Monday, April 13, 2009

Day + 4: I am strong like bull...or am I?

So today was a good day. Other than being exhausted and continued GI issues, I felt pretty good.

They took labs. It was peripheral (arm) blood draw day, which I vetoed. I'm just tired of being poked, prodded, stabbed, etc. They relented immediately and took blood from the central line...which of course makes me think they don't REALLY need to take it from the arm. Anyhow...

My labs come back. My white count is up! 2.6! Not even neutropenic! My platelets are low, at 70, but all the chemistry is normal. Could I really have been neutropenic for one day? Am I really rebounding? Am I, as some crazed Turkish wrestler would say, "strong like bull?"

No, says the APN (which somehow stands for "merciless witch", as well as "head nurse in charge"). She claims the white count is the result of the growth factor, and tomorrow I will come crashing down. Oh well. It was a pleasant 5 minute dream. I'm in for another 10 days of neutropenia, she says, and who am I to argue?

Still, I'll try to break that record.

Recap of non-Easterly feelings

Call me what you will, but yesterday was no day to mock my fellow Man.

Today, however, is. I'm overdue for a bit of local color.

First, my physical state. Not bad, all things considered. I'm on good anti-nausea meds. I don't have the mouth sores yet (and I am rinsing religiously with that awful Biotene stuff that supposedly keeps my mouth full of good bacteria). I got a Neupogen (growth factor) shot yesterday, which they gave me in the sub-cutaneous fat of my arm which was a bit less painful than the belly, and this is going to create flu-like effects (huzzah!) plus bone pain (double huzzah!) as my poor mangled marrow is jostled to make white cells. So be it.

That leaves me with one remaining condition. And here, I am reminded of a statistical observation that came to light when I was in high school. It seems they compared SAT scores among children who regularly watched M*A*S*H versus those who regularly watched The Dukes of Hazzard, and there was something like a 200 point differential. Correlation or causality, who can say, but either way, I was a M*A*S*H kid.

Now there are a number of ways I can go with this...considering I am in the physical equivalent of Hazzard County as I type this. But where I'm going is, sadly, back to the GI tract. I remember the butt of almost every joke in M*A*S*H was either "Frank Burns" or "dysentery." At 14, I'm sure I had no idea what dysentery was, but they sure used it a lot. It was their go-to line. Like Carrottop pulling a rubber chicken out of the crate, like Don Rickles calling somebody "hockeypuck," Larry Gelbart and the M*A*S*H writers went straight to the dysentery gag.

And so here I am. The one impact of chemo that I can't avoid is this horrible persistent diarrhea. The awful constipation that hospitalized me after induction is but a happy distant visions of playing Candyland as a child. Anyhow, I'm wolfing down Immodium and toughing it out. Honestly, it's pretty manageable, albeit not much fun.

But enough about such unpleasantries, and on to my fellow man. As I write this, the US has just emerged victorious from a skirmish with Somali pirates, who seized a freighter full of medical and famine aid supplies and held the US captain hostage for a couple of days until he was freed by a team of Navy SEALS. It's fairly big news.

And it did not escape the watchful eye of my nurse in the hospital -- a haggard woman with a fondness for copious amounts of southern cooking and the unmistakable steely-eyed glare of a carnival worker. As she was methodically swabbing my lumens with alcohol after taking blood yesterday (counting under her breath as she cleaned) she gave me her thoughts on US policy. "I tell ya what what oughta do with them pirates." There was a pregnant pause, full of anticipation, as she looked at me with a lazy eye. "BLODEMUP." A one-word policy statement, worthy of Von Clausewitz.

I feel halfway decent this a fairly good night's sleep so other than general exhaustion, so far, so good. Be well, everybody.