Tuesday, April 15, 2014

kidneys and cancer



Last night I was at the nephrologist’s clinic and it struck me how different the atmosphere was from when we visit the oncologist.
Cancer is noisy the way renal failure is silent.


Go up to someone, tell them the word cancer. Watch them panic.

Now go up to this person again, and say renal failure. Watch them give you a curious or confused look. Now try saying dialysis. Watch their expression again. Just watch.


***


At the oncologist’s office, it is never quiet. Outpatient departments are noisy. Go on, spend a day at one. You’ll know what I mean.


Cancer day care centres can be the noisiest places in the world. Patients talk to each other. Relatives talk to each other. People just strike up random conversations.


At a hemodialysis centre, people pray. I’m not kidding. They pray. It is quiet. It is crowded but it is quiet. Nobody is really talking to anyone else, although sometimes families that come in together talk amongst themselves. Mine doesn’t. We just sit. Lots of other people just sit as well. Sit. Stare into space. Meet the doctor. Go back home.


***


At the nephrologist’s clinic, I played Guess The Patient with myself. People on dialysis aren’t automatically bald, the way people on chemotherapy are. So you would think this is a more challenging game to play.


The thing is, I am incredibly good at Guess The Patient, and I suspect everyone at the nephrologist’s clinic is good at this game as well.


I can tell who is on dialysis by the way they walk. Yes. Their WALK tells me.


Sigh.


Unbelievable.


***


Maybe the difference is that with chemotherapy you have a plan. Your doctor decides how many cycles of chemotherapy you need; you go through them. You either make it out alive or you don’t. There is a time-frame to this madness, it is definite, and usually, you have a clear idea about how it is going to end. Words and stress collapse into one another and people talk. You can hear the sound of the tension, it is tight, it is rough, it is bursting at the seams, and there is noise.

With dialysis, you float and breathe. There is hope and there isn’t hope.

Dialysis keeps you alive, as long as your kidneys can last. Maybe just a few hours more or just a day more. Or maybe a year. Maybe twenty years. Everything is possible.

I don’t know how this will end, neither do you.

So you reconcile, sit tight and wonder.

Silence is that special space in your head where you imagine the worst and you imagine the best and you sit and watch wide eyed when the two meet and kiss.

Monday, April 14, 2014

baby



Fans and avid readers!

I just want to tell you all that it has been a really, really long time since I have seen anyone using the word “baby” on a real baby.

Who is a real baby? A real baby is a small size lift-able human who is under the age of 2.

Interestingly enough, all babies these days are adults. Grown adults use this term on each other all the time. Lovers call each other baby. Sometimes if you are being hit on by someone, they may call you baby. Or if you are hitting on them you may call them baby. Friends call each other baby, just for the heck of it. Parents call their teenaged kids baby. Sometimes they call their full grown adult offspring baby as well.


Sometimes humans under the age of 2 get referred to as “infants.” This, fans and avid readers, is an academic term, used by airlines and hospitals in their terms and conditions literature. And parents otherwise tend to refer to their offspring under the age of 2 as “my child” or “my son” or “my daughter.” But baby? Naaaaaaah.

No, that’s now reserved for adults.
 




Thursday, April 10, 2014

hair


In winter, you can’t tell a cancer patient from someone who does not have cancer. Especially if you live in a metropolitan city where monkey caps are equal to fashion statements. Every single year. Year after year.

Also, if you are a man on chemotherapy, in all likelihood, it is going to be impossible to tell you apart from a bald man who is not on chemotherapy. Regardless of the season.  

But maybe not regardless of your religion. Maybe then you have the same experience as women.

Because it isn’t the same for women.

Or is it? 


What if you are a woman who covers her hair because of religious reasons? If you lost your hair, would you still cover your head? Then would you be covering your hair or the fact that you don’t have any?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

knicker boxers

When I was really really really young - age four, I believe, they taught us a song in school called "Hey Mr. Knicker Boxers."

Fans and avid readers, here are the lyrics of this song.

Hey Mr. Knicker Boxers!
Box and rocks!
I've got they rhythm and I like to rock!
I've got the rhythm and it's in my head!
Count -
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8!


Yes! This is what they taught us four year olds in school!

Mr. Knicker Boxers!


Except no. I'm just messing with your head. It was Mr. Knicker Bocker. Bocker. Bocker. Yeah, Bocker.

Sorry.


But it would have been so much fun if it was Knicker BOXERS, no?