Saturday, January 15, 2011


We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.  Henry David Thoreau

It was strange going to radiation, knowing it was my last one.  I felt so many things, relief, joy, apprehension, and knowing I would miss the familiar faces who took care of me.

The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.  Buddhist proverb

Thank you Dr. Lotus, for all the things you did to take such good care of me, for all the time you spent answering my questions, explaining the math and science to me, and mostly for being open and proactive to the concerns of a patient who was feeling fragile and tired towards the end of treatment.  You were the lotus flower for me in that deep and thick mud of radiation and finishing treatment.  Thank you for all the times after answering my questions, you often said again "Is there anything else you'd like to ask or talk about, or would like me to explain to you?"

Thank you.

and of course, all the ladies of the radiation team, especially "R and R."  I will miss your faces, your humor, and your music selection in the radiation room.  Especially Kool and the Gang, singing Celebrate, right after I received my last boost.  One of the "R's" revealed she is pregnant.

"How wonderful" I exclaimed.  "How will they monitor baby in here?"

In addition to the monitor she wears on her badge to detect her exposure to radiation, she lifted her shirt to show me a small one clipped to her waistband, on a tummy that was just beginning to show.

I will miss you "R and R," your sweetness and your rhythm together.  I will miss you both.

I was presented with some parting gifts, a small quilt with pink ribbon patches made for all patients finishing treatment, and of all things, a diploma, with the following declaration:

Having completed the prescribed course of Radiation Therapy, with a high order of proficiency in the Art of being Determined, Cheerful, Tolerant in all orders given, and Outstanding in High Courage.  It is recognized by our staff as an Honorable Achievement, and we would like to congratulate you on a job well done.

It was signed by all of the radiation staff and Dr Lotus too.

Oh and the day before, I received my first Girl Scout Badge in some 45 years, from the Oncology Nurse Navigator.  It's a rainbow, and what they call a bridging award, celebrating a girl's transition from one leadership level to the next.  In my case, she said, to mark the transition I am making from cancer patient to survivor.

The morning there flew by, and when I finished, I had to stop to see Vonda and Kitty, since they were such a huge part of my treatment, and it would not have seemed complete without hugging them both.  Mission accomplished.  I wish that was the end of my day, but the CT scan was still to be done.

Just after leaving the Cancer Center, Husband texted he was taking the afternoon off to accompany me to the hospital.  I was relieved to know he'd be there waiting for me after finishing the scan.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

I had a couple hours to kill, so I went home, had a small lunch and tried to relax.  Dr. Lotus called to followup on the scheduling of the scan, since I had not seen her that morning at radiation.  I told her yes, it had been scheduled for that afternoon, and I really appreciated her checking in to make sure.  She also said I could check in with her early next week to see if the results were in, since The Good Witch is not in that office until Friday of each week.

It wasn't long before Husband arrived home just in time for us to leave.  He drove to the hospital, and when my name was called at the Admissions Desk, the same cheerful clerk who helped me on several other occasions was there again.

"Well, you look just wonderful, look at all your hair!" she said excitedly.  "I have seen every variation of you, from your original Goldilocks hair, to you in a scarf with no hair, to you in a wig, and now look at you with your spiky, cute hair!  You have worn each one well" she said kindly.

It was nice to hear, and took my mind off what was coming my way.

I checked into the imaging department and asked "Is Wayne here today?"

"Yes, yes he is."

I was relieved.  It wasn't long before I was called in, by a very nice fellow, but not Wayne.  He asked me to change into a gown, and take my necklaces off.  I had seen this guy before, very nice, but I was hoping for Wayne who had helped me through several prior procedures and always seemed to find a vein when others couldn't.

"Will Wayne be starting my IV today?" I asked.

"Well, he's busy with another patient right now and I don't know for how long, so let's give it a try and we'll see what we have here."

He was very sweet, distracting me with chit chat as he searched for a vein.

"Do you have any dogs?"

Not seeing anything that looked promising in my upper arm, he started searching my hand.  I felt myself break into a sweat.

Please, please dear veins, please cooperate today, pulleeaaze.  I pleaded with my body.

"Ok here we go, get ready for the stick."

Gosh damn.  That gosh damn stick.  Get ready for the stick.  I hate the stick.  I effing hate the stick.  I took a deep breath, and felt my face get hot and my eyes water up as the large needle went into my hand.  When they start moving it around inside the vein, it hurts like hell, it burns like hell, and I know it's a sure sign there is no blood to be found.

