Heading Over the Oncolytic Falls in an Emotionally Distressed Barrel

» In 1901 Annie Taylor was the first person to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel and survive (.. on her 63rd birthday). Since then, many other whack-o's have followed her over the edge.

Heading over Niagra Falls in a BarrelNow, you would never catch me going over the falls in a barrel ...

.. but I know the feeling.

In less than a week, I will be going over Oncolytic Falls of Radiation, Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy ..

.. in an emotionally distressed barrel.

I can see the event horizon from here. Thar she be .. dead ahead .. all sparkly and shiny-like. Terrifyingly beautiful.

Talk about being out of my comfort zone. I can hear the roar. I can feel the spray on my face. I can see the pace quickening. Better hold on for dear life. Here we go. "Geronimo!"

» Thornton Hospital, UCSD, La Jolla

Main Entrance to Thornton Hospital UCSD, La JollaI did not go to Moores today .. but I was close. Very close. Walking-distance close.

Because today I went to Thornton hospital .. which is part of UCSD medical.

I have never been there before. Lots of construction work going on in the area. A number of big cranes are fixed in various places throughout.

I went for another CT scan. (My third.) Plus more blood work.

» Save Some for Me, Will Ya?

I am getting good at these CT scans .. which require you leave the I-V in your arm for the duration of the test. After the scan was complete, the Clinical Trials girl brought over a bag full of vials for me to fill.

Vials of all different colors. Green, purple .. a veritable rainbow of colors. Pretty colors.

<ignore this intentional body-text marker>

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

Once they have the I-V in your arm, it is no big deal for them to take whatever blood they need.

But before she began filling the vials of many colors, the nurse first 'flushed' the I-V by injecting saline (twice) and drawing out two big vials of blood and throwing them away .. by discarding them into the recepticle mounted chest-high on the wall.

Jacobs Medical Center UCSD to open 2016I didnt say anything, because they obviously know what they are doing.

But I was thinking » "Save some for me, will ya?"

I'm not sure, but I think they took at least six vials ..

.. not counting the two big throw-aways.

All this on an empty stomach, because they dont want you to eat before the CT scan. Plus, I had to get up today while it was still dark out.

[ My room faces east. I checked the horizon when I woke. Not even a hint of daybreak to be found. It might as well have been the middle of the night. ]

So I have been orbiting the galaxy for much of the day. I mean, I can feel myself out there. Pretty far out.

» The Dept of Psychiatry and Psychology Calls

Speaking of orbiting the galaxy in a spacey spaceship .. when I got home today, the phone rang. I saw the 858 area code of La Jolla and answered it, because I thought it was the Clinical Trials girl, who said that she would call with my chemo date.

Instead it was an unfamiliar voice asking for me. "Speaking," I said.

"Hi," she said, "This is so-and-so with the Moores Cancer Center, Department of Psychiatry." A pleasant, engaging voice.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)Maybe you had to be there .. but the way that sounded to my ear ..

.. as heard from my deep-space orbit .. it sounded more than a tad bizarre.

I mean, there was a dead silence on the line. It actually took a second or two to register what I had just heard.

Then I couldnt help but laugh .. at the sound of someone from the dept of Psychology calling for me ..

.. especially given the timing of her call and my current state of mind. Cuz I was definitely feeling a little crazy when she called .. like I was bracing myself for the rapidly approaching falls.

"You want the crazy guy," I said, "He's right here. Let me get him for you."

We had some good laughs .. this lady and I. When I am feeling severely stressed, I can be wicked-funny. That is how I cope.

And I am sitting here in this barrel .. about to go over the falls. The joker in me is really coming out. I can feel my personality coming apart .. due to the (severe) stress.

"Can I just tell you this one thing?" I said to the lady. "Do you have a minute?" She was a good listener, I must admit. I probably said this to her three or four times. ("Can I just tell you this one more thing?") So we chatted for a while.

"I'm just getting warmed up for next week," I told her, as an excuse for venting some of my anxiety and even some of my insanity. [ She made my first appointment with a trained, "well-experienced" psychologist for next week at Moores, not at Thornton hospital. ]

The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)But I can feel my grasp l.o.o.s.e.n.i.n.g on what most people would call 'reality'.

I have always been reluctant to talk to shrinks or psychologists or therapists of any kind ..

.. so it surprises me that I am now embracing them so enthusiastically.

This speaks to my current state of mind. It speaks volumes.

"Throw me a line, will ya? A sanity line. And please hurry. Because the falls are right there."

Basically, you process a request for counseling with a trained psychologist thru your doctor ..

.. thru your Oncologist (.. either your Medical Oncologist or your Radiation Oncologist). They need to approve the request.

This cancer stuff is a lot of shit to deal with .. both mentally and physically. And emotionally, too. And existentially. Any professional help that you can get is time well spent. Well worth it. And for me » necessary.

They validate your feelings, saying things like » "Absolutely! That is a lot for anyone to deal with. You wouldnt be normal if you werent feeling these things."

At this point, two months in to the cancer dealy-o, it feels like insanity is a revolving door that I enter and exit periodically, as necessary. Long as you dont stay too long, I see nothing wrong with visiting now and then.

You can't help it, really. You just have to go with the flow. And if the flow is taking you to the edges of the galaxy (or over the falls) .. you might as well try to enjoy the ride. Because you aint getting off (or out of the barrel) any time soon.

» Thanks for the Ride (CT Scan)

CT scannerSpeaking of enjoying the ride ..

.. when they shoot the dye/contrast into your vein for the CT scan (.. via remote control, at just the exact moment) ..

.. it is normally no big deal.

At least not for the previous two that I've had.

But today was a more thorough test. And it actually hurt for a few seconds when they started to shoot it into my vein.

And the result, the effect, was far more powerful. Whoa.

The girl announces over the broadcast speaker from her little room behind me » "Okay, I've started the contrast."

And I am thinking (feeling the pain) » "No shit." It felt like they used a pressurized fire hose.

Normally, they say » "It makes you feel like you have to go to the bathroom."

Dude, it never makes me feel like that. Rather, it makes me feel like » somebody shot Tabasco sauce into my balls. But I am not going to say this to some girl running the machine.

So I just say » "Yeah, I felt it."

But today was like » "Whoa." My whole upper body was feeling it. A fiery, flushed feeling. Tho the intense part only lasts 15 or 20 secs.

CT Scan OperatorAt the end of the scan, when she called out to me from over the speaker and said, "I'm just checking your pictures ..

.. to make sure they came out okay," .. I was thinking, "Please God, let those pictures be okay."

And they were.

» The Clinical Trials Girl Comes to Thornton

When the CT scan girl came up to me after the scan was done, the first thing I said was » "Dont take out the I-V."

She chuckled and said, "I know," seemingly amused at my reminder. I admit that I may have sounded a bit frantic.

Here is where the nurse came in .. the nurse who put the I-V into my arm (she was good, very good, a real pro, the best), and was talking on the phone to the Clinical Trials girl ..

.. about coordinating how they were going to get the vials of blood that they needed .. without having to stick me again. (I've been getting stuck a lot lately.)

The Moores Cancer Center in La JollaAt first, I thought that the nurse was going to send me over to Moores ..

.. with the I-V still in my arm.

I thought » "I am going to be walking around the streets of La Jolla with an I-V in my arm. You gotta be kidding me."

But then the Clinical Trials girl said that she was coming over to Thornton with the bag of vials.

She said that she would be there in 15 minutes, so the nurse had me wait in the waiting room while she set up an I-V for the next patient.

[ I could never do that job. You wouldnt believe the number of people they process thru there. Thru the Radiology dept.

It's like a mass transit station. Large volumes of people. The girl who called my name in the waiting room told me » "It never stops. There are no slow days."

She also said » "We noticed that you got here early and we tried to squeeze you in a few times, but it was not meant to be."

They took me right at my appointment time. As I laid down on the table where they set up the I-V, I looked up at the clock and watched the second hand sweep across 10:00.

"Right on time," I said. ]

It seemed like the Clinical Trials girl was there in 2 minutes. At first, I couldnt believe that was her. "Wow," I said. "That was fast."

» More Attempts to Establish Rapport

Indian Point Nuclear plant, New York, Hudson RiverWe chatted a little while waiting for the nurse to finish with the other patient.

I showed her a picture of my son and attempted to establish rapport ..

.. by telling her of my experience working in the nuclear field »

» "After high school," I said, "I joined the Navy and went into the nuclear field .. because I didnt know what I wanted to do. There were things about the job that I liked and things that I didnt like. But the BEST part was » working with sharp people. They bring out the best in you. And YOU ALSO get to work with some very impressive people."

For this trial, she works closely with the Radiation Oncologist (.. who impresses the fuck out of me, his skill set), who is in charge of the trial.

"I know," she said (something like) » "I dont know how he has time to do everything he does. There must be three of him."

» Thanks for Doing This

Thornton Hospital Main Lobby, UCSD, La JollaAfter we were done there, and they had filled their rainbow of vials with my blood and removed the I-V from my arm ..

.. the Clinical Trials girl walked me out to the front lobby of the hospital ..

.. where I would wait for my ride to come pick me up and take me home.

"I'll give you a call later," she said, before stopping and turning and saying » "Thanks for doing this."

As I watched her walk out the main entrance (while feeling more than a little spacey) the voice in my head said » "Dude, there's something you havent heard a girl say in a long time."

The end. ■

<ignore this intentional text spacer>

Radified home

<ignore this intentional bottom text spacer, too>

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on December 2, 2014 8:02 PM.

Thanksgiving & Genuine Feelings of Gratitude was the previous entry in this blog.

Notes from the Infusion Center (First Chemo) is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.