I’m at the hydration station. I got to the John B. Amos Cancer Center at about 8 a.m. this morning to get several hours of liquids infused into my body in advance of the CT scan that I’ll have at The Medical Center tomorrow. I’m listening to Bat for Lashes, a band that my son Adam told me about. The song is called, Moon and Moon. I can see so much going on around me, yet I’m so isolated. Alone with my thoughts. Happy to be arguably the most healthy patient in here. No chemo for me today, and I’m sorry for all of my fellow warriors whose systems are being poisoned by drugs whose mission is to kill the cells that have attacked their bodies.
This place is surreal. I’m connected physically through a six-foot section of clear surgical tubing to a bag of fluids they’re pumping into me. I’m in my own little world over here in the corner with my computer, my Blackberry and my thoughts. These needle sticks, the chugging of the machine that is measuring out the fluids going into my IV, the buzz around me emanating from the good caregivers and the patients and families to which they’re administering care have become familiar to me now.
As I look out over this place I see faces scarred by worry lines. The patient attached to that worried face is walking to the restroom pushing a stainless steel pole. All of us who are here have holes in us. My hole is in my left arm just above my left wrist. There’s a woman next to me whose hole is in her upper left chest. She has a port installed just below her skin so she doesn’t have to endure a vein stick each time they need to either get blood or add fluids that contain some kind of chemotherapy drug. Another guy across the room has his hole in the back side of his right hand.
In addition to these physical holes, we all have holes in our hearts. We’re all wishing we were the person we used to be, before we found out we had cancer. We’re wishing that we could have a single day without that nagging seed of thought back there reminding us that we have cancer in our bodies. There’s that hole again. letting out just a little more of our life energy. My job is to seek the very best medical care, which I’ve done. I’m here now at the JBACC, getting excellent care, knowing I’m on the right track to return to my new normal. Those of us who’ve gotten the diagnosis have a new normal. We can never go back to what was normal before. That new normal kills some people. They let it beat them down. They let it rob them of their vitality, their will to live, their calm. I see people around me at this very moment doing something different. They’re smiling. They are talking to the people who love them and they’re connecting to the intelligent caregivers who are doing the things that need to be done to restore them to health.
Soon my nurse is going to walk up to me and say, “It is time for you to take your Mucomyst.” I hate those words. I hope you never have to hear them. Mucomyst is the trade name for a drug named acetylcysteine and it is used for the prevention of radiocontract-induced nephropathy (a form of acute renal failure). The contrast agent that is used during the CT scanning process is damaging to kidneys and since I only have the one, Strainer, I have to endure this nasty stuff to help protect me. Oh God, here she comes. Hang on, I’ll be back.
She’s inserting a hypodermic needle into the vile (I meant to say that) and pulling back the plunger, drawing the clear liquid into the plastic tube behind the needle. Yes, the liquid is clear, but it is NOT tasteless and it sure as hell is NOT odorless. She is squirting it into a small glass of Gatorade. She swirls and I’m looking at her hand holding out the cup to me. The smell is reaching me before I even touch the cup. My entire little corner smells like rotten eggs. There is sewage on the wind. I’m just going to set my jaw and suck it down. There. Gone. My God, this stuff is nasty. Mucomyst vs. Gatorade — Mucomyst wins every time. The bad news is that I have to take another dose tonight and another one tomorrow before the scan. If I see you out on the street this afternoon, stay upwind.
I’ll post again tomorrow morning. Mike vs. CT scan tube — CT scan wins every time.