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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-03-25 17:10
Subject: [cancer] Counting the heparin injectors
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, health, personal, shellyrae
Tomorrow is day one chemo infusion session six of twelve. calendula_witch, shelly_rae and I will head for the clinic around 8 am. By 10:30 or so, assuming no errors (there have been several in the past), I'll be deep in the drug soup.

There's a ritualistic aspect to Thursday evenings, however. That's when I update the side effects log for my oncologist, count the number of pills remaining in my copious medication bottles, and inventory the chemo supplies.

The drugs are obvious enough, they're the helper medications I take to mitigate the side effects of the chemo. Mostly need to make sure I don't run out during the cycle. So I count them out of the bottles, then set up a pill case with the needed doses between now and the beginning of next week.

The supplies are around the unhooking process for the pump. My inventory includes the following:

  • Saline Injector

  • Heparin Injector

  • Detachol

  • Red Caps

  • Alcohol Wipes

  • Aquaguard Dressing

  • Large Gloves

  • Small Gloves

  • Spill Kit

We go through them at different rates. And we need certain levels every time. So one of the first conversations I have on infusion day concerns supply levels and replenishment.

It's so mundane, so clinical, and so strange. Counting the injectors today, it occurred to me how much strangeness one can get used to.

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User: lotusice
Date: 2010-03-26 03:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah for sure. I think that's part of what the people around us are for, that kind of strangeness-calibration. Where you can say "OK, so is this really as weird and fucked up as I think?" and they can go "yep, pretty much."

So you know, yeah, pretty much.

Will be thinking about you tomorrow.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-03-26 12:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah. Every now and then I have to stop and remember how not-normal this all is.
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User: cithra
Date: 2010-03-26 13:51 (UTC)
Subject: strangeness thoughts
I've been thinking a lot lately about the flexibility of the human brain, that capacity for strangeness and adaptation. It lets us survive and rebound from incredible stresses, because we can learn to cope and normalize some very bizarre situations. But that ability to normalize the horrific is what allows some of us to become serial killers, too. The mind that doesn't quite manage, for whatever reason, to make that sanity-check and ends up permanently adopting some out-of-kilter paradigm of 'normal'... We each stray to a degree from that statistical myth, of course, but most of us don't hurt anyone (permanently? physically? but ourselves?) in the process.

It can be a reasonably benign process (for some definitions of benign - oncology's fits, at times) for all my 'serial killer' rhetoric; lots of people survive various types of culture shock from childhood onward without going postal. Connection with other people (there's that social primate thing again) does seem to be a key. Guess that's why I'm commenting in your journal instead of posting in mine, eh?
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