Considering the ride the Cancer had taken us on, the transplant was totally un-climatic. The nurse conformed she was my mother, took a small bag of platelet goo and hooked it up to her IV and that was that. She went home a few days later and a month after that, she was fighting to drive herself to her follow up appointments. My mother was a horrible patient.
When you get a bone marrow transplant, all your stuff is rebooted. If you get your marrow/stem cells from someone else, you get their blood type, their allergies and even, someone said, their food preferences. Mom had an Autologous Transplant, meaning her bone marrow was her own so no new blood type but her cells were all brand new. She was essentially a baby again. The nurses even call it her birthday. Neat huh?
As Mom’s caregiver, I was required to attend twelve weeks of classes at the hospital on the transplant processes and her after-care. Week twelve was the after-care session and it happened to fall a few days before Mom got her transplant. In the after-care class, I learned about the shots she’d need to get again, the daily appointments she’d need to attend, changes that might happen in her personality, the fact that the treatment could give her cancer and when she could begin to have sex again.
The doom and gloom followed by this morsel of information was too much. I tried but there is no way I could stop the giggles on that one. I put my head down and pretended to be taking notes as they told me the timeline for my mother sex life. Which means no one saw me totally lose it when they told me SHE COULDN’T HAVE ANAL SEX FOR A YEAR!
Now I’m not sure about you but, as a grown woman, I still get all wiggy when I think of Mom and her boyfriend ‘doing it’ and I have NEVER ONCE considered that she would be doing anything but missionary. (giggle giggle snort) The anal sex statement threw me. I was instantly back in 5th grade when we were learning about vaginas and penises and Thad Whatshisname gave a report on the testicles and I turned bright red and laughed so hard I cried. I couldn’t keep it together then and I couldn’t keep it together now. Everyone else in the class was totally serious, nodding and taking notes. This was a serious situation we were all in with the dreaded Cancer and all but really folks. Anal sex. They were giving us a timeline for our loved ones to have anal sex! Not one smirk at that?
Class finished and I went into the ward, washed hands, gloved and gowned up and snuck quietly into Mom’s room. The room was dark. Mom was half way through getting the horrible nuclear bomb of chemo drugs they give you to kill off all the Cancer. The drugs that also happen to kill off all the other cells so the transplant has a clean slate to start in and it hurts. Her room smelled of whiskey, she had a wicked ‘hangover’ headache and she couldn’t keep her legs still, side effects of one of the last batch of major drugs they had given her. The batch of drugs that included Thalidomide, the drug that resulted in babies born without arms and legs.
I pulled a chair up to Mom’s bed and said hello. She was lucid and in major pain but still Mom. She asked how class was. So I told her.
ME: Well, you’re going to have to get your Measles, Mumps and Rubella shots again. Your treatment might give you cancer. But Mom, the really bad news, you can’t have anal sex for a year.
And Mom said, - without a pause and as dry as it gets -
MOM: Well, you’ll have to tell Boyfriend that.
And we both lost it, laughing hard while her legs danced and I got drunk on her chemo drug fumes.
Happy NINTH birthday Mom! You are truly one of a kind.