Wok on the Road

I love our electric wok. It sat forgotten and alone in a kitchen cabinet for years, unused and unappreciated. One day in early June I heard a whisper. “Open the cabinet. Yes, this one, way over in the corner.” When I did and saw the black electric wok with its clear glass lid, a bright idea flashbulb popped.

The wok has gone on the road. It has become an essential tool for making our suppers when we have to stay at the Inn at Mayo in Jacksonville for Tom’s chemo. I’ve sauteed chicken thighs with shallots and mushrooms, cooked yellow squash, salmon, even spinach, and shrimp fried brown rice. All kinds of comfort food.

Tonight I used the smooth nonstick surface to do double duty: first it cooked a diced Idaho potato, onion, chopped garlic and oregano in a smidge of olive oil; then after I turned the potatoes out onto our plates, it scrambled eggs. We enjoyed that feast with toast, strawberry jam, and Earl Grey tea.

We’re in the bedroom now, reading books (well, I’m typing for a few minutes, then I’ll read). Tom has blood labs first thing, then a meeting with his hematologist/oncologist, then a fun-filled afternoon of Rituxian (Rituximab) and Treanda (Bendamustine).

He drove us the whole six and a half hours from Pensacola. He’s whipped, and I’m concerned because he has a little congestion and seems to be trying to get a sinus infection. Plus, the muscle area on the right side of his neck near the catheter for the Bard Power Port in his chest got sore several days ago and is growing more uncomfortable. Needless to say, I’m glad we’re here and that he’ll be seeing his doc in the morning. I’m sure he’ll be fine. I just hate for him to go into a chemo session not feeling well. He felt great Sunday; this came up suddenly.

A good night’s sleep can be powerful medicine, and our wok supper paved the way.

Hope all yall’s evening is peaceful and comfortable.


“The Guy”

It’s the med techs, nurses, schedulers and physician’s assistants that make this deal a whole lot easier to swallow than it might otherwise be. They’ve got situations and issues of their own without a doubt, but you would never know it.

Take Ray. He’s the med tech at our local cancer center that takes Tom’s blood labs every two weeks and flash faxes them over to Mayo. The luck of the draw got us to Ray the first time we went in. Let’s see, that would have been June 26, just about one month ago.

Ray’s not young, not old, with blue highways of experience in his calm, dark eyes. He retired from a career in the Navy, did a high wire act in real estate before everybody crashed with or without a net, then went back to school for his med tech certificate. Ray is kind and he is careful. Checks everything twice. Gives you the feeling he knows his bit of the interlocking puzzle is a corner piece.  And he’s right. These periodic blood labs let Tom’s Mayo docs assess whether he is ready for the next treatment cycle.

Ray uses a winged infusion set , sometimes called a butterfly needle. Tom thinks of it as a dragonfly, because its proboscis dips delicately into his blood, sure and unquivering, even while it fills several vials. The technology, along with Ray’s steady hand, results in no bruising or discomfort.

After the first blood-letting, we asked Ray if he would be available to do this every time. “Sure,” he said with a smile that put lights in his eyes. “Just ask for the guy.” We must have looked confused. He waved a hand at the other blood-letting stations in two rows around the small room. Sure enough, all the other med techs were female. He’s “the guy,” and we’re grateful to have him on the team.