Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I was just waking up from my Tylenol- and Benadryl-induced nap three hours into today’s infusion when a group of young people wearing holiday hats and reindeer ears trooped into the clinic. Some USC medical students had come to carol us. Surely a sign of my age is that medical students look to me to be undergrads and the undergrads I pass in the hallways on main campus look to me to be high school students. . . .

Clearly each of them had sung in some madrigal or concert choir group before and I happily would have any and all of them in my ward choir. The other patients weren’t into clapping or showing much appreciation. Something that I try not to let bother me each time I’m in the clinic is that the other patients are mostly elderly, usually frail, and understandably cranky. I hope some of the other patients might have enjoyed the short impromptu concert even though some acted perturbed that the carolers had disturbed their sleep. In any event, I ended up being the enthusiastic listener, thanking them for singing as they passed by me, and got big smiles from each of them as they exited. I wanted to say to my clinic neighbors, “Look! These are medical students! We are training them to be compassionate, caring, and self-sacrificing! They could be sleeping themselves! Give them a little positive reinforcement for their thoughtfulness!” But oh, well; I have made Janet and others promise to kick me if and when I ever get cranky like this and they have my permission to tell me to shape up.

I guess because the other patients watch TV or a DVD when they are not sleeping that the nurses have been fascinated when I’ve brought my laptop to ambitiously tackle work or am concentrating on emails on my Blackberry. They usually ask me about what I’m reading and occasionally ask if the reading is for a class I’m teaching because they see me reading texts, papers, and masters theses. I started out lugging a big bag of work, along with my journal, the Ensign, my cooking magazines, letters to write. . .and then I got realistic that I, too, quickly get groggy and sleep most of the time. So I’ve schooled my expectations on what I can concentrate and now just bring one book. Okay, today it was two books. Book reports to follow.

Today my USC doctor agreed with the Dana-Farber recommendation to slightly change my treatment schedule. Instead of once every two months and ending next August, now it will be once every three months and ending April 2013, so eight more treatments instead of four more (sigh). The idea is to try to mitigate the toll which the Rituxan is taking on the good immunoglobulins and white cells and stretch out the number of Rituxan treatments I can have, since I’m responding to it.

Another realization is that life is less achy with Tylenol, although it makes me sleepy. So now it’s time to cave in to day 1 grogginess.

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