Monday, August 27, 2007

The Road From Scanville

I finally had my CT scans this morning: head, neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. And even though I had to drink the nasty ass contrast drink, I must say Our Lady of the Damned was at her very finest today, and it was actually quite a pleasant experience.

No, please! Don't die of shock! Sometimes that really does happen.

Anyway. I was sitting there in the waiting room, dreading the hideous drink and struggling to peel the lid off the bottle, when a vaguely familiar woman in an orange t-shirt walked up to me. I recognized it as the very same orange t-shirt that was handed out to cancer survivors at the fundraising games a couple of weeks ago. "So what happened to your purple hair, girl?" she demanded. She took the nasty ass drink bottle out of my hand and opened it for me. "Let me go get you a straw," she said. "It's easier to get that evil shit down with a straw."

A minute later she returned with my drink and a straw, and then she stood in the middle of the waiting room, cupped her hands around her mouth, and loudly announced that she needed all cancer survivors to gather round pronto. Five total strangers stood up and formed a protective circle around me: they cheered, and made me laugh, and talked me through the ordeal until I'd managed to gag the very last drop of the nasty ass stuff all the way down. And keep it down. At which point the entire waiting room erupted in relieved applause.

Somehow the trains seem to run on time in the radiology department, and a record breaking two minutes later I was called into the back. While a nurse was sticking the IV in my arm, my old friend Dr. G, the head of the radiology department, popped into the tiny needle room to say hello. He performed two procedures on me last year: a needle biopsy in my chest, and an emergency guide wire removal from my groin. I'm a little concerned about why, out of the eighty-eight gabazillion million patients he must see in a year, he still manages to remember me so damn well. I especially worry because I was under twilight anesthesia for both of his procedures, so Sweet Baby Roomba only knows what the hell I said to him. He is an extremely attractive man.

So today he bopped in and told me I looked really good. I said thanks, but I only hoped I look good on the inside. "You will," he said confidently. "Except your spine will still be horribly twisted." Shit. Now HOW does he remember an irrelevant detail like scoliosis? This is the department big shot, the head honcho, so he certainly doesn't take the routine scans himself, or even read them. Should I be flattered or horrified that the memory of my deformity has stuck with him for over a year?

And then he said: "Look, that's Frida Kahlo on your shirt!" Well so it was. I confessed that I'm a bit of a Frida buff, and he told me he's from Mexico City and a big fan of Frida and Diego himself. And next thing you knew we were off, talking a mile a minute about Mexican painters. At one point he asked me if I'd ever been to the Blue House, and the oddest thing happened: I could feel my lips moving, and then I heard what sounded like my own strangely detached voice saying, "Not yet. But if these scans come back clean, I'm planning a pilgrimage there in the fall." WHOA. I am? Huhn. Funny, because just last night I was worrying about whether I would starve to death or freeze to death first come winter, given my dire financial situation. "You know, cancer kind of kicks you into acting on all those dreams you've been putting off," I heard the voice that sounded a lot like mine say.

"Good," he said, beaming the most dazzling smile straight into my heart. "Before you go, let me know and I'll give you a list of murals you should see." Not if I go. He didn't say "if." What a dear sweet wonderful man.

I don't have an oncology appointment yet to hear the results of the scans, but it should be within a week. I may have to drive back down there tomorrow and ask the chemo nurses to check the computer, because the oncology clinic has been really bad about not mailing me the notices on time. And I can't really get on with my life until I know the results. Everything's on hold, in a weird kind of limbo. I've been putting off stuff like signing up for classes, planning trips, falling in love, and so forth until I have some kind of indication of what the next six months will bring.

I hope and pray that Dr. G is right. I'm SO ready to get moving with rebuilding this life. And his list of Mexican murals just might be the best possible thing to look forward to.


Blogger Sarah said...

I think I speak for hundreds of us when I say that, after you get your good report card, we WILL start a Frida Fund to get you there.

3:28 PM  
Blogger debinca said...

He sounds like a wonderful human being! How nice for you to have met him in your life.

We are waiting with you to know how the scans turn out, just thing of us as another clapping cheering crowd!

3:32 PM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

You look terrific!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

But why didn't you keep the purple hair?
Oh, I know. You're just waiting to find the right color. I've heard good things about both Manic Panic and Special Effect. They'll also dye the bathtub, though, so once you're technicolor, you may as well stay there.

Also, I love the woman and the cheering squad.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Najia said...

[sarah] I second the Frida Fund's to a sparkling, Mr. Clean-clean scan!!!

I can't wait for the blog postings from Mexico. Go Liz!

5:54 PM  
Blogger Dr. Lisa said...

I love the cheering section. That contrast stuff does stink. I am told that it is far better mixed with apple juice. Love the Frida journey. Where is the Make a Wish foundation for adults?

7:38 PM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Where is the Make a Wish foundation for adults?

