October, 2010 Archives

It’s Not My-in, It Must Be Urine

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October 26th, 2010

Here’s the set up. They monitor my urine here. The total cost of my stay to the insurance company will probably be around $250,000, but to the people that have to dump my collected urine, that cost is far too low. They need to know how much my output is keeping pace with my input […]

Here’s the set up. They monitor my urine here. The total cost of my stay to the insurance company will probably be around $250,000, but to the people that have to dump my collected urine, that cost is far too low. They need to know how much my output is keeping pace with my input so no toilet for me; it’s a series of random jugs, some of them placed bedside in the middle of the night, some elsewhere. I’m the Easter Bunny of pee.

The nurses or support staff find my hidden treasures, measure them, then dump them out. There’s a special spot in Valhalla for the ones that have to do it most often. Keep reading; the payoff is approaching.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcnursemelissa.jpgAmazing Nurse Melissa, quoted earlier in this blog, was attending to my daily medications and IV drips and all when she stepped into the bathroom only to find a few empty jugs. “Hmmm,” she thought, “has Rodney slowed down his output?” And here’s what she asked.

“Did somebody dump urine on you today?”

Never let it be said that I’m not an opportunist. I know sometimes I make inappropriate jokes or laugh in the face of cancer. A “golden” opportunity like that just screams for a comeback. But I whiffed. I think my response was, “Oh, I didn’t realize we were in one of those relationships, you and I.”

Yeah, lame. But I think I get one or two style points for hearing the double entendre. She immediately exploded with laughter and her nurse helper also began to roar. I’m the first to laugh at my own jokes so I was actually clutching my infected belly because it hurt to laugh like that.

“And there we have it,” she said. “We have now degraded our medical relationship to the point of Golden Showers.”

Is laughter the best medicine? So much of cancer recovery, and indeed any type of healing is how you look at it. I’ve been told by medical professionals that attitude accounts for as much as 85% when it comes to the difference between success and failure. If you stop to consider that number, (I’ve even heard higher by someone I dearly respect), you can’t help but be slapped in the face with an enormous wake up call. If attitude is everything, why in the name of everything that’s dear and near would you be negative or grumpy or pessimistic or glum?

Oh I know why, because it’s freakin’ cancer we’re talking about here folks and cancer is negative and glum. No, I’m not saying that all it takes is to smile and ignore the scary stuff or that people who succumb to the disease somehow failed. Definitely not. What I am saying is nurses and doctors and even the cleaning folks can tell when someone checks into a ward who is most likely to whip the disease and who is going to have a significantly more difficult time.

I’ve spewed a lot of crazy stuff across this website ever since I was diagnosed. And let’s face it, I was even crazier beforehand. But the one takeaway for each of you — whether you’re that entire retirement community down in Brevard, North Carolina who collectively read this or my incredibly creative former students who still write me with mind-blowing talent — is simply to push the positive.

It’s like calisthenics sometimes, making yourself cross over to the sunny side of the street. But scientists have actually measured how new neuron pathways get created by thinking about something differently. If your response to a boss, an illness, your in-laws or the Lions is continually a predictable path, then simply thinking differently about them can permanently re-wire your brain.

That’s some heady stuff, (literally). Thinking makes it so. Attitude is everything. Doctors say healing is mostly mental. It almost sounds like magical thinking but you’ll hear this confirmed by an enormous number of professionals.

______________________

Okay, so it’s night time now and there’s an anthropomorphic four person race for the title of “What’s screwing with Rodney the most?” In last place is the insane gut disease which is so contagious, visitors have to wear gowns and gloves when they enter my room. It’s running neck and neck with my brother’s stem cells which are finding their way through the dark and bumping into things here and there. All in all, those two puppies are inconsequential.

In the top two positions are the neupogen shots which explode my bones so Scott’s cells can settle into their new double-wide and still bring along their 70s albums and even a crate or two of 8-track tapes, (I want to tell him that Foghat, Nazareth and J. Geils Live at Cobo Hall would sound equally good as MP3s but I’m far too polite a host to deny my blood brother some personal keepsakes). And the first-place favorite is mucositis, a mouth and throat disease so painful it feels like I sleepwalked down to a River Rouge foundry, grabbed a Dixie cup full of molten steel and swallowed it on a bar bet.

Through this all, do I remain positive and upbeat? Hell no, didn’t you read the part about  exploding bones? No man, this stuff is painful. But as I reach over and grab the dental appliance which sucks spit out of my mouth so I don’t have to swallow it I realize this too shall pass. It’s only for now.

