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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

June 29, 2008

paul part three

You are all invited to Tosca’s in North Beach, San Francisco this afternooon for a benefit fundraiser/drinkathon for Paul, whose winning battle with cancer we’ve been reading about.


best waiting room ever?

The pizza guy showed up and Paul’s wife Pinky joined us.

“How much is attitude a factor?” I asked.

“A lot,” Pinky says. “The chemo is kinda like a hair salon – there’s a whole bunch of chairs in one room…they sit you in your chair and you sit there for a while, and Paul would get everybody talking.”

“I did do that.”

“The nurses would fight over you.”

“They did do that too…”

“One nurse would even steal him.”

“One would hook me up and when their back was turned she’d ask me, ‘Do you want a private room?'”

“Do you need a bed?” Pinky added.

“So how does chemo work?” I asked.

“You get hooked up to an IV and they give you bags of chemo,” Pinky said.

“Bags of poison,” Paul said.

“He had three different kinds.”

“What were they?”

“Cisplaten, which is a platinum based heavy metal. Etopicide was one, what was the other?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Bleomycin. And then you’d have, because it makes you nauseous, they’d mix a whole bunch of other drugs to counter-act the immediate effects of the poison.”

“So you sit there for five or six hours?”

“Or more. They can administer it at different speeds depending how well you can deal with it.”

“Do you watch tv?”

“You can, but chemo affects your brain. Your attention span.”

“He wouldn’t even read magazines. People brought him lots of books but he didn’t read them.”

“It affects so many different things about your body. Not only does it affect your hair but it affects your taste buds, what you want to eat, your attention span, your memory. I’m just starting to get a grasp on my memory now actually. I finished chemo December. I started reading again probably April, May.”

Pinky says, “The hair salon thing, an infusion center where they give you chemo, i think they call it infusion to give it a softer-warmer-fuzzy image. All the nurses there were super cool. There were some people in there that were so angry that they had cancer they were giving attitude to the people trying to give them chemo.”

“Can you set the scene for me?”

“It looked a lot like a hair salon. There’s a reception desk, then you go in through a set of double doors and there are these large expensive-looking lazy-boy-type chairs, between four and seven to a room, theres a little waiting room where there’s coffee and magazines.”

“Chicken broth…”

“Chicken broth if you want it. It’s time for your appointment, someone comes along and finds your receipt. It kinda seemed like nurses were juggling, they come find you, I would sit down in a hot seat – there’s a lot of cancer out there, a lot of patients – so you sit there, people stare at each other, people pretend to read so they don’t have to stare at each other, or sleep a lot. Its impossible to emphasize how debilitating the treatment is. Some people have it for years and go in for a few hours once a week or a month, get a hot shot and leave. My deal I think was better, it was insanely intense but in three months it was over.”

“Any art on the walls?”

“Two kinds of art on the walls. What I would call inspirational art, you know – pictures, photographs of dramatic scenery and uhh… misty wave-lapped coves and like… umm… poems and etcetera.”

“Quilts. Collage.”

“That was inspired art, art created by people with cancer. That seemed to be a lot more human, naturally. Maybe people turn to what ever they can do, whatever they know.”

“I think it was the process of expressing themselves in their stick figure drawings.”

“It’s made by people that survive, so they want to celebrate. Give them some semblance of hope. A lot of them seemed to be women, too, who seem to have a harder time dealing with losing their hair, or a breast, which is more obvious than losing a nut. Not any worse but…”

“But more visual.”

“Some of it was kind of gloomy actually…”

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