Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Microstories: Just Another Day

Laughing, I answer the ringing phone before my teenaged brother hogs the line.

An unexpected voice responds, scratchy, distant, feeble.

"Is your father home?"

 And I'm rooted where I stand, curled small in my head, my fear building far too many years.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Watch Too Many Movies

Tuesday started off as another routine chemo day.  I would be getting a new chemo drug, and I would have 12 weeks of this before I would be finished.  Mentally, I had established my own inner countdown--four treatments down, 12 to go.


Except that it wasn't routine.  As soon as the nurse inserted the needle into my mediport and tried to draw blood, nothing was routine.  What was supposed to happen after the insertion of the needle?  That would be blood flowing into the syringe.  This time, nothing happened.  No blood.  Nothing came out of my body.  The nurse didn't panic, but I certainly got anxious, especially when she immediately started pumping on the plunger that went with the syringe.  It appeared to my untrained eyes that my nurse was pumping massive amounts of air into a major vein located right next to my heart.   My anxiety rose rapidly.

Nobody really talks about the anxiety and the panic attacks that come with a cancer diagnosis. We start to freak out about everything, just because that lump we though was "nothing" was something. We cancer patients can no longer trust ourselves to know anything about what is going on in our bodies. Any little thing sets off a chain reaction of "What ifs?" that would drive anyone over the edge, but a person with an anxious personality, like me?  Amp that anxiety to 13.  If I can't catch my breath after climbing stairs, I'm dying.  If my feet hurt, it's some obscure cancer-related disease and my feet will have to be amputated. If my eye twitches because I'm tired, I think I'm losing my vision. Whatever is happening is THE. WORST. POSSIBLE. THING.

As I'm sitting in that chair, watching the nurse,  my brain is remembering that I've seen all the cop shows.  I've seen the movies where people are eliminated by some bad guy inserting a single air bubble into the IV of a victim in a hospital room.  I know what an embolism is, fer cryin' out loud!

"Am I about to die from an embolism?" I blurted, ready to at least punch her for killing me.  In my growing hysteria, I wasn't thinking about what the poor woman's motive might be for murdering me in a crowded chemo room with my husband standing right there.  That would have required less anxiety and more actual brain.  I was thinking of the movies, and the TV shows, and freaking myself out. 

"What?" the exasperated nurse replied, still trying to get blood out of my chest. She laughed.  "No, you aren't going to die from an embolism! Give me some credit here!" 

She then explained what she was trying to do, and why no actual air had gone into my vein. Essentially, the needle was stuck in the port, having never exited to the other side as it is supposed to do.  After a few more moments of fiddling with my mediport, she finally got it to work.  I have never been more happy to see blood coming out of a syringe in my life.  I was especially happy that the blood was red and looked normal.  Routine.

"See, I do know what I'm doing!"  The nurse teased me.  I sheepishly smiled back. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'd Rather Be A Boy Scout

I was never a social kid.  Oh, I was friendly enough, I guess.  Rather bossy, if my report card comments are any indication. But we moved so often that it seemed pointless for me to even try to make friends. Why bother?  I chalked my reticence up as being practical.  I was content to stay in my room and read, anyway. Books don't leave a person, or forget about you the moment you move with your family someplace else.

My parents were having none of that.  I was going to participate in group activities, my mother decreed when we moved to Germany, and not even the Pope would dare argue with my mother when she issued an edict as firmly as that.  My parents signed me up for...Brownies.  They signed my brother up for Cub Scouts.

I was eight.  I thought that the Brownies were just like the Cub Scouts, and I was excited.  The Cub Scouts were cool, with all their awesome badges about making stuff out of wood and skulking about the forest identifying birds and other critters.  I happily imagined the fun I would have, binoculars in hand, locating a rare blue-bellied whatever in the Black Forest of Germany.

The Brownies were NOT like Cub Scouts, I learned to my chagrin.  This was the early seventies, well before Girl Scout cookies were a thing.  Women were still considered to be too fragile for such rough activities as exploring!  No, we girls were expected things.

Cook stuff.


Look pretty. 

Sitting in the meeting, looking around me, I felt like I was an alien.  The other girls looked actually happy, and(gasp!) interested in what to me sounded like actual housework.  I was horrified, and my tiny brain was not a little insulted.  Why did the boys get to have all the fun?  Sure, I had no idea how to use a knife, but I felt that learning to whittle was a valuable skill that would take me far in life.  On the other hand, I was not fond of needles just on general principal. And what was with all this "looking pretty" stuff?  The Boy Scouts didn't even have a "Take a Bath" badge, and boys can get pretty stinky.

I felt a bit gypped by the entire set up.  I had to go, however.  My mother had issued an edict, and that was that.  I earned a few badges, including one for a rather bloodsoaked sewing project.  I did have a few fun times, however, and being part of the Brownies meant that girls actually showed up for my birthday party.  I earned my Junior Girl Scout Wings, and then my mom said that I could quit.  My brother didn't even make it that far.

I still pester him about that.

Head over to Mamakat's Writer's Workshop and read more about National Girl Scout Day, which was the prompt I selected.