Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Shot

I offer this story and I swear it’s true, just maybe not in the way you may think of “truth”.

I’m at Caritas Mercy Cancer center to get my 2nd Zolodex shot of the cycle. The nurse puts a teeny-weeny bandage over the gaping hole she just made in my body. I had never looked at the needle until now, I don’t know why. Damn if that thing doesn’t look like a knitting needle! (That’s why!) I didn't want to look, but I do. It has a spring-loaded thingy that pushes a small cylinder about the size of a fish oil capsule full of medicine into my body. The medicine will be dispensed over the next three months. It works on the pituitary gland, which works on the sex glands, which lowers the sex hormone and the green grass grows all around, all around, and the green grass grows all around.

It stings but honestly, after multiple surgeries, you’d have to shuck me open like an oyster to get my attention these days. It’s like what mothers tell me about childbirth: after that experience, ain’t nothing gonna embarrass you. Or so I am led to believe.

I go back to work. I head into the bathroom to pee. I wash my hands. I look in the mirror. I see a mortifying sight. A bulls-eye of blood about 3" in diameter on my shirt! I appear to be a victim of a drive by shooting in the men’s room!  I have a moment of not being in my own body. I am looking at someone else in the mirror. I imagine this is common when seeing your own blood leaving you. Worse, staining your work clothes. Worse still, wondering what explanation I will use finish the day at work.

I grab paper towel to clean myself. It isn’t doing anything. I apply water, then soap then soap, then more water.  Untuck the shirt. There is blood on my pants. I am rinsing paper towel in the sink now and now the water in the sink is turning red, like Easter egg dye. Now the sink is turning red. Its percussive appearance against the antiseptic white of the sink gives me more of that out of body experience. Like this is not my body. This is not my blood.

The bandage is hopeless. It is limp from blood. Insufficient for the hole. My blood is gruel. It’s pouring out. I cover myself for modesty. I head to the first aid station at work, around the corner from the bathroom.  No one there. Good. No explanation needed. I find gauze and medical tape. Lots and lots of medical tape.

I make this ad hoc dressing. Fold the gauze into a large square the size of North America and copious amounts of tape. (I realize it will hurt later when I have to rip it off my body but I want it secure). I’m not messing around. This blood needs to stop right now!  I drench my shirt and pants in cold water. I brush and dab, dab and brush. Right about now I am wishing that one of those super hand dryers was hanging on the wall. There isn’t one.

The bleeding stops - for now. This is only the 2nd of 3 shots for this round of my Zolodex.  It’s an adventure in biology.

“Probably hit a vein,” a friend says. “Probably,” I say wondering if this will happen again and what the odds are. Just my luck. I can’t hit the winning number, but this vein I hit.

 I go from looking like a shooting victim to Oscar Madison from the Odd-Couple, like I’ve dropped pickle relish all over my front. Except Oscar would never have tried to clean it.

 I look again in the mirror. I look like the loser date in that old 70s game “Mystery Date”  – the one where the players had to twist a replica of a doorknob of a front door on a playing board, then pull the door open to see the picture of who my date would be: a handsome prince-y type guy or the slob. I looked like that guy:  the loser slob date.

I hide behind my desk until the water dries. The clothing is not too stained. It will require laundry-surgery stat when I get home.

The moral of the story: the cancer is responding to the treatment. My PSA: near zero. So long as the cancer behaves, it can stay. Otherwise, I am going to be very, very cross at it. I will probably ask it to leave.



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