I’m indebted to tape. It has seen me through breast cancer treatment, and now it’s helping me organize my move.

Obviously, tape is used to hold bandages onto the skin of the patient, to close wounds and so on. Tape held my picc line in place, it helped me pull out hair when chemo took effect, it told the radiation oncologists how to position and where to zap me, it held my bandages in place. Now I’m using it to close and label boxes. Tape surely is a wondrous thing.

Back in January, a PICC line was installed in one of the large veins of my right arm. A piece of stretchy purple catheter used to deliver chemotherapy into my bloodstream without trashing my veins. At the end of the catheter was a valve of sorts, and various blood removal and delivery devices could easily be installed. Well, the PICC is held in place with a bandage, and covered in a broad piece of waterproof, transparent tape. Magic. No stitches or anything. And that tape holds the PICC in place and protects it so I could take a shower. Hygiene can be difficult for patients.

And then, about two weeks after my first chemo, my hair started to fall out. I’d had it trimmed to about an inch (2 cm) all around, and was told by the hairdresser to rub my scalp and stimulate the hair to make it fall out. I found a roll of packing tape lying around and proceeded to put small pieces on my head, and pull them off, removing the hair with the tape. Very satisfying and effective. Soon I was quite bald.

But, all good things come to an end. My hair grew back, chemo ended and the pic line came out. I thought I would be free of tape. But no….another surprise awaited me. Most people that I knew with radiation had a few dots tattooed on them. Not me, however. My radiation oncology service used felt tip markers (like sharpies or magic markers, but not quite permanent), and covered those marker lines with…. you guessed it, waterproof tape. There were a lot of them. My chest looked like something that Miro painted. I came to appreciate the tape, as it was fairly easy to align me and aim the radiation source. But since it was August, and warm, the tape curled, fell off, and since I could only take a very gentle shower, more hygiene challenges.

At the end of radiation, I had a lot of burns, like really bad sunburn, and I got this very special bandage for burn wounds. The bandage is plastic on the side that touches the skin, so that it doesn’t get stuck in weepy wounds. And of course, the bandage had to be held in place with tape.

Now of course, I’m done with my treatment, and done with the medical uses of tape. I feel a little lost. Fortunately, the practical matter of moving will occupy me for the rest of the year. I have to pack a lot of boxes. And each box is closed with – tape. I have a tape dispenser – tape gun, whatever. And then, I hit on the somewhat bright idea to label the boxes with colored tape. So I have 6 colors of duck tape, each color corresponds to a room, and voila – i have plenty of things to do with tape till the end of the year.

Next year I’ll be peeling the tape off the boxes and by then, I figure that I’ll have had enough of it. On to a new obsession, hopefully something as practical as – tape.