Pt. XIII. Figures.
Ish has a joke about how if you don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes; then you’ll realize how good you had it 20 minutes ago.
I eventually stopped announcing I was having the worst day of my life. I realized I was just tempting fate.
* * * * * *
My mother was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.It is roughly the size of an airport and has every high-tech luxury you could ever want. Maybe God is in technology?
Between my mother being in New Hampshire and her being hauled to Boston, David and I returned to our own home full of sadness. We were aiming to have the house on the market by Memorial Day.
I remember absolutely nothing about being home with David at this time. I know I was devastated. I know I was scared. I know I was confused. I know I kept checking my email to see if Marcus The Wonder Man of Make-Believe had written.
He had. And those emails made me inordinately happy.
* * * * * *
We went to Boston and we stayed with Healy and Brian. I do not recall but I think that David came on the weekends and I stayed for the week (weeks?) or something. It was awful.
The first few days she was in Boston, she was in the ICU and I did not see her then. Healy visited her regularly, going to the hospital on her lunch breaks, before work, after work, all the time. Healy was not sure she would make it out of ICU.
By the time we got ourselves to Boston, she had been moved to a more regular room. She had regained mobility and consciousness but was on tons of morphine and acted much like a very fussy child. She kept pulling at her gowns trying to take them off. She’d say things and ask questions that made no sense. She would come into lucidity, as much as a very drunk person might, and that was worse than anything. She would cry. She would ask what had happened to her. Sometimes she’d ask if she was going to die.
We tried to make it peaceful. Here, let’s watch some tv.
* * * * * *
At one point, my mom had to be taken down to the x-ray facility to have some body scan done so they could know, once and for all, what on earth was going on inside her. This was no easy feat.
Following her operation, she had a tube put into her stomach. A plastic tube that led to a plastic bag held on with some gauze and medical tape. That was my mom’s new digestive system.
She was also hooked up to catheters and a morphine drip. Which meant that my mother had a whole series of new appendages to maneuver and no awareness with which to maneuver them. Imagine trying to explain to a belligerent, scared drunk person that they had to get up from their (sort of) comfy bed and get on a stretcher and get hauled to a tunnel to have tests. And that they had to be careful not to move too much.
Healy and I agreed to help. There were two nurses running the x-ray/scanning facility who were large and ugly and horrible. They treated our mother like chattel and were Healy and I not there...I don’t even know.
They knocked her stretcher into poles, they almost disconnected her from her machines. (The tube from her stomach led to a bag that hung from a wheeled apparatus. If you move my mom but not the wheeled thing, the tube would come out of her stomach. Can you imagine?)
My mom didn’t understand what was going on and they almost couldn’t get the scans done, because in order to get a good read, the patient has to be still. My mom would start shaking and crying because she didn’t understand and the women were getting angry – angry! – at her.
Healy eventually managed to calm Mom enough by telling her some fantastic made-up story about what was going on. Healy and my mom speak the same language.
David was there, too. It was all he could do not to punch the horrible nurses. We’d forever call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
* * * * * *
It was on June 5th that they had the results. Stage IV lung cancer.
Cancer can sometimes crop up in other forms first. The cancer had fucked with her digestive system completely, before the spots were visible on her lungs. But, right, they were visible now.
They told us they wouldn’t be able to give her chemo or radiation until her system healed from the operation. You can’t have a tube for a stomach and go through cancer treatments.
With treatment, they gave her nine months at best. They were being optimistic.
* * * * * *
Obviously things hadn’t been going well, but we still hoped. We were going to hope until someone told us we couldn’t. And then we hoped anyway. Better days had to lie ahead.