Chemotherapy…the art of beating up your cells ’til they sting you back like tiny jellyfish. Since my diagnosis with stage four metastatic colon cancer in November 2013, I have been the lucky recipient of this “therapy”. Nine rounds down with three more to go.
Chemotherapy is everything and nothing like they tell you it is. The typical stuff happens: hair loss, bleeding gums, upset stomach, constipation, fatigue that could bring Speedy Gonzales to his knees. But then you start thinking you are a walking lab rat once your asshole is bleeding, the joints of your fingers “lock up”, head is chemo-lagged, your hands and feet swell and “darken”, you don’t get a menstrual period anymore, brown spots ravage your face, and anything you eat or taste that is too hot, cold, acidic, spicy, or sweet around the week of treatment goes down your throat feeling as though you are a first time sword swallower. Blah blah blah, yeh, basically it sucks, for a good cause, that is. Sometimes you need the devil to cast the devil out.
So it’s no surprise that chemo isn’t exactly a trip to Paris. What does boggle my mind is why infusion treatment centers (at least the one’s I have known) don’t have a more pleasurable environment while a patient is getting treated. The average treatment requires a patient to sit in a chair and wait for a cocktail of chemo to drip at a snail’s pace into your veins for hours at a time. I’ve had more entertaining moments at the DMV watching weirdos come and go in the waiting area. You could very well be on the last leg of your life, yet medical centers are hell-bent on saving some extra dollars to make chemo the misery that it is. The following are some suggestions on how to improve chemo treatment centers.
1) Floating Masseuse. Why not have your feet or hands massaged with cocoa butter or spring lavender oil? Better yet, why not make them floating comic masseuses? Nothing like a good laugh while someone is slipping through your toe cheese.
2) Chairs with personal television screens. This is a no brainer! Have Netflix already logged onto them. Have a DVD player and a good set of earphones. Hell, have a dancing monkey perform the Nutcracker in a cut out cardboard box for all I care. Give me something to look at other than the hairy mole on some nurse’s face.
3) Beds. Ok now, we have cancer. I think its ok to let us lay on an actual bed since treatment usually lasts hours and the medication they give us for anti-nausea makes chemo patients sleepy. If they gave my dad a bed for a minor case of a spider bite, I doubt its overkill (no pun intended) to give someone with stage four cancer a descent cot for a couple of hours. Flannel sheets please!
4) Classes for Personal Enrichment. Not everyone will want this, but some people would think it a cool idea to spark new life into a patient. Have certain rooms of the center to gather for classes in jewelry making, beer brewing, or becoming a phony-baloney psychic. At this point, I would even take a class on installing solar panels on a lawn mower if I can avoid all the times I looked over at the clock.
5) A Minion. That’s right…someone to do a run for me down to Subway since treatment centers don’t feed you. Someone to lug all my crap to my treatment chair: Books to read, snacks, writing paper and pen, laptop, thigh master, yoga pillow, lucky coonskin hat, bowling jacket since none of these things are available to you at the hospital. Someone to fill out all the insurance, hospital, and workers disability forms when starting that dive into red tape. Someone to hug. Someone to smack around. Someone who will get out of your face and not take it personally if you tell them to. Some people would assign this role to a family member or trusted friend. I prefer to select someone anonymous to not take my shifting moods seriously…plus I prefer someone better looking!
So there you have it. Five suggestions to take chemotherapy infusions to another level of healing. Five things that will take me away from writing any more horrible limericks (as the one below), the only entertainment I seem to have at chemo treatments today.
There once was a patient quite sick
who’s treatment was that of a trick;
He paid through the nose,
before the scheme was exposed
that they had amputated his dick.