Saturday, January 9, 2010

In The Chemo Day Care Center

"I've been insulted," said the pretty blond woman in the lazyboy next to me.

We were both in the Chemotherapy Day Care Center getting our respective chemo intravenous treatments and she was busy reading her medical chart. They were out of beds so I was temporarily in the section assigned to those who were in for brief treatments until a bed became available for me.

"I had breast cancer," she went on, "And they removed my right breast. Now listen to what the chart says about my left tit: 'Patient's left breast is unremarkable.' Unremarkable? I'll have you know my left breast is magnificent."

"I'm sure it is," I said, not knowing what else to say.

"I'd give you a flash, but in your obviously delicate condition the sight of its magnificence would probably kill you."

"I'm pretty resistant to death, but maybe its better we don't take the risk."

"I just got back from Florida," she said, suddenly changing the subject, or so I thought. "I took my son and his friend down to see the Dolphins game. I thought they could see the game and I'd get some serious relaxation time at the beach. But it was so cold I was at risk of freezing my other tit off. I was glad to come back to Toronto to warm up."

"Yes. I heard the entire orange crop is at risk down there."

Just then, my first pretreatment intravenous bag ran out and the pump beside my chair began to ring. My nurse hurried over.

"Your timing is perfect," she said. "We just got a bed for you."

I would be in for treatment for best part of the day. My brother John had driven us down and Linda's brother Steve was there to keep me company. Not that I'd needed any company so far, the woman in the next chair had been entertaining enough. I said goodbye to her and headed off to the newly available bed. She went back to looking for further insults in her chart.

"Thanks for being polite with her," the nurse said. "Loosing a breast is a very traumatic experience and she needs to vent. Sometimes trying to be shocking helps. Especially if it doesn't shock anyone."

"I enjoyed the conversation. Breasts are among my favorite subjects."

"'Breasts' plural." The nurse gave me a hard look. Then she relaxed and waved away any annoyance she might be feeling. "I know what she's going through. I've had the same surgery myself."

I was wondering what to say to that when Steve arrived with a Tim Horton's coffee for me. The nurse was hooking up a bag of Benadryl to the pump beside the bed. After it ran dry would come three hours of Taxol. The Benadryl was to help moderate the various allergic side effects of the Taxol.

"Let's see which is more potent," I said to the nurse. "The stimulating effects of the caffeine in Tim's or the sedative effects of the Benadryl."

The nurse continued plugging the code into the pump. "I put my money on the Benadryl."

Steve smiled.

I took a deep sip of hot coffee and put the cup back down on the table beside the bed.

The nurse finished punching in the code and the Benadryl began to drip into my veins.

And I promptly went to sleep.

And dreamed of Amazons with bows and arrows and only one breast.