For some reason, my veins have a problem opening up their valves for the IV. I speak from experience. I have had my fair share of hospital encounters; I am accident prone. It’s my cross to bare.
In the past five months, I have spent a good part of my days either being stitched, treated for some variety of blood infection or wound. Four months ago, I almost died from septicemia, something I will never forget.
On the third day of IV Therapy, for what I thought was a typical road rash, my doctor visited me in the IV Therapy Room. He sat in front of me on one of those weird wheely-doctor-stools and looked deep into my eyes. I didn’t like it; it made me nervous. He handed the nurse a piece of paper and left.
That was it; he just left, like I was a dog or some sort-of-number! GONE!
“So we are going to send you for some tests Hun, your white blood cell count is alarmingly low,” says Nurse Kratchet with her dubious bedside manner. “I guess Dr. Hussein wants to make sure it isn’t cancer.”
Yes, his name is truly Dr. Hussein, I mean hey why not pick Dr. Hitler, just sayin’.
Between the four to sixteen gulps for air I took as she nonchalantly said the word cancer, all I could muster were tears.
I squinched my face and politely replied “Okay” with an acquiescent head nod.
My inner voice expressed my thoughts much differently.
OKAY?!?! You’re not okay, she just sad cancer. What the actual fuck, cancer!?!? Why would she say cancer, I have road rash, it’s fucking road rash. These people are dumb. I am getting out of here!
Then, there I was sitting in the IV Therapy room full of people.
As Nurse Kratchet breezed out of the room, I looked up to see their puppy dog faces look at me, heads half-cocked, with so much sorry in their eyes. Oh no, I thought to myself, they heard the bad word too. They heard Cancer!
I can run, it’s easier if I just run.
That is my mantra when it comes to dealing with pain or worry.
People say we fight or flight, I do both. I run for the hills when I am afraid, but I always come back fighting. Sometimes it takes seconds for the hands to change, sometimes six months. In this case, I had no fight, I just wanted to get the hell out of dodge and fast.
Problem number one, it is hard to move when attached to a machine pumping antibiotics through your veins. Problem number two, run to where and from what. It wasn’t as if I had been diagnosed with anything yet.
The next seventeen minutes and forty-five seconds dragged as if it was Friday of a long work week. I checked Facebook on my phone like a crack addict, starved for distraction. I felt like I was being sucked into a white noise vortex, sounds appeared muffled, and I was light-headed.
I only wanted to bolt!
Cancer is a dick, it has taken so many of my friends and family members. I know each of their stories as if it’s the curve of my lover’s back.
It’s too many, and each of their stories rang true as I waited to leave the IV room, where I sat in a cloud of variable hell. Thinking of all the bad that cancer has to offer. Fuck Cancer, fuck it.
I found myself thinking of my family and the pain they would feel if I too had to tell them I had cancer.
Wait … Dad is sick too, with cancer, I can’t do this, it’s his fight, not mine.
What. Is. Happening.
Nurse Kratchet walked back towards me holding one of those paper pill containers and a dixie cup full of water. The crowd of concerned strangers watched as she tried laboriously to have some bedside manner. “We are gong to do a skin scraping; these are to ease the pain.”
Excuse me? A Skin Scraping?
I didn’t say it out load. Instead, I replied.”Okay, do I have to do that here?”
“No, we will send you to oncology.” She said like I wasn’t even there.
And again, my inner voice.
Oncology! That means tumors am I wrong? Cancerous tumors, *I googled it. Oh good! I am going to got to oncology … I have cancer for sure!*
Have you noticed my overwhelming need to panic? I have a tendency to overreact. BUT HEY, THEY SAID CANCER! I will be honest the word cancer is scary shit in my world. My family has lost a few breasts up in this bitch, not to mention people. So. Many. People.
I hate Cancer!
As the painkillers set in and I calmed down. I started to realize this was just a test; not a diagnosis.
And then there it was, the beginning of the waiting game.
After my skin scraping, in which a nurse took what looked like a straight blade to my leg peeling the skin as you would a carrot. I was sent to the Oncology clinic to have a few blood tests. I say few, but it felt more or less like I was having a blood transfusion. So many vials, seriously people I am not living out a True Blood reality series here!
I HATE needles, I don’t care how many you have ever had, they do not get better, particularly when you have veins like mine. My nurse actually said to me, I would survive a bear attack, considering my strong valves. Good. To. Know. What’s wrong with that, pushing an IV needle through them. Ouch-mother-fucking-ouch!
After my overwhelmingly painful skin scraping, I was taken from one part of the hospital to another. Test after test, I started to feel a bit like a lab rat.
Each test for some additional disease. There were words spewed from doctors, Autoimmune deficiency, Cancer, Lupus and Tumours. Horrified, I found I was descending inside myself. Afraid to tell anyone of my fear, my concern. I kept it all to myself.
I am not one to talk about my pain or my distress; it doesn’t translate well. I don’t come across as if I am genuinely concerned within myself. It’s my need to stay strong, the suck it up princess; you can get through this alone, mentality.
As I spent day after day arriving at the hospital for more tests, I felt myself become lucid. Needy of attention, help. I started to reach out to friends. Not something I do, not well anyhow. I began to speak of my fears. Without encumbrance, I told my close friends of the nervousness and apprehension inside myself. Not an easy task for the so-called strong girl.
Days upon days of tests and waiting were weighing upon me. I just wanted to be done. To be able to say it was SOMETHING. Cancer, Lupus, something!
So here it is day ten, and I can’t eat. The antibiotics are ravaging my system, and I just want it to stop. I will not be sick, something I keep reminding myself. You will not be sick.
Then a phone call from a nurse at the hospital asking me to come in for a CT Scan. She is sweet, her voice is soft. “We just want to make sure there are no tumors, the blood tests came back, and there is no cancer in your blood, we just need to do one more test.”
One more test.
I came back for one more test; I spent the epitome of hell in a tube (for my fear of enclosed spaces) for one more test.
The most important test.
Today, I found out I am cancer free. Today I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. Today I am grateful that I can manage this and fight with my Dad against the asshole that is Cancer. Today is a good day.