Having Fun With Cancer

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June 12th, 2010

Chapter 1: The L-Word

Chapter 2: Having Fun With Cancer

The head nurse walked into my room and did one of those classic sitcom double takes, “What the …???” she said as she scanned my visitors.

“Are each one of you sick?” Then she looked over at me smiling in the chair with my trusty dance partner Ivy standing next to me, pumping her fluids gently into my veins.

Pointing at me, she said: “He’s the one that’s supposed to be wearing the face mask, not all of you!” Then, “Ohhh, Rodney …” and you could almost hear the wuh-waaah of the soundtrack and the audience laughing as my guests realized they’d been duped. Then I busted out my own personalized mask with a giant smile and two gapped teeth drawn in the middle with a Sharpie.

My brother Scott got me back, though. He’s seven years older so he’s always gotten me back. When the sweet Ukrainian woman came in to take my blood she said, “I use small needle. You poked too many times.”
http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcLeukemiabearcutline.jpgScott said, “No it’s okay, he likes the bigger needles.” Then, as if she were in on the joke he continued, “Rodney, why doesn’t she use the kind you normally use for heroin?”

Very soon thereafter, my mother showed up and it was if we were on a car ride back in the 70s, “Boys, that is not funny.”

I’ll tell you what is funny. When I woke up to pee for the 19th time I decided to write some of this down while waiting for my vitals to be checked. (Note to Scott: No the nurse checking my vitals isn’t what you’re thinking.)

I Googled “audience laugh track” and “what is the sound in sitcoms when Gilligan does something dumb.” When you click on some of those pages, well, other things pop up. It wasn’t porn, but they were definitely gateways. Just then the night nurse burst into my room and you wouldn’t believe how quickly a guy with a supposedly life-threatening disease could close windows and make his screen look innocuous. Audience laughing.

Some of the people on this ward get my humor instantly. Even the nurse who had cancer herself 25 years ago likes my style. She pulled me aside and said, “I knew instantly you were a survivor. You’ve already got this thing beat.”

But I need to watch my idioms, metaphors and cultural references with some of the foreign staff members. I also need to just plain shut up sometimes. As I was being prepped for surgery this afternoon to install a port to make it easier for them to poison my bloodstream, they checked off my list and said, “Oh and you’re allergic to shellfish.”

That was all due to a flippant comment I made back when I had my gall bladder taken out at this same hospital. I think it was when they asked if anything made me nauseous and I said, “sometimes shrimp does,” but it could just as easily been me saying I didn’t want a Spongebob BAND-AID since I’m allergic to seafood.

That snapped me back to reality. The next question was about having a latex allergy. I bit my tongue when I really, really wanted to answer, “No but I do have a latex fetish.”
And I’ll make absolutely no comment about the conversation with the nurse’s desk this morning about me showering.

“Should you unplug me or cover up the tubes going into my chest while I shower?” I asked.

“Oh we wouldn’t want anything to leak out of your tubes. That stuff’s dangerous; you don’t want any of it getting on you. That could be really bad.”
Something must be working though. My attitude must be having an effect because that blood taken by the Ukrainian woman indicated a slight increase in my white cells. That hasn’t happened at all during the past six weeks of free-fall. Sure, they’re going to obliterate them as they carpet bomb my system but that one little victory gave me a kind of boost I just can’t describe.

“So don’t touch that dial,” I’ll say in my TV announcer’s voice, “more hijinx and hilarity ahead.”

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