LIVE FROM MD ANDERSON
One Mo Time!!!
Saturday - May 31
A stroll down Memory Lane...
It's one day before my departure and I need to stop at the store to pick up some items. This is something I dread doing! I used to love to grocery shop, but now that I can't have all the wonder foods it contains, I hate it! Shopping is the caveman's equivalent to hunting and gathering. It's innate, something you must do. Once an alpha shopper, now reduced to a miserable man with a barren cart that only wants to turn left. Pit-e-full!
I remember those smells, oh they smell so good! I only go shopping monthly, mostly for toiletries and cleaning supplies. I begin walking slowly, savoring every moment. I spot fresh pineapple. I hover a moment and take a deep breath. As I travel along the consumption highway I see, shrimp, pasta, and a 22 ounce porterhouse steak, OMG STEAK!!! So thick, so red, so juicy! So NOT happening! I can't explain the feeling. I just want to clear off every shelf in a raging orgasmic frenzy, with the Mayflower Moving Company standing by to take it all home! Has anybody ever gone "postal" in a grocery store? I guess it would be called "grostal" ???
As I hit the check-out with my contemptible catch, the young man asks me about my neck (I've had the area bandaged since the bee sting.) He helps me out to the car and asks if I had an accident. I told him, "I have cancer." He says, "For reals?? Dude, wow! Like, how do you get that?" (Our tax dollars hard at work)
He's probably 18 and acting like this is the first time he's ever heard of cancer...well, it probably is. I explain the removal of my tongue, why they cut my neck open, and show him my forearm where they took the skin to rebuild my tongue. His eyes were wide with disbelief. Then I explained the answer to his quandary. When I got to the part, smoking may cause cancer, (I never have) including second hand smoke, (mom smoked like a chimney) he was in shock. "I'm not hangin around any smokers from now on!" he quipped.
Sunday - June 1
I'm tired today, not much sleep last night thinking about the arduous week ahead. Three doctors, a new feeding tube, blood work, CT scans, and surgery to adjust my tongue flap...big week!
My friends at ACS hooked me up with a great rate on a hotel room in the medical center. This is such a big help since the bills keep adding up and up and UP!
I'm driven to the airport with a little time to relax before the flight. This trip has only just begun and I'm already exhausted! I'm carting two suite cases, one for clothes and a very heavy one containing an two cases of Pro Balance (my gruel,) enough for the whole week.
The lady at the baggage check puts an unusually large tag with red and white stripes on my bag. The cans of nutrition clink and clank as the bag is thrown onto the conveyor belt. I'm sure she thinks there might be some kind of bomb in there. I'm waiting for a security guard to appear out of nowhere and whisk me off for interrogation. Nope, looks like I'm free to fly...so far anyway.
I couldn't get that tag out of my mind. None of the other bags being placed on the belt had that tag. It's a flag for something. As I went through security, I was waiting to be pulled aside. Nothing...humm...white, middle aged, 120 pound, frail male=no threat. Good call!!! Hell, the little 3 year old seated in 2A could take me at this point!
The plane ride was uneventful. I couldn't find Mr. Fu's business card, (do you remember Fu? I know I do!) So I had to take a cab. I asked FIVE cabbies if they would accept credit cards. All said no but one. Guess which one I took? Miss you too Fu!
My hotel room is very nice for the price. A newly renovated Holiday Inn. Even though everything is new the first thing I do is remove the bedspread and sanitize the TV remote! Have you seen those black light reports on TV showing all the germs in hotel rooms? It freaked me out.
My buddy Herb is constantly traveling. He stopped in for a short visit with one of those portable black lights. After looking over my own home with it, I was ready to break out the bleach and scrub brush. I maintain a very clean home and I was still freaked! Sometimes too much information is not always a good thing!
When I settled into my new hotel home for the week, I opened up the suitcase containing my food. Sure enough, security inspection tape was sealing the boxes. I'm just glad they didn't take it out on the tarmac and blow it up. It's easier to consume this way.
Monday - June 2
Up early at 5:30 AM to shower and catch the shuttle to the hospital. I am without energy. My back is killing me. Seems that I'm the first one to grace the head and neck center this morning. It's 7 AM!
At check-in I review my schedule for the week. I notice that Wednesday is going to be impossible! I have only one appointment today and tomorrow. They have me scheduled from 6:45 AM to 11:30 PM on Wednesday! A 17 hour day with surgery scheduled the following morning??? WTF?? Doesn't anybody have a clue? They've had 4 months to schedule me! The sweet girl at the desk TOTALLY understands and tells me she'll work on it while I'm seeing Dr. Clayman this morning.
I'm ushered into the office, vitals taken, and then placed into a room waiting for The Man! When Dr. Clayman arrives he's full of smiles. We have a quick chat about why I'm seeing him, since he didn't want to see me until August. I explain it was at the request of Dr. Hanasano as a precautionary measure before my surgery. As he looks into my mouth he tells his assistant to order a prescription of Diflucan.
He explains thrush is developing in my mouth. I ask if it's at all a serious problem. He said intelligently, "No not at all. It's your basic yeast infection...just like the vaginal type that women get." WHAT???? That's a graphic I didn't need at 8 AM in the morning, comparing my mouth to a woman's vagina. Maybe that's where the phase "sour puss" comes from?? And don't even ask what I've been eating lately, you all know the answer to that one!!!
I started to laugh out loud and ask, "Why would you put it that way?" He looked me square in the eye and said, as only a serious doctor would, "Well it is the same type of infection." After I pointed out my side of the "picture," he understood how what he said was perceived and we both burst out in laughter as I made my exit.
Back to the front desk to check my schedule. The scheduler has moved some appointments around. I can do my blood work and x-rays today. That will shave a few hours off Wednesday. As it stands, I still have a 12 hour day ahead of me. Nothing else could be changed. (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE CURSE WORD HERE)
I drop off my script for my vaginal infection at the pharmacy and head down for blood and x-rays. That's always fun. I have to admit it's one of the best production line systems I've ever witnessed ...on its good days.
From there I make my way to the business office to scrutinize and pay some of my bills. Always know what you're being charged for and ask questions before you pay. Remember my first feeding tube? Insurance wouldn't pay for it because the hospital coded it as a "supply" instead of a "prosthetic." It took several months to clear up that $300 mistake!
The hospital offers a hair salon free for cancer patients. My hair was cut in February on my last visit here. I figured I'd take advantage of it again. I'm now $700 lighter after visiting the business office. I've used the services before with fairly good results. With the chair faced away from the mirror I explain, "Don't touch the top, leave it long, but shorten and thin the sides and back. I assumed she was listening after she acknowledged what I said with, "Got it. No problem."
I should have known something was about to go wrong when she fired up her electric shaver instead of grabbing for the scissors. I watched four inch long strands of hair float like a feathers, ever so softly to the floor, in slow motion. C'est la vie!
Long story short..hair story short, oh hell...IT'S SHORT! I've seen more hair on Chemo patients! Do they take cancer patients in the military? She then asked if I wanted my eyebrows trimmed. TRIMMED??? Why?? Because there is now more hair on my brow than my on entire head???? HELL NO! I have a yeast infection not head lice!
CAVEAT EMPTOR BABY!!! Hey, it was free. Well...it should be grown out by Fall, if I'm lucky.
I'm outta here!!! More to come...stay tuned. I'm here all week!
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