I’ve discovered that right up to the end of my foremath (yesterday, when the Rad Chemo treatments were completed), whenever my chest burn dressing was being changed, or during the three failed needle “probings” for an unsuccessful chest biopsy, or any procedure/application that involved the excitation of nerves into a world of hurt, or when someone mistakenly circled ‘tapioca’ instead of ‘butterscotch’ on the menu (an insufferable error), I responded thusly:
I’d address whoever was delivering the medical slings and arrows and tapioca pudding (as they apologized profusely), and tell them: “Please, I’m a nurse, I know what’s happening, and unless you’re a sadist or a psychopath, it’s okay. Lay on, Macduff! And, damn Shakespeare’s torpedoes!”
I added that if they had to hurt me to heal me, they also had to listen to my pathetic squawks, flinches and begs for mercy (slightly melodramatic), but otherwise pay no attention to this grumbling man under the sheet.
This always helped to ease the tension in the room, prompt a laugh, and let them know that I knew that inflicting pain on me was necessary, not the goal.
So, as we navigate through this last leg of the first stage, if I had to triage myself, I’d start with this side-effected throat at the top of the list, moving my rad burn down a notch from its #1 spot on the billboard.
My throat is SO sore---
Really? How … sore … IS IT?
My throat is so sore that if you wrapped a serrated knife in steel wool, dipped it in carpet tack sprinkles and twirled it around in there whenever I swallowed, that would about cover it.
It’s so sore, that on the 1 to 10 pain chart, it’s a letter, not a number.
It’s so sore, that … well, enough of that. You’re probably having supper.
BUT, always covering it in the background is the knowledge that what I’m experiencing now was mostly expected in this course of disease and treatment, as my body works hard at putting “This Too Shall Pass” back on my marquee.
This pain prompted me to return to the infusion unit today, where they dropped in a couple liters of IV fluid. Also, we tweaked the medications (a never-ending task in the pursuit of optimum comfort). Pain management is an art/science.
And, because my WBC is now 0.8 (significantly lowering my defenses and opportunistically opening a path for any nasty little infectious agent out there), I must wear a mask wherever said little nasty may be lurking, which is … well … everywhere, but especially any clinical environment and supermarket shopping cart handles.
Here I am: artificially bald, environmentally taboo-ed, reduced to a liquid diet of unfrozen Popsicles (an inside joke) and protein shakes, muscling everything down the best I can, moving toward the upside.
One thing, though: I’M ALIVE! That’s nine out of ten points right there! (I’m saving one point for a plummeting piano). My life in the hands of top Docs, nurses and therapists, and Diane just coming home.
There! Big hug and kiss as I slouch back toward normal, and we continue to continue.