Wednesday, January 30, 2019

DAY 058 -- "Alas, Poor Elwin!"

I couldn’t make this up, but if I could, I would do it like this:

There I was in the examination room counting ceiling tiles and not scratching an itch, when my radiation oncologist walks in lugging what struck me as the most infamous cranium in all of literature under his arm. He smiled, sat down, and my first thought was:

Uh-oh … any second he’s going to tell me that because he moonlights at the local community theater where he’s the understudy for Hamlet, and he’s just received an emergency casting call at the last minute to perform tonight, would I mind if he used the time to practice his soliloquy from the graveyard scene?

“Alas, poor Elwin! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy!”

The truth, which is often much less entertaining, was that he’d brought in his cancer patient show n’ tell anatomically-correct demo skull, complete with detailed facsimile rubber brain innards, all sectionalized, to show me, if I wanted to know, exactly where my right cerebellum tumor was.

Right about there, I turned my excellent fancy and infinite jesting back to reality and we had a stress-relieving laugh (my stress, anyway). Then on to the main event:

Without wallowing in a bog of filler material, it looks like we’re going to proceed with, yes, a course of stereotactic radiosurgery. Sounds rather like a military operation, eh? “Alright, drop your meat, grab some heat and saddle-up, sergeant! It’s time for Operation Stereotactic Radiosurgery!”

(I think Operation Hot Bot would’ve been mas macho, but I can’t compete with my own imagination.)

Cool! This means next week it’s back in the terrible tube and I get a repeat MRI, this time emphasizing more sagittal versus axial planes. Ahem, at least I think that’s what he said. As you know from our history here, whenever I’m distracted in the grip of an Alas, Poor Elwin! mode, I will often mis-hear things. He might’ve said chewy caramel versus chocolate centers, but I did get the gist of it:

New Plan: lung tumor in the back seat for now. Brain metastasis takes the wheel. And, they'll give me nifty new treatment anchor headgear that I’ll get to keep and bring out later at parties and airports and Halloweens.

But, this means a re-routing of things: different scheduling, applications, side effects, and a new drug that acts more systemically than locally on my Candyland blood-borne gumdrops (oops … you see … I’m drifting again).

I left there today feeling like I was torn between two elevators: one for the brain, one for the body. So, screw it; I took the stairs.

And, as if you needed more comic relief (I always do), while waiting for the doc I spotted a jar on a shelf across the room. From my vantage point, the label looked like it read: “Feces.”

My logical brain (now suspect, but still mostly intact) and my decades of nursing savvy knew that the jar did NOT contain out-in-the-open poops, even though all the evidence, including the jar’s chunky contents, sure looked like it did.

Can you blame me for having a moment of fearful umbrage flirting with confused panic?

It lasted until I went over for a closer look: The entire label read “Earpieces.”

More as we go, El

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