me. It felt great. Secure. She was so reassuring. Kind. Engage. In i went. And around started the circling of this solar panel around my head and neck. If i have brain cancer how will they know? WIll i suddenly start stop talking and take up agility traning for kittens? … my mind was warp 10…feeling hot hot hot...
Liza would not leave my side and there was no telling her she could not be in the room with me. Until she got so close that the scan picked up her and not me and they had to start again. Liza stepped back as she would have to learn to do in the future and let it unfold as it will.
Dark Blue Scrubs came in and turned the monitor so both Liza and I - and surprisingly the entire team could see. They were all there with me. As they would be with me for the next year and a half….
Although they could nor would not say - they knew they had discovered a galaxy of trouble yet to come in my neck and upper back, along with a few dim stars waiting to go red dwarf in my hips and right foot. My head, thankfully and not surprisingly was empty. Whew.
I - so tired and so afraid, so unable to process, so sedated, meditated myself to sleep.
and woke up to be told that the results would not be available to my care team until mid next week. Time for me was becoming anything but a line.. it was spinning...
But - in the same way my gene pool knew i had breast cancer that fateful day in June, my bones knew this day In October that i was ok. For now. And for now - that was good enough.
Two days later we were back at the clinic to meet another doctor. I was signed up for chemo which has names 33 letters long and a list of side effects 33 pages long, and now i was going to have a consultation to see if i was a candidate for radiation. A candidate - like i am running to be the mayor of cancerville.
Chemo i had learned, has a nice big bright room with giant chairs that can overlook the lake. The radiation unit is of course in the basement. Like an oven in a dungeon. I am not so good with ovens. I remember putting my hand on a red circle thing on a stove top and i smelled my hand before i felt it. I am also not so good with the memories of my mother.
As if it was 1989 there she was right in front of me - coming out of her treatment, sitting slumped in a wheelchair whimpering softly " They cooked my eye i can"t see anything. KM where are you?"
I threw up then and i was really close at this point too. But i was still a rookie here and i did not want day two to label me " Oh her. The pale one who barfed on her Blundstones."
So we got in the right line had the right info ready, and i picked a seat with a nice view of nothing.
A blue vest from the first day came over to ask me if i was ok and if i would like a ginger ale. "Um sure if you can lose the ginger part." My smile was weak but she got it.
" Next time. " she said with a wink.
"Next time, " said Liza "She is gonna need a bourbon."
My name was called this time from the other side of the room, so i had to walk past 40 people and squeeze between petrified first visits who were not standing behind the line. I gently showed them and explained i had done no better my first day.
Helping others always keeps me in the moment and eases the speeding of my wee pea brain.
This visit was short and sweet. Not like the 3 hour marathon of surgical reports, test results, info and exams we sat thru on Tuesday. I had less handouts in Grade 13 English.
" Hello, i am Dr. (enter name of really busy person here who knows this is a waste of time but has to tell me in person anyway,")
"I have reviewed your file and spoken with your surgeon. We do not feel that radiation would be of benefit to you."
Dr. ( i appreciate you telling me that more than you can ever ever know ) "Thank you. Bye." And out the door i went mach 3 down the hall to the stairs down the stair thru the weird cafeteria lobby place out into the air across the road to the side of the car where i promptly threw up on Liza's Blundstones.
"I'll get you a new pair." i whimpered thru my tears of sheer joy.
"Please don't, save your money for matching Costco jackets. That way we can look really pathetic. Get in the car i want to go buy a new oven."
"I hate you." i said really feebly as she stuffed the pillow under my seatbelt and got me all safe.
" I hate you too sweetheart. - i am thinking the one with two doors… ya know one oven for pizza and the other for...
I reached over and turned on the radio.
"Don't even say it Liza - don't even say it."
The feeling of being able to lift my arm - even just a few inches from my side was liberating, invigorating and inspiring. Which was good because the next few weeks were anything but that.
Cancer - stupid cancer - was about to be a full time job - for me, for Liza and for a team of hundreds of people who work in the hospitals and the regional cancer centre. How could a cure possibly be shared when what seems to be 40% of the workforce is employed by the disease?
In the week i had away from medical appointments i tried to focus on not being afraid. I tried to focus on how this could be ok. To focus on how i could be okay. To focus on the positives. It had not spread to my lymph nodes. They think they got it all. I have to give this my all. I have to honour what i said to my student's - "i got this. if anyone is going to kick cancer's butt it is me. Don't worry."
But i was worried - Terrified actually. The day we walked into the clinic for my first meeting with my care team was like walking into an IKEA cafeteria doing Idiotocracy doing death on a stick. Oh the smells. Burnt vegetable soup, burt people coming up from radiation, and burnt dust from the vents. That first floor was littered with an assortment of the nearly dead, soon to be dead, and those waiting to pick up the bodies i just mentioned. Had i seen a wooden wagon and heard an English accent i would have bolted. The place was stinky, packed and poorly signed. We had no idea where to go or what to do so we just watched the sea of sick go by until i saw a person with hair, natural colour in their face and what appeared to be a Walmart greeter like vest.
