Today is pretty good. I’m extraordinarily tired, but pretty good. Yesterday was deal-with-able. Wednesday night was honestly pretty terrible, but that’s over for now.
So, back to today. I’m tired out, but alright, recouping and resting. Since I don’t have too much energy to string things together, but still feel like sharing a little bit of what my experience has been — here are random notes from Cyborg Day, aka port day…
Norm & TV-B-Gone
Sometimes I feel like Norm in this town, but in a good way where it’s not just in one bar. Right when I walked into the bunker-y department of interventional radiology, I hear “Mariah!,” which immediately makes me laugh because who the hell knows me here? But it’s someone I went to high school with. Kinda a comfort to see a familiar face.
The unfortunate flip-side of this encounter is that I didn’t get to actually try out my brand new TV-B-Gone clicker ’cause, I’d be WAY more embarrassed if someone I knew had to fiddle to try to fix the TV. Luckily they were not playing The View. I will show no mercy for turning The View right the fuck off.
However, I did get to catch some truly hideous crafting on the Hallmark Channel. I love making things, and I love enjoying the talents of those far, far craftier than I, but sometimes “DIY” on TV just looks like a Pinterest Board exploded into a bunch of puffy pink scrapbooking stuff at Joann’s. This is what we observed:
^though my friend did notice that maybe the OTHER Mariah C’s ad was good luck
Actually Getting a Port:
For both fertility preservation, as well as my lumpectomy, I took notice — then comfort — in the big ceiling lights, which were pink and shiny on the inside, like they were made of some super-scarce scientific-grade abalone shells. I’m sure it’s just plastic and metal, but they looked like lotus petals of abalone, as I drifted off to various degrees.
However, for this procedure, instead of abalone lights, I see 4 giant/heavy/ deep old-tv-style monitors mounted on a rig that swings/adjusts from above. They are so CRT-looking that it almost startles me a little bit. I have not seen a monitor like that outside a lo-fi art project (shout out to Louis!) in a long, long time.
AIR has apparently now become my procedure music. I randomly and quickly picked that Pandora channel a few times ago, and I’ve stuck with it. Mostly, I think, because it’s generally pretty spaced-out and I have ZERO emotion tied to that band or their music. That’s kind of what I want in this type of drugged out haze.
When the nurse/assistant asked “what kind of music do you like?” the question, to me, doesn’t seem quite that simple. It’s more like “what would be somewhat relaxing during this really potentially strange experience that will be happening?” As well as “what music do you NOT want to be tied in the future to this memory of pain or discomfort?”
Then again, I learned during my intial biopsy that it’s better to choose SOMETHING than let the staff pick and…
- end up with a lot of commercials (of COURSE my BP is going up, there is a man SHOUTING ABOUT HAMBURGERS while I’ve got this giant needle in my breast!)
- End up with some muzak version of FUCKING FIELDS OF GOLD coming on and picturing myself flying into a rage and flipping the damn table. (You didn’t realize Sting incited so much anger in me, huh?)
As I mentioned in a previous post, they gently drape a cloth/sheet above your head so you feel like you are hanging out in a tiny little tent — I imagine this is so that although you can feel things going on over by your collarbone/neck, you aren’t as apt to look down and think “oh god, what are you doing to that delicate area?!.
I think one thing that I liked about the tiny-tent, was the sheer gentleness with which they set it up, talk with you, and then eventually take it off.
It’s a good reminder that there can be room for gentleness in most tasks, and that it can help. Even though you are pretty drugged up, there is a lot of weird pushing and things that are not-super-gentle happening too, so that kindness and gentleness is a nice balance/antidote/thing to focus on.
By the time I was wheeled out of the room, I was still druggy (yet wishing for slightly more drugs to dull the creeping ache), but now a cyborg. I realized that I guess I am still kinda talky under sedation.
As one of the nurses, Jane, was wheeling me out, and I said goodbye and thanked the crew, she remarked “You are so friendly! I bet that serves you really well at the library — you must meet all sorts of people,” but all I could really line up in my head to say was “I guess so! I’m just thankful that’s over — you guys did such a good job!” And now I’m cracking up at how insistently I felt I had to fit in a “good job!”
And they did all do a good job, except for some sort of port vs. needle labelling that the recovery nurse (who I’d met before!) straightened out but then had to label on neon tape with sharpie over my big ol’ bandages.
That night, my bud Vito did the honor of shaving my head. I’d say Tuesday night my look reached peak-cancer-y so far, with my new buzzcut and various small tubes (left for chemo the next day) hanging out with bandages and sharpie labels on my chest. I took a picture for my own posterity, but there’s no WAY I’m sharing that one with anyone else.
That’s too much. I’m just trying to be honest here, but I have zero interest in grossing people out intentionally.
It wasn’t very comfortable to sleep, but I was so konked out, it didn’t really even matter. And I was plenty thankful for the port during the Wednesday chemo sesh. I have a feeling as it heals more, I will continue to be thankful for it in the months ahead.
And that is what I do feel right now, besides tired and sore. I’m thankful. So far, so good. Things will be difficult in waves, but then they hopefully will be easier, just like the rest of life.
I just want to do the most I can (and right now, that’s chemo and related support) to get through and enjoy those better times — hopefully being better for way longer rather than for shorter.
I also know too, though, that there are things to learn and experience and understand in the midst of the rougher times, so I am thankful for those things too, even if I don’t always think I want some of those experiences.