Delayed Intensification

Well, here we are.  Delayed Intensification.  Two days after Payson was diagnosed, a couple of doctors came into his room, and they had business on their mind.  You could tell they had business on their mind, because they sidled into the room like very debonair ninjas, silent walking, yet smiling, intent on befriending you before slicing you open with their medical knowledge.  After the somewhat awkward chit chat that consisted mainly of talking about Payson’s bowels, they got to the main event.

They wrote the plan for the next 8 months on the board – Induction, Consolidation, Interim Maintenance, Delayed Intensification, Inter… HOLD ON!!!

DELAYED INTENSIFICATION???? That sounds bad.  Like something they try to slip in during the side effects portion of a Cialis ad.  Immediately, immediately, I thought, I don’t like the sound of Delayed Intensification.

Wendy thinks it sounds like something from Tomorrowland at Disneyland, only if Disneyland was run by Jack Kevorkian.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Delayed Intensification!  Please keep your arms, hands, and feet inside the vehicle for as long as you remain conscious…”

I think Delayed Intensification sounds maybe like something to do with a super excited 22 year old Mormon guy going on his honeymoon, without realizing how much time he’ll spend the first year of his marriage just hugging his wife in silence for hours on end while she sobs into his shoulder about some fatal error he didn’t realize he made.

Also, Delayed Intensification has the same initials as Danny Inkley.  DI.  The only other thing that also shares our initials is Deseret Industries.  I’m not sure what the three of us have in common, but I’m thinking it has something to do with rashes.

So anyway, we haven’t really looked forward to Delayed Intensification.  Doctors and Nurses and parents who’ve been through this have sort of generally referred to how things get a little harder in “other phases,” but they never really like to say which phase by name.  It’s like the Voldemort phase of Leukemia treatments.

So with it being “a little harder” but “undefined,” we sort of used our “imaginations” to conjure up “worst case scenarios,” such as “Payson” becoming a “vampire” and eating our neighbor’s “cats” underneath a “full moon” while listening to “Celine Dion” and drinking “coffee.” An imagination can only take so much horror.

Well, here we are, DI, and the actual stuff we need to worry about seems a little less scary but totally and completely sucky – tiredness, lethargy, lack of motivation, a general distrust of the world and everything in it.  All of these things describe Payson’s dad on most days when there’s not football on TV, so it’s like, OK.

Oh, and maybe, also, maybe just “a little nausea.”

That’s what we heard at the first DI treatment today – maybe “a little nausea.”

“No problem,” we thought. “We have a Taco Bell close, and we are no stranger to the Crunchwrap Supreme, so ‘a little nausea’ is right in our wheelhouse.”

However, have you ever heard of something called the Gallon Challenge?  The Gallon Challenge is an age-old tradition practiced by Mormon missionaries on P-Day and other super bored people with nothing else to do, wherein an otherwise healthy person chugs a gallon of milk and then inevitably spews the gallon of milk out of every orifice in their head like a Play Doh Doctor Drill ‘N Fill.  The healthy person must chug the milk within a 30 minute window, and then keep it within the confines of their own digestive tract for 60 minutes.

It’s impossible to accomplish.  I mean, I’ve heard tell that some humans have been able to complete the Challenge, but I don’t believe it, unless they have four stomachs like a cow, which I think would technically make them not really a human anymore, but I’m no Bill Nye.

Anyway, virtually every non-bovine person who has attempted the Gallon Challenge can tell you in detail what it would feel like to swallow a handful of those dinosaur sponges that you used to take into the bathtub with you, and then have them activated inside your stomach.  The milk expands like Oprah during her off phases.  It’s uncontainable, like Taylor Swift’s new single, and the projectile nature of the partially curdled milk pouring from the head of a fellow healthy human is super exciting for even the most hardened of super bored Mormon missionaries.

Anyway, the point is, that since Payson has been home from his first DI treatment this morning, it’s become clear that part of his chemo today involved chugging a gallon of milk.  He’s barfing so much I think he might create a new orifice somewhere on his head in order to relieve pressure.  That might be cool, but it’s not really one of the side effects that we thought were included in “a little nausea.”  But you live and learn!

And through it all, through every bit of today, he’s cheerful and bright eyed and singing. Up yours, Leukemia!

Also during his treatment today, they knocked him full out again to treat his spine.  They call it a Lumbar Puncture, which is another term I’m pretty sure they just made up.  I sincerely believe that the nurses aren’t actually treating him while he’s under, but they are just tired of the flirting and tired of courtesy laughing.  Why else would a rational person possibly need to knock out a seven year old kid nine times in four months?

Treatment from here on during DI is weekly for the next two months, except for this week he gets an extra treatment on Monday because the nurses don’t think he’ll be able to come up with a bunch of pickup lines in the span of four days, so they’ll be safe.


So, Thursdays are treatment days for the next eight weeks, but it’s all count dependent, so they take his blood a day before and make sure he’s up to it.  If not, they delay him a week, and he has another seven days to Google “How can I get my cute nurse’s phone number?”

During this phase, he gets like five medicines, but I think the highlight is a new medicine that sounds like “Datsun Bluebird.”  This fun new medicine is a red liquid that turns his pee red and may damage his heart.  I’m not sure which of those is worse.

He also gets reacquainted with Asparaginase (which is known as the Asparagus of Cancer Fighting Medicines) and Dexamethasone (which is a steroid that makes him look like he’s a 65 year old retired public accountant with white orthotic shoes and a timeshare in Boca Raton).  These two medicines are so great, so familiar, so much fun to have around, that nurses call them “Peg” and “Dex.”  Awesome nicknames.  Peg and Dex. Sound like a couple of old pals, right, Peg and Dex?  A couple of people you want to go bowling with, a couple of folks that you take on trips with you because of their harmonies around the campfire, a couple of salt of the earth gems that don’t mind if you accidentally break wind in the car.

So, DI.  Peg, Dex and the gang.  Projectile vomiting like the chick in Pitch Perfect.  Sleep patterns like a sloth in the summer.  Here we are.

As we’ve watched these freaking hurricanes do unthinkable damage, it’s made me think a little of this DI thing.  We’ve dreaded it since we knew about it, there’s nothing we can do to stop it, we’ve prepared as much as we can for it to hit, and we’re going to do our best to endure it.  These massive hurricanes form far away, they move along at a ground speed of like 18 mph, other people rally to help, they intensify and threaten and bring totally impossible damage, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except endure.

I’ve never been in a hurricane, but I figure they hit, they leave a permanent mark, and somehow you’re better for having been through it. There’s always always always light on the other side and, someday, ocean breezes lazily blowing over a beach in paradise.

Prayers to all the people impacted by the hurricane.  Let’s Kick This Pig.