We were directed to a desk. We named the Dr. They asked again. It was like SNL. " And YOU are.?"
"Um trying not to die."
Eventually we found a staircase - i cannot stand elevators - and made our way to the 3rd floor. I was trembling. Even Liza - always put together - was quiet. I tried not to cry but tears welled up and snuck down my cheek zig zagging a path thru the bronzer i had caked on to look semi -well.
Now i just looked like malibu barbie convulsing in a microwave.
I tried to look around - to get it all in - to make it familiar - part of my new now - but i was not ready to see what i saw. Take a number to get your blood tested. In a room with three other people. Like an orthodontist Wait here for nurse. Stay behind this line. Have your health card ready. Bring your medication list. Swipe your health card here and use the kiosk to record your symptoms. Finally i made eye contact with a woman who had the look of Hilary Clinton. The i can survive and do anything look. Oh, and a nice pantsuit.
" I am gone need a pant suit." I said to Liza - or maybe just big girl panties to..." and off i started to ramble until my name was called. Top volume. Yup. Kelly Dear has cancer. Awesome. Bring it.
The nurses who work in the cancer clinic are Tough. Brave. Compassionate. This gal was also personable, open minded, astute, kind and a dog lover. Whew. A go to when talking about cancer got overwhelming. Which it did really quickly. i have no idea what happened but as my head was spinning Liza took a lot notes in her little Kelly notebook and then the door opened.
Dr.'s who work in the cancer clinic are all the things i mentioned above but add one key factor. They are WAY more scary than cancer. How a five foot nothing woman in heels and a REALLY sharp pant suit can take up that must real estate in a door way is a marvel.
And my oncologist turned out to be an absolute marvel. In that marvel comics kind of way. You cannot see her cape but i know she has one - and her super power is fighting cancer.
I did not get to say much - and i know i did not hear much. But there are four things i remember about that first meeting with Dr. P.
She eats cancer for breakfast.
She is going to give me the best standard of care for my ( insert diagnosis here) cancer.
She comes in from Toronto just to take on cases like this.
She likes soup.
Which is a good thing because at the end of those three hours i was completely squashed, pureed burnt out and ready to be poured back into my own bones.
And this was only day one.
Bound to Succeed.Read Now
A very draining afternoon
My teacher self felt for the resident. She said she did not want to hurt me. My response which i have come to use often is this.
"You are not hurting me. It hurts. It is the procedure not the person. " I also added that if she was going be in this profession she was gonna have to emotionally toughen up a bit. But just a little bit.
Oh and leave more epidermis on the next time you remove a foot and half foot long dressing from skin thinner than an onion. Onions make people cry. " The surgeon chuckled a bit and she looked sheepishly at the floor.
I was calmer now as the drugs had kicked in and there was a team of people chatting with me. Kendra, Liza, the surgeon, the resident and another nurse who had brought in a tray of tools i did not want to see were making epic small talk.
Then the tray nurse took out a staple. I had to pry my leg off her. There was a crude clear wet footprint on her stomach.
"Sorry - i'm a kicker. I think you are going to have to hold me."
Kendra came to up to hold my shoulder. She was soon the same colour the resident had been just minutes ago.
"Maybe not." and she went and sat down. This is a woman who has 3 kids - all of which came out of her head first covered in goo and blood - but a few staples is too much?
My mind took the beetleguise PTSD field trip. "Am i gross under there all bloody veins and puss?"
Liza appeared at me side and held my forehead down. Kendra held my legs which was no easy feet. ( ha) lame - and the Nurse Navigator tapped out the other nurse and took over.
The next 20 were ok. Slow but ok. Better than that first one which was like ripping a 1959 carpet underlay off with a flat head screwdriver and a forklift. The 21st one - yes i was counting - dropped on my chest. Like an anvil on the coyote. It rang in my ears like church bells from hell. Just keep counting just keep counting….. the blood rushing in my ears sounded just like the ocean...
There are 748 holes in a ceiling tile. About 39 veins in the back of your eye. And roughly 5 hairs on the chin of a menopausal woman. Liza's eyelashes are endless. Pain is sometimes as intoxicating as love.
In the time it takes to write an in class essay on Alfred K -rock street heroin spoons the staples were out and a gazillion steristrips were on. I think it was about 90 minutes. Shadows of people had come and gone and i had drifted off to some hydromorph happy place.
Then in the middle of my warm ocean trance the surgeon appeared - like Bruce. "Hello." he said in his usual balsa wood dry tone.
I got out "H" and then he put his left hand in the centre of my chest - his right hand on my right side - and snapped the drain out of my body with the force and speed and of a lesbian ball hockey locker room towel fight and popped the 36 inch bloody tube in the garbage right beside Kendra. Apparently rubber things that have been in your body for a month smell. There were some super primal gurgles and gags circling the room.
The Dr. released the pressure on my chest smiled deeply at me and asked "How was that?"
