“Everything we needed to know we learned in Kindergarten”
I realize I just posted a couple of days ago…but given the events of yesterday…and that many of you are in commute for Thanksgiving…I hope I can provide a little bit of levity while you are stuck at the airport or in traffic or dealing with mother in laws/father in laws, grandkids, kids, etc.
Health Update: all went well yesterday with my Infusion…no major issues.
Funny part of the day:
Every week I get my blood tested, some weeks they take more than others…yesterday when they started taking my blood...after two vials my blood stopped flowing. They said, “have you drank anything this morning and I said, “no”, so I had to drink a bunch of water, an Odwalla protein shake and then my blood started flowing again. I tell you this because this excessive drinking is context for the rest of the story.
When I got back to Mt. Zion Hospital and began my infusion (I have to shuttle between Parnassus and Mt. Zion for various tests—they are two different hospitals that are part of UCSF) I needed to go to the bathroom. It is no small ordeal given the set up when you get an infusion, I have two IV’s in me…one of them on the right arm and one on the left and there are four different lines running into the IV. The bags of fluid are on a tower that allows the fluid to drip down. Also on the machine are monitors and lights, it makes noises and annoying sounds and it is about 7 feet high. The total amount of fluid they put into you is about ¾ of a liter…so that is quite a bit combined with all the water and Odwalla I had been drinking.
I got to the bathroom and someone was in it…so I patiently waited and after a couple of minutes I knocked just to make sure someone was alive in there…an older lady screamed something back and a few swear words, so I just sat patiently…clearly thinking her situation was worse than mine. A nurse came by and said I should try another bathroom…so I tried and that one was busy as well. So I thought, the old lady has to be about done…so I walked back (more like skipped…get the visual…I was in a hurried situation but trying to look totally in control as I passed the nurses station and the other patients) to the original bathroom…and by now I was feeling it…I needed to go. Something about the power of the mind when you get close to a bathroom…that force is real! The power of suggestion moves things along for sure! A nurse came by and knocked on the door and the lady yelled back “I am going as fast as I can.” We both just looked at each other and said, “well…she is on her own program…no hurrying her up.” I learned later she had been coming there for 14 years and was a grumpy old lady.
At this point, I am in serious need to go, I start doing the old fox trot in place, trying to stay out of view ( I actually found a little area that was a dead end and just walls and tile floor where I could see the bathroom door…I start to try and pinch off the flow as best as possible, I even go into the deep crotch sitting position to try and alter the flow…but my IV connections only allowed me to squat so low, I tried to think of random topics to avoid thinking about going to the bathroom…but what can I say…the machine was still flowing IV into my veins and I could just not keep it in…I remember thinking…“I gotta go and it is only getting worse with each drop into my veins of this IV!” I looked around to see if there was somewhere I could go…the only option was straight to the tile floor…I pondered if I should make that move…and I just could not do it right on the floor…so right there in the infusion room around a corner…I wet my pants…I felt that warm feeling flow down my legs, saw the nice levis get a little darker, my shirt tail and t-shirt got into the flow as well as my compression socks given the position I was in…and well there you have it…I was a mess…sock to shirt and everything in between. The cute nurses that I have been successfully building/flirting with over the last month…now they see me in a completely new way…not quite sure how I am going to recover from this one. They were starting to like me and even saved me the best spot for my infusion that day. Who knows where they will put me next time?
The old lady finally came out of the bathroom, but it was obviously too late. I made it into the bathroom and I still had more to go…so I was successful in pinching some of it off…and at this point I saw that as a real personal victory and was celebrating it in my mind! I was proud of myself! In moments of horror you must find an island of hope and feel some kind of victory!
To make matters worse, while I was in the bathroom all my alarms started going off and the alarms are piercing…pretty soon I had 3 nurses knocking on my door wondering if all was ok. The alarms go off on their own when it is time to switch to a new drug or they can go off if the patient hits certain buttons…so they had no clue why it sounded like a sound machine in the bathroom.
I had to admit to the nurses what happened and I tried to make them laugh because the only alternative was to cry…they wanted to come in and stop all the noises and I was just trying to figure out how in world I was going to survive the rest of my infusion with soiled clothing?
I finally let them in, and they were proactive enough to bring me some scrubs to wear…but only the bottoms because why would a guy mess up his shirt if he wet his pants?…so that solved my “what am I going to do with my pants but not my shirt!” When I left the bathroom, I saw that my favorite nurse had discovered my urine in the little corner were I was sitting before making it into the bathroom and she had her full protective clothing on like it was some major chemical spill! They were all very nice…saying that there is nothing they don’t see…and this was minor…but let’s be clear…they were trying to make me feel good!
The hardest part was my shirt…I could not get my shirt off because of the IV’s…there was no way to do without cutting off my shirt or undoing the IV’s…it was a serious predicament. I walked back to my infusion area with my urine soaked thick cotton shirt that was beginning to smell…my favorite nurse saw the dilemma…she was kind not to make me explain the entire scenario! We finally undid the IV’s so I could take my t-shirt and shirt off that were all messed up! It was no easy solution…there I was almost naked with all these nurses trying to figure out a solution, my scrubs were barely staying on around my waste, I was glad I still had somewhat of a summer tan left over and did not completely look like a loser…I actually found the situation “Fraught with Humor” (a great line from the Parent Trap Movies)…so I tried to create some fun at my expense!
I could not help but reflect back that the last time this happened to me was in kindergarten at Nimitz Elementary in Sunnyvale, CA…it feels like yesterday but it was 48 years ago. The bathroom was connected to the classroom and for some reason I could not get the pants down in time and boom…I felt that warm feeling flow down my legs. I remember being so embarrassed that I did not come out of the bathroom. They thought I was lost and couldn’t find me for some time, I think they even called my mom at home wondering if I wandered home…and then in the corner of the bathroom there I was. I remember getting sent home and then I had to have a back up set of clothes at the school. I remember not wanting to tell the other kids why I had extra clothes. I was hoping to make it 50 years before I re-enacted that same experience…but I guess I will settle on 48!
The nurses gave me a nice plastic bag to take my soiled clothes back home in…very similar to the bag I used in Kindergarten! Jan has declared that maybe it is time to add “Depends” to the shopping list before I go up for my next infusion!
I told Henry the story last night and he said he would have found a plant to go in…nice suggestion but no plants were around in my private corner. I am open to other good ideas!
Time + Tragedy = Humor…so let the humor begin!
Have a great holiday!!
“Why does Cancer/other major life events help to change the Conversation?”