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This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.

Back to the Room: Visit #2

closeup photo of infusion bag and connection 7/24/02

It wasn't so bad this time.

Then again, everything is relative.

I got my second infusion of Aredia (pamidronate).

Ruth was there, as before. She introduced me to Vicki, a young girl (in her 20s) in her last year of training as a nurse at the University of Cincinnati. How could anyone in their 20's know anything about cancer?

Ruth asked if it was okay if Vicki participate. Sure, I said with a smile. Truth was, I didn't care. I just wanted it to be over with.

This time, the room was empty on my arrival. I had my choice of plastic blue recliners. What a decision.

I chit-chatted with Vicki while Ruth made the preparations. Yes, I said, Seattle is beautiful, hoping that Ruth would get this process started before we ran out of banal social chit-chat that either of us really could care less about.

With my consent to Ruth, Vicki took the first stab. I bit my tongue as it failed so Ruth took over, sliding another number 20 needle into a vein on my wrist after a bandage to mark the initial failure.

"When you try again, always go higher on the arm, never lower," Ruth instructed. Vicki nodded. Fascinating. There is actually a technology to this. I opened a magazine with my free hand and tried to disregard the sharp pain that shot up my arm as they went for another vein.

Finally, I heard what I've now come to learn as the comforting sound:
    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.
    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.

The drug was seeping into me and I had 90 minutes to go.

I quickly realized I hadn't brought enough to read. Two magazines wasn't enough. I was through them in 15 minutes. I closed my eyes and tried to doze, which is a gesture, at best. Conversations between Ruth and Vicki flitted through the black as I tried to make 90 minutes pass.

    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.
    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.

I'm getting so tired of this disease that I don't know how to say it. It already dominates my life and if that isn't enough, I have Phoenix5 and then the mailing lists and newsgroups where I sometimes offer advice. My day is filled with this disease. How I wish I had another diversion but it isn't my style. I am like an on/off switch. It is all or nothing. Is this my DNA or my upbringing? Then again, what the hell difference does it make now?

I glanced at the clock. Like a watched pot that never boils, a watched clock never moves, so I closed my eyes again.

"I have you down for the 22nd next month," Ruth said through the darkness. I opened my eyes and looked to the left. She was at her computer. "You can come here the same day as you see your oncologist."

Fine, I said, as I closed my eyes, refusing to look at the clock. I knew it would depress me.

After a forever, there was another man's voice in the room. I opened my eyes to see a black man, about 50, take one of the recliners on the other side of the room. Ruth introduced him to Vicki. He had small cell carcinoma in the lungs and was getting chemotherapy plus radiation. The man lifted his shirt to show Vicki the tattoo marks for the radiation. I closed my eyes, seeking to drift back into my own cancerous world.

    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.
    Zzt, zzt, zzzzzzzz.

How long before I am here on chemotherapy? Next month? What sort of future can one have with such aimless prediction?

Then, again, how many times have I done this, grasping at a future that might never be?

A part of me is weary of speculated futures.

Finally, the beeps came and this infusion ended. Knowing the routine, I left with few words and moved to the elevator that took me down to the main floor and the open air.

I lit a cigarette and looked at the blue sky.

To hell with protocol.

I could use a drink.


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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.