Believe me, five minutes after I was diagnosed I was online looking for it. The only one I could find for adults required them to be "terminally ill," which they defined as having a year or less to live. At the time, I didn't know if I would qualify or not. I started thinking, what the heck, Stage IV, it's worth a try. But when I browsed through their site and saw that 98% of the dying adult applicants chose to go to DISNEYland, I got so damned depressed I took to my bed and forgot all about it until it was too late. In my case, "too late" being oops, over a year later and I'm still kicking. I lose!

7:59 PM  
Blogger Tarr said...

Disneyland. That is just awful.

But a Frida pilgrimage is pretty good.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You look wonderful! Can't wait to hear all about your trip.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Dr. Lisa said...

Lymphopo, Sadly I was joking. I don't know about any real make a wish foundation for adults, but if I did, I would tell them that you need a Frida pilgrimage. Really.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Melinda said...

I love how the other surrounded you and cheered you on to finish the terrible drink - great imitation of college parties when everybody's shouting "chug! chug!"

Just like everyone else, I'm saying lots of prayers - not just for a clean scan, but to thank God for putting people like that doctor on this planet...

Mexico is waiting!!

12:17 AM  
Blogger Lark said...

Of course that doctor remembers you! You are one of a kind in the best possible way. I'm not the tiniest bit surprised.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

No surprise to me that the dr remembered who you are...famous spine or are a very attractive, funny, eloquent lady...that WILL make it to see the Mexican art....just wait and see!

6:00 AM  
Blogger sherry said...

Duh, you haven't figured out that you are an anomaly at Our Lady of the Damned?

As one doc who has worked in places like that, might I make this suggestion.

If you haven't heard in a week about your scans, bake that radiologist some Frida type treat. Take it up to the hospital to give it to him and then hope that he'll offer to tell you the results of your scans.

It would work for me.

10:38 AM  
Blogger v said...

Hell, I say we start the Frida Fund now! Why wait for the scan results? I'm sure you can use the money regardless, but I'm betting on clean scans and a pilgrimage in your near future.

I'll donate the first $20 -- let me know where to sign up!

- a long time adoring fan

11:05 AM  
Blogger Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Frida Fund Forthwith! Or I'll take you myself (and I mean this), unless, of course, Dr. G. wants to escort you. I've been a Frida fan for years; come see my bookshelf.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Axon said...


When I visited Mexico City last, I went to see Diego Rivera's final studio, which he shared with Frida. Frankly, it's not worth the (a) altitude and (b) smog. I mean, you know, go if you have to, but there are no ghosts.

If it were me, I'd go someplace explicitly recreationally lazy. Someplace where you could just chill, nurse your psyche, and not be able to log in about it.

Since you already live in the tropics, that leaves out most of the places I'd choose. Go someplace cool, with lots of tall evergreens. Lay down in the duff, and breathe in the juniper essence. Failing that, I recommend gin.

I don't pray. But scarcely a day goes by that I don't wish you well. I plan to live forever, and I'm hoping you outlive me (after all, you've got a month's head start...)


10:56 PM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Hah, I'd forgotten you were in that class of '53 Scorpio brigade, Ax. I always think of you as being so much more...mature than I ever was. It can't be that extra three weeks. Maybe it's the gin.

You know after 7 years in rural Louisiana, both (a) altitude and (b) smog seem terribly exotic and exciting, the ultimate change of pace. Does the Casa Azul have a souvenir shoppe? because that's really where my pilgrimage interests lie: Frida paperweights, Frida back scratchers, Frida nightlights, Frida sombreros. Maybe even a Diego lunchbox. Soy una Philistine gorda grande!

11:19 PM  
Blogger momo said...

Think of us as your virtual group of folks surrounding you with love an encouragement here while you go through this test.
Here is one of the best websites for news and links for all things Frida. The Casa Azul is not the same as Diego's studio, and it is definitely worth the pilgrimage! A huge Frida exhibition will open in Minneapolis Oct 26 and will then move on to Philly and SF, so you might also find a way to see the cream of the Frida crop plus a ton of photos.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Lingual X said...

I am keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I totally think you should plan your pilgrimage to Frida-land. In addition to Casa Azul, you should also add in:

Delores Olmedo's estate in Xochimilco (fairly close by bus to Casa Azul). Olmedo was one of Rivera's last lovers and inherited a ton of Frida's paintings. Her collection is larger than the one at Casa Azul.

You should also see:
Museo de Arte Moderno (Mexico City)

Diego and Frida's house (a cool double house--his and hers--with a bridge between them)near the Bazar Sabado (San Angel)

These are all in Mexico City & accessible by public transit.

Here's the link for Casa Azul

8:37 PM  
Blogger Axon said...


It's undoubtedly the gin.

But mature? Hah! I'm still your basic adolescent sneering punk radical. Except with arthritis and agita. Oy.

Let me have some snailmail coordinates and I'll send you some Frida swag.



12:54 AM  

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