So, it was that time of year again, the time of year when I just can’t escape the fact that I once had cancer, no matter how much I try to ignore my misshapen Barbie boobies, the time of year when I absolutely can’t put off dealing with my bone density issues any longer.
I can’t blame it all on the breast cancer and the chemo, which destroys bone density as swiftly as it destroys cancer cells. By the time I had my baseline bone density test at age 36, my really sucky eating habits (by which I mean, failing to eat enough, or enough nutritious food to support my 40-50-miles per week running habit) had already done a number on my bone density, leaving me at high risk for osteoporosis. My test results even before chemo were borderline, leaving my oncologist, Dr. H, to put me on a once-yearly regimen of Zometa, which is a bone-building drug that, at least at that time, was given on-label to patients with cancer in their bones and off-label to patients who have or are at risk for osteoporosis. I don’t know who gets it on-label now. For all I know, it’s given to patients at a high risk for root canal, since things change so swiftly in this area of medicine, and I’m not exactly paying much attention anymore (kinehura). Be that as it may, I’m scheduled to be on the program for the rest of my life, as far as I know, along with annual bone density scans.
Friday was my day. I had already rescheduled twice. But this seemed like the best week to be incapacitated by side effects. No major social plans. No skiing. Fuck yoga anyway, I’ve done enough in the past five or so years to justify a few days off if need be. All week long, I suffered headaches and quietness, by which I mean, under stress and anxiety, I become uncommunicative, speaking only when spoken to, not answering my cell phone, basically blowing off the world. I did watch a LOT of House, M.D., which is on reruns approximately a million times a week. I did manage to get myself to SUNY Purchase to try out their gym, which I am now entitled to use since I am now officially a college student there, but that was just a momentary lapse of bad cheer. And I had to do a LOT of inversions to make it worth my while. Inversions are quite the mood enhancing drug, you know, and entirely legal.
Anyway, Friday came, and I drove my unhappy, resentful ass into Fort Washington, where I stood behind a 30-ish woman with long, wavy red hair as I waited to register for my bone density test. The redhead was pretty and perky and informed the drone that her mother was there with her. I looked behind me and the redhead’s mother was, indeed there, white haired and cheerful like her daughter. And then I waited some more. The redhead was finished. But the drone behind the desk was ignoring me.
“Excuse me, Miss? May I register too now?”
“Oh…sorry…I thought you were her mother.” So sayeth the drone.
“EXCUSE ME? Her mother?”
Think. Think of a good response! Think!!
“Yeah, well, I’m sure you understand, since you must be at least 65 or so.”
The drone, who was no more 65 or so than I was the redhead’s mother snickered. The redhead just looked perky.
If that was the end of the indignities I suffered on Friday, then that would have been fine by me. Unfortunately, well, there’s more. I still had to have my scan, and I still had to get my drugs. And it all went down something like this:
The guys who did my bone density scan took a quick history after he called me into his office. It started with him asking me, “So, do you still weigh about 125?”
Dear God!! Was I being punk’d?
I told him, “Try about 105.” I think that he looked up from his charting then. I think. I hope. I really am pretty sure that he hadn’t looked at me until that moment. But I can only hope.
Then it was time for the scan. I had to mildly contort myself for him to get the pictures he wanted, and one of the contortions involved – I kid you not – him strapping my right foot to a wooden prop of sorts. That’s when he noticed that my jeans had metal studs. “You’ll have to pull those down now.”
Yes, but my leg was strapped to a prop. Whatever. At least he gave me a sheet to cover up.
Later, in the chemo room (and I could stop right there – those two words should be enough to ruin anyone’s day), it took two needle sticks for the nurse to get the IV into my arm. At least she didn’t call me old or fat. She DID ask me for my health care proxy. Was there a chance I was going to die at that moment, I wondered?
20 minutes of cold saline and icky drugs pouring through my veins, I walked out, a bit woozy. The elevator seemed to take forever, and I was too tired to stand up. You’d think there would be benches in the elevator bank on the chemo floor in a hospital. But no. So, I slumped down and crouched on the floor. A nice building custodian asked me if I needed help. I guess I looked like I could use some. But I was like, “I just got tired of standing.” Then I felt stupid because he probably stands all day long.
I drove myself home and curled up on the sofa to watch television. Every commercial made my mouth water. America runs on Dunkin? I wanted to run on Dunkin. KFC? Give me some of that, please. House eating a roast beef sandwich? Drool. I didn’t know that cravings were a side effect of Zometa. My stomach was kind of woozy though, so I really couldn’t take a chance on eating anything other than matzah and apricot jam.
Later, it was time for dinner, and felt compelled to drive to Boston Market to pick up a rotisserie chicken and some cornbread. Wonder why. I had them cut the chicken into quarters, and when I got home, I put each quarter on the plate and promptly inhaled one. I might have eaten the plate if I could. Then I promptly went upstairs and hurled, and I say “hurled” because of the velocity at which everything in my stomach exited my body.
Today I woke up and could eat only white foods.
But I did manage to read the first 100 pages of the second Twilight Book. Damn, but I do love the vampires. And now, apparently, I am feeling well enough to write.