Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cancer floor at Emory Hospital

Tonight I'm just pouring out a stream of conscious writing as I can't get focused on anything but the swirling of decisions, choices, fears of mistakes, that have overwhelmed my world since last Tuesday when my dear love and I were admitted to the hospital. I say I was admitted because even though he has the malignant leg, he and I have taken every single step of this journey together and we will until the end. We had a scan, we are on a pain pump, we have great nurses, we don't like arrogant doctors, and we will deal with all of this as one.
When you have been with someone for 45 years, you cannot imagine being separated from each other. I have spent each day and each night beside his bed, waking when the inevitable medical person slams through the door to his room at midnight just as his breathing has settled into a sweet rhythm that tells me he is in a good deep sleep.
My anger at that kind person who only wants to check his BP and make sure he is doing well, seeths awhile after she leaves, stealing my badly needed sleep.
The TV high on the wall runs constantly around the clock. No sound emits from the mouths of the faces there. Today an old Bonanza brought smiles as Little Joe and Hoss turned jokesters on Pa. The young nurse from Tennessee had never heard of nor had any interest in the Cartwrights. She tends to seriously sick people who come and go and come again to the rooms on E floor.
Each night I see the woman in the red striped pajamas pushing her chemo contraption as she gets in her twenty laps before bedtime. Last night she told me her story. In a couple of weeks she would begin the chemo treatment that would destroy her immune system, killing her cancer cells but also her good cells and prepare her for the stem cell bone marrow transplant that would save her life. She fully expects this procedure to give her time to see the babies of her lovely daughter who walks with her on her nightly rounds.
Although we'd never met before, the five minutes we talked sealed a bond between us. She, pale and bald, her blue eyes naked of brows and lashes, hugged me, encouraged me, and promised we were at the best place in the world to cure us from this cancer. She was convinced she would survive and wear pink at the Relay for Life races every year with her granchildren. I wished I felt as sure - not just for us, but for her - for that lovely daughter who supported her mother all the way.
If there is one thing I've learned over the years of caring for loved ones, there is no sure bet when it comes to medicine. The elderly woman who was at death's door waves from her wheelchair as she leaves with her son. The nine year old who was laughing yesterday, lies in a pool of sweat tonight with robotic electronics blinking and beeping around her bed.
The woman's family had been called in. Doctors shook their heads and said there was no more they could do.
"It's a miracle," exclaimed a young resident as the wheelchair disappeared in the elevator. "No," said Dr. Smith. "It's God's way of showing us we don't know S--t."


karenh said...

You made me cry, Glenda... for my own memories and fears, and for yours. Bless you and Barry and your new friend facing the transplant.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and BB. I've been there, done it, spent many long nights in the hospitals with loved ones and know how long, hard, and lonely those times can be. Remember, you are not alone. We all love you and pray you all will soon be home. Hang in there! Believe me, from one who has been there, it will get better.

Glenda said...

Karen, Brenda, thank you. Yes, we all walk this road at one time or another. Everyone can relate.

Tipper said...

Still praying and sending good thoughts your way. Your writing is so vivid and moving-just like always. You've made me feel like I was there too.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Hi Tipper, bless you. You are with me as all my friends and loved ones are with me on this journey.
Today we took a wheel chair ride outside into the sunshine for the first time in a couple of weeks. What joy! We had company and we laughed, hard, at funny stories from BB and our guests.
What a difference two pints of blood makes. From lethargy to jocularity in a few hours.