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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Shook Me

An excerpt from my very first blog post, which needed a song…

“On the way-too-early morning of September 15, 2003, I checked into the university hospital’s critical care oncology unit to begin my first of four rounds of biochemotherapy. After nearly three months of diagnostic work and surgery, I was ready to finally do something, perhaps anything, to start putting up a fight. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today.

I really didn’t have a clue what was in store for me over the course of the next five in-patient days. That’s not because the nice folks at the clinic didn’t tell me all about it, because they most certainly did. Call it a healthy state of denial born from desperation. I was so scared of the alternative, i.e. likely and imminent death, that I’d probably have swallowed plutonium if that’d been the recommended treatment regimen.

A couple of hours or so into the initial blast infusion, the sense of bravado was way gone. Had I been physically capable of doing so, I probably would’ve high-tailed it out of there never to return. I’ll spare you the details of the brutally toxic side effects of this treatment. Suffice it to say there’s a good reason they only do this on an inpatient basis, which allows constant monitoring and treatment of side effects; otherwise you’d probably die. A fine nurse named Johanna eventually knocked me out with a nice dose of Demerol into the infusion line. Thank you and goodbye. Unfortunately, my wife was still wide-awake and had to watch what has happening; I think the rest of the week was harder on her than me.

The week ended with nurse Johanna deciding I needed to take a walkabout around the unit, to help bring my blood pressure and blood oxygen levels up to a safe enough level for discharge. I recall slowly shuffling down the hall, propped up on either side by my wife and Johanna—both are short and of convenient crutch height—with somebody dragging the IV pump tree stand along. The walkabout worked, and I thank her for that.

I think the hardest thing about chemotherapy is going back for more. I’m still not sure how I talked myself into returning for rounds two, three and four. My best guess is it was some combination of desperation, determination, and the sense I’d be letting everybody down, including myself, if I’d failed to show up.”

And now for that song: an ode to IL-2, the primary ingredient of that biochemo cocktail in the convenient 24-hour bag, to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me”…

You know you shook me
You shook me all night long.
You know you shook me, baby
You shook me all night long.
You shook me so hard baby
Baby, baby, please hit home.

I have some nerves that sizzle
And I have nerves that sting.
I have some nerves that sizzle
And I have nerves that sting.
I have the Ray C, just do something oh!
Oh, oh, I’m a frightened thing.

You know you shook me, baby
You shook me all night long.
I know you really, really, did baby.
I said you shook me, baby.
You shook me all night long.
You shook me so hard, baby.
You shook me all night long

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