Detour

The cops had him up against the car, assuming the position. Just an hour ago he’d been on I-90 headed to Seattle. His VA doctor had referred him to the cancer care center for radiation treatments unavailable at the Spokane medical center. Then he ran into the traffic jam created by the closure of the highway due to snow in the mountain pass ahead in Snoqualamie. He’d exited the freeway in hopes of using the old state highway to bypass the freeway road closure. The weather wasn’t really that bad, but the state would close the pass at even the threat of ice on the steep and curving I-90. He was two-thirds of the way to his destination with only another hour and a half to go when traffic came to a halt at Ellensburg.

“What are you doing slinking around our town, degenerate?” asked one of the two cops who stopped him.

“I’m just passing through, or trying to. There were detour signs on I-90 that led toward the old highway 2, but I seem to have gotten lost.” answered the vet.

“Right. You’d like us to believe that, wouldn’t you?” said the cop.

“Looks like he’s lyin’ to me.” said the other.

“Probably casing the town for a string of robberies.”

“A one-man crime wave. How come you’re parked near one of our resident’s houses?”

“I ran out of gas.” said the suspect. “Driving all over trying to find my way. Those detour signs got me all twisted around.”

“I think you were gonna rob that house. You were, weren’t you?”

“No, no. That’s not right. I …oof!”  The second cop poked him in the kidney with his baton.

“We’ll do the talking here. Now speak up and answer the question.” said the first cop.

“I… what?” The cops grabbed the suspect and threw him in the back of their squad car.

The city center.

A police station and an old fashioned Justice of the Peace. “So, you admit you came to rob our citizens of their possessions.” said the justice.

“No, no. I was trying to follow detour signs and got lost!” wailed the suspect.

“Riiiight.” said the justice. “And where were you going when you say you got… lost.”

“Seattle. I have an appointment at the VA hospital tomorrow for cancer treatment.”

“Wait a minute. You’re a veteran?” asked the justice.

“Vietnam 1966.” said the suspect.

“Well now, that’s a whole different kettle of fish, wouldn’t you say officers?” The justice peered over at the pair of cops.

“Sure is, Your Honor.” they replied in unison.

“How on earth could you get lost?” asked the justice. “The highway’s only two blocks from the freeway.”

“Well, we can shed a little light on that.” commented the first cop. “The state cops came through and put up detour signs, dumping the state’s degenerates onto our quiet streets.”

“They’re always trying something like that.” said the second cop.

“So,” said the first cop, “we changed the signs and sent the drivers out into the sticks on old logging roads.”

The justice smiled widely. “Good thinking, boys. This town relies on the tourist trade to exist. We can’t have strangers taking up all the hotel rooms and filling up the restaurants.”

“Exactly, Judge.”

“That’s awful!” said the vet incredulously. “What about the people who get lost out there and run out of gas? There’s nothing around for miles!”

“Awww. We’d help them.” said the first cop.

“Right after the spring thaw.” said the second.

The justice nodded agreeably. “Protect and serve. As for you, Mr. Veteran,  I sentence you to a year in jail.”

“What? On what charge?”

“Vagrancy. Public indigent. Mopery.” said the justice.

“I ran out of gas!” wailed the convict.

“Tell you what.” said the justice. “You get in your car and drive away from here and never come back and I’ll suspend the sentence.”

The convict sighed. “Okay. I’ll need to get some gas though.”

Twenty minutes later he was back at his car. The cops gave him enough gas to get to the town’s only gas station so he could buy enough gas to get out of town –and to replace the gas the cops “loaned” him. They took off in a convoy, cop in front, cop car in front, cop car in back, the convict in the middle. The cops were running with full lights and siren. The convoy got to the station where the cops kept their lights and sirens on and kept revving their engines. VROOM-EEE-AHHH-EEE-AAA-WHOOP-WHOOP-VROOM.

“I need forty dollars on pump four!” shouted the convict to the attendant. VROOM-EEE-AHHH-WHOOP-WHOOP-EEE-AHHH.

“What?” shouted the attendant, placing a hand behind his ear.

“I said I need forty dollars on pump four!” yelled the convict. VROOM-EEE-AHHH-WHOOP-WHOOP-EEE-AHHH.

“WHAT?”  VROOM-EEE-AHHH-WHOOP-WHOOP-EEE-AHHH.

The convict yelled “forty” and held up four fingers and pointed to the pumps. He shoved a pair of twenties through the cashier window to the attendant. He then made his way to the pumps, took off the nozzle and started pumping gas into his tank. It stopped at four dollars. VROOM-EEE-AHHH-WHOOP-WHOOP-EEE-AHHH. The convict shook his head and just climbed into his car. The convoy took him to the freeway.

“The radiation clinic said you never showed up.” said the vet’s doctor. He sounded disappointed.

“I need to wait until spring.” replied the vet. “For when the passes are clear.”

His doctor shrugged and wrote him a prescription for tranquilizers. “You shouldn’t be so stressed out about the snow. These should help you relax a little.”

“It’s not the snow, it’s the town… aw, never mind. Give me the prescription.”

It was a long and painful wait for spring.

 

SPEED BUMPS

Wow how time flies when you are racing down the highway of life, motherhood, and  multiple myeloma!  
Life seemed to be cruising along quite well as I enjoyed the end of chemo treatment for now, and the beginning of school.  To be honest it was really nice to send the kids back to school and have a little more peace and quiet at home to rest and recover from treatments.



        Summer turned into fall as our family became consumed with sixth grade, ninth grade, and football, football, football.  It has been good to get back into a routine, although I still struggle with the getting even the basics(cleaning, cooking, laundry) done around the house some days.  I am told it will take a good six months or more to regain my energy and get the chemo out of my system.

