I've been thinking a lot about my post about hostages, vacationers and explorers. I think the biggest difference between hostages and explorers is their position of power. A hostage's only power is to rattle the cage - to complain and worry and hate their captors. An explorer, however, is active. Their power lies in their ability and willingness to learn.
Monday night I decided I would use Tuesday to not only get my chemo that "makes it so you don't die." but also to learn five new things. Five things. That's not that many, really. But it is enough that I would have to work at it. You can't remain passive and learn five new things. You have to get involved.
I told my oncologist this when I saw him on Tuesday before chemo was supposed to start. "FIVE?" he said, "why not just one?"
"Because today is treatment day."
"I need to focus on something else."
"Ah," he says, "got it."
Then he did something that I just love him for. Something that makes up for any time he's been clinical and distant. Makes up even for him shoving that ice pick into my hip bone when he did my bone marrow biopsy. Something I never expected.
He sat down.
"Let's see," he said, then "well, HPA is going private ... did you know that?"
I did not know that. That was news to me. Especially since I didn't know what HPA was and still I'm not sure if I got the acronym correct. So I asked him, "What's HPA?" and he told me. He explained the whole thing. He told me why it matters and what it means for him and for his industry and all kinds of other things. Then he pulled out his prescription pad and gave me a script for pain meds and some antibiotics and then patted me on the back said "good luck learning" and left the room.
Now, isn't that just the best?
And for those of you wondering. Here are the other things I learned:
There is a place in Bali that people who are serious about tattooing go for tattoos. My white blood cell count was 500 yesterday. You have to be at least 1500 to receive chemo. Growth hormone is used when people have low white blood cell count - it is injected once a day for 5 days. Growth hormone works by stimulating your bone marrow to make more white blood cells. Contrary to the name, it will NOT cause me to need longer pants. I've met my out of pocket maximum for this year with my insurance and therefore will not have to pay anything for my growth hormone. Which is great since it costs 2500 dollars. When my counts are as low as they are, I have to avoid many things. This includes people who are sick, people who are getting sick, people who are well, money, door handles and old cheese.
And I think that's about it for the learning. Granted, there is a lot in there about me.
I'll do better next time. Hopefully they will treat me Friday. Keep your white blood cells crossed.