Thursday, September 3, 2015

Of serious things and silly things

I took a chance on using the car service to Dana-Farber for my now once weekly ECP today, and although it started out on a weird note, it ended up on a good one.

The driver who picked me up spoke into his phone asking for a directions to an address in West Springfield. I said I was not supposed to ride with other passengers, and he said he wasn't picking up another passenger, he was just getting gas.

I told him it would be impossible to get to my appointment on time if he went through West Springfield, to which he replied, that is the only place his boss lets him get gas. I told him firmly that it was not going to happen, so he called his boss, who apparently told him he could not get gas anyplace else. I think this is the headquarters for the drivers, maybe where they have a secret pipeline under the street.

He shouted at his boss that he only had half a tank and no money, and he was scheduled to bring people back, and if he ran out of gas it would be his boss's fault. He talked on the phone loudly and in Spanish, obviously on personal matters, the whole way there, and when his boss called and obviously complained about having trouble getting through, he said it was too bad.

 It was OK, though, because I put a blue shield around myself like my college friend Anne Outwater did for us when we biked through Prince Edward Island  and dogs ran into the road. In other words, I blocked him out by making myself calm. I thanked him at the end of the ride, but he didn't even look at me.

As I was walking into the Kraft Blood Donor Center, I overheard a nurse asking an incoming patient how he was doing. The patient said of cancer, "It's the gift that keeps on giving." He said several new squamous cell tumors on his head were not looking good. I caught myself inadvertently touching the top of my head to see if I had any lumps. I know I have new squamous cell cancers on various spots on my skin that Dr. Lin will probably biopsy when I see her in a few weeks.  I repeated to myself two words that one would not consider magical – in situ, in situ, in situ – meaning that they are a different type and just on the skin.

Something scary happened during the end of the procedure when a commotion on the other side of the room woke me up as I dozed. People rushed in and ran to a man whose bed was behind a privacy curtain. I couldn't see what was happening, but I heard him saying loudly, "I hate it when I lose control of my body!"

My nurse was among those who ran over and administered to him. She ran to a drawer to get him Ativan. Meanwhile my machine was beeping, meaning my three hours were up. I wondered how long it would take someone to come over. After a bit, a different nurse removed my IV. I stayed a few extra minutes with ice on my arm because it hurt as the result of the first stick hitting scar tissue and missing a vein. I got a double wrap. At least it was purple hearts on pink.

I heard the man talking normally to the people around him, so I knew it was all right. I said I knew that due to HIPPA I was not supposed to ask about specifics, but I asked if he was OK, and then my own nurse came over and said it was just an allergic reaction, and she was sorry.

When a car service picked me up at 6:45, I was not encouraged at first because the driver waved air freshener around practically into my mouth, causing me to inhale smoke from the car and whatever gross thing is in the air freshener. I told him I thought he wasn't supposed to smoke in the car, and he said a lot of the passengers do and I was the first one who seemed not to like it. Seriously? I rolled down my window.

At least it was a different driver who turned out to be quite pleasant. I was surprised that he asked how my day was, in contrast to the first angry driver. Driver #2 wanted to know how long I had been going to Dana-Farber (I told him since 2003!) and he said it must be a long way to go. What a relief to have a nice conversation after the previous crazy rides.

Our conversation turned to common ground: the funny answers and recent odd behavior of Siri. We both experienced the same problem in the last couple of days: Siri sending us in circles. We talked about strange things you can ask her, and when he told me to ask her what is zero divided by zero, I got the funniest answer, which made my day end on a better note than the one on which it had begun:

"Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get? See? It doesn't make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends."

My driver was on top of things.
Apparently this has lit up social media.

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