welcome to the danger zone

Transcendence. Spring Rolls. and Me.

When you begin with no expectations, you end up being surprised by the outcome.

I left the house this morning prepared to simply drop off a urine sample in Hershey this morning and maybe hit Joann Fabrics and then Sunset. I picked up a coffee and some pancake bites at DD, filled up my gas tank and hit the road. Because I was in the mood to sing loudly, I brought along the ipod (which is starting to meet its end sadly – that ipod has been with me for at least 5 years, if not more). So there I was twitching and wailing and driving faster than I should have been, but hey no one else was really on the road, and the sky was that robin’s egg blue and the sun was hot on my cheek and then…


It happened. It’s only happened once in my life before. I was completely totally and fully immersed in the moment…there was no thinking about what could have been, or what needs to be done, or anything or anyone else. I was there, and for the briefest of moments it was like I was electric, my skin tingling and I was filled with a serene joy that, like I said, I’ve know only one other moment in my life. It is so difficult to describe what it feels like to be in that moment – the only word that comes to mind is transcendent. Completely transcendent. I was wholly entwined with the energy of the universe, with everyone and everything in this world. There aren’t words that adequate capture what that moment was like, and if you’ve never known one, it’s hard to get your head around. It’s not just happy, or joyous, or excited. It’s like every fiber of your being knows that you are in complete sync with where you need to be and what you need to learn and there is nothing to be afraid of, not even death, because there isn’t anything to fear. It was magic in the truest sense of the word. It was truly a moment of Nirvana. And it was exactly what I need in my life right now.

Of course, like every moment, it passed – but even now I can recall that clear clarity of being fully present. It will fade in the next few days, yet, it doesn’t matter – it wasn’t meant to be clung to. As I continued driving faster that the suggested speed, wailing on the top of my lungs to The Go Set and Off With Their Heads and Against Me!, and yes, even Dead or Alive, instead of commenting on the stupidity of my fellow drivers, I saw us all connected and I wished that they would all have a moment of clarity that day like I had. Sounds hokey, I know, but I did it anyway. I knew I wasn’t going to get the moment back, and that I needed to work harder on letting more moments like that come back into my life, but I was also quite satisfied that I was fortunate enough to have had the Universe bestow that on me for a second time, and I knew, no matter what the future holds that it is precisely what needs to happen.

So anyway, I got to Hershey, I dropped off my pee and headed to JoAnn Fabrics because I was going to get some beads to restring my mala because I’ve been neglecting my chanting, and I need to recenter myself spiritually. Not because I have cancer, but because I’ve been meaning to do this even before this whole drama started. As I was googling for a coupon (which there was – 20% off your entire purchase, even sale items until tomorrow) a call came in. I checked my voicemail and low and behold, I’d been randomized into the chemo+radiation arm of the study, and my Radiation Oncologist would like me to come into TODAY for the planning and marking session. Conveniently, I was close to Hershey, so indeed, I could scurry on back to The Cancer Institute (which has valet parking by the way, but also has a private parking lot that is for those of us facing the C-Monster).

So I cut short my shopping spree, although I manged to get some cool scrapbooking paper to make some cards and some rose quartz beads for the mala before  Frogger and I sped back to Hershey, passing pony-pony again (I’d see him on my way TO Lebanon, he was at the trough with the donkeys, but I didn’t call out to him because he was busy eating). I took the steps down to the Radiation Oncology department because in a few weeks I won’t have that energy and noticed that they have a big ol’ fish tank with big ol’ fish that takes up a whole wall which apparently I managed to totally not see the last time I was there, although I was less that 10 feet away from it several times. Debbie, Dr. Juliano’s nurse, (Dr. Juliano = Radiation Oncologist) led me to Dr. Juliano’s office. He came in (he looks like a dark haired version of my brother Alan) and again, was very thorough in his explanations of what was going to happen. He then turned me over to his posse.

Apparently, all of the doctors in oncology have posses. So off I went to hang with Jill, Debbie, Jamie and some other therapist whose name I don’t remember. Jamie, the radiology med student resembled Emily Strange, and noticed I was wearing skull decorated Rocket Dogs, so we bonded instantly, discussing my tattoo, AFI (the band, not the Institute) and Against Me!, making jokes about how I wanted my radiation point “tattoos” to be a unicorn, bunny and spider. Apparently, these tattoos only come in black dots. So I got dot, bigger dot, and dot. If I wasn’t so embarrassed of my tummy, I’d take a picture of it and share it with you, because between the lap scars, and the incision scars and the X’s all over in green sharpie, accented by the black dots, I look like a freaking NFL playbook. So me and my new BFF Jamie, chatted and hung out together until Dr. Juliano came in (warning: graphic discussion of my bladder ahead and quite possibly, my vagina. Stop now if this makes you cringe) and first emptied my bladder and then gave the order that once they scan me with an empty bladder,  they need to fill it and scan me again. I made the mistake of looking over at him once – I should have just kept staring at the ceiling – because he was lubing up a GIANT q-tip looking thing that apparently was joining the catheter in my vagina. I did NOT need to see that. Fortunately, there was room enough for both in there.

