Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cancer Journal: ‘To the moon Alice, right to the moon.’

When my father was alive one of his favorite television shows was The Honeymooners. So every time I say, “To the moon Alice!” I am not only reminded of my father and that funny sitcom, but it tends to make me laugh even in serious or stressful situations.

Entry #2

That famous line runs through my head every time I have to get blood drawn, an IV inserted or another pill added to my daily regimen. If it’s not running through my head then I’m saying to Amber, my oldest daughter, “If they stick me one more time… to the moon Alice, right to the moon!” Ralph never hit Alice and I haven’t attacked a nurse or technician yet, but boy, I tell ya, I’m sure it would make me feel better.

For the past six months, I have went to the Veteran’s Hospital every.single.week for my out-patient cancer treatment. Every week I have to go to the lab and get my blood drawn so you can imagine how unhappy my arms and veins have become. And there are the few times, about a handful, that my arms have been bruised. I remember once when my arm was so bruised it looked like someone had hit my arm with a baseball bat.

bruised armThere are also times when I have other appointments doing the course of the week outside of the oncology/hematology department that sometimes requires blood work. I go to the lab so often that a couple of people know me by name. It does make for better service some times. This past Monday my veins just wouldn’t cooperate (they tend to be on the small side like my mother’s and now my daughter’s) so when the lab technician stabbed me, uh, inserted the needle it hurt like the dickens. I’m sure I balled up my fist and in my head I heard, “To the moon, right to the moon!” Then when I get to the treatment area, I find out I have to get an infusion of Zometa, which requires an IV drip. My lovely and wonderful nurse, whom I love, carefully searched both arms for a good vein without using the most recently used one for the blood draw. She could see by the scar tissue that it would really hurt. She tried a small one vein on my arm that would not give her any blood then requested another nurse try. The other nurse decided to use the exact place “Tammy” was trying to avoid. She stabbed and I yelled, “OOOWWW.”

“Oh, sorry,” she says, “I just figured go ahead and get it over with ‘cause that really is the best one.”

“Mmmm,” I said.

“To the moon Alice…”

2014-02-13 10.48.34

2014-03-11 00.11.04In addition to my intravenous needs and injections, I take an oral chemo called Revlimid. (I would tell you the other name for it, but I’m too lazy relaxed to get up and get it.) Oral. Sigh. Each day, if I’ve counted correctly, I take about 20 to 28 pills. Yup, per day. The worse of them all are the humongous potassium pills, I take two, which are the size of my thumb – really! Seriously! You have to have a plan when you’re about to swallow those behemoth things because the yellow starts to dissolve almost immediately and… gag. You get the point, right?

Now you have a better understanding of why that line runs through my head so much. Even though I’m only imaging spinning my arm and pumping my fist there is a measure of truthful desire there. Most importantly, it’s a bit of comic relief in the midst of all the sticking, poking and pill taking. 

Tell me, do you have a famous line or phrase you use frequently?