“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right ” The Beatles

I think I have turned the corner, but it is a slow walk around the corner for sure! I made so many new friends at the upgraded closet at Hoag. Hoag gets extra points for their wonderful volunteers. I even had a teenager (no lie) ask me if I wanted something to drink or eat! I was asked almost every 10 minutes if I needed ice, blankets, something to read, cookies, or even an offer to get me lunch! Now, there are these unfortunate closet areas at Hoag if you are having a short infusion and they are worse than the ole’ stinky closet in UCLA, but if you are having a staycation infusion/transfusion you get an upgrade! Even in those small closet areas (still missing oxygen), they had a variety of trashy magazines and continual offers of drinks and snacks. On one day (think it was Saturday) when I was in the closet area, I asked if one of the IV machines was a margarita machine. It looked more high tech than the one they had at UCLA, so I was convinced it had to dispense something better than chemo! These volunteers are also very in tune with the patient look of “leave me alone” or “let’s chat”. Of course, I always have that look of please talk to me. So, I made a lot of friends with all the nurses, plus I brought the average age down about 40 years. I also was wearing less giant diamonds than the ladies in the closet area. On my discovery of my red count being so low which required a major dose of blood, I told them my priority to see Alex’s Gold Rush performance. The nurses told me that they are all about family and making memories. It sounded kind of depressing when they said that, but I just focused on what I needed to do to come back in the morning instead of almost spending the night. I watched Alex’s performance which made me smile and at the same time almost cry with  joy of seeing those kids and seeing my friends. Of course, I almost fell asleep and held onto Jim to keep me propped up. I definitely felt about 90 years old. Getting dressed was a major activity and brushing my teeth seemed like I ran a marathon. I looked at my pale face trying to cover it up with makeup until Alex told me I looked sunburned. I looked sick and again, I hate being reminded of the fact that I am being treated for cancer. As my hair was raining on my face and neck, I decided that this rainfall better end soon. Of course, I am back to pre-puberty times and an easy summer without shaving. I definitely was hanging on by a thread, but I tried to not to show it.

Off to my blood party for the day on Wednesday! I dressed in a lot of red even with my red flats as someone noticed and asked if I was expecting spillage. I was greeted by my new friendly nurses (most have kids either in 4th or 5th grade). They walked me to the upgrade room since I was going to be there for about 7 hours. I got the blue plate special or was it the “red” plate of 2 bags o’blood. I was welcomed by 2 gentlemen who told me they weren’t dead yet and told me they loved my shoes. Then, they told me I looked about 30. This was going to be a fun day! The nurses were concerned with the boisterous activity and asked if I wanted to move to the ladies area. Ooh, no way! All I could hear from that area was a lot of whining, moaning, why me, and complaining. No thank you! I stayed in the party area with my new boyfriends. One has stomach cancer and booked authors on book tours. He knew every book that I was either reading or read in the last year! The other one, Dana Point was on a maintenance chemo for lymphoma. He bikes every day all the way to Sunset Beach! I was definitely in the right place. They told me about what they ate and how they wanted to win the most congenial award for chemo, but Jim told them that I would be tough to beat. I think they could beat me, but after a while they were sleeping, so who knows if I really won?! I was being pumped up with Pomona blood that they kept telling me I was a “gansta”. By the way, the upgraded room has such large floor to ceiling windows and you can sense the ocean breeze as you see the palm trees swaying in the wind. They also had fancy chairs and a TV! The nurses had a GIGANTIC station that was 4 times the size of any of the ones at UCLA.  Almost every nurse was there to treat the whole person and not just administer chemo. This was definitely the nurse kingdom without a doctor in sight which was something that I do like about UCLA. After a while, my boyfriends left me as I was getting my 2 for 1 special. The whole blood thing was making me sick to watch and I decided NOT to drink by blueberry smoothie. It was too red, too blue, too blood like…yech! I stuck with the ginger ale delivered every 5 minutes by a volunteer and the cookie pushers were really wanting me to take a dozen Lorne Doone cookies.

The next day, I went for a re-check hoping for no more blood. I did avoid most of the EVs, so I doubted that they stole my new blood. My blood was almost normal, so I was FREE! I am still not quite myself and my doctor has phoned me several times to ask me if I am eating, moving, resting, and getting ready for next week. It is nice to have so many cheerleaders. I have to tell you again how much I appreciate all your great cards, emails, calls, and messages. I even received an email from my new boyfriend. He sent me this photo of these clouds shaped like angels. He saw this the day he was diagnosed and said to me that everyone could use an angel. I know I have many and it is nice to be reminded of all the love that surrounds me. I am reminded of the rule I should follow more often…do what you can today and it is not what you used to do, but what you CAN do now! Please make the most of your day and know that I think about all of you…every day!

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