This is what it was like to get chemotherapy:
1. The Vampires
They're actually three attractive nurses but the women who work in pharmacology were introduced to me as the vampires, and as such I will always think of them. This is where I had blood drawn and ended up performing a duet of Patricia the Stripper (Chris DeBurgh, circa my misspent youth), to which, I was astonished to realize, I remember all the words.
2.The Chemo Room
This is a large room with a nursing station at the centre. At a guess, there are at least thirty of us receiving chemo along the room's perimeter, at any given time.
Before, we begin the infusion, an oncology nurse goes over my extremely complicated post-chemo drug regimen. I have seven different prescriptions to be taken at varying intervals over the next several days.
The first chemo drug is nicknamed this way by the oncology nurses because it's bright red, it burns, it's the one that guarantees hair loss and - you excrete bright red after it's infused. The red devil takes 15 minutes to do its work.
After an hour's break, during which I receive saline, it's time for the Taxotere, famous for the fact that it can make your fingernails turn black and fall out. In an attempt to prevent this, patients are encouraged to spend the hour and fifteen minutes of treatment with their gloved hands in ice (I am reminded of my college Economics prof, "A statistician is someone who has his head in the oven and his feet in a bucket of ice and says, on average, he's comfortable.")
5. The Closer
The last drug is a walk in the park, because I can move my arm, and, thus, read. It takes about half an hour and then, after my "vitals" are taken, I am free to wobble off home. All told, I have been at the hospital for nearly 6 hours.
My spouse has observed how surreal it is that an experience can be simultaneously so intense, yet so unbelievably boring. Thank god we brought music. Greg Brown, Jesse Winchester, Johnny Cash and the incredible Melissa Ethridge got me through it, along with the aforementioned very patient spouse.