Yeah, so, I spend a lot of time in the infusion center at the hospital now. I’m at Kaiser at least twice a week. I’m in there for my weekly chemo treatments. I get my bloodwork done there. I get acupuncture there. The receptionists know who I am. Most of the chemo nurses know me by name. I’m a regular.
Twice a week I get on the elevator at the first floor. It’s crowded. It stops at almost every floor and slowly the elevator clears out. By the time it gets to my floor, the top floor, I’m the only one left. I always wonder, “Medically, does it get more serious the higher you go up in the elevator?”
“Oh, she’s getting off on the 8th floor. That’s a shame.”
People ask me all the time what it is like in the infusion center. Well, the infusion center is on the 8th floor. There is an open common area with a lot of lounge chairs. There are a few semi-private rooms with two or three chairs, as well as a few private rooms with one chair. There are a lot of windows. It’s very bright, and there is a lovely view of San Francisco.
It’s pretty quiet in the infusion center. There’s the constant beeping of the IV machines, but you learn to tune it out. There is some talking, but it’s mainly the nurses. Almost every patient has a guest with them. The patient sits in the chemo chair, hooked up to their machine, and their guest sits next to them. You can hear hushed talking, but mostly the patient is reading or sleeping, and the guest is doing the same thing.
It sounds a little like a library in the infusion center … until I show up.
You see, I have this nervous talking thing. I talk a lot. My mother and my sister are taking turns going with me to chemo, and we are all talkers. From the minute I sit in the chemo chair until I leave, we are nonstop talking.
“And then he said, and then I said, and he’s all, and I’m all, oh let’s look at her Facebook page, show me the photo, did you see the video with the goats, remember the time, yeah I remember the time, so then I says to Mabel I says …”
And it goes on like that for the entire two hours.
The vibe is slightly different depending on if Michelle or my mother is with me. My mom and I tend to feed off each other’s anxiety. If I get nervous, then my mom gets nervous. If one of us starts crying then the other one will start crying. Michelle and I tend to balance each other out. If one of us gets upset or nervous, then the other one gets really calm. No matter if it’s Michelle or my mom, we talk the entire time. I always bring magazines to read, and we never read them.
I can’t decide if the nurses like me or tolerate me. All I know is that they’ve started putting me in more private rooms instead of the common area. In fact, one day they put me and Michelle in a really private room with its own restroom.
“Ugh. It’s those girls again. They never shut up. Is the that isolated room open? Good. I’ll put them in there.”
My fellow chemo patients don’t seem to mind. A few weeks ago I was set up in a room with one other patient. It was a man and his wife. The man was going to be receiving his chemo for 8 HOURS! Ugh. I’m there for two hours at the most. Eight hours is brutal. He fell asleep shortly after we arrived, and the wife was quietly typing on her laptop.
Michelle and I were talking (duh) about how she had bought our parents a Firestick for their TV and connected it to her Amazon account. My dad wanted to watch the movie “Last Vegas,” about a bunch of old men who go to Vegas, and instead of streaming it or renting it, he bought it. So now Michelle’s Amazon thinks she likes “Last Vegas.”
- “If you like Last Vegas, you might like Grumpy Old Men.”
- “If you like Last Vegas, you might like The Bucket List.”
- “If you like Last Vegas, you might like any recent Robert De Niro movie.”
We were really cracking ourselves up. Then the woman at her laptop started cracking up.
“I’m really enjoying your sister show,” she said.
Two weeks ago there was an older gentleman who was not enjoying the sister show. He was giving us the side eye, but he left after 30 minutes. I assume his treatment was finished for the day, and that he didn’t leave early because of us.
“Ugh! I’d rather die of cancer than listen to these girls and their incessant yapping.” *rips the needle of our his arm and leaves*
I only have five more treatments to go. Maybe I’ll throw a little chemo party in my chair during my last treatment. I’m sure the rest of the infusion center will celebrate after I leave.