Letter Home from the Dorm: My Class Schedule/Syllabus

Dear Home,

Hey guys! So our RAs said it would be a nice idea if I wrote you a status letter, since I’m approaching the end of my first week here at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute Dorms. It’s been quite the learning experience… All the other kids are cool, my RAs seem pretty chill (though they are awfully strict about some things, and I’m sure I’ll have to towel the door and hide my Coors Light behind the soda in my mini fridge) and the cafeteria food isn’t THAT bad. I miss the privacy and comforts of home, but the excitement of co-ed communal living also has its benefits. Sometimes I get to hang out in the common room with the other kids in the dorm and chillax out with some sick puzzles and crossword books. It’s pretty dope and chill and stuff.  It’s not all about leisure time though, I’m here at the institute for a reason and that’s what I’ve been focusing on. I’ve pretty much committed my class schedule and syllabus to memory at this point, so I feel like I’m in pretty good shape to get my money’s worth and graduate on time with a better than average GPA. You’ll be proud of me, I promise.

Here is a rundown of my daily life at the institute:

At around 7am every morning one of the RAs comes into my room and does a simple inspection of my vitals: blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level and temperature. For some reason my temperature has been hovering at around 96-97 degrees because I’m turning into some sort of cold-blooded leukemia lizard. An RA returns every four hours to repeat this process. Every four hours. That includes midnight and 4am. I don’t get to sleep continuously for more than four hours at a time, ever. Thankfully I know a dealer down the hall that gives me Ambien to help me stay reasonably rested, despite being seasonably molested every night.

The RAs are pretty strict about drinking, though. They watch us so closely that not only do they measure the volume of liquid that we put into our body-

Liquid Input Log
Liquid Input Log

but they also pay very close attention to our liquid output as well.

That's my pee. SORRY NOT SORRY
That’s my pee. SORRY NOT SORRY

Every time I need to tinkle, I have to tap into one of these wee little jars (get it, wee jar? LOL OMG LOLOLOL sorry) so that they can keep strict tabs on our consumption/evacuation. It’s taken a lot to get used to, as I’m more often than not aiming a narrow little tube inside of a lightly less narrow bucket in order to cinch it off and pass it to a nice young lady. We didn’t learn these customs back upstate and I’m still slightly uncomfortable with them.

As far as the solidified concerns, the RAs are a little more lax… in that they only care about our stool if it reaches a certain level of relaxation. We only have to open up the lids of our terlets and gift them with a single serving sample nugget on Sundays unless our chemo class schedule gets a little too intense for the week, then we have to save our most vile samples for them to examine. Imagine the worst possible time you have ever spent in the bathroom – but add knowing that you aren’t allowed to destroy the evidence; instead you are forced to go out into the dorm hallway, find an RA and say, “My boom boom was a splatty foam drip and I need you to come check it out for me.” 😦

Indignities are suffered with every change of scenery…. It extends from the constant tangle between your personal experience and how far you are able to distance yourself from those boundaries. Some kids in the dorm wear nothing but sweatpants and mellow around all day, whereas others manage to get up, make their beds and put on a crisp pair of slacks before taking a walk down to the chillzone to do their puzzles or meet with the professors at the Institute during their office hours.

I’m more of the type that sticks to basic comforts between dorm life and class. I dress nicely when I’ve got some sort of extracurricular event planned, but as far as I’m concerned, there is no reason to wear anything but a butt-hugging pair of sweats around the dorms AND in class.

free scrubs
free scrubs

These things are legit loungers and you can get them for free at the Institute book store using your flex spending account. WHY NOT? Unfortunately, they don’t say CBCI on the butt, but whatever.

The problem with this campus, though, is that they only sell these lounge pants in one-size-fits-all. So it is not uncommon for this to happen to me as I wash my hands in the bathroom:


It’s nearly impossible to avoid.

Well anyway, back to my class schedule and syllabus: I’ve got a pretty easy semester so far, unless I failed that bone marrow midterm (I’m still waiting on the results). If all goes well there, I just have a few more weeks of chemo classes and then about a week of finals before I’m able to head back home for SPRING BREAK. It’s looking pretty good, but depending on how my bone marrow tests go I may have to take a summer semester right back here in my old dorm, and it will be slightly more intense than the spring semester. At least, by then, I’ll be a bigger man on campus and will be able to help all the incoming frosh figure out how to not let their pants fall down in bathrooms and embarrass themselves in front of the RAs.

So yes, Home, I hope this letter finds you well. I hope you read it and feel better about all of the money I’m spending at the Institute and realize that those STD forms I sent home to you stand for “short-term disability” and not “sexually-transmitted disease”…. But you never know!

K, Matt’s calling us into the common room to get a beer pong/Mario Kart tournament going. I’ll talk to you in three weeks or so with another update. Love you guys!



7 thoughts on “Letter Home from the Dorm: My Class Schedule/Syllabus

  1. Leah January 29, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    Every morning after putting the kids on the bus, I sit with my coffee and read your words. I have laughed and cried and felt inspired. I’ve never read or heard anything like this from a #leucky patient. Keep kicking cancers ass (and writing about it!)


  2. Jean Martin January 29, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    Hospitals have a way of taking all your dignity away – I’m sure you never knew your input and output would be of interest to anyone else!! Amazing how important the ins and outs are!! I’m hoping you will not have to return for the summer semester, but if you have to, you will.
    Your RA’s sound wonderful, but just a word of advice – don’t ever let any of them hear you refer to them with those letters. I’ve never met an RN that didn’t get those letters out in the first 15 minutes of conversation:) You definitely want to keep them on your good side. However, it sounds like they are awesome.
    Keep up the good work. Continue with your classes – there are no add/drops on your campus.

    btw – any of your teachers would be so proud of your writing ability


  3. Stephers January 30, 2015 / 12:30 am

    Reasonably rested / seasonably molested — nice word choice!


  4. Jason the Cancer Troll January 30, 2015 / 1:53 am

    As far as I know my RNs are enjoying me, at least I’m trying to make it so. They are all truly wonderful and I feel like we’re having a great time together 🙂

    aaaaand some of them are reading this so… hey girls!


  5. Rob January 30, 2015 / 4:27 am

    Your poop joke made me pee.

    Full marks.


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