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.
Today (1/31/2015) marks the beginning of my second round of chemo. Yes, this is the third Chemo Sesh, but there are three(ish) seshes within each round of chemo. Today’s genocidal drugs that inflated my veins like a mutant carnival balloon animal were the same compounds that first entered my bloodstream a week ago on day one. The first implementation of these drugs, as you may remember, resulted in a slight metallic taste in my mouth and some neon peach pee pees.
According to the lovely and brilliant Ashley RN, this is the dose of the chemo that I should start feeling….hence the artsy fartsy color corrected picture above! Expect some more nit, grit, snark and dark. Continue reading →
One of the hardest things about having the immune system of a kitten born prematurely with unrelenting feline AIDS is the lack of human contact. My chart says that I am “profoundly neutropenic,” which means that my white blood cell count is lower than snake piss (as we used to say in Upstate NY.) An errant fart could kill me at the moment, so everyone who enters my hospital suite has to wear a mask, gloves and a really stylish yellow gown made out of low-grade paper towels. My doctors and nurses handle me constantly, so I do have SOME contact, but that’s obviously not what I’m talking about. This is about being around my girlfriend.
To put it bluntly, my current physicality with Liana is about as fulfilling as a Mormon safe sex pamphlet. Ever since we’ve been separated by sterile barriers, I’ve realized how much I’ve taken for granted… There have been no hello kisses, no hand holdings, no skin-on-skin snuggles, no hair smellings (keeping this rated G, you PERVS.) The last feeling I had before falling asleep every night used to be her lips against mine, or at the very least a stray hand that fumbled toward me in the dark to maintain a symbolic contact. Continue reading →
Today marks one week of living in my temporary hospital home. It honestly feels like I just got here because I’ve been so damn busy. Would it surprise you to know that I haven’t watched a single minute of visual media (other than the morning news while I drink my coffee and eat my 8 pieces of bacon— shut up, my oncologist told me to eat whatever the hell I want: DOCTOR’S ORDERS) or read a single sentence of leisure reading? I’ve been sitting in this 200 square foot room for an entire week with no “work” to do and haven’t been bored once. I’m as astounded as you are considering that I can’t sit around my apartment between 5-10pm with out going a bit stir crazy every weekday. I suppose the blog and the hourly circulatory system rapings help pass the time… but still.
I guess I should be counting my blessings that this isn’t some sort of brain cancer that robs me of my ability to focus, if such a thing even exists. One full week of total mental stimulation and productivity, one full week of new and exciting (for better or worse) experiences, one full week of thoughts and emotions that I ignorantly never expected to have.
Today was actually the first day that I felt less than stellar physically. I was warned that this would happen and I’m prepared for it. At the risk of sounding pretentious or full of myself, the brave face that I’ve put on is absolutely genuine and is not a happy clown mask hiding a sad clown face… but I would be lying if I weren’t without my moments of fear, doubt and vulnerability this week. This blog has been light and positive, funny and uplifting, but it has always had the intention of being a an unfractured reflection of my true experience with this life changing kick in the dick.
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:
I’m up all night to get blood
I’m up all night to get some
I’m up all night for nurse fun
We’re up all night to get #LEUCKY
The night between the 26th and 27th, my night nurse came in to check my vitals at midnight. I had taken my nightly Ambien (totally necessary to sleep while roiding out on Prednisone) so I was toeing the line of consciousness that exists only if you’ve forced yourself to stay awake for longer than 48 straight hours. I’m talking total misunderstanding of your own ego, the point where you aren’t sure if you are in a dream or if you ever even knew what a dream was to begin with.
I am a prissy little boy and need to shower at least once a day lest I skeev myself out by my own greasy hair. It gets oily, clumpy and grossly unmanageable if I don’t make every effort to fight nature’s cruel desire to make me look like an unkempt homeless person. This is ideally how I like my hair to look:
Bet you never thought chemotherapy could be sexy, right? Well that’s why I’m here, to buttram your preconceived notions of all things Cancer. You can have fun, you can enjoy yourself, you can be sexy as fuck.
The peacock silk scarf appeals to those women out there who enjoy some flash and pizazz in a man- bright tail feathers to catch their attention. The messy unshowered greasy hair is for the bad boy trouble maker that they can’t help but loving, despite their best efforts to remove aloof danger from their lives. Bringing it all together is the come hither glance an slight lip pout. It’s a subtle expression, but more powerful than foot rubs and chocolate ice cream when played correctly.
I’m sure many of you have wondered where I was able to find the motivation to adopt and maintain the – how should I put it – chipper as fuck attitude about a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. I’ve been asking myself the same thing and it didn’t take me long to realize where came from: my father’s example.
My dad, Robert “Bob” Hornyak, died almost exactly a year ago from ALS. If the massive self-inflicted waterboarding campaign for ALS didn’t educate you enough, ALS is a degenerative nerve disease that basically shuts down your brain’s ability to communicate with your body. Essentially you slowly lose the ability to control the movements and functions of your body, both voluntary and involuntary. Eventually your mind becomes a solitary confinement prisoner in the deepest cell of your body’s dungeon, where nobody can hear you scream.