Tuesday, March 24, 2009
No breaking news to report today, folks. At the last minute on Monday, the general overseeing the Carboplatin assault on my cancer called off the third and final round of chemotherapy.
Turns out that I wasn't fit for cancer combat on Monday. After I arrived at Kaiser eager for my third session of Carboplatin, the nurse took my vitals and found that my blood pressure was abnormally low. Before my chemotherapy could begin, she said, I would need to see Dr. Buchschacher.
Dr. B2 –that's what I call him to avoid mixing him up with Dr. Birusingh, the other significant doc on my cancer team– found me on the same Barcalounger where I began chemotherapy treatment in early February.
After pulling up a chair, Dr. B2 told me that not only was he concerned about my blood pressure, my latest labs showed that my white blood cell counts and platelets were also low, and I was anemic to boot.
Dr. B2's news was an unexpected blow, but I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t too anemic to instantly recognize the word as an anagram for “cinema.”
So instead of spending a morning hooked up to an IV delivering carboplatin to fight my cancer, I spent most of the rest of the day in Kaiser's infusion center a few blocks down Sunset.
The last time I was in Kaiser's infusion center seems like an entirely different century to me.
It was early December. Eating had become impossible for me, my weight was dropping and I spent a few days receiving nutrients through an IV.
I was wasting away, but I was still 100-percent human then. My G-tube surgery was still a few days away; my tracheotomy was a month and a half off; and as far as I knew at the time, a Foley was the member of a film crew who creates sound effects.
In Monday’s visit to the infusion center, I was fed two units of blood, one drip at a time. Each unit of blood required two hours to be delivered, and they also gave me Benadryl and liquid Tylenol. I spent a good five hours in the infusion center.
Five hours is equivalent to two weeks of episodes of "Dark Shadows." Just imagine how much blood Jonathan Frid could consume in the time I sat in a chair watching two plastic bags slowly being sucked dry.
Kaiser's infusion center may be a top-notch operation, but you have to admire the efficiency of vampires.
I got sprung just in time to hop across the street for my radiation treatment.
I brought Paul McCartney and Wings' "Red Rose Speedway" to put in the CD player for my treatment on Monday. Before climbing onto the treatment bed, I cued up the CD to track 9: an 11-minute medley.
No one holds McCartney’s "Red Rose Speedway" in high esteem these days, and most dismissed it as Macca-roni when it was released in 1973. But I think it is one of McCartney's sweetest collections –as good as anything his former band mates were putting out at the time– and that medley is one of my guilty pleasures.
I eavesdropped on the two radiation techs as they locked me into the ThermaSplint mask, and the music played.
One tech said to the other, "This sounds like that guy, you know, what's-his-name."
"John Lennon?" the other tech asked.
"Yeah," the first tech replied.
Arrrgh, I thought as I listened to the exchange, digging my nails into my frog's neck.
Hearing people confuse Beatles makes my blood boil. I have no doubt that the juice I was fed in the infusion center was the real deal.