Bio-Hazards for Breakfast

» [ The winter solstice arrives on Sunday the 21st at 3:03 PM Pacific Standard time. ] So many stories to share .. so many cool, gnarly, head-spinning stories. But so little time to share them. What a shame.

I am spending lots of time down at Moores .. meeting with this doctor and that ..

Bio-Hazard.. getting bio-hazards pumped into my veins. You know.

Had my second clinical trial this week. They said that they expected me to have a 'strong reaction'.

Dude, let it never be said that the people at Moores sugar-coat. No, sir. They let you know the shit is coming.

You can batten down the hatches if you like, but you will never say, "They didnt warn me."

So there I was .. reclining on the bed in my private room (which I call a 'cabana').

And they pump the bio-hazard into my veins. (The pretty nurse who does this is wearing a dang haz-mat suit.)

» Plutonium Popsicles

And I am thinking how I am such a tough dude that I eat bio-hazards for breakfast.

And my nurse (pretty with a great smile) says » "You might start to feel cold and feel like you cant get warm and start shaking, even violently .. now that your body knows to respond to this vaccine."

And I am thinking » "No doubt, this girl is impressed with me that I am such a tough guy that I eat bio-hazards for breakfast and do chemo for lunch."

She says » "It's important that you press this red button here at the first signs of this because I will need to come and shoot this demerol into your ass [ the I-V line ] so you stop shaking."

It only takes her 10 mins to pump the bio-hazard into your vein, but they keep you there for several hours .. to watch you.

My hottie nurse stops by every once in a while to check on me, and I am like » "Is that all you got? Dont you have anything stronger? Maybe you have some plutonium popsicles for me to suck on? That might get me going."

» The Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

Then, after a couple of hours, all of a sudden, I am like » "Dang .. something must be wrong with this air-conditioner. That sucker must be broken. Somebody needs to call maintenance. Cuz it is getting colder-than-shit in here."

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••• today's entry continues here below •••

So I thrown on another blankie and pull up the covers close to my neck. And I start shaking .. shivering. But not too bad. So I press the red button. "What's up with the air-conditioner?"

She comes and says » "Okay, let's go ahead and give you the Demerol."

I am like » "Cool. I love Demerol. Remind me to tell you my Demerol story."

» Projectile Vomiting Roast Beef

Dude, soon as she hits me up with the Demerol, I go to instant projectile vomiting. I am like, "There's goes my roast beef sandwich. $6.25 down the drain."

It's hard to be a bio-hazard stud when you are projectile-vomiting roast beef. Let me tell you.

But I stopped shaking .. which she called the rigors (rye-gorz). But only for 10 or 15 minutes. Then the shakes REALLY started. Holy moly. But they didnt have a pre-approval for any more Demerol, so they were calling around to doctors.

A "physicians assistant" came in and asked when I had the first dose and approved a second.

» Dinner & a Show

About that time, my Radiation Oncologist and his nurse showed up to check on me with the Clinical Trials girl. More instant projectile vomiting. Only the roast beef was long gone.

So there was basically a room full on people watching me moan and groan and shiver and shake and projectile vomit.

They are surprisingly cool with that shit, like they see it all the time. Dinner and a show. You know.

Long story short .. after an hour I was cool, so they sent me home. But that violent shaking wears out your ass .. in a big way. And in a hurry.

I went straight to bed and slept for 14 hours straight (8PM to 10AM) .. waking once at 2AM to take off my tee-shirt, which was soaking wet with sweat, and put on a dry shirt. And again at 7AM (soaking wet again.)

» Rad Attitude

Yes, this definitely sucks, but if an hour of discomfort, even major discomfort, means that I have a better chance of kicking cancer's ass .. then it seems like a small price to pay. In the long run. No?

Your attitude thru this is something like » "No matter how bad it gets for me, it's worse for Mr. Cancer."

» Genetic Engineering & Luminescence

Let me tell you this one more thing .. when they genetically engineered this virus, this genetically-engineered smallpox-based virus, this vaccine, they engineered to be » luminescent.

In other words, you go into a room and turn off the lights and they shine a special ultra-violet light on it and the vaccine will GLOW .. where it is working in your cancer cells.

Is that not the coolest thing you have ever heard? We will do that next week.

Detonation Time » T-Minus

They say it takes between one and two weeks after the first dose before you start blowing up cancer cells. Today is day 8 after my first vaccine. So .. let the detonation begin. I love the idea of blowing up cancer cells with genetically-engineered smart-bombs.

