Tuesday, November 2, 2010

D Day Plus 222: (October 16, 2010): Morning

I’d made it to morning - barely. Now I was ready for the “fine” you promised last night.  Sun streamed through the slats of the wooden blinds that covered my bedroom windows for nearly twenty years. I knew the abstract designs painted by the sun by heart -- ladders to sky or down to the tan carpet. It just depended on my perspective. This morning, the ladder climbed to sky across deacon's bench covered in a grenade heap of clothes. 

The heap had been building since since Monday. I know. I know. I know what you'd say, "Nobody needs that many clothes and I should take care of my stuff." My self-correction was a small part of your legacy. 

I played dead on your recliner. Actually, I didn't dare to move because I would lose it on so many levels. 

Your white furry blanket, covered me all catawampus-like. It was the one that you'd thrown off and on to keep pace with the chills and fevers last winter. Last night, it’d been my pillow, my cocoon, and my friend – a little something to hold on to as I moved like a vagrant from destination to destination begging for relief. But, you already knew that. You were there too. 

Wouldn’t have it been funny if the blanket was light blue like the one Linus from Peanuts carried around? I know how much you liked Charlie Brown and his friends. Remember how I helped you find the right Charlie Brown book for Katie last Christmas? You "rainmanned" me a little about getting the perfect present for your Katie. Just so you know, I didn’t mind. I loved that you cared so much. 

Dad was more awake than asleep. I knew that because he wasn’t serenading me with his damn snores. The quiet was nice and necessary. When I feel better, I’m going to record him so he knows the unequivocal truth. He snores like a freight train. They’ll be no denying it. That's when the waves of pain from both ends and in-between started up again. Almost as if they were defending Dad from my smart-a**ed thoughts. 

“Ohh, Ohh.” I groaned loud enough to get Dad’s attention.  

“How’s my Amenal?” Dad turned to his left to make sure there were still signs of life on your recliner. He even almost tore off the blankets on my side of the bed. 

“We need to go to the ER. NOW.” I yelled (in what I thought was agony, but it was actually a whimper). I really wanted to cry, but was afraid I’d hurl without warning.  I didn't want go there, like you did. 

You know and I know that it’s bad when I’m throwing up. Because I hardly ever do that unless it's serious. I hated losing control. I know you did too. I won’t forget. I won’t forget what it was like for you. We don’t like to lose control. We don’t like to lose control of our body. We hate it. Hate it. Hate it. 

"Are you ready?" Dad asked as he pulled a clean tee shirt over his head. 

I sighed loud and hard. I didn’t want to change into clothes. I didn’t want to comb my hair. I didn’t want to take a bath. I didn’t want to brush my teeth.   

He knew I was miserable so he said, “Just wear yoga pants.”

“I’m not going to do anything else. I can’t. I don’t care if I look like s*it and smell like a**. I don’t care.”   

I changed into my yoga pants and tee shirt in slow, slow motion while Dad did something I'm not sure of in the kitchen. I know he didn’t bother with coffee, a shower, or breakfast. 

I laid on the guest bed and tried not be to afraid. I wasn’t sure I could be fixed. I thought about what it could be: my liver; my ovaries; my bowels; cancer; all of the above. You and I played that game a lot over the past couple of years. Well everything except the ovaries. But you get the picture.  

If they said I was constipated again, I was going to scream or go crazy. I wasn’t full of s*hit. You weren’t either. That is was what they said – only nicer. Then you’d get more pain meds that would make everything worse. Now I know it was the cancer getting worse, but nobody would admit.   

I didn’t know what the hell was up with me. I didn’t care if my sailor potty mouth was on stage. I was at the brink. They could take me to crazy town – I didn’t care.  I would have undergone a psychiatric evaluation – if they gave me drugs to stop the pain.  I meant it. 

You and the brink collided quite a few times too: both times at the ER at Loudoun Hospital when you started having pain after the first trial didn’t work; the hospital in Roanoke when they took out your appendix; and four or five times at MD Anderson while they figured out what they could or could not do to help. It's when the doctor's flinch. It's all in the look or their emotional distance. They don't know what to do or don’t believe they can help. Don’t get me wrong, doctors do and did their best, but they really don’t know a lot of times. I hope they find out what is wrong with me. 

