I haven’t stayed in a hospital since I was 8 when I had croup and they put me in a tent. At first that I thought it was cool – a new adventure – but eventually I felt isolated and bored. I think the same thing is at play now. It’s a novel adventure, but the novelty is wearing off and soon I’ll just feel under-stimulated and isolated from the world, mostly the outdoors. I remember little else from 50 years ago other than everything was white except for some of the people.
I am at Bend’s only hospital, St. Charles, as part of the continuation of the “anvil from 13 stories high strategy” that refers to using the same treatment for my suspected microscopic cancer cells as they would for stage 4 lymphoma. Even though I had no tumors anywhere and no cancer cells in my spinal column or bone marrow, people who present with my form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma are at higher risk for developing lymphoma in their central nervous system, which of course includes their brains. I’ll be here three different weeks over the next few months getting high dose methotrexate, a chemo drug that penetrates the blood/brain barrier that will prevent against any lymphoma cells making their way to my brain. Methotrexate is used in treating rheumatoid arthritis. This high dose treatment marinates my brain with 3000 times the normal dose, so they like to keep those of us receiving the treatment close.
From my memory, hospitals have changed a lot. There are great works of art work and pictures of stunning Central Oregon landscapes everywhere, the carpets and wall colors are earth toned, warm and neutral. They stay away from white except for bed sheets. I have room service. That’s how they answer the phone when I call to order food. There is daily housekeeping. I know that because that’s what the house keeper says when she walks by my room, “Housekeeping?” I can wear street clothes instead of a gown, though rumor has it that some nurses might try to make we wear a gown in case they need to ”access me” quickly, whatever that means. I have a table that turns into a stand-up desk I use when I work. Let me say, having seen lots of clients and friends with these, I now get it and LOVE standing to do office work.
There are a lot of old people on the “medical floor”. They appear to run the range from very uncomfortable and sick and grieving to totally out of it. Some have cancer. Some are withdrawing from addiction. A few look like I imagine I look; someone who is doing what must be done but wants to get out as soon as they can. When my doctor admitted me, my blood test showed I had a super-low white blood cell count, and they were worried about the dangers of me getting an infection, so my door got some special signs that warned my fellow patients I was getting some bad-ass drugs and that people have to take “Neutropenic Precautions” to come in.
The signs made me feel self-conscious. I am trying to consider them as symbols of my ultimate badass-ness instead, as if the signs increase my status and level of cool among my fellow patients, especially when they see me working in street clothes, standing at a desk.
Mostly what I will do for the next 4 days is pee and work and wait for my methotrexate level to go down enough to be sent home. Moe is the emcee for TEDx Bend (she is also the lead organizer) and I want to be there to see her do her thing on Saturday afternoon. That’s the goal de jour; Saturday at 1 pm at Bend High for TEDx.
So that’s what IS. I’ll think about how I am feeling and when I figure it out, I write about that, too. If I were further along my understanding of myself, I’d probably be able to describe that now, but I am a work-in-progress and feelings are things I am late to find words for.