I want to tell you a story; it’s a true story.
It was about 6:30 p.m. on October 18th, 2011. I was sitting in my hospital bed, bald head beaming and my wife Kate was sitting in one of the two steel framed hospital chairs next to the bed. I had some chemical dripping into me.
We were tired; it had been a long couple of weeks. I almost died; it was weird.
The cancer ward at Christian Care is 6B. Only the sickest check-in, regrettably many don’t walk out.
My bed was closer to the window while the other bed in the room was closer to the door. In that bed a man was dying, and for reasons unknown to me, it was a complete surprise to his family. They thought he was going to get better, but the entire medical staff – it seemed – knew he wasn’t. The daughter, who worked her cell phone and IPAD all day with dedication and skill of a stockbroker closing a big deal, was able to get a consult for the guy.
Kate and I talked in hushed tones – we had our own problems.
All my blood numbers had finally rebounded and I was staring at another seven—day, 24-hour a day chemo session. It would be seven of eight of the protocol.
From window overlooking the industrial roof of the hospital wing below, the sunset blazed across black roofing giving it an otherworldly burnt orange. It was beautiful and distracting at the same time. You see I was afraid that my doctor would tell me that as long as I was already there, we might as well start round seven.
I had worked out my arguments why I wouldn’t do it, but deep down I knew I would. So Kate and I waited.
The consult for the guy next door – whose name I never learned – began as the oncologist looked him over. It wasn’t good news.
My doctor came in, began the obligatory listening, poking, and thinking. He pulled the curtain separating the two beds, then took the other chair, and turned it around so it was facing us – something he had never done before – and sat down.*
*This part is kind of a blur, but I’ll do my best.
“I want to talk to you,” he said. “You’ve been in remission for a while and every round is getting harder and harder. It’s your decision, but I think we should stop the chemo and see what happens. You might be fine.”
We were stunned. Kate asked a few questions, I asked a couple and then she got up and danced. She truly did. It was beautiful, joyful, and loving. She hugged the doctor and I did too.
“The first thing,” he said. “Is to take this down,” pointing to the bag of whatever it was.”
In the bed next to us the family was getting different news.
My doctor went out, wrote up some doctor stuff and said I’d be going home in a few days as I was still a bit sick from side-effects.
Kate and I went out in the hallway to give the other family some privacy and to just bask in the sudden good news. It somehow seemed impolite to do it while the other family was dealing with such horrible news.
I know the guy in the other bed died. I don’t remember if it was there or he went to hospice. I had a couple of roommates, there one minute and gone the next.
Regardless I am still here. I am at about 90 percent of where I was before I got sick. All-in-all a happy ending. There have surely been bumps, anxieties, and scares along the way, but so far so good.
I only bring this up because this is my four year anniversary.