I just wrote the title of this post, and immediately an old song came to mind – the cover I’m familiar with was by the Kirby Stone Four, but the song was written by George Gershwin for the Broadway musical “Girl Crazy” (music by Ira, I believe, and the music does it for me). A short snippet:
I’m bidin’ my time
That’s the kind of guy I’m
You grow dizzy
I keep busy
Bidin’ my time
My brother turned me on to the Kirby Stone Four “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” album when he was in his first year at U.C. Berkeley and I was in my first year of high school. Everyone was listening to it, he told me, so I started listening to it too, and still find that I know chunks of the KSF version of the songs by heart, if not the entire songs. They were mostly lively and frivolous renditions of various show tunes from the first half of the 20th century. Their style, similar to The Manhattan Transfer’s, is described by Wikipedia as a melding of swing jazz, vocalese and early rock & roll. What was, according to Wikipedia, although I can’t find corroboration of this anywhere else, referred to as the Go Sound.
Where on earth could I be going with this one? I’ve been vacillating between indulging in the past and predicting the future. Music is a wormhole to prior experience, time travel by tune to distant memories. And as part of my current limbo, I feel entitled to wander at will.
It is the day after my fifth chemotherapy infusion. The predictable side effects are setting in, and I’m being patient, hopeful that they’ll fade without complication. One complication a little over a week ago was lowered white blood cell count, specifically neutrophils, which allowed some infection to cause a fever necessitating a trip to the ER and hospitalization. I assumed it would be for a night, but neutropenia is taken very seriously and it was three nights before I was discharged. Three nights and several pokes with needles and a lot of antibiotics. And no sunshine. That was my only complaint, really. I’m glad they took it seriously and I got good treatment, and the hospital at Vacaville is very nice, with private room & bath, view of a pleasant courtyard, leg massagers, IV caddy with little push rail I could hold onto to do leg exercises, little desk, couch for visitors, good nurses, relatively quiet, TV of course, closet, sink with counter—everything but a mini-bar, sunshine and my cats. When the IV in my vein started leaking under my skin, it had to be removed and the next attempt to put one in caused a big bruise and three people tried in vain to find a vein. The sunshine, I kept insisting, just five minutes of that 85+ degree fresh air, would have made my veins pop out; my arms were just too chilled in that 72 degree room and my veins had gone into hibernation. But patients, I was informed, don’t go outside. So instead they tried to warm my arms with plastic warming packs, and when nothing seemed to work to make my veins show up my nurse came in and gave it one more try and managed to get the IV into an invisible vein just in time for my next dose of antibiotics.
It’s now two days after chemo, and the KSF song has morphed from a worm hole to an ear worm. I think I need to listen to another song to get it out of my head, but I know it’ll be back.
I’m trying to pinpoint what this chemo effect really feels like. It’s not quite a flu feeling, not quite nausea. Maybe something in between. A little like feeling seasick, but only to the point of queasiness, with a little light-headedness and fatigue that makes me feel weak. Probably the feeling one gets from food poisoning, but without the wrenching stomach cramps because the anti-nausea pills seem to be controlling that.
The feeling of being poisoned. It has been suggested that I not call the chemotherapy drugs poison, I guess on the assumption that calling it that might make me feel worse. In fact, it’s not poison; it’s more like birth control for cancer and other epithelial cells, only a little rougher, more like the day after pill. It keeps the cells from dividing and reproducing themselves. At this point, I have no idea how good a job it’s doing; I just have to assume it’s working as well as it did before surgery. At least I’ll assume that until I’m told the results of any recent CA 125 test the lab might be doing. At diagnosis, my CA 125 was a little over 1500. I’d be happy knowing it’s significantly lower even if not in the normal range, and knowing it doesn’t start climbing back up. I find myself feeling a little like I did at the beginning—only rather than the dread of something ominous lurking in the shadows, it’s knowing that it has retreated but could return at any moment. I want to know if/when it starts to show its crabby face again.
For the sake of my emotional well-being, I’ll forego trying to fully understand the prognostic value of CA 125 level over 1500 at initial diagnosis. I’m not sure I’d benefit from the pessimism potential of that knowledge. I’m almost done with the six-month ordeal I signed up for, and am going to allow myself the luxury of believing it’s done the trick for as long as I’m able, which belief will preferably be supported by a satisfactory CA 125 level. Anything beyond that is trying too hard to predict the future, and except for maybe planning a vacation once I feel up to it, I’m content for the moment with leaving the future up to fate.
That, and just biding my time.