Posted by: donrhymer | April 26, 2012


PALOOZA – An extravagant party lasting several days, often consisting of debauchery outside the norms of everyday acceptable behavior. Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, increase in sexual appetite and temporary hair loss, usually confined to when someone “snatches a bitch’s weave.”

CHEMOPALOOZA – An extravagant odyssey often lasting several days consisting of medically induced torture outside the norms of the Geneva Convention. Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sexual ambiguity, and temporary hair loss, usually confined to clumps coming out by the handful while you are applying your citrus-aloe infused crème rinse.

After last week’s chemotherapeutic debacle, we begin anew with different drugs. Taxotere and Carboplatin where kicked to the curb and off the bench came Cisplatin and 5 Fluorouracil. I know, every time I tell people what drugs I am on I feel like I am announcing pairs figure skating teams from Belarus.

It took about fourteen hours in the day hospital at USC to sufficiently poison Don. I finished a book, read two newspapers and watched an entire Dodger game. Kate on the other hand spent much of the day two feet away from me, one hand on the Nurse’s call button. She was determined I would not code on her watch. Her diligence was rewarded; my only responses to medication all day were two burps and a fart. Which of course, I promptly blamed on the Charge Nurse.

My doctor assured me that switching out the drugs was a wash, both combos have proven equally effective and as far as side effects, I was trading out total hair loss for double the toxicity.  Which is how I think they should advertise – “Cisplatin, none of the hair loss, yet twice the vomiting.”

Cisplatin is an old dear friend, I was on it for nine weeks two years ago so I am well aware of it’s demons, but 5 Fluorouracil is a new one to me. Street named 5-FU, cause “FU up” it indeed does. Fluorouracil is deemed so toxic that they put you on a pump that only infuses at a rate of about half a tablespoon an hour over four days.

My Oncologist – who is definitely warming to me – told me it was delivered via a pump that looks a lot like an iPod. Just clip it on your hip and everyone will think you’re some techie walking around with the latest smart phone. I was convinced that being on chemo this time might actually make me look cooler than I already am. Which let’s be honest, is pretty damn cool.

Trust me, it does not look like an iPod. When the pharmaceutical team came into my room yesterday to show me how to use it, they whipped out a damn baby bottle with what looked like a condom filled with poison inside. Instead of clipping smartly to my hip, they gave me a nylon fanny pack-holstering device, which I am now tethered to for the next four days.

There is nothing remotely cool about walking around with one of these. It looks like it was designed by a couple of stoners after the bong water turned. I am not kidding, it may be the biggest sexual turn off since black socks and sandals. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror naked, wearing only the “nylon-chemo-fanny-pack-holster” and I gotta be honest, I don’t think “I” could ever have sex with me again.

The 5 FU is not pumped into my body with a motor, but somehow through a sensor that is activated by my body temperature. As long as I stay normal, it infuses at 2cc’s an hour. If I get cold it slows down, if I overheat it speeds up. So basically if I fall asleep in a tanning bed, I will lapse into a coma… so I got that going for me. Which is nice.

As my Chemopalooza begins, who knows what gift each day will bring. As in mileage, your side effects will vary, but what I don’t understand is why all side effects are bad? Shouldn’t there accidently be great side effects too? “Cisplatin – side effects include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, increased athletic ability, six pack abs, speaking French fluently and the sudden ability to hit a high C.”

Is that really too much to ask for?



  1. I love the idea of positive side effects. Could be mind control, the ability to fly short distances, a prehensile tongue. Each new drug unleashes a new ability. There’s a great screenplay in there. I’ll call Jim Carrey.

  2. I skated with Cisplatin in the ’84 Olympics. He had strong arms for lifting. I was a few pounds heavy at the time so his strength was welcome, but he was a terrible partner, and after throwing me into the stands a few times we were disqualified. Glad to see he’s made something of himself by becoming a chemo drug. Toxic drip then, toxic drip now.

  3. A stellar performance, my friend…

  4. Well the way I see it, if Kate is maintaining such vigil over the call bell, you must be looking a lot cooler than you let on. But perhaps ban all mirrors other than those that reflect back your perfectly sculpted six pack abs.
    Keep shooting for that middle, or high C (why not). The world awaits such
    positive breakthroughs. You guys are already breaking the mold. In spite of having to endure the harsh world of chemoplooza once again, it seems you want to make the rest of us feel better about it. Your letters are just stunning. The human condition, even under duress, is largely one of perspective. If possible, your humor just keeps getting sharper.
    Hmmm A side effect, maybe? Be well soon. xox Ann B

  5. is it wrong that i marvel at your prose every single entry? i wish i was that funny fully healthy. glad you got thru this one (a little more) unscathed. will keep checking back.

  6. Well done on the Carl Spackler reset.

  7. you sure your oncologist and a few bored Filippino nurses aren’t just making this stuff up? Like, “Yeah, call it FU! (bahaha…), use this cheap fanny thing NPR sent me after their last pledge drive, and tell him he has to wear it for a few days – we’ll call it a ‘nylon-chemo-fanny-pack-holster’!”

    hang in there, my good friend… B.

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