There is ritual at the chemo bar. Like any neighborhood joint.
You heard about the place. It has it’s own je ne sais quoi. The first time you walk in there are a bunch of regulars. You think they are looking at you, especially since you are obviously–in your mind–new. Do you go up to the bar? Sit down? It’s not a really big deal, but you hesitate.
Then someone always takes care of you, and you get an idea of the rhythm.
No idiots. No bombs. No shooters. No specials. No politics.
Relax. Drink. Be cool. Behave.
My chemo bar is full of alot of regulars, but the bartenders nurses do their best to make you at home.
There is never any rush at the chemo bar. You choose your seat and someone brings your specialty mix. People are lined up around the perimeter in their heated chairs, some with companions, some alone. Some come in to get a shots or advice. Those are the seats away from the windows.
At first, it seems like a melancholy joint. There’s sick people getting sicker to get better. (Yes, chemo is like being hit by a truck.) And while this is an exclusive guest list, nobody wanted to be waived in.
You wonder if you’re supposed to make eye contact? Nod? So you try it. You start to recognize other folks who recognize you. People nod back. Some smile. You see how the bartenders nurses not only support the patients, but each other. Folks cut up. A little. Okay, some folks cut up.
When you have your last chemo infusion at my chemo bar you can bang the gong. I have seen it done. There is a sense of #winning when someone who has been through grueling treatment is done. Some people are there every week for a few months. Many of them following surgery and maybe radiation.
My last of three chemo treatments was Monday. My former Vegas EMT and current biker chick bartender nurse said I could bang the gong. But I have surgery next. I am not done yet. I didn’t want to make the gods angry by taking an early victory lap.
But, I am glad to have the infusions behind me. I’ll be back for bloodwork for the next few weeks. But under my breath so as not to offend the powers, I will be singing this, since it somehow makes sense.
Well you’re dirty and sweet, clad in black
Don’t look back and I love you
You’re dirty and sweet, oh yeah
Well you’re slim and you’re weak
You’ve got the teeth of a hydra upon you
You’re dirty sweet and you’re my girl.
Yeah. Teeth of a hydra. Bring it on. Bang a gong.