In the meantime though, no, only a moron would look at my incandescent tummy through rose colored gasses

Me And Nadir

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October 21st, 2010

I keep getting emails from Nadir. So far I haven’t hit REPLY yet. Now Nadir has taken to calling me and leaving long, soothing voicemail messages. He’s done this three times before and each time he’s been right. But this time I just haven’t felt like playing his game. Nadir isn’t some slick foreign spy […]

I keep getting emails from Nadir. So far I haven’t hit REPLY yet. Now Nadir has taken to calling me and leaving long, soothing voicemail messages. He’s done this three times before and each time he’s been right. But this time I just haven’t felt like playing his game.

Nadir isn’t some slick foreign spy or a wealthy aristocrat you’d find at the Baccarat tables. Nadir is the time period after chemotherapy where all my counts are at their lowest. The chemicals slowly bring my body down to a point where I am sluggish, sick-like, feel as though the flu would be a better option and generally would just really rather stare at the ceiling.

But Nadir is important. Because now my brother’s stem cells can have the run of the place. Come on in, my body says, bring that ham sandwich with you and by all means make yourself at home. After all, there’s nothing in my system stopping him.

After the three previous Nadirs I popped out on the other side feeling oh so much better. One thing my pesky former doctor told me on the day he diagnosed me, “You’ll probably feel better after all this is over.” I couldn’t really believe that but each time I’ve recovered from the chemo my blood counts indicate I’m much better than a baseline test I had last year before getting laid off.

And that’s where I’m sitting now. Only this time there’s no more Nadirs afterward. There’s no more chemo. There’s never been a time in my life where I’ve looked forward to being sick. But too, there’s never been a time when I’ve been sick on purpose and have known things on the other side will be brilliant.

So I’m about to pick up the phone and talk to my slick buddy on the other end. I imagine he’s stroking his goatee, sipping some fabulous drink and smiling with a wicked yet playful gleam. If I don’t write anything for a while, just know I’m where I should be and the last four doctors and nurses to visit, left my room laughing.

Deal the cards Nadir. And hand me one of those fabulous drinks.

My Main Marrow Man

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October 17th, 2010

My brother phoned me this morning and asked, “So how’s it feel to have me inside of you?” And with that, we were back to our idiot brotherly ways. No more of this, “thanks for saving my life” or “you know I’d do anything for ya man.” It felt good. Although he ended the call […]

My brother phoned me this morning and asked, “So how’s it feel to have me inside of you?” And with that, we were back to our idiot brotherly ways. No more of this, “thanks for saving my life” or “you know I’d do anything for ya man.” It felt good. Although he ended the call with, “I love you,” and I replied “thanks blood, love ya too.”

It adds a funny, weird dynamic to a relationship when one of the participants gives such a tremendous gift. My Mom buying him and his wife a new bed doesn’t come close to evening the score. No, I’m not looking around for an opportunity to return the favor but maybe our next round of golf is on me, (NOTE: I said maybe, Scott).

I’ve never loved the thought of being in someone’s debt and have always paid off my bills on time. This is one of those things that can never be paid off unless I somehow arrange to have him trapped on top of a burning building and I learn how to fly a helicopter right quick. Knowing Scott and his firefighting skills he’d refuse the flight, find an emergency exit and save a bunch of orphans on the way down.

So by him making a smart-ass remark this morning, he helped alleviate some of my silly repay-the-debt thinking. I can go back to luxuriating in my second Wendy’s cheeseburger transfusion since Stem Cell Friday, (which is one infusion more than my Buddy’s Pizza intake). If this is what it’s like to have my brother’s marrow, I’m lovin’ it. Wait, that’s McDonald’s theme … ohhhhh, Mocha Frappes

Seriously though, this weekend has been wonderful. I feel like a new man, (insert joke here), and even though I know the effects of my final round of chemo ever haven’t fully hit me, I can still see an ever growing light at the end of this Tunnel of Love freak show I’ve been riding through.

“Life,” as a few of my cool shirts here say, “is good.” Even Detroit looks beautiful outside my window as the pockets of trees all around us start showing off. And this is where I know I’m in some sort of weird reverie, even the people a few streets over along the Cass Corridor look happy to be outside enjoying the sunshine.

Man, who knew a couple cheeseburgers and some bone marrow would be so good for the soul?

A Quick Update

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October 15th, 2010

So far so good. My brother spent about four hours getting his stem cells harvested. My family brought cake, noise makers and funny hats to the hospital room and now I wait to see how the marrow and I match up.  

So far so good. My brother spent about four hours getting his stem cells harvested. My family brought cake, noise makers and funny hats to the hospital room and now I wait to see how the marrow and I match up.

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