Friday, November 5, 2010

D Day Plus 223: (October 17, 2010): The Call

At 8:30 in the morning it was my turn.  My turn to make the call –the kind you never forget. It was to Dad. “They’re going to operate within the hour. Come now.” Each syllable hugged the NG tube tighter and tighter like a boa constrictor. Sand paper on strep throat would have felt better. You got it right. NG tubes really suck – on so many levels.

Because of you, I knew calls like this, were better to give than receive. Mostly because I wasn’t there going through the experience with you. The distance – physical and emotional – catapulted me into a frenzy of fear. I needed to see the whites of your eyes to know where your emotions had taken you.Where you afraid? Had you given up? Were you lonely even though you weren’t alone? Did my proxies make you feel better?  Did they understand that you weren’t depressed when you were quiet? You were only trying to get reenergized. Could they sit with you in silence? Did they know how to send you unfettered love, like me?   

You didn’t make the worst call. Dad did. Both of you were in Houston trying to get you enrolled in the TIL Clinical Trial. You were in so much pain. Pain I knew now from my bowel obstruction. Pain you knew from the cancer. It had perforated your bowel and made you septic. Dad called my cell after you went into surgery. I was driving home to be alone and hold my private vigil for you. That’s when he told me you probably wouldn’t make it out of surgery. And if you made it out of surgery, then you probably wouldn’t make it beyond the first week. 

I threw the phone on the passenger floor and started screaming “NO” as I drove down Algonkian Parkway. I screamed until I couldn’t scream anymore.  That’s when the tears flowed and didn’t stop for an hour. I held my private vigil waiting for Dad’s next call. The one where you defied the odds, but weren’t ‘out of the woods’ yet.  That day, I got my worst and my best phone call. Thanks to Dad.
Nurses, doctors, and techs paraded through my hospital room prepping me for surgery with the same round of questions – What is your name? When is your birthday? What type of surgery? What's your pain level? It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have the NG tube. But, I did. 

Dad still wasn’t there and the pace was picking up. They were almost ready for me in surgery. I wanted Dad –just in case. I wanted to say goodbye—just in case. I wasn’t afraid, really. I knew relief was on its way. Either way I’d win. I’d be with you. Or stay with Dad and Morgan. I’d never tell Dad that, because he’d say I was morbid or giving up. You can’t help not think about death. Or what it feels like whenever they put you under. You can’t. Right?  

Dad finally showed up – looking a little disheveled and uncaffeinated. Five minutes later the surgeon’s nurse came to take me back to surgery. Dad stayed until they told me to count back from ten.  Then, he kissed my forehead and said, “I love you.”  The way he did when you went to surgery.  On that day when I rode the wave of my best and worst phone call – ever. Then I was out like a light. I only made it to nine.

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