Cruising on crazy

December 14, 2011

With Papa and Mimi continuing to climb in years, I knew that we were eventually going to have deal with geriatric problems, and I was prepared… for something like Dementia, Pickled Liver, Ingrown Toenail, Acute Cantankerousness, Tennis Elbow.

I was not prepared for Papa’s news—Papa who rides his bike all over town and who eats three square meals of antioxidants a day and who pickets in front of fast food row on New Year’s Day with a sign that reads, “You Bastards are killing America.”

It came in the form of an e-blast to about 200 people right before Thanksgiving:

I’ve been diagnosed B-cell Lymphoma that was discovered after a visit to the doc for swelling in lower abdomen.  Still have not had any real pain from the tumor.   Saw oncologist yesterday.  He is a bike rider.  I’ve got treatments for 18 weeks.  Doc say I have an 80 percent chance of dying from something else. . . kind of like playing Russian roulette with a 5-shot revolver.

So do NOT send flowers or start looking for a new boyfriend.

This cancer is not genetic or lifestyle related. Apparently, in some people, your blood cells don’t get enough vodka and start building a tumor to make their own brew.

I’m having a martini to keep them happy.

Cancer is not what I thought it would be.  I thought maybe Papa would get a script for Wacky Weed and that we would ship the little Beans off for a while and sit around eating brownies or smoke doobies and sing Kumbaya.

Instead we got up last Wednesday and went to a place called an infusion room, and Nurse Brenda hooked Papa up to an IV and started filling him up with a cancer drug that’s made up of proteins, one of which is a mouse protein.

“Mouse,” gentle reader, is a delicate word for rodent or rat, and it must have been a real nasty wharf rat because Papa got the shakes.

Then a couple of nurses plied him with warm blankets and Demerol, and I held his hand and told him knock-knock jokes that I’d heard from Jax.  The knock-knock jokes and the Demerol weren’t doing such a hot job, and the nurse added some Ativan.

At that point I started to get the shakes, and asked for Ativan, but I think Nurse Brenda thought I was kidding.  Then the poor nurse’s aide who seemed to be a few French fries shy of a Happy Meal and who kept coming around with the blood pressure machine every 20 minutes, took Papa’s blood pressure, and it was something crazy low, like 68/40, and I said, “Isn’t that kind of low?”

And the poor woman just looked at me vacantly, like maybe she’d been doing Demerol and Ativan too.  And then I looked at Papa, and his eyes were rolling back in his head, and I went screaming down the corridor for Nurse Brenda, and before you could blink an eye, there were about 20 women and an oxygen tank standing in front of Papa, and then he was awake.

“Where’s the vodka?” he asked.  “You can’t have a party without vodka.”

And then he smiled.  “Getting old is hell, girls.  Don’t do it.”

And then the girls, some of whom were old as dirt, all laughed and flirted with Papa, and Papa, who loves to be the center of attention, preened under his oxygen mask.

It was a long, long day.  And there were more drugs after they finished up with the rat proteins and then came the chemo—two monster size-tubes of something that looked like what I would think Agent Orange looks like.  Nurse Brenda donned a biohazard suit and sat down beside Papa and shot him up.

Then we went home, and I started slugging wine, and Papa started popping pills.  You pop a lot of pills when you get cancer, and the next day Papa puked his guts up.

We’re fine now except that the damn cruise control is stuck on crazy, and I’ve been running around Chloroxing Maison Bean because Papa is supposed to lose all of his white blood cells, and we’ve got 16 more weeks of this shit.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela December 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Jenny, this was funny as ever it could be about a serious topic, but I think it is only fair thatI tell you, I’m crying. Hug Papa for me. And make sure he hugs you back really tight.

Jenn December 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Pamela, if you don’t laugh, you gotta cry, so we’re trying to laugh. Will hug him extra tight. XOXO

Tara December 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Extra hugs for Papa during this difficult time. Vodka and Maxeran work great together to help with nausea (noted from experience). Praying for you.

Heather December 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Made the mistake of reading this at work. I just read it again and it had the same effect. I am not doing a good job of fighting back tears for you, papa, and your family, maybe because I love you so much, maybe because only you could write so damn well (funny) about such a dreadful topic, maybe because it truly puts everything into perspective. Sending prayers, love, and a huge virtual hug!

Jenn December 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Tara: I’m sure Papa will be glad to hear about that! Thanks for the prayers!

Heather: No tears. Love, prayers, and virtual hugs are happily accepted. Papa is a tough old bird. He’s going to be fine.

portia December 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Yes, Papa will be fine, because he has his girls looking after him! And because my world requires a Papa in it! Prayers continuing, and you know I have connections….

Jenn December 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Girl, call ’em in! XOXO

Ally December 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Tears. And giggles. Lots of giggles at the vision of him surround by all the girls and playin’ it up, coming to and asking for vodka, wharf rat proteins. Laughter really is the best medicine at times like that. We’ve done that treatment route with family members. You all have lots of prayers, hugs and positive thoughts headed your way! I can’t imagine a something like lymphoma getting the best of Papa. Not a chance in hell. 🙂

Jenn December 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Ally: not a chance in hell. Thanks for your prayers, love, and positive thoughts. Much love.

Irene December 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Only you can take a situation like this and find a bit of humour in it. I do believe it’s the bodies or minds way of coping with a horrible situation. To protect oneself from the sadness and depression.

Think of me as you hold Papa’s hand that I’m there too. You and your family are in my thoughts! I wish I could do more for you and Papa and the little Beans.

“a few French Fry away from a Happy Meal” LMAO! That was funny! I have to remember that!


Jenn December 15, 2011 at 7:08 am

Thanks, Irene. That means a lot. XOXO

McKenzie December 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers to Maison Bean.

Jenn December 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Thank you, McKenzie!

Betsy at Zen Mama December 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Oh Jenn and Papa! I’m so sorry!! Your sense of humor will definitely get you through this. Whenever something bad happens to me I start thinking, “Hmmm… this will make a great blog post.” Looking forward to reading and hearing good news at the end. Papa, you’re in my prayers.

Loved your writing! You’re really a great writer. I still see a book in all these posts.

Sandra December 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Ok…going to sound cliché here so brace yourself for very unoriginal words here, HOWEVER, fighting cancer is partly attitude. Papa has the right attitude…and ‘mouse’ protein? Can’t hurt right. Think of that little rodent bastard Jerry. In all of those episodes, he always beat the crap out of Tom.
….so sorry you guys have to go through this. Cancer is a bitch. I’ll send you some knock knock jokes! xoxo

Shannon December 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Jenn, I somehow missed this – I’m so glad I’m going back to try to catch up on everyone’s blogs now!

I’m keeping Papa Bean and the rest of you all in my prayers. Finn’s wearing his F*ck Cancer shirt tonight in his honor!

Kristy K. James December 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm

When I finally got my computer back and virus free, yours was one of the blogs I most looked forward to catching up on. I wish this hadn’t been on the catch up list, but I will pray for Papa Bean, and the rest of you. And Sandra is right. Attitude goes a long way in the outcome of a cancer diagnosis. I’ve known people who kept a good attitude through the fight and others who just gave up. Those with the good attitudes had a much better outcome.

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