Tuna Sandwiches and Introspection

Sunday last was my make-up chemo day, as the week before my white blood cell count was too low.  Typically, I go for a blood test the day before treatment but, since it was Saturday, that was impossible.

So, we arose early in the morning and by about 7am were on our way to the hospital to be there by 8am in time for the lab to open.  Now, for the uninitiated, simply arriving on time for the doors to open does not, in and of itself, guarantee immediate service in the Holy Land.  Nay; you must first take a number and wait for your turn to be called. (Mind you: when we were in the hospital last week, we jokingly talked about taking a number then, so as to be ahead of the game come Sunday morning…)  When I took my number, I saw there were two people ahead of me, yet my number was seven after the number displayed on the screen.  Yes, you guessed it.  There were people who came earlier (the previous night?) to ensure their spots on line.

No matter; the wait was minimal, the drawing of blood painless, and it would take about 45 minutes for the results.  In an effort to expedite things, I went immediately to the oncology unit to have my blood pressure and urine checked (both fine), so that when my blood results came in we’d waste no time.

All was good and my meds were ordered.  And that’s when the waiting started.  By about noon we were able to start and, due to the fact that it was a relatively light day, I was able to score the First Class Chemo upgrade and sit in a private room that is actually big enough for a recliner (a term I use very liberally in this case) and two adult-size visitors.  By 3pm we were done and on our way home, along with my take-home 46-hour infuser.

Since Tuesday was Yom Kippur eve and the local clinic wasn’t open for business, we had to arrange for another home visit by the nurse to unhook me.  No problem, because I am incredibly blessed to have some of the most caring healthcare professionals working with me.


Yom Kippur was going to be crap shoot in terms of whether not I’d be able to go to services.  The holiest day of the Jewish year, it’s a 25-hour period of fasting, prayer and introspection.  Fasting, as it has been for the past several years, was imply not an option for me.  To the contrary, I have it on good authority that I am to eat as well as I do any other day of the year.

Going to synagogue was a possibility, but on Tuesday evening it was clear to me that I wasn’t feeling up to it.  And, with my family dutifully attending services, I was left to my own devices.  I’m proud to say that my “fast” lasted all of one hour and fifteen minutes until I felt compelled to swig some Gatorade (dehydration is a HUGE risk post-chemo).  I did, however, spend some time in prayer and introspection.

Wednesday morning was looking up, although venturing outside was still not in the cards and in the afternoon, after a solo “junior congregation” and sandwiches of egg salad and tuna, I was feeling immensely better, hoping to attend the Ne’ilah service – my favorite due to its intensity.  (As an amateur cantor I’ve always loved leading Ne’ilah because of the ability to “leave it all on the field” and not have to worry about saving my voice for anything else…truly a liberating feeling.)  But, thinking about how crowded it would be at synagogue and toying with the idea of wearing a mask, I decided it better to stay home.

All in all, though, it was a good day. I had equal measures of alone time and time with the family.  I had just enough time for introspection, as well as rather weighty conversation with Tammy, during which we arrived at certain conclusions regarding the whole Book of Life business (perhaps fodder for a future post).

Thursday turned out to be a bit more challenging than I had expected (although I’m told it’s always like this and I just don’t remember – kinda like women who “forget” the pain of childbirth?) and, by last night things were much better.  I was able to do some work, help the kids put up the Sukah in advance of the next holiday, and generally reenter the land of living after a somewhat longer-than anticipated furlough due to Neupogen side effects followed immediately by chemo side effects.

And now I get a two-week holiday break before my next scheduled treatment, except this time we’ll be smart and check my white cell count a few days ahead of time to see if Neupogen is needed again.

As always, thanks for reading my ramblings!  Wishing you and yours a great weekend.


About Alan

F---ing Cancer since 2011.
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14 Responses to Tuna Sandwiches and Introspection

  1. shimonlobel says:

    Shana Tova!! Pitka Tova!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. U.d. says:

    Please gd… next year you’ll fast like the rest of us… and I won’t have to have you in my prayers so much.. Regards to you know who….

  3. Annie says:

    Chag Sameach to you and yours Alan.

  4. Ilana & Avi Kohn says:

    Thanks for the post Shabbat SHalom and CHag Sameach, Ilana

  5. Joel Burstein says:

    Shabbat shalom and chag sameach. Always enjoy reading your musings.   Shaya


  6. Rosalyn says:

    Thinking of you and praying for you always!

  7. Chaim silva says:

    חג שמח. Maybe we can stop by to say hi over succot ?

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