Cancer treatment is physically demanding. You need to get in shape before you start cancer treatment. Who'd-a ever thunk that cancer could be such fun?

» My Chemo Doctor & Her Magic Touch

Everybody is very happy with my progress. I met again with my Chemo doctor yesterday. (I like her a lot.) She's the one who said » "Sign here that you understand that your butt might fall off from chemo."

She said » "I see that you actually put on some weight." [ since our last visit ]

I was thinking » "I dont want you to send me to Guantanamo for forced-feeding."

Regarding tumor-size, she said » "Before it was four fingers. Now I can barely get two around it."

I said » "Two is half of four. Half after the first week is good."

Tho I am not sure what she is feeling. Because I can only feel something the size of barely one finger-width .. the size of a marble. If that. But she obviously has the more practiced hands.

Her hands are so skilled that it actually feels good when she feels around. I mean, even when I do it myself, it can be sketchy. But when I shave, I no longer shave over a big bulge in my neck.

You cannot see anything by looking at my neck. It looks normal now. Before you couldnt miss the bulge.

» They Like Me

She also said » "My scheduling girl came and talked to me after she called you to schedule this appointment. She said, 'He's very nice. I told her, 'I could have told you that'."

In other words .. they like me down there.

» Drivers

Speaking of 'down there' .. my medical coverage provides a ride, which is nice, seeing that the courts took away my drivers license back in 2009. And it would take hours to get there by bus.

For example, a driver is coming to pick me up tomorrow morning at 5:45 for a 7AM appointment.

Last Thursday, on the way home, the driver got into an accident. Not too bad. A litle shook up, but nobody bleeding. Tho it took 90 minutes for them to send out a replacement vehicle.

Then on Friday, the very next day, when it was raining, they made me wait 3 hours to be picked up.

I kept calling and the girl (dispatch) kept saying » "Thanks for being so patient."

I didnt say anything, but was thinking » "My patience ran out an hour ago." I bit my tongue until it developed callouses.

That was my first week of radiation/chemo. Needless to say it sucked.

This week the girl told me that it was wrong to make me wait so long like that and that they were transferring my account to a different subcontractor. So now I pretty much have my own personal driver ..

.. who will be here at 5:45 in the morning.

I will be getting radiation shots on both Christmas eve and New Years eve. Ho-ho-ho.

» The Rich Man & Lazarus

I dont know if I will have time to get into it later, but sometimes things from scripture come to me while I am out and about ..

.. and the thing that has been coming to me lately, rather strongly .. is the story about the Rich Man & Lazarus .. particularly » this verse. For which I have reasons. Very compelling reasons. (I must say .. that has never been my favorite bible story. Not even close. fwiw. Nobody tries to think of that story .. if they dont have to.)

» The 'Therapists' (The Operators)

Instead of sharing about the radiation machine itself, perhaps I should share about the people who operate it .. a team of a dozen of so 'therapists' they are called. A very diverse team, with each member having their own strengths and weaknesses .. as you have in pretty much any team.

I would be lying if I said there were no stress in involved in the shoot, but they work well to help alleviate that stress.

I try to learn the names of everybody who provides me with care .. as my way showing my respect and appreciation for the care they provide.

But stress affects your ability to remember (.. as can chemo) .. so I sometimes have to ask them multiple times for their names.

They bring you into a room that is accessed via a giant, thick steel-and-lead door that is not unlike a bank-vault door. Two or three people assist you in lying down on a long, narrow table/bed that contains very precise measurements.

To be honest, it reminds me of the table that the Joker or the Riddler used to tie Batman to .. with the giant, spinning circ saw at the far end. But that's another story.

While they are positioning you very precisely, they give you clear instructions, such as » "Lay heavy. Dont help. Let me move you." Or » "Dig your heels into the bed and push up towrd me."

After they leave the room, they talk to you thru a microphone and speaker, saying things like » "I need you to move your chin toward your toes. Give me a little thumbs up if you understand."

» My Name .. if Anybody Cares

They are good at joking with you to help relieve the stress. For example, there is a girl there who has smiling eyes and a smile so bright that it feels like three happy people walk into the room when she arrives.

And they are setting me up on the table/bed. She is on one side and this cool guy on the other. And I say to her » "Your name is so-n-so, right?"

And she says » "That's right."

And the guy says (without skipping a beat) » "My name is so-n-so .. if anybody cares."

