Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Deadliest Catch

Let's say you called me on the phone. Among discussing such important issues as Lindsey's drug abuse or the finer arts of blowing off a MySpace stalker, we would discuss television. What about McDreamy and Meredith? Whatever, I fucking hate her. What the hell is up with Juliette? What is it about pregnancy on the island? How hot is Hugh Laurie? You know, like "hot dad" hot, not "Friends top five" hot. How many fucking pop culture references can I put in one paragraph? If you didn't understand any of this, A. you are living under a rock or B. I need to get a life.

Then I would ask you about Captain Sig. Do you like king crab or opi season better? Is it me or have they upped the crisis quotient? Have no idea what the hell I'm talking about? You are missing out. Let me sell you on my absolute favorite show, Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. Like a basic cable Jehovah's witness, I will tell you how this show will change your life. Okay, maybe not change it, but alter it in some meaningful way.

Deadliest Catch follows a half dozen crab boats off the Alaskan coast. We watch as they navigate the Bering Sea, setting crab pots, working their asses off. There are mechanical malfunctions, rescues at sea, even some guy who had to get back so he could meet a court date or go to jail. Maybe it's my years at sea myself that draws me to it. Like some sort of WT cruise. Instead of bingo, they stuff raw fish into plastic jugs. Maybe it's that narrator guy that does all that Discovery Channel shit. Maybe it's the fact they use Bon Jovi for their theme music. It's all of the above, really.

How has this changed my life? I will tell you. And as it happens, it has to do with cancer. Last April when I was going through chemo, I used to have problems sleeping... before I discovered the wonder of sleeping pills. I was all hopped up on steroids and would watch TV in the dark, the volume on low as not to disturb my blissfully ignorant snoring husband. I watched more episodes of Law & Order than I care to count. I secretly wanted to buy the Magic Bullet or that crazy Gazelle thing from the guy with the ponytail-mullet. However, one fateful night, I happened upon the Discovery Channel and Deadliest Catch. I was inexplicably sucked in. And because it was replaying a bunch of episodes, I probably stayed up until 4am watching.

The next day, I raved about the wonders that I discovered the night before. Like I happened upon some oasis in the desert or saw a unicorn. Alan didn't understand. But he would. Later that night, when of course more reruns were playing, he sat down and watched. 2 and a half hours later, Alan agreed it was addictive. Alan and I cuddled in bed with the puppies and watched some fishermen in 30 foot seas drop like 1 tonne steel cages in the ocean. Hot, I know. From then on, I watched late night loops of the show every time I couldn't sleep. And I think they did a replay at like midnight every Thursday, because it was usually when I had just gotten chemo.

So this spring, Deadliest Catch returned. The moment I heard Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" it was like the year hadn't happened. I was bald and sick all over again. But strangely enough, it wasn't a bad reaction. It was almost comforting. Like a cancer security blanket. As opposed to the smell of Sally, which make me sick, the sight of my friends on the Bering Sea was kind of a cancer warm fuzzy. It was a sort of good memory about chemo. Lots of treatment are a blur of needles and pain, but these moments in the dark are clear in my hazy mind.

I've been getting a bit nostalgic about my treatment lately. I don't know. Maybe it's like a breakup... after a while you can look at the good stuff and smile, forgetting how goddamn horrible it was going through it. I gave a recommendation for my doctors at Northwestern, finding myself thinking fondly upon my time at the Cancer Ritz-Carlton. Thinking of my private penthouse chemo room, my funny queen patient rep, my oncology nurse. Never mind the mind-numbing bone pain, the nausea, the tears in the shower. Instead, it was like, "aw - Northwestern. You'll love it there." Like some fabulous life threatening bed and breakfast.

I don't think I will ever watch Deadliest Catch without thinking of being in chemo. And for once, that's not a bad thing. As I get further and further from active treatment, the bad memories are fewer and the funny stories become more prominent. Like my television obsession. Even puking in the McDonald's parking lot seems sort of humorous. When I so know it was actually miserable. There's a fine line between nostalgia and wanting to go back and do it over again.

I'll meet you 95 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor.


Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of Deadliest Catch and I just wanted to tell you that there have been plenty of people who are inspired by those fishing crews on the show. They take you to another world--a real world--that you/we may never have known about if the show didn't exist. Hope you are doing much better these days! My blog is all about Deadliest Catch and I happened to be googling a few terms and ran into your blog! Kind regards

Jayne said...

Didn't you have the idea that chemo would make you want to sleep all the time? No one told me about the insomnia until I had it.

Anonymous said...

I need to get cable...AJ