Rain and Trains

After so many rainy days last week, rainy season here has been officially declared on the public television news. The trains have had troubles with all the rain and have been running slightly off schedule. It made for a bit of a delay on Tuesday when I took my friend from downstairs with me to the Cancer Center for her quarterly exam. We ran into the morning commuter rush and the trains were very crowded. At one station there were eight extra assistants on the platform assuring that the doors would actually close by either delicately tucking people into the train or barring the way so more people wouldn't lean into the masses on the train hoping to be absorbed and on their way to work instead of waiting for the next train. When the doors finally closed, trapping bits of umbrella tips and clothing to get soaked on the way to the next station where the doors on that side of the train open, the assistance crew did gestures to convey departure readiness to the conductor while carefully watching to make sure people were far enough back from the train. I plan to get the Dance of the Metro Assistants on my phone video next time I find myself on that platform in a rainy rush hour. They had lovely neon green vests and white gloves.

I maneuvered a space for my 77 year old neighbor near the courtesy seats and made sure that nobody could shove her or bump into her; she doesn't need that with brittle bones as a long term stage IV breast cancer survivor who beat all those bone mets. The person in the seat in front of us even responded positively to my request to please let my friend have the seat so the trip went well.

We arrived a little after 9:00 a.m. and each went our own way to get the medical part of the day over before meeting another survivor friend who synchronizes her quarterly exams with my neighbor's so they can enjoy lunch together. The ladies of this lunch club seem glad to have someone to watch over my neighbor on the trains there and back and have made me a regular member now. They've already made reservations for September.

I had my heart scan (echocardiogram) and lo and behold my ejection fraction is back up to 75%. This was a relief as I'd been concerned about decline due to Herceptin. Then I went for my I.V. and was just walking out the door of the outpatient chemotherapy center when my neighbor and her friend arrived on the escalator in search of me. We'd all finished early because many of the oncologists were away at a symposium (maybe in Chicago) so their patients weren't in for check-ups or treatment that day.

We went down to the lobby to pay our bills at the newly installed automated cashier machines which naturally had one employee (formerly from behind the cashiers' counter) beside each machine to guide patients in their use. I was a little surprised that the machines accept cash only. Other hospitals using similar machines allow debit cards, credit cards and cash options.

The rain and wind had picked up while we'd been shuffling around getting poked with needles etc. so we decided to take a taxi to the restaurant where we had reservations. Another survivor friend yet joined the three of us and we enjoyed a relaxing two hour lunch of dainty bite sized portions of too many courses of traditional Japanese cuisine for my chemo brain to remember. The discussion varied between comments on the appearance, texture, flavor and ingredients of the dishes and news about various doctors and associations. One of their favorite doctors is now the head of the Hospice Care Association in Japan now and they told me not to hesitate to ask them to contact him if I should have any questions about hospice here. He was also the doctor who got them hooked on this lunch routine. He used to have a big lunch party a few times a year with the women in his care.

Tomorrow is my big day as pre-school teacher for a day. A friend has asked me to substitute while she's off to the States for her daughter's high school graduation. I expect to have a lot of fun singing, dancing and making crafts with the cuties.