Dad would say I was an "angry individual" right now if he could read my mind, which I was glad he could not. I wasn’t angry. Just scared. And a little panicky. The only thing that stopped me from really getting panicky were your words from last night, “It’ll be fine in the morning.” You wouldn’t lie to me now, even to be nice.  You couldn’t.  You had a special vantage. You had eternity at your back.  

I put on the gray fuzzy clog-like slippers with fake fur.  The ones I bought at Target just after you got discharged from the MD Anderson last New Year’s Day. You helped pick them out. You said they were cool because Katie had something like them. 

I used them for shoes and walked the Sky Bridge at MD Anderson a lot – mostly by myself because you were too sick. You said they were awesome and Katie did too when she came to see you.  Dad said they looked stupid and should not be seen in public.

Keys dangled and the front door slammed.  Dad was warming up the SUV. And I waited. My fuzzy feet dangled off the side of the guest bed because I didn’t want to get the comforter dirty. The rest of me was curled into the letter O. My slippers fell off about thirty seconds later. I didn’t care. I was desperate for relief. Child's pose was your favorite position when nothing else worked. Remember how the pain management doctor smiled when she caught you doing it at your appointment? We both decided, we liked her a lot. She had a good spirit. She cared about you. She cared about us.  

Dad led me to the car like a little old lady who needed some serious protection. He helped me get situated, then started the drive to the ER. It was only five minutes, but it seemed like an hour. He managed to hit every pothole and it hurt. I don’t think he did it on purpose, but he did.  He did it when I went to the hospital to have you and Morgan at Tripler Hospital in Hawaii too.  I seriously think he had a GPS to find all the potholes.   

I hope I didn’t hit a lot of potholes when I drove you to the ER in Virginia or around Houston.  I’m sure I did in Houston because there was always some road that looked like a battle-ground around MD Anderson.  I’m sorry for the bumps. But I did my best. I know Dad was doing his best too. But that doesn’t help when you seriously think you’re going to pass out.  You weren’t a drama mama when you were going back and forth.  I wasn’t one either. When you had cancer, I thought I got how much it could hurt since I’d had so many abdominal surgeries. Right know there is no thinking. I knew it  - for sure.
The start of Round 2 at the ER played out differently. I had to wait and go to triage.  Not long, but I had to wait. I thought about spewing right there in triage. That would get my point across. But, I behaved. Besides, I’d be embarrassed if I did. It wasn’t their fault I felt so bad. It was mine. I just wanted the pain to stop. I knew you knew what it was like. I just wanted the pain to stop. I prayed they didn’t treat and street me again without knowing what was wrong. 

Dad did most of the talking for me. At least I got our beloved Dilaudid fast. First there was a little Dilaudid punch followed by sweet relief. Then I got an X-ray to check my abdomen. According the the ER doctor, "sometimes the CT scan doesn’t pick up everything."  

“Great” is what I thought. That along with a few expletives that I didn’t say. But you can imagine. I was so loopy I could barely stand for the X-ray, but at least I didn’t hurt anymore. 

Within five minutes after coming back from my X-ray, the ER Doctor said, I had a bowel obstruction. And it was no wonder the pain meds they gave me didn’t work or anything from the last ER visit for the matter.  A**hole came to mind. Not directed at anyone. Just in general.  

Bowel obstructions can kill! The doctor suspected mine was from adhesions from the appendectomy I had five or six years ago. Your bowel obstruction from cancer perforated at MD Anderson. You were septic. You almost died then, but the surgeons gave me an extra year with you.  

Bottom-line bowel obstructions are serious and deadly. Oh and I needed another CT scan along with a surgeon consult to determine the best treatment for mine.

Next, I’m a guinea pig for demonstration purposes on how to insert an NG tube. Now I know why you hated NGs so much. It felt like a pipe being thread through my nose with a valve in my throat – all the way to my stomach. It hurt to swallow. Remember how you wanted the NG tube out after the big bowel perforation surgery. You complained that it hurt, which was a big deal – you didn’t complain much.  

And that was my morning. It wasn't perfect, but it was getting finer. At least I knew I wasn't crazy and Dilaudid would take the pain away.  At least for awhile.  

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