Silhouettes 5: Surgery
The marrow is among the most sensitive areas in the human body. My doctor warned of the possibility that my lymphoma had reached Stage IV, at which point the cancer would show in my skeleton. The biopsy was a precaution and a necessary evil.
I turned around, bent over, and prepared for a drill to penetrate my pelvis. With needle in hand, the doctor said the anesthesia would render my midsection devoid of all feeling. I clutched my stomach and clenched my teeth on a pillow, waiting for the sting of the syringe to perforate my lower back.
The thin, stabbing prick undulated throughout my body; my eyelashes flinched. A cold gel entered my hip for 45 seconds before the doctor withdrew the syringe. My nerves should have been temporarily dead, but the steel prick on my rear end lingered. The doctor assured me I would only feel pressure—no pain—as the drill pierced through my bone. He was wrong.
My right foot arched itself as the inch-long incision caused me to squeal, muting my scream through the cushioned interior of the pillow. I yelled, begging him to stop, confirming that it was pain and not pressure. The doctor removed the drill and switched back to the needle, doubling my dose of the drug.
I expected to be absolutely numb the second time around, but the sensation remained as tender as was the initial incision. My spine stood erect, stiff and alert, tightening my tendons as the drill gyrated rapidly. The doctor collected two inches of my bone that were as wide as pencil lead, creating a hole that would never heal.
Silhouettes 6: Inpatient
Busy medical charts tapped against each other as they were picked up, put down, passed around, opened, and closed. The three-day affair began Wednesday, and it was the first of three such treatments. I had seen my doctor and had a CAT scan between inpatient and outpatient cycles. My tumor was already in remission, but we would go through with the rest of the treatment. These doses of chemo were a necessary overkill.
This one was called R-ICE, with the same R from RCHOP and three new medications. Two of them were only a few hours long, but the third was about 60 hours long, including a steady and constant stream of nausea medication that barely remedied the malady. A second bag of nausea medicine was attached to my veins, slowing the shuffling of my gown against my bed sheets.
My energy levels were enough to consume a movie, chosen at random from my younger brother’s folder of digital films for my entertainment. Brimstone and smoke roared through the breath of a dough-eyed creature staring back at me. A slender and resourceful teenager captures the blue reptilian beast and considers ending its life. The clicking of sharp ivory follows the animal’s motion, a show of good faith to the kid as he retracts his teeth. He is dubbed Toothless, and the pair battle across fire and death in Nordic territory, saving their fellow Vikings from the Valhalla that awaits them. (“How to Train a Dragon”)
I closed my laptop, I thrust it into the padded cloth in my bag, and entered the wee hours of morning with earbuds. My eyes met the elegant dripping of the multiple liquids entering my body, mimicking the sound of a distant river flowing. A shining hall reveals a loud horn, gathering the human steeds in their march for glory. The muffled growling and operatic counterpoint mimic the voices of giants and Valkyries, running aghast. The repetitive triple-kick coiling in my head adds legs to these finest of men, stomping across the eternal feast. My mind drifted away to the serpent, the wolf, and the other monsters within the golden mausoleum.