Monday, September 29, 2008

This Must Be Monday

A little squall-line sneaks in from the sea and scurried toward the foothills, rumbling as the clouds jostle one another. I've gotten five hours of sleep, interrupted by nightmares from Vietnam. The horrors are forty-three years old yet replay themselves with the clarity of a Technicolor movie. It's worse when it rains.

If you weren't there it does no good to talk about it. Seek help and you'll be given tranquilizers in doses large enough to stun a horse. I imagine our Iraqi vets are going through the same bullshit and that makes me angry. You'd think that after forty years they could come up with something better than 750 milligrams of Thorazine and a pat on the head.

There are thirteen pills in my cup this morning which means it must be Monday. Some of the steroids I only take once a week and Today's the Day. Alas, the steroids trigger dreams of their own. These Cancer Nightmares compete for howling room with my Vietnam nightmares. Sometimes they join hands and dance around the Maypole of my memories as I struggle to awaken. Once awake, I try to read. Or write. Or do chores of somekind. I've become expert at Silent Floor Scrubbing, an act of contrition for my long-suffering wife who I've screamed awake too many times.

Thirteen pills and the rumble of thunder. Thirteen pills in the cup marked: morning. There are other cups; mid-morning means 10 a.m. Then noon, mid-afternoon, evening, late evening and Bed Time. Other drugs must be injected, a task I carry out with aplomb to the delight of the grandchildren who cover their mouths with their hands and jiggle with excitement, jostling each other: 'Did you see it? Did you see it go in?' Coming out, the needle gets bent an the syringe goes into the stick-box which is actually a no-stick-box, to be traded in for a new batch of pre-loaded syringes.

Other drugs are administered wholesale. A liter bag of juice plumbed into a vein to dribble its way into my body and begin its Tumor Hunt. But not today. Today there were thirteen pills in the cup. When I go down for the I.V. there will be only eight pills in the morning cup and not a steroid amongst them.

The steroids give me hot flashes which turns a T-shirt into a dish rag in a matter of minutes. GatorAde replaces the sweat, along with orange juice and water. Lots of clear, cold water until you begin to feel like Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, singing for their supper about cool, clear water. (The Riders of the Purple Sage couldn't hold a candle to them. Perhaps they'd do better with GatorAde.)

Giving myself injections, counting out my pills, consuming glass after glass of fluids of the proper sort and at the correct time, I'm very much a part of my treatment. Should I begin to suffer from Old Timer's Disease someone else would have to count the pills and watch the clock and stick the needle in my belly. It is Monday, the 29th day of September, 2008. I know my name and where I am and who is President which means my faculties, while annoyed, appear unimpaired and the thirteen pills go down the hatch, sluiced along by eight ounces of cool, clear water and another glass full of orange juice. I take my vitals. All are within bounds save my dissolved oxygen, which is a bit low. I bring it up by Power Breathing, as if I were about to free-dive to the bottom of LaJolla Cove and snag an ab, if any are still there for the snagging.

After breakfast I'll mount my faithful steed and cycle off to Nowhere Land, listening to Joni Mitchell or perhaps Gnarls Barkley. Probably the latter since we are both crazy.

Thirteen pills in the cup. This must be Monday.