So, the longest drive of my life…(including the 3 hour drive home last night from the Columbus airport after being gone 9 days)…when I arrived at University Hospitals to check myself in for an undetermined period of time, it was surreal to say the least. Yet, a very real feeling of competitive survival came over me the moment the automatic doors opened complete with a light breeze I would not again feel for over a month. I had switched myself into game mode without even realizing it. In fact, I could even hear (don’t judge) ACDC’s You Shook Me All Night Long playing remotely in my brain’s background, as that was the exact song we’d run out to before every home B-ball game. The only difference was I could not allow my thoughts to wonder What if we lose?
Before I was admitted to my room on the transplant ward, I had to stop at the Concierge (Blood Draw Station). Up and until that point in all the pre-admittance testing, it had only been blood drawn through a vein, but now apparently artery blood was required. If you’ve never had the pleasure, it’s something like Whac-A-Mole. With my right arm face up on the table, some stranger watched with her naked eye for my blood to pump in between the blues of my veins and then – whack! – She went in for the kill. After her third mulligan I though it prudent to ask whether or not she’d ever don’t this before. Dirty look received from my non-rhetorical question, but shockingly on the next attempt she nailed it.
Off I went to meet with the “Pharm-D” – otherwise known as the jerk face who administered all the meds for every patient in the hospital. Right. You’d think I’d make friends with the guy. However, “jerk face” is mild compared to what I wanted to call him during our introductory meeting. He was explaining all the forthcoming things I had to look forward to: loss of appetite, puking, constant metal taste in my mouth, darkened skin around every sweat gland, the obvious loss of hair…ok. Fine. Good. Bring it if that’s what it takes to beat cancer. But it was his next statement which forever rendered him with his new moniker: The steroids will cause you to gain weight as well as lots of facial hair, kind of like your husband’s goatee, AND YOUR DAUGHTER won’t even recognize you.
In no particular order:
i.) Yes, I had a husband then. He was great during my entire sickness. Anything else I’m taking the fifth or read my personal blog.
ii.) JERK FACE. (The Pharm-D, people…please.)
iii.) I told him just because “everyone has to take steroids during a transplant” that I wasn’t everyone and I’d let him know if I’d be taking them or not. Never had to. Good guys up 1.
I was fine listening to each and every “bad” thing that was potentially going to happen to me in the way of a side effect: but, you mess with my daughter and consequently you’ve messed with the wrong mother.
I believe this to be a pretty universal reaction, not necessarily cancer-related. But what I will also say is this: it reminds me how much more difficult it can be for the family members, friends, and caregivers of cancer patients to watch their loved ones be attacked by another kind of jerk face. They can yell, cry, and spew wrath and expletives like I did – but cancer won’t talk back; it cannot be goaded. It just keeps on coming – until it messes with the wrong mothers (and fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors…).
We are a universally connected family. And I look forward to the day when none of our relatives ever have cancer again.
Yikes! The 26th will be here before we know it.