Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Interlude on Keeping One's Sense of Humor

One thing I have on cancer on a consistent basis is that I am a lot more entertaining. At times, I let it get bigger than me, scarier than me, but at no time has it ever been funnier than me.  Some people fight it out of their system.  I have a lot of fight, but think I may also be able to sarcastically harangue it out of my body. 

To this end, I have made it my personal mission to try and make every health care professional that has to deal with me laugh at least once.  Today I went three for four. 

First it was the poor sucker that brought out the water/iodine cocktail  that I had to drink an hour before my CT scan.  I asked him if there were roofies in it.  Later he told me that no one had ever asked him that before.  I told him that it was probably because he was really hot and he didn't need sedatives to bag a chick.  He told me I was his favorite patient this month.  I almost gave him Mo's phone number, but that ultimately felt more like a punishment than a thank you.  (Love you too, girl). 

Second was the IV nurse.  Because I have a specialized port in my chest to ease IV administration, it takes a special nurse to insert my IV.  IV nurses, I've quickly learned, are sort of a dour lot.  It probably comes from spending every hour of every work day having your arrival dreaded by every patient. After she pulled the IV out post-scan and rinsed the port, I sighed and asked her if she had a cigarette.  She laughed in spite of herself.

Third, the CT tech.  We were discussing logistics (since I can't raise my left arm above my head, we had to figure out how to position my arm so it didn't interfere with the chest scan), he mentioned that I was awfully young to have breast cancer.  Without thinking, I muttered, "that's what she said." 

I struck out with the woman who seemed to be coordinating the CT scan circus.  Mostly because she had a sizable mole on her chin and I was afraid if I opened my mouth I was going to pull an Austin Powers and starting screaming "MOLEY MOLEY MOLEY MOLEY." Made a good decision and just let that one go.

There are certain things that no book or pamphlet warned me about when I started this odyssey.  One of these things is something that I've already bitched about numerous times:  the swamp pit.   When one undergoes a lumpectomy, this also involves various degrees of lymph node removal.  Which then interferes with the muscles and nerves necessary to properly maintain the hygiene of the armpit on the affected arm.  I have had three surgeries in the last four weeks.  I have not shaved my left armpit since March 10, 2010, and its just been in the last five days that I've been able to properly soap and rinse the area without pain or jeopardizing the stitches.  What this basically means that not only do I have four weeks of hair growth under there, because I couldn't move the arm, the area trapped in a lot of heat and drug-saturated sweat.  

This, you can imagine, does not smell nice.  I'd be sitting in my writing chair, minding my own business and something would waft past my nose that smelled like ten-day-old Burning Man.  I was going through three or four shirts a day.  As soon as I could smell myself, it was time to change.  

So here's my first piece of non-essential breast cancer advice:  On the day of your diagnosis, quit shaving your armpits.  Then have them waxed the day before surgery.  Cancer sucks enough without being the source of a "What's that smell?!" face.

I have a discussion with the swamp pit every day before I shower.  First, I tell it that its time has come.  It  talks back to me in a voice that very closely resembles  that of my first restaurant boss (The one that thought most of the world's problems could be solved if something, anything, could be fucked in the ass.  His words, people, not mine.) Then I try to stretch my arm.  After wincing, I then tell it that although it has lived to see another day, its days are definitely numbered.  

Here's the moral of this story.  Cancer stinks and likes to fuck things in the ass, but I will ultimately have the last laugh.

1 comment:

Mel said...

You knew this would be my favorite post. It is.

Die, Rick Ramey, die.