Thursday, July 8, 2010

D Day Minus 195 (August 25, 2009): Cankles and Chemo

“Morgan’s got cankles.” I said after I read her email.  I battled with the Internet for almost a half hour and decided to use my own connection because the hospital's connection was so slow.  It was around 10:30 or so, just after the new nurse hung your second bag of saline.  You needed a lot of hydration so the chemo wouldn’t burn when it pumped through your veins via your port.  This time I remembered the protocol and didn’t even have to ask you about the number of bags and why.  
“What?” You asked turning toward me, brow furrowed like you were doing calculus.  I scooted my chair closer, being extra careful not to make any noise and showed you Morgan’s email on my zebra-skinned Netbook. Then, I Googled cankles and tried to show you what I found. “It’s an ankle that blends into the calf without clear demarcation.” You didn’t bother looking, so I read it out loud. 

You rustled in the industrial blue naugahyde recliner, laid your head back, and focused on one of the nurses walk passed us without saying a word. Normally, she was upbeat and teasing you about your taste in music – 80’s – instead of more contemporary music or asking you about your latest adventures in cooking or about your future with Wegmans. Today, her head was down, hands were stuffed into the pockets of her multicolor geometric patterned scrubs, and her eyes were sort of puffy. One thing for sure, she was a million miles away. 

“Cankles are genetic. I blame my mother- your grandma with her big Danish calves. I got them too.” I smiled, hoisting my ankles up almost to your eye level. My ploy didn’t really distract you from our sad nurse.  You cocked your head to the left to keep her in your line of sight until she was safely in the nurses’ bullpen.  You half smiled as I rambled about maybe finding my ankles once I start P90x and that I always wanted ankles but that it may be hopeless.   I didn’t stop until you closed your eyes and your shoulders relaxed. “Do you want me to not talk for a while?”  I asked.

You said something about “that being a good thing.”  And I promised not to talk for awhile so you could rest.
I pulled my zebra skinned iPod out of my zebra bag so I could to listen to music to help me be quiet.  I listened to Israel Kamaakawiwo’ole’s - Somewhere Over the Rainbow and started to cry because it made me think of how scared I was last February when you had your surgery.   I switched to Fountains of Wayne - Stacy’s Mom before you noticed. It made me laugh because Morgan told me her friends said I was Stacy’s Mom.  It was when Morgan and I were on our Hawaiian Adventure just after she graduated from High School.  We were sitting on beach on Waikiki just like I did with you. 

I was going to ask you what you wanted for lunch (Hospital Cafeteria or Paneras), but noticed your eyes were still closed and remembered that I promised not to talk.  I emailed Aunt Sue and Morgan back and forth a few times (about how you were doing and daily trivia I used to take for granted) while I surfed Amazon. I was searching for books on creating Dashboards and visualizing information for work.
The sad nurse walked passed us, still not talking, but neither was I.  I closed my Netbook and put on some binaural beat music and thought.  "What was it like to be you? Did one of the sad nurse’s patients die? Why are you the youngest patient? If chemo, doesn’t work? What will? If I sold everything would that make you better? How does the mind/body/spirit connection really work? Or does it, the AntiCancer book said it did. But, if it did, why don’t doctors really acknowledge it? What type of cancer do all these people getting chemo with you have?  If sugar really feeds cancer like the AntiaCancer book, then why do doctors tell you to eat anything you want to keep your weight up?" Thoughts fed questions. Questions fed more thoughts.  It was a vicious circle.  The only thing I knew for sure is that chemo doesn’t cure cankles. 


  1. Qigong–standing post meditation–helped me survive four bouts of supposedly terminal lymphoma cancer in the early nineties. It calmed my mind, energized my body, and empowered my will to withstand the high-dose chemo of two bone marrow transplants. Oncologists believed the cancer would relapse until it killed me. Clear 14 years and still practicing qigong daily!

    Bob Ellal
    Author, ‘By These Things Men Live: Chronicles of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor’

  2. I'm so glad that you found a way to beat cancer. And that you showed the role of the mind/body/spirit connection. BiZ.