“I Love You, Cherri!”
Cherri was an angel that was sent to me in a form of a nurse from – since I don’t believe in God – some awesome place where atheists hang out after they die.
She was a tall, willowy nurse with blondish hair tied in a low pony tail and a perpetual smile on her face and low melodic voice like Sade.
It was time for my next Zoladex treatment and I dreaded this shot like a dog would dread a bath. Or worse.
Last time I had received the shot, I was doubled over in pain and cried in the doctor’s bathroom. Later at home I had burned through the internet and found out that the tech administering the shot last time used a technique that was pictured on the medicine packaging with a big red “do not” sign. It was then that I had decided that she would never ever give me the shot again.
Today, I arrived to the doctor’s office, my head bursting with images of coffee straw sized needles, my teeth clenched, my hands shaking and my eyes wide open in anticipation of what in my mind amounted to medieval torture.
However, this time, I decided to take at least some control of the situation. I approached the sign-in sheet in the chemo infusion room, wrote my name, looked at the nearest nurse and, remembering with disgust my polite and weak requests from the past, decided that a lie, told in a confident voice, would get me the furthest:
“Two weeks ago I talked to Dr. S. and he said someone else than the usual girl is supposed to give me the shot.”
Then my bravado fizzled out and I added:
“Is that possible?” I would have slapped myself if it didn’t look weird. Don’t get weak now! My brain ordered. I stared the nurse in the eye with what I hoped was renewed determination.
“Sure”, she said and smiled, “If you don’t mind getting it here instead of a private room.”
I agreed immediately. Who cared? Everybody had a stomach, I wasn’t special. Curtain or no curtain, I didn’t care. As long as it was a different person.
About 10 minutes later, Cherri, the aforementioned angel, approached with a plastic basket filled with gauze, antiseptic wipes and other medical things that made the doctors’ offices smell like fear.
“So which side are we doing today?” She referred to my abdomen.
I frowned: “Well, the girl before you just stuck all of them here”, I pointed to a couple of red dot scars on the right side of my stomach.
Cherri cocked her head: “No, no, no, we want to give each side a break…so let’s do the left side today.”
I tried to fight the anger that started bubbling in my body. Why the hell didn’t the tech tell me we should alternate sides?
“Would you like some cold spray?” Cherri asked smiling.
I stared at her: “What’s a cold spray?”
“Oh, it’s something to numb your skin a little. You’ve never had it before?” She frowned.
“Uhm…no, but spray away.” I lifted my shirt and held the waist of my jeans down.
Cherri sprayed and I immediately felt a funny fuzzy feeling on my skin as the numbing took effect.
She then prepared the shot. I looked away and felt my heart pound in my chest. I felt my face get hot and I blinked several times. Here it comes, I thought. I pinched my eyes closed and held my breath.
I felt Cherri’s fingers squeeze a little bit of fat on my abdomen, just like the instructions on the box demanded. Then she stuck the needle in.
I opened my eyes in shock. While I felt it and it definitely wasn’t pleasant, this shot felt like a mosquito bite compared to the hornet sting last time. Then I felt the needle slipping out and Cherri putting a band aid over the injection site.
I was lost for words. I just stared at her with a grin on my face, ear to ear.
“Oh my god”, I said, “This was a night and day difference compared to the last time. Thank you!” I was so much in shock that I realized I was still holding my shirt up and my jeans down. I slowly lowered my hands and wanted to scream: I love you, Cherri! I LOVE you, Cherri! I LOVE YOU, CHEEERRIIIII!!!!!
Instead, I asked if I could request her next time and she nodded with that sunny smile. I got up and walked out of the office, waving good-bye at her, still in awe of how easily everything went. Yes, Cherri was my angel and I hope she will be there next time for me again.