I’m climbing this ladder
my head in the clouds
I hope that it matters
I’m having my doubts
— the prophet n. percivel young
You can’t ask for much more than a room in the chemo center with a view of a ladder.
“If a worker climbs up, moon him!” Mo declares. I ponder the logistics of attempting to do so while hooked up to my IV gizmo, but it seems like a lot of work and despite the lack of an “IT IS AGAINST MAYO POLICY FOR YOU TO DROP YOUR DRAWERS AS CONSTRUCTION WORKERS GO BY” sign, I suspect it might be hidden in the fine print somewhere.
Round 3 is officially in the bank. Or it will be tomorrow since I think banks wait a day now before posting. We’ve settled into a familiar routine. I know where they hide the Diet Coke and string cheese, Mo packs me Lorna Doones, I bring a book about a crazed panda beating a guy to death with a bamboo shoot, and ask for a blanket first thing. I’m a runner. I like routines, being on the same course, banging away at the goal, one rung at a time.
I saw my doctor on Wednesday in the usual yin/yang. The lymph node that sent us into panic mode appears to be gone, a good sign. But the anemia continues to crater, a bad sign. I worry I’m a goner if I get the vermin. The doctor told Mo that she had a good shot at getting a vaccine dose soon since she is (his words) a nubile, young babe taking care of a decrepit, elderly geezer. I told him that his oversized face mask is a good look for him. He got the last laugh by scheduling a bunch of new tests I’m pretty sure I don’t need. Is a Pap smear really necessary for a 64-year-old male?
I suspect my biggest problem is a failing heart, but he refuses to accept that. Maybe because he believes it; maybe because if that’s the problem I’ll never run again, and he knows that’s not an acceptable outcome. This is a fight, and he’s the best person you could hope to be in your corner.
As I sit in my chair next to the radioactive sign and a nurse in a comical bridal outfit, I look out at the ladder just out of my reach. That’s me. This is like running. One rung at a time. Miles of trials. Don’t look up, don’t look down. Relentless forward progress.
A PET scan soon will show us if it’s working. Most likely three more rounds to go. Maybe we find it’s in remission; maybe this chemo isn’t working at all. What then? He shrugged and said simply, “We’ll do something else.” Hopefully not a cervical exam. Never make fun of an oncologist.
I hope that it matters. I’m having my doubts. But I’m still climbing the ladder.
We’ll find out where it leads.