So I Understand…

August 14, 2006

….O Best Beloveds, that in a tip of the pop culture hat to a certain upcoming high concept action flick, that where one might said, in response to the vagaries of life, “Eh, what you are going to do?” or perhaps the zen-like “Shit happens,” one might now shake one’s head and say “Snakes on a plane, man. Snakes on a plane.”

This becomes relevant because it’s been That Kind of Day, or days, even, depending. I forgot to mention in the last Maladies that before my last chemo (my blood is drawn before each treatment, to make sure it’s physically viable) I was quite anemic. “You don’t need a transfusion, though” said Chemo Nurse Lisa, which was notable because while I had been anemic before, the “t” word had not come up even as in this context, as something not quite necessary. Then on Friday, about the time I would normally be feeling much better from the week’s chemical adventures, I felt sleepy and stupid and weird all day. I felt like I was going to fall asleep on my feet, not that I was on them much, because every time I got up, even to sit at my computer, I felt like I was going to fall over. But I also couldn’t fall asleep either. I was drinking enormous glasses of water, but couldn’t quench my thirst. I felt drugged, so I chalked it up to working through whatever it was they gave me earlier in the week to stop the quease. I had to excuse myself from some fun that night with the visiting Kathy and Lou, and yet even though all I wanted to do was sleep, I couldn’t sleep most of the night, plus I had to get up every half an hour to visit the bathroom, and when I did, I was shaky, and my limbs felt floppy and not in my control. It was a little alarming. The next day, I felt better, but still weird and rag doll-y, and I was exhausted if I tried to do anything other than sit. So I finally called both Deb, my Nurse Sister, a brilliant diagnostician, and Dr. W, the latter of whom just confirmed what Deb said, to wit, I was likely even more anemic than the earlier blood test, thanks to the chemo since then. All the symptoms matched, even down to the water drinking, Deb said; “Your body thinks it wants fluids, but what it really needs is blood.” Apparently, I should have been drinking cups of liver, as Lou suggested. Still, look how lucky I’ve been; I called my doctor to say “I feel weird! In nine months of chemo, I’ve never felt like this before! Why am I feeling like this now?” Er, could it be because I’ve had NINE MONTHS OF CHEMO? Just a wild guess there.

This morning, Steve and I went to the Preliminary Port Meeting, where we learned all the wonders of the little titanium device (yes, I will have to carry a card in order to go through metal detectors) that will become my new best pal tomorrow. It’s not that much of a to-do, but there is sticking and jabbing and moving things around. I though I might back out if it sounded like just one damn thing too many, but it seemed clear it was going to be worth it. And how: right after meeting with her, I had my very last (for some time, anyway), vein hunt–they needed to draw blood to make sure all is well (see above paragraph) before the morrow, and it was decided to just start an IV and leave it in so I won’t have to get jabbed before surgery in the morning. (I have a very nice orange smiley face bandage covering the needle as I type.) I will not miss vein hunt and deep needle jabs. Anyway, Steve and I are about to leave, armed with all the “nothing by mouth after midnight, and yes that includes the water you need every fifteen minutes, we will give you fluids when you arrive to help you with that whole fainting thing, and we will see you at 6am” pre surgery instructions, when we get called back. Hey, blood test came back! Guess what? Even more anemic than ever! Hey, see, I TOLD you I felt strange!

Except that Dr. W. wants me to have a transfusion, well, right now. It’s gotten that low. This is completely novel; in all these Cancer Chick times, I’ve never needed such a thing. But luckily, the doctor who is doing my port decided that I could just as easily get a transfusion during surgery, rather than waste the time today. Darned if tomorrow won’t be a day of firsts. “And you will feel so good for chemo because of it!” said the doctor. “No, my family is from the north of Hungary,” I said, “Transylvania is in the east.” Like they haven’t heard THAT joke before. And then because they need to type me (B positive! I did it myself in high school biology!) they drew even more blood, which seemed to me to defeat the purpose, but whatever.

So off we go, me with my needle arm, and the plans for the port and the transfusion and all the rest of it.

“Snakes on a plane, man,” I said to Steve.

“Snakes on a plane,” he agreed.

Vampirishly yours,