Monday, June 17, 2013

Destination Medication Staycation

This is not where I'm spending my staycation...but I am going there!
My previous job had me traveling quite a bit, so I had enrolled in the loyalty programs for a few of the major hotel chains and had even gotten to the ‘gold level’ on a couple of them. It was nice to show up and have reception greet you with that little extra. Checking in today, I didn’t get the deluxe suite at the lesser known Club Med’s Salt Lake City premier destination medication staycation location – the VA Hospital – but I did get greeted with that extra je ne sais quoi! No fresh cookies, but the coffee’s not half-bad. And no needles today! Yeah!
Throughout the day, I had visits from the people that know me and as usual, it’s like Cheers! where everybody knows your name.
This week, I’m getting round four of consolidation chemotherapy as many people are feeling that I’ll get the call from the Puget Sound VA to begin the bone marrow transplant procedure. As I’ve said before, I harbor no illusions (or hallucinations for that matter) that this is going to be anything but a rough few weeks up front, but if my body’s response to the induction and consolidation chemotherapy treatments are any indication, I’m hoping for nominal graft-versus-host (GVH) and a speedy return to a more typical lifestyle.  I’m shying away from the word ‘normal,’ because my new normal, I don’t think, is going to be too terribly much like it was before.  It should have some similarities, but mentally, I anticipate a completely different outlook and point of reference.  If I were one to invoke business-speak, I could call it a genuine paradigm shift, but I loathe that kind of talk even though this is the kind of context where it makes the most sense.
Suffice it to say, a staycation at a hospital is really a bit of an oxymoron.  It’s hardly a vacation. I don’t get a great deal of sleep because at night I’m getting awakened to get my vitals checked and if I take a nap during the day, I still get that squeeze on the right arm and the lovely tasting medication, none of which make you feel like you’re on a pharmacological getaway. Now, that’s probably a good thing because no one is inflicting any pain on me. I get another infusion of that toxic chemical goodness that kills all the badness that attempts to kill me, of course, and thankfully, I’m able to predict pretty well what is going to happen chemically within me so I can keep ahead of the unpleasant side effects.
I can say that the food isn’t bad, but it’s not something I will be writing to a cruise ship line and suggesting they adopt the recipes.  I’m pretty easy to please for the most part and I have to say the VA system has done pretty well when it comes to mass institutional food. My exceptions are corn on the cob (which I normally really like), Brussels sprouts and peas (which I normally really don’t like at all), and for the love of God, can I have some ketchup? I’ll even forego the salt. I feel like a schmuck wandering down to the cantina on the ground level and grabbing a handful of ketchup packets, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?
I understand that ADHD kids get a medication vacation where they go off medication every so often.  I, on the other hand, get these period where I’m a pharmacist’s dream where I get to list off things that sound like another language all in one 24-hour period.  I get cytarabine of course, which is the chemo drug that keeps the leukemia nastiness in check, but I’m also enjoying the loveliness of dexamethasone and Zofran steroids that come with the chemo; Allopurinol, which is normally prescribed for gout, so in my case, it protects my kidneys from the chemo; Prednisolone eye drops which keep my eyes happy from the chemo as it also is eliminated from my system through tear ducts; Prochloroperzine, which keeps the nausea at bay (and does a nice job, I must say). When I leave, I get a lovely assortment of antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, an antiviral assortment of acyclovir, and a beautiful bottle of pinkness called fluconazole.  Isn’t that special?! When you stay at the ‘other Club Med,’ you only get the best in unpronounceable things. I will freely admit I prefer the aromatherapy candles and the New Age music, but the alternative isn’t really much of an option for me right now. 
 


Admit it...who doesn't fantasize about
being in a place like this?

I have resolved that a getaway to Hawaii is definitely in order when I have been given the green light to travel.  My frequent flier miles are burnin’ a hole in my statement and needing to be used to get me to the islands and that loyalty point balance should offset the lodging. My dreams (when I actually can sleep long enough to have them!) has a gentle breeze blowing sheer curtains and drawing me out to the balcony where I enjoy tropical fruits for breakfast and can listen to the surf gently crashing ashore below. “Dorothy, wake up!” yeah, time for vitals again.
 

Oh, and look at the time.  The nurse is in her pretty blue gown and has a bag of clear fluid that has, yes, you guessed it, toxic chemical goodness. And no, it has not even a vague hint of pineapple, mango, or coconut aroma to it! Damn!  Hook me up…and I’ll take the graham crackers and 1% milk with my chemo tonight, please.  This is room service at the ‘other Club Med’ where only the coolest of cucumbers come for their destination medication staycation – the premier location, of course!
Be well, stay strong, and much love to you all…and enjoy your gourmet graham crackers and milk!
Today’s Music is courtesy of Natasha Bedingfield – Pocketful of Sunshine
 
I got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine
I've got a love and I know that it's all mine
oh, oh, oh
Do what you want, but you're never gonna break me,
Sticks and stones are never gonna shake me
oh, oh, oh

Take me away (take me away)
A secret place (a secret place)
A sweet escape (a sweet escape)
Take me away (take me away)
Take me away (take me away
To better days (to better days)
Take me away (take me away)
A hiding place (a hiding place)

I got pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine
I've got a love and I know that it's all mine
oh, oh, oh
Wish that you could, but you ain't gonna own me
Do anything you can to control me
oh, oh, oh

There's a place that I go
That nobody knows
Where the rivers flow
And I call it home
And there's no more lies
And the darkness is light
And nobody cries
there's only butterflies

The sun is on my side
Take me for a ride
I smile up to the sky
I know I'll be alright

The sun is on my side
Take me for a ride
I smile up to the sky
I know I'll be alright