It was a great little laugh we all shared. Because it did seem like I was focused on the girl with the amazing smile (who has an unusual name) and ignoring him.

"I know your name already," I said to the guy. But it's little things like this that can make a big difference when you are in my situation.

» I Like It When Pretty Girls Unbutton My Buttons

Yesterday, a different girl was there and they are again setting me up on the bed and she says » "I am going to unbutton these buttons, okay?" [ of my shirt near my collar ]

"Sure," I said, "I like it when pretty girls unbutton my buttons."

The guy didnt say anything, but I could see a smile break silently across his face.

"You liked that, huh?" I said to him. "I can tell." I know he did, because he is quick-witted, himself.

The first time I ever got shot, they were playing Ray Charles "Georgia on my Mind" over the speakers. Very nice. Relaxing.

A radiation 'shot' is not from a needle. A few people have thought this. No, it comes from what I call "the manhole cover". More on that later.

» Exploring the Depths of Exhaustion

Like anybody, I enjoy a good, hard of day of work and the sense of satisfaction that comes when you finally lie down at night to rest your weary bones.

Hemingway wrote (see #10) in Moveable Feast » "It was necessary (see #3).. to be tired in my body."

And surely I appreciate this sentiment. I enjoy that feeling. In the Navy, for example, there were many times that I started work at 7 AM and worked straight thru to 4 PM the NEXT DAY .. with no sleep. (Which is one reason why the program is described as » ardous.)

And none of that really fazed me. Of course, that was back when my dick was always hard and I would pole-vault out of bed every morning.

But during cancer treatment, you explore new depths of exhaustion that you cannot imagine.

When you finally get rested, your rested perch is far more tenuous. And when you descend into the depths of exhaustion, after a particularly hard day or a particulalrly rough week, you are so unimaginably tired that I will not even try to explain it to you.

Only to say that you did not know you could feel so tired and still be alive.

» Quit Drinking Coffee (Skull Cracking Headache)

Speaking of being tired .. I finally had to lay aside the coffee. The radiation cooks your mouth so that is feels like you gargled with battery acid. If you eat anything spicy or drink anything acidic (such as orange juice), you will feel like you sucked on a blow-torch. [ Trust me .. "Father Abraham, send Lazarus..." ]

I kept drinking coffee as long as I possibly could. I should have quit prior to treatment, but you know how I enjoy a good, strong cup of joe.

So .. when the coffee headache came .. it was at the worst possible time. I was like » "Mother of God. It feels like my skull is cracking." If I put a flashlight in my mouth and you turned off the lights, I am sure that you would be able to see the cracks.

I've never had a headache like that before, where it was so severe that I thought I might throw up. Live and learn. Sure, sometimes I learn the hard way .. but at least I learn.

» Jealousy

I forget what age I was when I endeavored to live my life in such a way as to avoid jealousy. But it was probably in my 30's.

You basically do this by learning who you really are (self-knowledge), which involves a degree of honesty. As high of a degree as you can muster. You start small and go from there.

And then you live your life to be all of you (and not George Clooney or Brad Pitt) that you can be. No matter where that journey takes you.

If you can get others to go along with you, hey, great. If not, you go it alone and blaze a trail. This way, when you lie down on your death bed, you will have no regrets.

Self-honesty and self-knowledge (self-awareness) is an on-going thing. You have to take one step at a time. This is a big topic in itself, and a lot of people are very skilled at fooling themselves and deceiving themselves.

But my point is .. I'm not really a jealous person. Sure, I have caught myself being jealous of Walter .. but that was a professional thing. Actually, it was more of an artistic thing. But I am not jealous of Walter as a person. Feel me?

But since cancer came along, and really since treatment started, I have caught myself feeling jealous .. of others. For certain things. Certain things that I'm sure you would find silly and stupid. So I am not going to tell you what they are.

But I will tell you that today, when I opened a can of Smokehouse almonds, which I really love, and discovered that I could no longer taste them (due to radiation/chemo) .. I cried out » "No!"

There was definitely a tinge of despair in my cry. Tho no, I was not jealous here of any particular person .. which is why I told you.

They are targeting my voice box with radiation (among other things). I have begun talking much more quietly. I can definitely feel it.

The end. ■

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on December 18, 2014 12:18 PM.

First Week of Radiation / Chemo was the previous entry in this blog.

Treatment Feels Worse Than the Disease (Way Worse) is the next entry in this blog.

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