Well — what the hell do y’know? — I’m seeing a light.
No, not that Heaven Is for Real, divine light, near-death experience nonsense. Light. As in the end of the tunnel. As in, Hey, I just might pull out of the world of torment yet.
Forewarned by my oncology nurse, Mike (“It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”), I did indeed get worse. Really, really worse. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and even into Monday, I was in such post-chemoradiation misery that I didn’t really care if I’d live or die. Truth.
Had some scamp Satan nudged me in the ribs and said, “Hey, sailor, I’ll pull the switch on all this wretchedness right this minute, only you’re gonna kiss this planet goodbye and come to hell with me and shovel coal for eternity. Deal?”
I would have thought about it long and hard.
A few Monday morning blood tests revealed my kidneys to be functioning about as well as the American presidential election process and my potassium levels to be as low as, well, Donald Trump.
The kids at the infusion center snapped some bags of juicy goodies into my Portacath and pumped me full of several grades of the good old unleaded, including premium. Then they insisted I come back bright and early the next AM for another batch of blood tests and if necessary, more of the good stuff. It was necessary. As it was today, again.
And I’ll be going in tomorrow for the same tune-up.
The transformation has been astounding. Not only do I feel it but The Loved One as well as all the pump jockeys at the center see it. I don’t feel as though I’m dying anymore. Nor do I want die. Hey, Satan, kiss my ass.
Potassium, an electrolyte, plays a vital role in building proteins, the body’s utilization of carbohydrates, building muscle, controlling the body’s acid-base balance, and — most important — making the heart beat a hundred gazillion times a day. When my potassium level fell significantly below recommended figures last week, my already stressed ticker simply leaned back and said, “I’ll pump your goddamned blood when I’m good and ready.”
Needless to say, it was nowhere near enough for my hungry cells, specifically my eager-to-contract heart muscle cells. I was, essentially, shutting down.
Now, no. Now, I’m turning on.
Not only that, Dr. Allerton today put me up on the lift, examined my undercarriage and determined it’s time for me to start swallowing things. Jello. Pureed stuff. Maybe a sip of water here and there, but be careful, he warned, water’s tricky to swallow when you haven’t practiced the act — as I have not — in better than a month. So, the microsecond The Loved One and I got home from today’s long stay at the infusion center (it takes four hours for 40 MEQ of potassium chloride to mix with the blood) she got to work making a bowl of raspberry Jello. It’s in the fridge as I type this, gelling.
It’ll probably taste like the worst stuff I’ve ever put in my mouth — I’m still under the sway of green phlegm — but it’ll have to be done. Okay. I’ll try it.
If it gets me nearer to eating a delicious slice of Salerno’s pizza or even a bite of a corned beef sandwich (I had my brother go to the Kroger Theme Park while he was here and get me two flat cuts for the freezer — it’s a yearly tradition of mine) I’ll be more than happy to gag on some foul tasting Jello.
And if it doesn’t taste foul, well, damn it all, we’re gonna have a Jello orgy at Chez Big Mike tonight!