The mirth and merriment continued. Next came the mask. It’s like this huge mesh thing. It was kind of like getting a belly cast when your pregnant, except I’m not. They heat it up in water like a mouth guard and then pulled it over my torso, and clamped me onto the table. Then they put my legs in some sort of other bondage device and gave me a weird donut toy that I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to hold or chew on. I eventually found out that I was just supposed to use it to hold my arms still, in what became a death hold. Then the therapists got out their sharpies and stated to play tic-tac-toe on my stomach, except everyone was using X’s. Green Sharpies. Once they gave up on winning, they poked me in the arm that already had 2 holes, instead of the other with only one, and started an IV. Then the scanning started. I don’t know if you ever had a CAT scan my gentle readers, but as I mentioned on FB, it does not involve cats or scanners, but it does involve a giant donut that sounds like a meat slicer. You slide in and out of it magically, and it whirrs around you making you think you are being made into lunch meat. This was all very fun, if you did not pick up on that. However, I would like to note, that this particular CAT scanner, unlike the one that I was slid into yesterday, did not have stickers on it. Yesterday, the donut was covered in Toy Story 3 stickers, including that scary pink bear, who pretends to be nice, but really was sketchy. I mention this to my radiation therapists. I think I will pick up some skelanimal stickers for my next visit to help liven up the place. I am sure my new BFF would like those.

Finally, I was dismissed after much more sliding and scanning. It took about two hours. Do you know hard it is to try to be funny for 2 hours? Freaking hard!!! And of course I have to explain my tattoos to everyone who sees them. I was also advised that I cannot lose any weight now that they made the mask thing. I was advised to eat mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and bread. Oh, that is going to be hard!!!! Actually, I have to eat a low-residue diet. Which means soft, mushy, and easily digested food. I can have pudding, and jello, and peanut butter. I cannot have chocolate, coffee, whole grains, nuts, spicy foods and fresh fruit and veggies. WTF??? I thought this was gonna be like bikini boot camp, and I’d be looking like Megan Fox in six weeks. This is gonna be harder than I thought. On the plus side, being in this arm of the study, I get a lower dose of Chemo. So, we do a trial run next Friday, and then, drum roll please, we start poison and nuclear ray treatments on the 30th. I can’t wait to see if I’ll glow in the dark. That would be soooooo cool.

Well, mon petites, you’ve read this far, and I grow weary because it’s been a very very very busy day, successful and pleasant, and I got 3, count ’em 3, bags of frosted animal cookies today at Sunset. I do have a few observations I must share before I cease and desist for the evening. So without delay, here they are:

1. Newt Gingrich looks like an angry puffin, except not as cute.

2. Based on my new obsession, pinterest, it appears that most people like the color beige in their home. Actually, it also appears that people also like things that have cheese and chicken in them. Or anything that can be wrapped in a crescent roll.

3. People are very amused by talking cats. I don’t get this. AT ALL.

4. Most people take pictures; other people take photographs. Just because you take pictures of your family in front of tree branch or leaning on fence, doesn’t not make them “photography” or you a “photographer”…everyone enjoys seeing family pictures, they just don’t always qualify as “photography”. Pleasepleasepleaseplease stop referring to yourself as a photographer just because you paid godaddy for a website that you call joeihaveacamerasoiamsuddenlyaprofessionalphotographer.com. Thank you.

That’s it folkas, (that’s spanish for folks). Time for me to get back to pinterest and my farm, there may be more beige or neutral rooms to look at, or a new chicken/cheese/crescent roll recipe I missed. Bueno noches, chicas and chicos.

PS. Subscribe if you haven’t already, it makes me feel like I am important. And tell your friends – the more the merrier.


3 responses

  1. Gina

    I can relate, somewhat, on a much smaller and way less scarier level, as I too was prodded and poked in the nether region yesterday, (not quite to the same degree though) while at my appointment at Geisinger. I did not have a great drive, as I hated pretty much everyone who was on the road yesterday.

    I do have a dark beige-ish color in my kitchen and anything to do with chicken and cheese, I LOVE. Croissants, not so much.

    21 January 12 at 10:27 am

    • I am sorry your drive sucked, I usually like the drive to Danville, except when I choose shortest route on the GPS and it takes me on dirt roads through farmer’s fields (not that I dislike the adventure, I just have this fear of being plugged full of buckshot). Does your Dr. have a posse? I like the team effort approach, let’s everyone have a hand in this (literally) I hope it all checked out well?

      I am freaking sore from my scans yesterday. I didn’t realize how many muscled I used just holding still. I think I will need to take more percocet and spend the day napping.

      21 January 12 at 12:10 pm

      • Gina

        Yes, the gang was all there!! Haha. Hope your muscles are easing up for you.

        22 January 12 at 9:15 pm

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