May 212005

you may have figured that it was just about time for my 3 month check up and all that jazz.
I know that Elaine has something that she plans on posting about the whole thing, so I have been leaving this space blank, but now I seem to be on a posting roll, so too bad for her.

Last week my clinical trials nurse called me and asked me if she could switch my appointment time because she had some other something happening and she wanted to be there for my appointment and could we move it to the 18th.
I was so cool on the phone. “Oh, yeah, sure, no trouble. But when should I do the bloodwork?”
“Oh, tomorrow or the next day,” says she.
“Oh, sure, great”, says I.
And then I got off the phone and had a total meltdown.
Ahhh, I’m not ready, not ready!!
See, I have concocted a series of rituals that lead up to the bloodwork episodes.
This is a newfound luxury in the post-chemo days. But still, I amp up my vitamins and supplements and green tea intake.
I drink miso soup and I cut out dairy fat.
All this because my oncologist told me that the CA 125 count can be tweaked a few points because of what you had for lunch.
Now, I think he said that to me to reassure me that some low level fluctuation was okay and basically indicative of nothing.
But me, I decided that it was important so I came up with this series of pre-blood draw rituals.
And when I got the phone call, I hadn’t started my routine.
I simply wasn’t ready.
For 18 hours, I was a basket case.
My girlfriend really has the patience of a saint.

The 18th came and… I had an appointment with one of the counsellors at the BCCA.
I decided I probably needed to talk to someone about my ongoing near-death experience and that talking to a counsellor didn’t necessarily make me a sissy when my ex-girlfriend expressed no small degree of horror that I had not, till that point, availed myself of the service the BCCA provides free gratitis for those of us pudgy bald peeps and those of us with second growth hair.
It hadn’t been my intent to go to the cancer agency twice in the same day, but that’s how it all worked out with the appointment swap.

And there I am, on the elevator, going to my appointment, when two middle aged people get on, struggling to figure out what floor they need to go to.
They turn to me and ask, “What floor is the lab on?”
And I said, “For bloodwork?”
And they looked sad and said yes.
“The second floor” I said.
By the time it was out of my mouth, and I had realized how lost and sad and new to all this they were, they were off the elevator.
“Good luck!” I felt like shouting after the doors closed.

Off I went to my appointment with my incredible shrinking woman.
We had an interesting talk about ovarian cancer.
She said, when it comes to recurrence, it’s different than other cancers.
She said that with other cancers, they go in and they get it or they don’t quite and it’s pretty clear cut whether you are all better or not.
She said that those of us with ovarian cancer, or who have had ovarian cancer, have to get used to living with the greys.
Cuz with us, it isn’t so black and white.

I don’t yet know what I think about that.
I am still tossing it around in my mind.

Every time I am at the BCCA, I think about Marlon Brando saying you have to make horror your friend.
All the people who are there are somehow co-existing with horror in their lives.
And almost all of them are really pretty great people.
It’s an amazing place and one that I don’t want to spend too much time at.

And then I came home. Or at least I started to come home.
As I left the parkade at the cancer agency, some man got all aggro on me because my truck inched a tad across the line into his lane as I turned on to the street.
It happened because someone had parked illegally and their ass-end was in the way and it made the turn kind of acute and I nudged into his lane just a hair.
There was no accident and there was no damage either way. No screeching of brakes, no crashing of steel. But he was all agitated and he wanted to make sure I knew he was agitated.
I saw.
And then I stuck my tongue out at him.
I kind of shocked myself, I confess.
I was overwhelmed by what a complete wanker I thought he was, going all aggro on people coming out of the cancer agency.
He probably kicks puppies too.

So, then I screwed around, went to the gym, tried to stay calm… la la la..
and then I went back across town to see my man in a lab coat.
And, after all that appointment shuffling, my clinical trials nurse wasn’t there and it was a substitute.
She was nice enough, I guess, but I confess that I have established a relationship with my clinical trials nurse and my oncologist and I am always a bit thrown when I get new people.
Also, I think some of the staff there find me and the missus a bit off the wall and it takes them a while to get used to us.
I don’t know why.
Anyway, we were blah-blah-blah’ing with the new (temporary) nurse and we got to the part where we talk about how my recovery is coming, my return to life as I knew it.
And then she gets all Oprah Winfrey and says, “Of course, I know your life will never be the same as it was before all this…”
Like she is so informed and sensitive.
I was horrified.
I said I had every intention of having that life back again and that was the standard by which I judge my recovery.
“Oh yes, well, of course… that works for some people…” she back pedalled.

Also, this nurse had this habit of just bursting in the room without knocking.
Finally, Elaine stood there and kept her boot up against the door so that no one would just barge in while I was changing and stashing my Joe Boxer’s in my 501’s. (Nod to Cancerbaby)
Someone did actually try to come in without knocking while she had her boot against the door.
I think that counts as three or four barging in episodes in one appointment.

Anyway, finally my boyfriend in a lab coat came in.
He did what he always does in these appointments. He chatted with us about life and my
We talked about Kaua’i and told him he should go and take the wife.
He poked and prodded.
We acted like there was nothing in particular we wanted to hear, that our lives weren’t hanging in the balance, depending on what he might say.
Finally he said, “you are disgustingly healthy. The CA 125 is at 4 or less.”
Phew again!
I think that now, this many days later, Elaine and I are starting to actually get normal-ish again.
A friend passed me on the street later that night and I said I had seen my oncologist that day.
Since I was so visibly scrambled, she thought the news had been bad.
No, not bad… it’s just hard to rebound from the build-up. That’s all.
We are both enormously happy.
And it was a really hard build-up.
Maybe at some point you start to feel like you have lots of good history built up and maybe you feel like you are out of the woods. I don’t know.
It’s a feeling I’d like to have one day, if it’s available.

Anyway, that’s the news from my corner of the world.
And it’s good news.
And we are happy about that.
What’s new with you?

 Posted by at 10:33 pm

  2 Responses to “And for those who have been following in their programmes at home…”

  1. Spike,Thank you for such an open sharing …not that I would expect otherwise from you,that being said from the little I know you …& of you through Es’ eyes,mind & heart too.Now,before I go any further ….Congrats WOOHOOOOooooo Wonderful news !!!!!! …despite not managing your pre draw rituals.

    Anything else I might think to say to you at this point shrinks in comparison,& yet I *hear* the/your need to return to normalcy & though I *shudder* at the descriptive ….it is nonetheless a luxury alot take for granted most days -‘normalcy’.So in lieu of that,& seeing as you asked “what’s new with you?” here it is.
    While clawing my way back from a winter of FM related bad pain flares,flu & resultant cabin fever,I fell head over heels for a Very unhealthy situation & am now trying to process that too.Though Grateful for my Blessings …I am Now even more frayed around the aging edges …Thanks for asking …selfless of you.

    Take Care …Have a Wonderful summer.

    Sincerely Wolf

  2. Thanks, Wolf.

    Sorry to hear you had a rough winter.
    Hope you have an easy return trip to where you want to be.
    Enjoy the summer.


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