My adhd brain googled a thesaurus of synonyms and antonyms for agony, ecstasy and assorted profanity. But my teacher brain was still in the room - and i was not quite done teasing the resident.
"UM, that smarted a bit" - as i tried really hard to blink but one lid would not unknit itself. " And may i ask - "Dr. Do i still have both my eyes?"
"Well actually Kelly," he said picking up on the comedic cue - " the drain was attached to your percipital optical nerve - and as a result
"WHAT??" gasped the intern - Whose incredulous questioning was soon overtaken by hysterical and very nervous laughter from the entire room.
" and as a result you will see yourself feeling much better very soon."
" I all ready do sir. Thank you."
With that he shook my hand and begin to depart. " See you in six months." I smiled deeply at him and said " You will sir. Indeed you will."
The girls helped me get dressed and aimed me towards the car. The scary puddle was still there - a bit bigger than before - but so was my confidence. This time when i looked in and saw my reflection i lifted up my arms as far as they would go simply floated over that version of me like it wasn't there.
Because that version of me - no matter what i would come to look like over the next few months - maybe years - was never how i was going to see myself again.
A puddle of Myself
With my new found (circa 1987) Back to Future theme song running thru my head and my high top Wonder Woman Shoes giving a squeak to my stuttering step i felt i could make it to the end of the next round. Round one being all the tests, round two the surgery itself and round three getting the staples and the drain removed. Simple goal. I would have to endure a total of 30 days with my arm at my side so as not to rip the drain out and 30 nights with my arm propped above my head on a pillow so the push gross lympathic fluids could drain from my arm. Ew.
Ew. When that happens it feels like a little salmon spawning waterfall inside your chest, part tickle part pain, and 100% freaking weird. My armpit was numb to touch from the outside but not the inside. I was always whining to Liza that it feels like it is raining in my chest. All across my chest and down my side. That as you know fell of deaf ears. Super cute ears with really nice Tiffany earnings.
But as i see and feel the world in screaming 3D Imax adhd edited images - she thought i was exaggerating .
The pain and stiffness in my core was getting easier to manage, although if i did not and (do not ) stay ahead of pain it is almost unbearable. At week 3 after the surgery my skin felt like a straight jacket ( not that i have worn one - but there have been times...) and the weight of my massive Myrtle sagging in her marsupial suit pouch was slowly ripping the staples sideways. I do not want to tell you what my first sneeze was like but just imagine being turned inside out by your sternum and yanked back out of yourself by your kneecaps.sneeze I have since learned to sneeze by gritting my teeth and slamming my eyes shut. I look as i have been possessed by a pureed lemon tree but the pre facial contortions lessen the agony of a hundred mile an hour snot expulsion.
As for my grooming, with the help of Bea's staff my hair still looked fairly on in the right direction and i was able to move about and get in and out of bed and bathroom and beyond by myself. The weekly visits to get my dressing changed were less of a 15 toddlers in a mini van ordeal and more of a sloppy Lohan pouring out of an SUV. Rinse Repeat. uh oh poem...
Passing time with cancer can be counted out on a soft October night with q_tips and in the clinic - nurses come and go talking of who is next to go… ( remember i am still on drugs here)
Finally - the mean month passed the day of staple removal arrived. Yay but nay - I was asleep when they went in but i would be wide awake when they came out. Also downtown to the hospital is far. And the roads have more potholes than Pluto so the suck factor for this afternoon was seeming a little high. I figured i should be too. Pop. Pop.
We arrived - parked the car and Liza freed me from the smothering pot hole pain prevention Ethyl hates the seatbelt pillow system. Half of home sense ( where fashion goes to die) was in the front seat with me.
There was a big smooth puddle by the hospital in ramp. I looked down and saw my reflection. Egads it was frightening. I was stalk still but my image was moving. Ghostly - as if alive without me. I had not seen my new self yet in this way. So my inner child arrived and marched my hight tops right over my wobbling watery grave self. Wonder Woman rippled away the horror of that oily distorted image. I looked up to see Kendra who was smiling at the classic Kelly move. Liza and her Franco's took the long way.
Kendra was there for the start of round two so she wanted to see it conclude. The three of us made our way to the cafeteria size surgery patient waiting room and were eventually summoned by the Nurse Navigator who had turned out to be a paperwork compass pointing in every direction but helpful - that is until it got way real - too real on the table. Way too real for the resident. The poor kid nearly fainted when she took off my dressing. Took it off like a tube top in a Florida Brothel. RRIIIPPPPP. I went really pale. She looked worse. The nurse had to sit her down. I had to lie down. Now. I was tearing up. The room looked like the puddle. It bloody hurt already and not one staple out. The Nurse Navigator took right over and eased the tension in the room from 10 to 1. Which were also the odds of that kid getting thru med school.
" Nice shoes Kelly." she said as she wiped my cheek and propped my head gently down so all i could see was the ceiling.
Thanks, " But clearly i am the wrong one wearing them."
Failure in public bureaucracy has nothing to do with health care skills. Nurses are the true super heroes of healthcare.