The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stupid Patient Tricks

Once upon a time I spent twenty-some days in a critical care oncology unit, known inside the hospital as “Eight East”, doing biochemotherapy treatments. And if you’ve read many of my posts, particularly the first one, you know that I wasn’t always the best-behaved and obedient patient and tended to do things I’d been told not to, like get out of bed without assistance.

Sunup seemed to be the time of day I got myself into the most trouble with the nurses, for several reasons. For one thing, my wife was wisely still home or at the motel sleeping and not around to stop me. Plus my little chemo condo had a big window facing east so morning came early on Eight East. Finally, this time of day was at the tail end of a twenty-four hour infusion round and when I was at my most semi-sentient and semi-conscious.

For example, my wife tells me I was once apprehended while trying to take a shower, still clad in my blue hospital gown and boxers. Fortunately, my infusion line was long enough that I didn’t drag my two IV pumps in with me. But the thing that most annoyed my wife was that I’d somehow find my cell phone and decide to give her a dawn wakeup call, oblivious to how early it was, and often after she’d spent several consecutive fourteen hour days at my hospital bedside. I think she eventually started to take my cell phone with her when she left the hospital at the end of her day, and I don’t fault her for it.

If you ever find yourself in a critical care oncology unit, just don’t do anything I’d do and you’ll do fine. And, for the record, I once again apologize to my saintly nurses and wife and pledge to at least try to do better if there’s a “next time”. Until then, all I can offer in atonement is my version of Bob Seger’s “Main Street”…

I remember looking out my window at sunrise
Trying to keep my courage up
I was this unruly boomer in the cancer club downtown
I loved to try to do bad stuff
Through the long lonely nights I failed to sleep
My BP wildly swaying to those IV treats
Down on Eight East
Down On Eight East

In the cool hall, the doctors and the nurses
They used to watch me through the glass
Well they'd stand outside at shift change time
Just to pray that I had passed
Unlike all the other patients, I weren’t so young and sweet
As I made their day so long on that chemo beat
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East

And sometimes even now, when I'm feeling guilty complete
I drift back in time and I feel the heat
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East
Down on Eight East….


  1. Hi Rich, I recently came across your blog. I just want to thank you for posting. I just received the lovely news of melanoma for myself. Your blogging has given me some relief to the situation. I can completely relate to your patient experience also. It sounds alot like me. Thank you so much! Karen

  2. Hi Karen, sorry to hear you've checked into the Hotel Melanoma. Best wishes to you. There's a pretty vibrant community of melanoma folks on facebook, a good source of information and support, if that interests you.

  3. I like your songs, Rich. I checked in to the hotel June 15 2012. Looking around Facebook for that good support you mentioned. Think my friends are tired of hearing about the "M" word. MELONOMA .. See, you can say it out loud, it doesn't bite. best wishes for you, Rich. Hope and pray NED is in your near future.