Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Angel When the Clock Strikes Twelve

I remember looking up at the clock on the wall, 10 p.m..  It did not occur to me I had been out of surgery several hours.  That's where the night started for me.  It did not occur to me until a few days later I couldn't remember anything that happened before looking at the clock at 10 p.m. that night.

Husband would later remind me of all the activity in the hours right after surgery.  Nurses had moved me into my bed, changed my gown, and took all  my vital signs - blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen.  I was finally given something to drink, and additional meds.

I remember feeling extremely nauseated and itchy all over.  I vaguely remember the efficient but disconnected care around me.  I vaguely remember surprised to look down at my gown and see my chest so flat.  I wasn't surprised as if I didn't know, I just had not seen myself like that since elementary school.  It was puzzling.

I tried to get a better look, but was too bandaged up.  All I could see were the two tubes coming from the center of my chest at the top of my stomach.  Attached to each was a small plastic balloon that looked like a clear plastic canteen.  These were the drains I had heard about, and each was filled with a really old expensive Cabernet, that viscous deep purplish red with legs.  The Cab, which was coming from my body, dripped like an IV into the small canteens.

Husband was close by, the TV was on, and I was very very nauseated.  The nurses brought me some broth and it wasn't long after, I was vomiting into the kidney shaped plastic container used to brush your teeth.

Five months of intense chemo and did not vomit once.

I could hear Husband in the background saying something like "In thirty five year, I've never seen her throw up."

As I was throwing up I was thinking "Did he just say that?"  Yes Husband, this is me throwing up.  Couldn't you just have pretended you didn't see a thing?  The same way I expect you to ignore my smells in the bathroom if you INSIST on going in right after me!  Sheesh.

Husband would later tell me The Wizard came in to see me and I talked to him.  He said things went well, except for starting my IV.  He said he was "cautiously optimistic" but we would need to wait for pathology to come back.  I don't remember if he was optimistic about the cancer, or if he was optimistic about my nipples surviving.

Most of everything was a blur until midnight, when the next Angel, divinely arranged for me, arrived in a flash of pastel for the night shift.

She was dressed in peach jeans and a peach t-shirt, and her platinum blond hair and spiky cut was the fuzz on the peach.  She had a real outdoorsy look, glowing weathered skin like she could just as soon win "Survivor" as start an IV.  She proceeded to take charge of me and my space as soon as she came in the room, and was like a bee buzzing all over me.  When she spoke to me, she got right up in my face, not aggressively.  Adoringly.

That is how it would be for the next 8 hours, until the shift change.  She was constantly doting on me and doing everything she could to make me comfortable and take care of me.

When I started to have a reaction to the morphine, extreme itchiness and heat all over my body, she was already three steps ahead of me.

"I'll be right back" and patted me before she left.

She was back in a flash.  That's what I'll call her, Flash, because she was like one of those super heroes that could move so fast around the room, multitasking, you could hardly see how she did it.  One minute Flash was next to me, the next minute she was out of the room to check on another patient, and then Whoosh, there she was again at my side.

Flash came into the room with a large trash bag filled with linens she secretly kept in the nurses fridge.

"This is not hospital protocol" she said "but it's the only thing I've found to bring some relief to patients like you who react to the morphine."

She pulled crisp clean pillowcases and a top sheet out of the bag, and proceeded to change every single one of my pillow cases with a clean COLD one.  I had five pillows going - two behind my head, one under each arm, and one under my feet.  She changed EVERY SINGLE ONE.  I can't tell you how great this felt.

When she shook out the COLD top sheet and tucked me into it, it was heaven, like a reverse spa treatment!

This Angel whose cover is Nurse was unbelievable, and for the next 8 hours, when I needed TLC the most I have ever needed it in my life, she was there to lovingly, attentively, efficiently provide it.

I can't say enough about Flash, except to say when her shift was over and she came to tell me goodbye, I reached out my hands wanting to hug her and started to cry.  She leaned down and gave me a huge long hug and I tried to compose myself when I whispered to her.

"All along this path, there have been Angels who have arrived right on time for me, and YOU are one of them.  I will never forget you or the kindness and care you have shown to me on what could have been one of the hardest nights of my life.  Thank you.  Thank you."

Tears welled in her eyes as she clutched my face.  "You are a sweet sweet funny girl and it was my pleasure taking care of you, and I will keep you in my heart."


I will never forget you Flash, never ever.

I never in my life had a night like that one, the closest to it was when I had the boys, and a C-section with each.  I was so high on Mother Love and adrenaline and euphoria, I hardly noticed the pain from having your stomach muscles and uterus slit open.

Those nights after the birth of my boys were intense but so different.  Everything hurt AND I was going home with something.  The two best somethings ever gifted to me.

After this night, I would be going home with all the pain and without somethings.  Some things dear to me.  Flopsy and Mopsy.  Hopefully without something I hate.  Cancer.

I remember the first few times Flash helped me walk to the bathroom to pee, IV cart in tow.  I have never walked that slowly in my life.  The first couple of times I tried to pee, nothing would come out, even though I knew my bladder was full and I needed to.  My poor body just couldn't do it.  It was already doing too much.

When Flash changed my dressings, I finally got a real look at the damage.  Flopsy and Mopsy were still there, and each had a nipple, but both looked like two flat dead slabs of meat hanging off me.  They looked like cube steaks, all pounded and dimpled, and ready to be dredged and fried to make chicken fried steak.

And they came with their own bloody gravy.  I swear, that's what they looked like, the Blue Plate Special at some diner in Hell.

I got through that night, through the extreme itching, the burning, the nausea, the vomiting, the not peeing, the finally peeing, the tearing razor-like pain, the tight tight cinching where a bra used to be, the drip drip drip of my own bloody fluids, and the realization that I had painfully completed the next challenge in treating my breast cancer.

Holy Shit!

Almost a week later, I am still saying that.  Holy Shit.  I did it.  I did it.

It was better than I expected.

It is worse than I expected.

Nobody should have to do this shit.


Let me tell you though, and listen up, if you DO HAVE TO DO THIS SHIT,


then pray to God in Heaven that you will have Angels like the ones I've had.

Delivered to me at the precise moment when I was at my absolute most fragile, vulnerable, and almost had the HOPE sucker punched right out of me.

I made it out of The Kingdom of the Lost Breasts with the help of a Wizard, but I made it through that night with the help and love of an Angel named Flash, and a Husband in a fold out bed next to mine.

Despite this whole cancer bullshit, I am one lucky lucky loved blessed woman.

God bless all the Angels, disguised as Nurses.

I bow to you.

I humbly bow to you and wash and anoint your feet,

and I would dry them with my hair,

except I have no hair.

I bow to you.


1 comment:

masonmft said...

Bless all the angels. Keep healing. I am thinking about you and sending love. xoxoxo

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