Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/04/16

So That Sucked.

fehFor those of you who have played along with the Flying Elephant for more than a little while, or have read at least my first book, you’ll recognize tonight’s blog title as Chapter 16 of Christopher Moore’s book, The Stupidest Angel, in its entirety.  I’ve quoted the chapter before, mostly because when you’ve taken yet another trip down a long, dark tunnel filled with Twilight Zone-type booby-traps, it pretty much sums the whole shebang up.

As for my weekend?  So that sucked.

For a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed some diminished breath capacity, more coughing, and more exhaustion.  Trust me, I have kept Leora apprised of all of my symptoms.  When you’re Patient #1 on a clinical drug trial protocol, well, let’s just say the human brain can only expand so far into considering its host body is being used a human guinea pig without drawing a line of, I don’t know, panic?, somewhere.  Last week, my focus was much tighter on my right hip, which was causing me considerable pain, which I reported, and which Leora had me have an MRI on later in the week.  Friday, I got the results:  good news= no breaks/fractures; bad news= tumors.  Scary.  I had the option to come off of the study, and meet with an orthopedic surgeon to plan to place a pin in my hip to prevent a break, or to stay on study, but start taking oral morphine.  I know, I know, I’m crazy as a loon without benefit of pharmaceuticals, but I’m never one to pass up a chance to be even MORE fun, so yes, I chose the latter.

Likely unrelated, however, a storm was a-brewin’, and after running an errand and going to lunch with Emily Saturday morning, I was spent (read:  really felt awful), and went home.  In the early evening, my dear friend, and as luck has it, neighbor, Reeta, happened to just kinda call me outta the blue.  I didn’t take the call- too tired.  But I did text her back a little while later, telling her (and I want extra credit bonus points for this, dammit!) that I needed her help and asking if she could come over within the next hour or so.  Of course, she came right over.  And I think I just kind of disintegrated before her very eyes.  By 6:30, I was texting Leora and reporting that I had a fever of 102.  Anyone versed at all in the care or experience of cancer treatment knows that 100.5 is the magic “Get Thee to the ER” number.  I know.  Reeta talked to Leora, and the next thing I knew, she had gotten me to the ER, and there were draw lines going into my veins and shots going into my belly and texting and talking and getting me to a room pretty quickly. I understand there was a backstage crew responsible for a swift ER visit on a Saturday night.  Of course, the triage nurse, who looked a lot like Joe Walsh to me, said that it’s a big lie that weekends are busier than weekdays.  Whatever.  Before I knew what was happening, I was in a room. And there was all that morphine swimming in my feverish system….

Before they whisked me upstairs, the good folks in the ER took a chest x-ray, and I’m not even going to try to lie:  it was really ugly.  Really.  Ugly.  Made me cry.  In front of Reeta.  Just for a moment, but it happened. But upstairs I went, and they announced to me that there was a lot of (duh!) fluid on my right lung, and it would have to be drawn off.  Meanwhile, they started me on antibiotic, and around 3:00 a.m., Reeta (finally) went home, bless her heart!  They let me rest pretty much as much as a hospital lets a person rest for that night, but it was an early freakin’ morning yesterday, lemme tell ya!

I learned a lot.  I learned that CT scans are done through the Emergency Room (a/k/a Emergency DEPARTMENT, or ED) on weekends.  I learned that those test rooms are kept at Arctic temperatures, and that said temps feel REALLY good when one is a post-menopausal woman with cancer and a fever.  I learned that draining fluid off of lungs is a procedure done in the patient’s room, as the patient sits on the edge of a bed.  I learned what fluid drawn off of a lung looks like, and if I tell you, most of you, especially Southerners, will be pissed off at me for a long time.  Not gonna risk losing friends at this stage of the game.  I learned a lot about the procedure to draw off fluid, and that they stop trying to draw it off if you cough too much, meaning you have to have more drawn off the next day.

The whole episode to this point, Sunday night, sucked so loudly even a wordsmith like me would hire Stephen King to write it well.  I kept trying to put my finger on what was so upsetting.  Was it the fact that this might not be pneumonia, but rather a lot of malignant pleural fluid that means a change, yet again, in my protocol and possibly scary advance of my disease?  Yes, but…. Was it the worry that if I died yesterday, the electric bill might not get paid on time, and I ALWAYS pay on time?  Yes, but….Was it just the damn stinkin’ fact of this damn stinkin’ lung cancer that’s kind of started to take on a posture of its own in the past few months?  Yes, but…. Was it the horrible look of concern in my friends’ and especially my KIDS’ eyes when they visited me?  Yes, of course, but….  Was it the frustration of having absolutely no cell service in my hospital room?  Absolutely, but…  It was so very many horrible things and yet, I could NOT for the life of me put my finger on what was really eating away at me.

