Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Halls Of Injustice

Since I'm scheduled for chemo tomorrow (and I'm dreading it more than you can possibly imagine), I went down to the hospital this morning for my pretreatment blood work. The place was packed, even more than usual, backed way up from being closed over the holidays. I had to wait almost two hours for my turn with the phlebotomist.

I prefer to spend my waits on the fifth floor standing in the hall rather than sitting in the waiting room with all the infectious coughers, and usually a few other germ conscious cancerites will join me. Today I had the pleasure of hanging out in the hall with Scott and Jack, the lung cancer guys.

Frankly, Jack is not looking so good lately. They missed his tumor for over a year: some ignorant schmuck of an MD just stared right at the x-ray and never saw it. So now he's an advanced small-cell stage IV, undergoing palliative chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously. They keep trying to put him into a hospice but Jack is a kicker and he refuses to go. He's thin as a shoestring with dark raccoon rings around his eyes, and his waxy yellow skin, stretched tight over jutting bones, is covered with open sores. The non-cancer patients go all blank eyed and look away when he approaches, but Jack is one of us so we smile and look him right in the eye. I shake his hand and Scott hugs him.

Scott hugs everybody, to my squeamish dismay as I am in the throes of an intense phase of microbe- a-phobia. Plus he's an old hippie so he always smells like a far out mixture of patchouli, yiang yiang, and rosemary essential oil woo, an unfortunate aroma that immediately triggers my anticipatory nausea. We probably look to the other patients as if we're dancing some wack kind of tango down the hallway: both of us smiling gaily, he lurches toward me with open arms as I scuttle off sideways like a crab. Eventually my choreography flounders, and he wins.

But Scott's a good guy, as cheerful and generous and kind as anybody I've met, even though the Universe has repeatedly kicked him when he's down. First he was hit by a car, which threw him 20 feet into the air, shattering his clavicle into multiple pieces, breaking all his top teeth, and leaving him with a permanent limp. A week later he lost his home and everything he owned to Katrina. And then after all that the poor bastard caught lung cancer and they never got around to repairing his broken clavicle or making him the new shiny white movie star teeth he'd been promised.

The doctors only failed to see Scott's tumor on the x-ray for three months, during which time it jumped from an easy stage I to an inoperable stage III. But as he's quick to point out with a tear in his eye, at least it's non-small cell so he's in a hell of a lot better shape than poor Jack. Who, frankly, isn't looking good at all.

Cheeze looweeze, you know? I mean, hell. Compared to these guys I feel like the epitome of wellness and good fortune. I'm practically oozing health and wealth, I'm like the pampered love child of Jack Lalanne and Bill Gates. After standing in the hospital hallway all morning hearing Scott and Jack talk about what's left of their lives, I realize I have no fucking right to whine about my situation at all. None.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop telling you about it. Because it still sucks, and I'm still not a trouper, and I still want the world to know how fucked up things can suddenly become no matter how hard you try to live a good life. Shit, as they say, happens.

So please excuse me now while I go wash the yiang yiang off my clothes then spend the next three days vomiting around the clock. I'll be back when it's over with more of my story. Stay tuned.

On the eve of the Big Ick


Blogger Val said...

Good luck, but what a crappy way to start off the New Year!
Overall I'll have to say I was lucky lucky lucky that "MY" cancer is not amenable to chemo; they just blasted me w/radiation...

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sending you many non-vomitous thoughts and hugs. As a side note, no one should have to deal with ylang ylang ever, let alone on the eve of a round of chemo.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Trasi said...

patchouli I think is worse.
I love the baubles on your left arm. Byoo-tee-fulll...
Hold tight!! Hang in there.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lung cancer guys? OMG E you are cracking me up. esp the crab walk away from the hugger.

thanks you!

1:49 AM  

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