I cursed like a sailor inside my head, in between thoughts of "I can't do this anymore.  I just can't do this anymore.  I can't."

He pulled the needle out.

"Did I hurt you?  I'm sorry."

A tear slid down the side of my face and into my ear.

"It's ok" I said softly while thinking "Yes, you effing hurt me, where the hell is Wayne and don't you know this is my very last day and I am tired of this shit and I can't do this anymore.  I want Wayne...  Wah."

"I'm going to go see how Wayne is doing, and we'll just wait for him, ok?  Don't move, ok?"

I guess my thoughts were telegraphed by my face like a frying pan to his.  He was gone for several minutes, and as I lay there, it was as if all the months of treatment flashed through my brain.  All the shit that hurt, the feeling sick, the fatigue, the chemo, the ports, the PICC, the surgery, what have you done to Flopsy and Mopsy, the swelling, the sticks, the pokes, the veins that could not be found or would not relinquish their property.

I swear to God, and I mean you God, I don't know how I did it and why did I have to in the first place.  I really don't know how I did it.  Please oh please oh please Lord, and I thought of Paul, in the Bible, when he asks God three times, please remove this thorn  from me, and God answers My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. (2 Corinthians, 12:7)

Grace.  Power is perfected in weakness.  I lay on that table, looking up at the ceiling tiles, so fragile, so broken, and yet,

so broken open.

Broken open and unbreakable.

The door opened and there was an Angel.

"Well, hello there Lady..."

It was Wayne, to my rescue.

"Hi" I said softly, relieved.

"Well now, let's take a look here" and he felt around my arm.  "Hold on, I'm not taking any chances" and he went to another part of the room and wheeled over a mini ultrasound machine.  "Let's get some gel on you and KNOW where a vein is before I start poking around on you Lady."

I exhaled as if I hadn't in months.

"H-m-m-m, let's see here, nope, nope, wait a minute, I think we've got one, let's see, yes, that looks good.  The problem with you Lady is your veins are so tiny, and so deep!  But we are in business now."

He cleaned the gel off me, rubbed in some alcohol, and said "You ready?"

I nodded.

I felt the hard stick and the burn, and him taping off the IV.  "Ok, you're all set, take care of yourself" and out the door he flew before I could even thank him.

I could tell 2nd string guy felt bad, I looked away.

"Ok, get ready for the feeling of..."

Before he could finish the sentence, I felt it, a very warm fluid flushing and quickly traveling through my body, up my arm, across my chest, swirling around my stomach, and then filling my bladder like a toxic hot chocolate.  It was wicked.

"Ok, we're ready, now this will only take a minute" and he was right.  A couple of deep breaths, hold the breath, in and out of the giant white donut, and I was done.

"You take anything before you came here?"

"Um, my vitamins."

"What time?"

"I guess around 11:30 ish."

"What you take?"

"Um, a vitamin D, krill oil, um, why, will it make a difference?"

"That's ok, no."


As he removed the IV from my arm, he spoke.  "How long have you been in treatment?"

"Nine months, I just finished today."

"I noticed your Relay for Life bracelet.  Did you go to one?"

"Yes I did, this last summer."

"Which one?"

"The one for Vallejo-Benicia."

"My son was there too, he said a few words, he had leukemia.  That is a three and a half year treatment."

Three and a half years?  Whoa.

"I'm sorry to hear that, how is he doing?"

"He's doing great."

I nodded.

He suggested I pee as soon as I changed back into my clothes, and I should drink lots of fluids the rest of the day to clear the iodine based contrast out of my system.  He helped me up from the table, and showed me back to the dressing room.

"Take care of yourself."

I nodded again.

I took the gown off and looked at myself in the mirror and spoke in my head.

No more thorns God.

Just roses.

Lots of roses.



Anonymous said...

A toast to you for a job well done and for taking us on this journey with you. Thank you for all you have shared with us, for being so candid, open and honest. Now I pray all you have to celebrate and look forward to is roses, roses, and more roses. Congrads, love you. Naniglenda Water is on the way later this am.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Chicklet, YOU DID IT!!!
I'm soooo happy for you that you
made it through. Lunch soon?

writergirldreams said...

Thank you Nani, thank you Yulie, thank you for sticking by me, listening, cheering, kissing every thorn, and celebrating every rose. Thank you. love love love. wgd (also known as Chicklet)

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