The Chemo Ward (and an iPod Update)

First an iPod update: it looks like my old theater buddies in Austin stepped up and sent this gift along. So, I’d like to publicly thank Natalie, Julie, Michelle, Jeanine, Connor, Brian, and Ben (did I miss anyone?) Thanks. Nothing like a new techno toy to liven up a day…


The Chemo Ward

Well, the needle issues improved this morning at my second round of chemo treatments. I did not pass out, and it only took two attempts to land an IV. The first try was by one of the nurses that had tried and failed the day before, and when she realized it hadn’t worked, she said, “Well, I’m not going to touch you ever again!” In a way, the nurses make me feel a little cursed, and I know they don’t mean to. They don’t like to think that they’re messing up because they do these things everyday, but I’m not going to take the blame for the state of my veins nor the state of my nerves.

Speaking of nerves, mine were much better this morning thanks to the Lorazepam that I asked Dr. Arbaje for yesterday. It is a drug that helps with nausea but also anxiety, and so I popped one of the tiny pills just before leaving for the chemo appointment, and it did help my nerves for sure. There was some minor debate about whether or not Dr. Arbaje would prescribe the drug for me because it can be quite addictive. Frankly, I appreciate his caution and that he took the time to come and talk to me about it rather than just handing a nurse a prescription. I don’t want to become addicted to a prescription drug (or any other for that matter), so I plan on being very careful about using it. It was sort of odd to hear the name of the drug when it was first brought up because it was one of the four drugs that I regularly administered to my dad when he was dying in hospice. It’s all very eerie to see myself as a patient the way I saw my dad as a patient anyway, so little things like this tend to give me pause.

Today I also learned that the Chemo Ward has wireless internet access! Unfortunately, because my IV was sort of on my wrist, it was difficult for me to type normally in a comfortable way. But I did get some things done, hunting and pecking with my left hand.

Here is a shot that Dawn took of me today receiving chemo (note the new iPod hooked up!):


Don’t I look thrilled to be there? I hope to have some more photos to share soon (hopefully I can convince some of the nurses to pose for me so that all of you can get a glimpse of the angels that are putting me through this). For now, you can check out my shot of one of the toxic drugs dripping into my IV…



I don’t know why exactly, but I like that shot. Though as you can see my full name is printed on everything. I curse the day I filled out the form that has obviously informed all to follow by writing out my middle name — even when they call me back for an appointment the nurse will inevitably say “Michael Joseph?” Oh well.


Back to Work!

Today was the day that I ventured back to work at Borders. They have scheduled me to work four hours a day this week through friday at the registers, which is what I did today. I feel like I was there for nine or ten hours, instead of just four, but it went okay.

The job at Borders, in all honesty, will probably not last much longer for me. (Hmmm…I wonder if anyone from Borders is reading this blog?? Oh well.) I took the job because I desperately needed to find work, it seemed like the author events might be mildly entertaining for me, and I simply could find nothing else. All that changed last week when a woman named Roseann Sheridan emailed me out of the blue wondering if I might be interested in taking on the job of production manager for CTM, a local Madison youth-oriented producing theater and school. I couldn’t believe it and jumped at a chance to interview for the post. Sheridan worked many years for American Players Theatre (where I met Dawn while working in 2003 and 2004), and we worked together briefly the year she left. So, we set up an interview on Friday last week, and it went quite well. Today Roseann left me a phone message letting me know that she wanted to offer me the job! The details have yet to be worked out, but I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to jump back into theater in Madison — where I never really thought it would be possible since the theater scene here is rather small.

I just wanted to share some good news in the midst of all this downer cancer stuff. And just so you know, Roseann knows about the cancer, and the chemo, and I’m quite happy that she has accepted me anyway — knowing that at first I might struggle a bit in the first month or so. I have assured her, of course, that I can do the job, chemo or no.



5 Responses to “The Chemo Ward (and an iPod Update)”

  1. you probably don’t want to hear this, but that picture of you in the chair reminded me of dad when he sat in his dialysis chair. i don’t think the the lorazepam has anything to do with it. well, maybe a little.

  2. Ann Kjerulf Knien Says:

    I am glad that the needle work went better! I say you should create a reward system for each successful needle prick you get through. Maybe more bacon and eggs?!… kidding. 🙂
    My little sister was very much afraid of needles when she was younger. I was the one by her side when she got her ears pierced, and it took her months of loitering outside the shop before we actually went in. The day that we managed to go inside and get an appointment, she held my hand so tightly that it was bruised for about a month. The kind of humorous twist is that she has recently become a certified nurse. Apparently she is alright with needles when she is the one doing the sticking. That being said, however, the rumor is that she is quite good at it. Maybe in order to do a successful IV, it takes one who is sensitive to this feeling.

  3. Congrats on the job! I really hate this cancer thing, by the way. I’m just sayin.

  4. Jeff, the similarities are not lost on me. Maybe it’s just because the one “patient” I have most been around and cared for was dad, and so it’s easy to equate my experience with his — minus the sense of hopelessness that I often felt with dad. And that’s key I think. It’s too bad that I have to be half his age and going through similar things, but maybe I’ll just get it all out of the way early…

  5. Oh, AWESOME. What a motivation.

    I think sometimes when you are real and honest in your life that it comes back to you. Sharing what you’re going through is so terribly honest, perhaps God/Karma/Life/Spirit/Earth (whatever your belief) is paying it forward for you, and giving you your next path to travel. Congrats! Shannon

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