One of the things I told my oncologist the first time I met him was that I wasn’t “sick.” I mean, seriously, I didn’t feel sick and back then, I sure didn’t look sick. I liked Dr. Chadha right away because he agreed with me (I LOVE people, especially doctors, who agree with me!). And, while not “sick,” I did, however, have this little foreign invader in my body creating some unseen havoc. I say did because the tumor can no longer be felt on a manual exam. It’s gone and in my opinion – dead and buried never to be seen again, but I digress. In my infinite wisdom (or, perhaps in my quest to deny the reality that I had cancer), I decided I was not ill, but merely at war with cancer. Therefore, I’m not sick but simply a soldier and we know all soldiers get a few dings, scratches, and little battle scars from time to time. Everyone needs their badges of honor. The thought of being a warrior certainly works better for me than that of sick cancer patient.
The problem with my philosophy is the time spent chemo lab (excuse me, let me correct myself – it’s the “infusion” lab where we are infused with the poison of the day). I mean, there are sick people in the chemo lab and, well, someone forgot to tell me I’m sick! Now, I “try” really hard to be good when I go in there. After all, it’s kind of a serious and solemn place. Lights are dimmed to make it easier on eyes stressed by weeks of chemo. Sounds are soft (no loud radios playing here) voices are hushed, and cell phones forbidden. For the most part, patients sleep during treatment while the chemo buddies read books or watch television (with headphones, of course). Like I said, the chemo lab is a place for sick people which sometimes makes it pretty hard for someone who isn’t sick.
Oh, I try to be good and usually I am but no matter how hard I try, I’m constantly getting into trouble. My manager rocks and she lets me take my laptop with me so I generally spend my time in the infusion lab being a good girl and doing my work. But, there are times when I just can’t be good and quiet. I was the girl who was always getting my desk moved in school for talking and sometimes that girl still sneaks out in the chemo lab.
My wayward ways all started with Joan and Leon. Yes, my very own special angels and friends of nearly 15 years – Joan and Leon. Joan is a breast cancer survivor and comes every three weeks for a Herceptin treatment. I bribe the nurses to save the chair next to me for Joan. (Yes, Virginia, nurses can be bribed with cookies, farm fresh eggs, and emergency chocolate… LOTS of emergency chocolate!) Leon always comes with her and when you have good friends like that there, I just can’t help but take a “coffee” break from work and visit… and visit… which of course, means lots of talking. We giggle and laugh and have a real good time. I ignore the disapproving looks from the other chemo buddies. It’s obvious we’re having way too much fun.
Then, there was the day my daughter came by bringing me baskets of food to take home. (If you’ve never had Rebekah cook for you, you’re missing something. She’s a marvelous cook!) Of course, she came with all THREE of my sweet grandchildren. Four visitors in the chemo lab at one time! Ha! The little duly appointed visitor police nurses’ aide made a bee line to inform me I must limit visitors to one. No problem. I unplugged the IV pole and we moved out to the lobby. I can do that because I’m not sick. I was smothered in hugs and kisses and love. It’s a good thing to have lots of love in the chemo lab – even when you’re not sick.
Or, how about the day our bass player from the band (sweet Miss Linda Law) showed up to be my chemo buddy for the day and at the very same time my daughter and two of the grandchildren showed up. Boy did the visitor police get a workout that day. Again, have IV pole will travel. We moved the party to the lobby and before we were done, we had everyone laughing so hard that they forgot they were sick too. There’s nothing like a good laugh to make you feel better.
My latest escapade came when Joan and her niece Jessica came by. Now, Joan’s smart. She came bearing cookies for the nurses. The nurses let both of them sneak right on in to see me. But, wouldn’t you know it, that same little nurses’ aide came running just as fast as her short, stout legs could carry her. I knew we were in trouble when she braced her hands on her hips and started into the same old tired lecture. By now it’s comical and kind of funny. I have a mobile IV pole and someone forgot to tell me that I was sick. I hope the other nurses didn’t give her any of the cookies.
©2013 Mary Kyle. All rights reserved.