Friday, March 13, 2009

Roseanne was right

You know how Roseanne Rosannadanna once pulled a lil' piece of "stuff" out of the corner of her eye and asked all of America, "What is this? Did this come outta me? Where am I gonna put it?"

That was more than 30 years ago, so you may not be familiar with Roseanne Rosannadanna. But I can really relate to Jane Curtin's special correspondent from Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.

This cancer thing: it's always something. I've known that I have tongue cancer for less than two months, and every day brings a new surprise.

This week's twist is I've turned into a human Niagara Falls of sludge. Most of this week, I've been stomping around like Roseanne Rosannadanna, flummoxed by all of the stuff that's coming out of me and wondering where I'm going to put it all.

Unlike the "stuff" Roseanne Rosannadanna used to pull from the corner of her eye, my secretions don't vanish into the ether when I roll them with my finger.

The doctor I saw on Wednesday said that these symptoms are nothing to freak out about. Secretions, brought on by weeks of radiation therapy, are high on the list of annoyances among the patients she sees.

"Annoyance" doesn't come close to capture how I feel about this gunk. Don't be fooled by the first six letters of the word: there's nothing secretive about the secretions I've been spewing, both through my nose and my trach, which is a virtual aqueduct of the stuff.

Serchia men have always had uncommon strength when it comes to blowing our noses, and I'm no exception. And every time I honk my nose, my trach can't help but get in on the act, too.

If these symptoms don't ease up, I'm going to have to start wearing a bib or a rain slicker to complement my scarves, and mount a mirror on my shoulder to make sure the stuff that flies out of me doesn't land where it doesn't belong.

I wouldn't be surprised if the folks at work are wondering if they're sharing office space with Regan from "The Exorcist."

Thursday was particularly bad. By the time I left the office and arrived at Kaiser for my 5 o'clock radiation treatment, my shirt was drenched. I handed a note to the tech who prepares me for my sessions asking her to please wear latex gloves before she set me up. I think she wore doubles.

The doctor said this situation could last awhile, but I hope she's wrong.

In the meantime, I'm taking another look at the secretion-sucking machine that I was given when I was discharged from the hospital after my trach surgery.

It's about the size of a picnic basket, and fits on a wagon. It runs on electricity, so I doubt that I'll be dragging it to the beach.

The machine is another layer of inconvenience that this disease is raining down on me.

But it sure beats calling in an exorcist.


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