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Confused and then Infused - by Kenneth Lourie


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Confused and then Infused

February 18th, 2014 - by Kenneth Lourie

Since March 6, 2009, nearly five years now, save for nine months when I was taking an oral chemotherapy medication at home, every three weeks I have been infused with some sort of chemotherapy drug. In that time, I have certainly become familiar and fairly well-known to the various staff at The Infusion Center. What follows is the most recent exchange with the receptionist in Oncology, as best as I can recall it.

Receptionist: “Hello, Mr. Lourie. How are you”?

Me: “Lovely. Happy to be here.”

Receptionist: “That’s nice.”

Me: “Actually, I’m not happy to be here. I mean I’d rather not be here. But since I’m here, it’s better that I’m here than not here, as in unable to get here because I’m not here anymore.”

Receptionist: “I understand.”

Me: “Really? Because I’m not sure I understand. I know what I’m thinking, but…What I mean to say is that I don’t want to be coming here to the Infusion Center, because that means I’m being treated for cancer. But if I do have cancer, I guess I’m happy to be still alive, in order to be able to get here for treatment.”

Receptionist: “I understand.”

Me: “I think I’m confused. I don’t want to be coming here because I have cancer. I’d rather not be coming here at all. But since I have cancer, I suppose I’m glad I’m able to still get here. I think I’m going around in circles.”

Receptionist: “No, you’re fine. I understand completely.”

Me: “Really. ‘Cause I’m not sure I do. It seems like I’m talking to myself, repeating myself. I’m a writer and often I use double-entendres in my column, which seems sort of what I’m doing here. Although I’m not intending it. I was more realizing/thinking aloud as to why I was here, whether I wanted to be here and the reasons why I was fortunate – so to speak, to even still be here and/or how unfortunate I was to be here being treated for terminal lung cancer – as opposed to being healthy and not needing to be here. I feel as if I’m rambling here. Am I making any sense?”

Receptionist: “Not to worry. (Smiling, laughing.) I do understand exactly what you’re saying.”

Me: “I’m not sure I do. Maybe I should just stop talking and sit down and wait for Ron (my oncology nurse) to come and get me.”

Receptionist: “Ron’s running late. He’s stuck in traffic. He’ll be here soon.”

Me (to myself): Great (chagrined.) I suppose I should probably stop pacing then and just sit down and try to relax. I’m here. I’m checked in. Besides, I have to be ready for my blood pressure check. If my vitals (and/or lab results, appearance, etc.) are not normal, protocols will prevent any infusion today (which has happened to me twice; very disappointing, especially considering that you think your life depends on receiving the treatment that day).

If the patient doesn’t pass muster, however, the oncology nurse has no choice: there will be, to invoke the “Soup Nazi” from “Seinfeld”: “No chemo for you.”

Fortunately, for this infusion, I have once again managed to “Pass the audition,” as John Lennon so famously joked at the end of the live roof-top version of The Beatles’ song “Get Back” at the end of the “Let It Be” album.

Life goes on though – for me, thank God!, despite my confusion. Thanks to the staff for continuing to take me in stride.

What’s your treatment day like?


“This column is my life as one of the fortunate few; a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it.”

Mr. Lourie’s columns can be found at www.connectionnewspapers.com. (key word, Lourie)

Read Kenneth Lourie’s 1st LUNGevity blog post & bio.


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