Among blood clots, bed sores and other physical ailments caused by sedentary life in the oncology ward there is another, even more dangerous enemy: Cabin Fever. The doctors want us to keep on our feet as much as we can because being physically healthy is a healthy idea when you are already unhealthy and blah blah blah ugggghhh shut up I’m not listening. My doctor threatened to light a few matches under my shoe earlier today if I didn’t make an effort to get some hallway time (similarly to when we throw a racket ball down my apartment hallway for Dumb Dumb Ruby to chase). We’re supposed to walk three miles a day, the hallway of the oncology unit is 28 laps to a mile, and the hallway looks like this:
Compare that close-out WalGreens aisle to the sexual vibrancy of color, light and magic that exists within the confines of my Studio 54 Quarantania:
There is a clear winner when it comes to inviting atmospheres, and it surely isn’t the neutered network of fluorescent vas deferen outside my door. I tried to convince my doctors and RNs that I get plenty of exercise by bouncing my legs along to the sweet jams I be pumpin’ in here all day long but they still insist upon the fact that I leave my room and exercise my dumb body, despite the fact that I’ve been spending 30 years purposely punishing it.
I decided, regardless, to be a good little patient tonight and venture out into the vapid hallway… but on MY terms. I wasn’t just going to walk up and down the hallways like your local mall’s Bitchin Blue-Hair Betty Brigade… No, I WAS GOING ON AN ADVENTURE.
Just like every poor schmuck who has to don the annoyingly uncomfortable antimicrobial uniform upon entering my neutropenic bubble-boy domicile, I have to suit up whenever I exit my threshold.
I clandestinely crouched out into the Tatooine emptiness of the Blood Cancer Institute hallway late that Saturday night in an attempt to locate any signs of life in the vapid rectangular maze of sterile quiet. I had my back against the wall, alternating my glances to and fro, in a constant scan for friend or foe. I ducked by another patient’s open door, but the volume of their snoring implied a threat to my mission. With a delicate bound (followed closely by my brightly colored IV pole) I overtook his open door and came upon my first discovery.
I had stumbled upon the “family waiting room” area, where I realized that my RN hunting task would be much more daunting than I had first anticipated:
The utterly lifeless room consisted of a set of never used poker chips, a wall of medical pamphlets and a shelf of the best puzzles from that (not this) side of Delaware. I felt a strong case of attention deathicit disorder creeping into my nervous system, so I decided to cut my losses in this room and pursue signs of life elsewhere.
Venturing back into the hallway I came across something familiar that at one point had a profound effect on my brain… It was some concept that I feel like I once understood, as if learned from an illustrated children’s book, a glimpse of a past dream, or even a mem-uh… memor – whatever you call them things that once were happening in your head area spot. It displayed vibrant, earthy colors and gave off the appearance of being fluid, breathing and ALIVE:
This made me believe that I was on the right track. I WOULD find what I was looking for out in the Great Hospilian Desert. There was now hope after all. Despite life’s most harrowing obstacles (like when WordPress nukes 2.5 hours of your best fucking work when you try to hit “save draft” while writing what you thought was going to be your best piece yet MURDER MURDER MURDER), the slightest hint of success down the road is enough to keep a man on his feet. It isn’t achieving the glory that makes us strong, it is reaching for it that strengthens us.
Energized by this otherworldly mirage I retooled my headspace, gathered my gear and marched onward. Alone but for my bedazzled IV stand, I crept deeper into the ironically lit abyss until I came across the next piece of the puzzle. It was my leucky break: The Harrowed Wall of RNs:
I was hot on the trail now, no turning back. Like the member of the bloodhound gang that sniffed out the breakthrough line in “you and me baby ain’t nothin but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel,” I knew that my hunt was almost complete.
(you win if you don’t get the above Bloodhound Gang reference, trust me)
Instinct takes over at this point in the hunt. There’s only so much a man can control when he’s working off of the will of his collective ancestral knowledge. No amount of anal retentive planning can help you this late in the game. The nerds back in the lab and the tech geeks out in the van have played their very important parts, but what it all comes down to now is unfettered courage and leadership. He is an amalgamation of all the best parts of the others but without their neurosies to fetter his way. In this man’s zone, all perceived control is released and replaced by the immortal flow of instinct and unadulterated BADASSERY.
And then I looked through my chemoflage and saw them. My trail had serendipitously led me directly to the main hive: The Charge Nurse Station.
My instinct was to freeze; I was fully confident that I would avoid detection if I made no sound or movement whatsoever. This Hunter’s Hide Blind that I had personally developed was a foolproof camouflage for this dangerous mission.
Any popped chewing gum, any tap of a heal, even the slightest whiff of my seven dollar deodorant and I’d be spotted. I’VE COME TOO FAR FOR THIS TO END NOW. I had to learn more…
Upon closer inspection, it was clear to me that not only had I stumbled upon the Charge Nurse Station, but I was able to observe multiple high RH specimens interacting in their most sacred natural habitat. I was about to push the limits of scientific observation and discovery to new levels –
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Blast! There was a kink in my IV fluid line. One of the nurses turned her head toward my hide-behind. She heard the alarm. My heart raced, my palms moistened… I was in the belly of a conscious beast and was running out of safe options. I was fairly confident with my #chemochamo in this situation, but an IV alarm going off behind the delicate disguise is no match for the heightened senses of these trained (anti)killers.
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aaaaaaaaand now i’m grounded.