Until 12:50 this morning.  I had been soundly sleeping, yet dreaming narcotics-induced dreams of dancing Statues of Liberty, children at a birthday party wearing clown masks, eating mint chocolate chip ice cream cake and brandishing real guns, running all over a house killing one another, big thunderstorms, airshows, and my kids all pointing and laughing at me, when I was completely awakened by a voice.  The voice, female, was right outside my hospital room door.  Loudly, it said, “Leave me alone!  Leave me the HELL alone.  RIGHT NOW!  What am I gonna do, run away?  Every damn door is locked!”  A muffled voice of a nurse or care partner was then heard, and both voices faded away.

It cracked me up.  Here was what was missing:  blog fodder!  Something to write about, something to describe for you.  So for the next hour, as I tried in vain to go back to sleep, I replayed the episode in my addled brain so I could describe it to you clearly:  The voice belonged to a woman, clearly on the other side of close to my age.  I could picture her, a silver-haired Southern Belle, who obviously did not suffer from a broken hip or anything, in her own robe, her hair done up right in the same bob, puffy style she’d been wearing since 1964.  I imagined her in ’64, playing cards with her Belle Meade fru-fru set, sipping her cocktails, both before AND after dinner, enjoying a cigarette or 12 during the course of a day.  She seemed, to me, to have had her share of waiters fired from the Country Club dining room, and possibly had been married more than once.  She never ever divulged her age, but knew everyone else’s.  She took no crap from anyone at any time, but if she served it up to you, you’d best take it.  And like it.

As I focused on what the woman who belonged to the voice might look like, a heavy weight lifted off me, not just from fluid drained out of my back.  It occurred to me that I had needed the diversion of my imagination, and I had needed something to bring a little levity into an otherwise horrible weekend.  Horrible.  God bless that crazy hall-wanderer in the wee hours of the morning for providing me with what I needed most:  a little laughter.

I’m so grateful for a lot of things and a lot of you this past weekend:  my kids of course, Reeta, Amy I. who texted me  when I was in the ER with some sort of “feeling” that something was wrong, Joan D-W and Jane G who got the Facebook prayer chains cookin’, Kim P. for posting on my site and my FB page to help keep y’all in the loop, each of you who send ’em up to Dude, Big Dude when I need a boost, and forgive me if I’ve left you off the list in particular, but I’m gonna stop here because I’m tired and I have to not ramble so much.   Because here’s the “punchline” to this whole shaggy dog tale.  I hope that when it really comes my time to leave this place, I do so the way I sought to bring each of my babies into this world:  with laughter.  It kinda seems to me that it wouldn’t suck quite so much that way.

I’ll get my test results and know a lot more on Wednesday, so likely I’ll send out another missive then.  For now, I’m going to turn off my light and sleep in my own bed.  Maybe there will be more dancing Statues of Liberty.  At least that would be funny!

Love and so much appreciation,

Teri, the So That Sucked Flying Elephant




  1. Thank you for sharing your blog with the world. It has the power to reach everyone who is dealing with “junk”…

  2. Catherine-
    Much peace to you and your noble father! May results be great for him and bring knowledge and healing to many!
    Bless you both,

  3. Terri,
    I was online looking up the trial drug, that my father (78) has “nobly and admirably” volunteered to be a part of, when I came across your “Flying Elephant” blog. First and most importantly, my prayers are now with you. Secondly, I am purchasing both of your books for my father who is now “Living in the Land of Lunk Junk”.
    I know my father has other options available to him, but has decided to partake in this research drug. It scares me that it is a phase 1 study, but with knowing God well enough, to be able to trust HIM when I don’t understand, I know there is nothing to do but pray and have HOPE!
    I HOPE you are having a blessed day! Thank you for your inspiring messages.
    With much love,

  4. Sometimes I miss the old fashion way you would blog, when you sent emails and I felt this exclusive connection that I know kept me going in some of my darkest hours. And now, in your darkness I offer you my prayers and my hope.

  5. Thanks so much for continuing to write and for finding the feisty socialite as your muse! Trying to dial up the Big Dude (or connect wirelessly) and hoping for all the best for you. Best, Kathy C

  6. Teri,

    I haven’t read your book yet but will after reading this post. I hope you will be well enough to go to the Hope summit in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to meeting you.

  7. Teri, thanks be to God that you are home and in your own bed after all you have been through in the hospital this weekend. you’re right, sound like it really sucked. Thinking about you often and hoping and praying you’re on the up and up and sleep well tonight.


%d bloggers like this: