“Put the wet stuff on the hot stuff, and put that fire out….” it is part of the song the ‘firemen recruits’ perform in Legoland’s “The Big Test” show. A song I can perform by heart after seeing Trevor do this show for six years. Then, Michelley in the same show. And, now, it is Michael and Christopher’s turn!
Trevor will not be available for Legoland much during his second season at Cirque de la Mer. This created an opening and an immediate need. An audition was announced and held with a good number of acrobats attending.
And, Michael made it.
At this same time, the part of Chief was opening as well. The part that had four or five actors already committed and entrenched in this position for years. The part that Chris said he would love to do after seeing the show for the first time. Some day. Maybe. Knowing this would most likely never happen. Not with a cast this deep for just one main role.
Sometimes, impossible things can suddenly become most possible.
The Entertainment Department put out the call. An audition for Chief. The other four actors suddenly had other gigs elsewhere, or moved over to other shows at Lego. Chief was open. Another audition was held. Chris answered the call.
And, Christopher made it.
Michelley and Trevor are out and Michael and Chris are in. I guess I will be hearing the ‘wet stuff on the hot stuff’ for a bit longer. Before Trevor leaves for Cirque I get to see all three brothers perform together. It would have been awesome if Michelley had been here to perform with them. They are all so good at their parts. I can never tire of this show and seeing my kids performing in it. The song, however, is another story. It sticks in my head.
For days later.
I pull the bottom of my shirt away from my body, creating a fan, and try not to let it rub my skin too much. My burnt skin. This song goes through my mind over and over as I wait for Dr. K to enter. I wish it were that easy, to just put the wet stuff on the hot stuff.
I am on fire.
We had expected the chemo to boost the side effects of radiation. Doing both at once, necessary, but, not part of the original plan. Dr. K said it would amplify the side effects from radiation.
I do not think she expected it to burn quite this bad.
I am crying all of the time. Even though I am not actually crying. I am not sad. My eyes are crying. Tearing. Welling up my lower lids and spilling over. Unannounced. Unwelcome.
Like a little old lady, I do not travel farther than a few steps away from the nearest box of tissues. I look around this doctor’s examination room and can not believe that there is not one box of Kleenex any where. I gingerly maneuver a little wad of tissue I have stuffed in my jeans pocket. Still damp and falling apart. I am using this to dab my eyes when Dr. K enters.
We say our usual hellos. She does ask how Trevor is doing and smiles, but we skip the usual hugs. I lift my shirt so Dr. K can take a look at her piece of art, a left boob disfigured by cancer and re-designed by her radiation therapy. Burned by radiation. She looks up to see my tears, she rubs my arm and pats my hand. There is a look of guilt in her eyes.
“Oh, I am not crying,” I tell her as I try to find a dry spot on my wad of Kleenex with one hand as I hold up my shirt with the other, “it is just the chemo.” Pieces of tissue have stuck to my face. I can see a piece on the one eye lash left after the second round of going bald.
Dr. K brushes off the tiny flecks of tissue still stuck to my cheek, “Oh, Lori,” she does a little tsk tsk with her tongue, “we sure put you through it, didn’t we?” She tells me to go ahead and pull my shirt back down while she goes to get Dr. L. “I would like her to see this if you don’t mind?”
At this point in time, baring my breasts for another nurse or doctor is no longer an issue. Much in the way my modesty flew out the window with each baby I had nursed. My first born and I would make a comical scene with the baby blanket over my head so that we could privately nurse in public. One big nursing tent. By the time baby number five, the last, came along, I was whipping up my shirt, exposing everything, to nurse while standing in the grocery store check-out line. I wasn’t about to lose my place in line. Not after shopping with five kids. Who cares if anyone saw my breast.
So, what’s one more doctor that I have yet to meet asking me to lift my shirt?
I fiddle with the thread that is fraying at the bottom of my shirt. It is old and loose. Like a favorite pajama top. It feels good. Worn. A bare film over my bare breasts. The burn is too bad for anything tight or for any bra wearing. I look down at my hands and see new nail growth. In spite of the radiation burn, there is new growth. In the aftermath of a forest fire, a tiny tree begins to bud. My growing nail buds feel like this. I am happy as Spring to see them, even though I’ve already learned to do without fingernails, hiding paperclips in several inconspicuous places around the house. The paperclips do the duty of fingernails. I grab the paper clip I have attached with a leather strap to my purse.
I’ll just use this to clean under my new nails while I wait.
The two ladies enter. Two radiologists. Dr. K enters first with her little legs and short black hair curling around her face exposing the red dot on her third eye. Everything about her says doctor. She even wears the white coat and stethoscope. Dr. L towers over Dr. K. Nothing about this woman spells doctor. Her loud German or Russian accent, I can not tell the difference, booms over the top of Dr. K’s head. She wears loud, attention grabbing clothes. Tight skirt over gray, mesh stockings, high heels, flowery blouse and bright yellow cardigan sweater. Something seen in a fancy dress shop, not in a professional office. Certainly not the usual doctor’s attire. Her blond hair, done up in an old fashioned French twist adds to her stature. Clearly, Dr. L is the boss of this place.
I am lifting my shirt before they even close the door.
I watch eyes widen. They both take a step back. In unison. A practiced dance step. Only, both doctors agree this is something new for them. “You probably see this all of the time, right?” I am looking for confirmation that my burn is not really so bad. Dr. L is slowly shaking her head back and forth. A sort of disbelief gesture. Dr. K answers for them both,
“No. This is the worst I have seen in my career. In in in, both of our careers?” She looks to Dr. L for an answer.
Dr. L just keeps shaking her head back and forth as if in a trance, “oh, oh, right, right.” She looks to Dr. K, eyes still wide. “Aquaphor, she should be putting Aquaphor on this.” They both nod. I say I am. We stare at each other a bit longer. Dr. L watches tears stream down my face as I dab at them with the same wet spit-wad of a tissue. “She is not crying”. Dr. K explains to Dr. L, “it is just the chemo.” She looks back at me as she is turning Dr. L around, “you can put your shirt down.” They scurry out of the small room like a couple of kids who suddenly realize that playing with matches actually does start fires.
“Put the wet stuff on the hot stuff…..”
Dr. K comes back in. Alone this time. “As soon as we let this rest a bit,” she is sitting in her rolling chair now and facing me. Close. Dr. K grimaces, “We will need to schedule a few more rounds.” She winces, “Boosters.” I am not alarmed, but I ask, “is this because the first round did not work?” I do not know why I am asking. I know with my ‘Knowing like a feather perched in my soul’, that it did, in fact, work.
I know that the cancer is gone.
“No, no. This is something that I had planned. Although, I did not plan on burning you quite so bad.” I think I hear her say ‘damn chemo’ under her breath. But, I may have just imagined that part.
I know I am not imagining the sadness in her eyes.
I tell Dr. K that it is okay. It is not so bad. This stuff passes. I show her my new nails beginning to stretch up the nubs of my fingers. I pull back my hat and rub my head for her to see the new sprouts of coarse little hair buds. It all passes. We are on a journey and this is just a bumpy part of the road.
This new hair growth is different than the first time it started growing back. This time, I don’t have fear that cancer is sprouting along with them. It’s just not there.
I tell Dr. K that it has all been worth it because the cancer is gone. And, that she can do another ‘booster’ round if it makes her feel better. “don’t worry,” I say as we exit the examination room together, “the cancer is gone but, I will just keep coming so that you can keep your job.” We both laugh.
But, I actually mean it.
Watching my boys so happy to be performing is the most healing remedy. Think I will go get a Legoland shopper’s pass. A free pass into the park for one hour of shopping. And, I’ll just peek at another Big Test show.
Maybe even shop for a new coffee mug for Dr. K while I am there.