       This fall my husband coached my youngest son’s little league football team.  They had a great time and took things pretty seriously; winning most of their games.
       My fifteen yr. old son played on the high school freshman team.  He played with heart and struggled with his size; as he is on the smaller side of most of his his team mates.

       My 18 yr. old son finally got a job after searching half the summer.  He is working for a freeway construction company.  He drives to construction sites throughout the county collecting rock samples.  He loads the samples in his brand new work truck (yea I’m somewhat jealous!) and takes them back to a lab for testing. For the last ten weeks he has been working the graveyard shift.  This has been a major change for my extremely social son who basically eats, sleeps and then works 12-14 hr. a day,

       My previous post gave you a glimpse of the highlights of becoming a new grandmother.  It has been an amazing experience, and I am very lucky to live within a couple miles of this gorgeous growing baby and her parents.
      So that has been a recap of life on my highway over the last few weeks. There have been many good things happening along the way, but I have definitely ran into a few speed bumps as far as my health goes.  
     I am learning that remission does not mean the end of “cancer concerns,” or lingering side effects.  My body, mind, and soul have been through so much over the last two years and I have been somewhat naive in thinking that I would be able to bounce back more quickly.
     Speed bump number one slowed me down right after all my major tests in August.  My blood work all came back with good numbers but a PET scan revealed  some over activity in the uterus—huh!  My oncologist suggested I had an additional MRI on the pelvic region.  He did not seem too concerned,  I on the other hand “freaked!”  
    I celebrated my 46th birthday in the tunnel with some anxiety for another few days, but luckily the results showed nothing, nada, zip!  I have got to learn to not let these things get to me so intensely.  Who knows what would show up inside any of us if we were tested, scanned, and x-rayed too frequently with high powered, sensitive equipment. A case of indigestion could show up as your long lost twin or a nasty tumor if we rely and dwell on all this technology too much and too often.  Does that make sense?
     Several weeks later I ran into speed bump number two. Called ONJ.  And what may you ask is that?  Well I asked the same question as I  began a monthly bone hardening infusion way back in December of 2008. A common part of MM treatment involves using a Bisphosphonate called Aredia or a Zometa to treat, fill in, or strengthen the bones which have been damaged by the cancer cells in the bone marrow.   ONJ stands for Osteonecrosis of the jaw.  I had read about this and questioned the oncologist about this side effect from Aredia.  He explained that it was very rare and I should not have to worry about it.  Well nearly two years later I’m worried about it!  
    I went to the Dentist about a month ago because I had a sore on my gum at the very back of my mouth that would not heal.  He took x-rays-couldn’t see anything and referred me to a peridontist.  By my appt., a small piece of bone had broke through the gums and I was diagnosed with ONJ.  My elementary level of understanding of this means that the delicate balance of bone being built and then reabsorbed within the body is disturbed when long term use of bisphonsphonates are introduced.  The bone growth in my jaw is a result of that. The dangerous part of this is when infection enters the scene.  The bones of the jaw can become so infected that they die.  This can be very painful and disfiguring.  It is recommended that no heavy dental work or extractions be done for quite some time after taking Aredia.  The good thing for me is that I have had very little pain.  The bad thing is that I have a major cavity on my top back molar.  The easy thing to do would be to just pull that baby out, however that is not possible right now so-lucky me- I went in to an endodontist to have a root canal on wednesday.
     I hope I am not whinning too much or boring you with all the details, however I am letting you know that now might be a good time for a “commercial break.”mmm………….
     Okay back to my story.  So things were going quite well.  I had prepped myself well. Brushed my teeth extra long, flossed twice, gargled mouthwash, and even watched a youtube video of the procedure.  I was ready when I sat in the chair and the Dr. seemed very kind and gentle as he explained what he was doing. 
      The time seemed to be going down fast when all of a sudden I felt like I was drowning.  My throat was stinging and with my my mouth propped wide open and stuffed with a rubber dam covering all of the teeth in my mouth, I motioned that I had to sit up RIGHT Now!!  The nurse quickly removed everything out of my mouth and I started bleeding out of my nose and coughing up blood.  This went on for a good twenty minutes.  They kept shooting  syringes of saline up the drilled out root canals into my sinus’ to get the blood flow to stop.  This made me cough more and continue to bleed out of my nose.  Pretty graphic Huh?  It was disgusting.  The Dentist said he had only had this happen once before with a patient and he really did not have a reason why.  We looked at the x-rays and the root canals had come close but not entered the sinus.  So there was really not a clear explanation.  But you should have seen my face.  I was swollen up on one side like a big red balloon.  They nurse had injected about 2 cups of saline into the right sinus.  After several minutes of more coughing and ice packs the Dentist asked if I wanted to finish up the procedure that day.  Aaaa..Yes please!! I was not planning on coming back!  So ten minutes later, extra strength tylenol, ice packs in hand, $900 down, and I was out the door.  
     Once again I became the patient battling a rare cancer, a younger woman with an older man’s disease, and the person with another rare side effect. The questions of “why me” have long faded away.  Now my questions seem to be about understanding my health, my body, and multiple myeloma.  It is a huge stretch for my chemically, chemo-treated mind. 

     Most of the time it is better to concentrate on all the good things, people, and blessings in my life.  I may not be driving a shiny red sports car down my highway of life.  My dusty, dented up body, or my “uniqueness”  or “rareness”   sometimes wears on me when I have to slow down over all these speed bumps,  but it also provides me with some cynical humor,  crazy adventures, and beautiful scenery along the way. 


(And p.s. next blog I promise to talk about my new puppy instead of root canals.)