103 – IL 2 and Nightmares


The break between IL 2 treatments was three weeks this time.

They know they have to let your body recuperate before the next round of treatments. I felt shaky most of the time. But I was anxious to get it done.
So, we went through the same routine back in L.A. at Cedar Sinai. We had the pick line put into the other arm this time. Sounds simple, but in the ICU room it meant doing things from the other side of the bed. It sort of threw us off for a while.
Gregs Birthday Dinner Before IL 2 treatment

Gregs Birthday Dinner Before IL 2 treatment

This third IL 2 (Interleukin 2) pick line didn't work so well. They had to stick me more often to draw blood. A couple of nurses knew how to get it to work if they moved my arm just right. Anyway, it was another grueling, nauseating, sleepless week. The only highlight was it was my birthday. The nurses and Cari brought a cake to the room and the nurses pretended to do “pole dances” with the IV bag stands. I was well into treatment and really out of it. I honestly don’t remember much of it, darn it. Cari said I was a good sport, smiled a lot and even pulled it together enough to sing along. Don’t remember it at all! Great place for a birthday right? Actually if this stuff worked it would be the best present ever.
We wouldn’t know if we were one of the “lucky” 7 - 10 %’s until awhile after the last round of IL 2 treatment, still to come. Cari plugged the GPS in and I slept most of the way home. We had three weeks off again. This time I didn’t peel. In fact after the first week I bounced back pretty quickly.
Cari and I started to exercise to build my strength back. You know how it is when you haven’t worked out for a while? It was like the first time working out! But we did it and I was feeling much stronger by the end of the three weeks. Just in time to go lay in ICU for another week. Couldn't wait…. The first three treatments I was eager to go and do this. But this last treatment was different; I really wished it was already over. But we sucked it up and got on with it! I could “gut it out” one last time.
IL 2 Greg and Cari with Elaine and Ray Parker Jr.

Greg and Cari with Elaine and Ray Parker Jr.

As I mentioned, your body develops a memory and shuts down quicker each time. I think I only got two or three IL 2 doses this last time. It was the worst for nausea, and this time there was diarrhea too. I know, pretty gross. Poor Cari had to see it all. She helped me with the bucket and changing my undies…yuck. Amazing woman she is! Enough of that. When we got home this time I went to bed downstairs pretty quickly. Everyone else stayed upstairs. I fell asleep and started having nightmares. One was especially bad … and good too. I was looking at myself lying in bed and I had a desperate look on my face. I was wondering what was wrong – why did I look like that? Then I was back in my body lying on my back, terrified.
At first I was trying to hide by pulling the covers up. But they wouldn't come up enough. I was looking at the “Grimm Reaper” coming to take me.
It was so vivid, so real. It looked like something from “The Lord of The Rings” or “Harry Potter”.  It was mostly a hollow face all dead and grey hidden in the hood. It was in a mangy, ragged cloak with baggy sleeves. It had wrinkled, skin on bones hands with long fingers and long dirty fingernails. There was a slight greenish black grime to all of it. The rest of it faded out behind into nothingness, indistinguishable. I was staring up straight at it, coming closer with its dripping, outstretched arm and sharp nails. It was growling.
IL2 Tennis with Ray Parker Jr.  Greg was giggling more than playing

Greg giggles playing tennis with a very skilled opponent, Ray Parker Jr.

I was panicked, cowering and trying to sink into the bed to escape. It was getting close; I knew there was no way out and suddenly changed. I became mad and yelled at it as loud and angry as I could. But it didn’t stop its relentless advance in the gloomy darkness. I had failed. It was just about to snatch me away, when a bright light shone from the side of the bed. Cari’s bright, beautiful, radiating brightly and warm hand shot in to pull me away.

The “Grimm Reaper” quickly retreated and disappeared like a deflating balloon.    Cari had saved me!

I cried.

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2 Responses to 103 – IL 2 and Nightmares

  1. Mark Colby August 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Greg, you are such a hero to me! Your positive outlook, faith and the love you and your family that has grown only stronger going through this.

  2. Jeff Day September 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    It’s so amazing how your dreams can reflect what’s going on in your life at the time. Mom is always there to save all of us.