#5, 6 and 7: Wendy and Gregg
My last three treatments have been chaperoned by my friends Wendy and Gregg, as well as Wendy’s boys, Jake and Ben (pictures of them later), and their cats, Hinky (shown above) and Bumble (too much of a diva to be photographed, even more of a diva than Tache). Wendy is my friend from school and she just published a new book called "Laboring On." Go buy it.
I haven’t written lately because of the holidays. My trip to Wyoming was cut short by two days thanks to global warming and Denver weather. It’s 71 degrees in New York today, and 20 degrees in Wyoming: anyone see a problem here?
So my treatments are now more than half-way over. I really hope this is the end of everything because, to be quite honest, I cannot imagine doing more chemotherapy after this set is over. This is actually the end of my 19th!! Treatment, and by the time I reach #24, I wonder what’s going to be left of my body. I know my kidneys are in bad shape because I can feel them throbbing sometimes. My hair is now basically coming out in gobs. I'm shaving it all off soon. And even though, compared to others, I tolerate these treatments quite well (recovering quickly, leading a basically normal life for about 8 out of every 14 days), I’m really, really, really getting sick of it.
Everyone keeps telling me it looks like I’ve lost weight, but in actuality I’ve gained 4 pounds since beginning chemotherapy. I’m convinced that this weight gain is poison….4 pounds of poison trapped inside of my screaming body. Today I feel like my entire body has been marinating in toxins for the last 6 months. The poison is coming out of my skin. I have acne again, like when I was 13 but even worse. My hands look like the hands of an 80 year old, and my skin is peeling off. My sweat smells like a something you’d scour the bathroom with. I won’t sicken you with a discussion of my digestive tract.
Thank God for Wendy, Gregg and troupe. When I’m at their house I never really feel like a sick person (except for the actual being-sick part). Ben and Jake are always excited for one of my treatments because it means I’ll be staying over. They think I’m cool and I’m not quite sure why. Ben watches stupid Lifetime TV with me, which he cleverly calls "Deathtime" because all of the shows on Lifetime are about women being murdered by bad men and because all of the commercials on lifetime are about life insurance and dying. Jake, meanwhile, often just sits in my room doing something ingenious on the computer, trying to explain it to me in simple terms that a non-techy like me can understand. I like Jake and Ben because, unlike most other kids their age, they talk and, usually, what they say is pretty interesting. They also have good taste in movies and music. And they cook! Speaking of music, Gregg has the most amazing collection of music (all kinds of music – jazz, classical, opera, blues) I’ve ever seen. He gave me a recording of Rachmaninov playing Rachmaninov for Hanukkah. And even when I’m sick Wendy’s food is always delectable. If you ever want good Indian food go to Wendy’s house (be invited, though, don’t just show up...I don't think she'd appreciate that).
Well, I don’t feel like doing much besides complain today, so here’s a poem by Ted Kooser, the poet-laureate of the United States, introduced to me by my friend Gail Kohler-Shive.
PS – I started writing this a few days ago and actually feel fine now (1/13 CM).
At the Cancer Clinic, by Ted Kooser
She is being helped toward the open door
that leads to the examining rooms
by two young women I take to be her sisters.
Each bends to the weight of an arm
and steps with the straight, tough bearing
of courage. At what must seem to be
a great distance, a nurse holds the door,
smiling and calling encouragement.
How patient she is in the crisp white sails
of her clothes. The sick woman
peers from under her funny knit cap
to watch each foot swing scuffing forward
and take its turn under her weight.
There is no restlessness or impatience
or anger anywhere in sight. Grace
fills the clean mold of this moment
and all the shuffling magazines grow still.