Hem/Onc Room 3F 134.
2 doors to the private room, the first is open, the second is closed and the lights are off. Tip toe in. He is wearing a navy knit stocking cap, he is under the covers, a 2nd blanket is wrapped around his hands which are laying on his chest, his skin matches the snow outside, tubes stretching from different places, monitors buzz quietly. We tip toe back out. Let him sleep. Hold tears back. Be strong.
Return a short time later, both doors open, a light is on, but not in the room. Enter slowly, he is still sleeping, but a nurse is coming in. She checks his vitals. He wakes, sees us and smiles. He makes efforts to sit up, I tell him to go back to sleep. He does. Nurse finishes up, 102.7. Could be an infection. Not good. She leaves.
He begins to cough, and vomit. More vomit. Through his stoma. Painful. Now it is blood, he's choking. He writes Get someone. Fear sets in, I start to worry. I get the nurse, several come quickly. What feels like hours but was probably just a few minutes pass, and so does the vomiting. He is in pain. He reaches for his remote. Pushes the button. Morphine drips into his IV. We need to see the doctor. More tears held. Stay strong.
Sheets and blankets need to be changed, so does his shirt. Blood and vomit. He is exhuasted. His eyes are closed. People buzz around, adjust his bedding, change his shirt, doctors come in, ask questions, I try to answer, but I'm not too sure. Don't they know these answers? Why don't they know?
Minutes pass. Finally someone comes in with answers. Kind face, gentle voice, nice man. Good doctor. Zofran ordered. If that doesn't work, Ativan. We'll get him comfortable again he says. Even if he has to sleep through the worst. Don't worry. I believe him. Fear begins to subside. Page me if you need me or have any questions. Thank you. Dad puts thumbs up. Eyes closed. He likes him. So do I. He says this doctor is good. More anxiety fades. He reaches for the remote. Pushes the button. More morphine. I feel vague relief. Being strong.
Dad is still sitting forward, he is swaying, his bandage on his chest needs to be changed. Minutes pass. The nurse isn't here. Sit back dad, he waves to me to shush. I do. Lights are bright, he keeps his eyes closed.. B and I just watch him. Quietly. Watching. More minutes, 15 minutes, 30. He coughs a few times. No blood now. Pushes the button.
The nurse comes in to change his bandage and begins the Zofran. She removes the old one. His wound is open to the inside of his chest. Like someone took a drill the size of a golfball and drilled a hole into his chest. Stupid cancer. She has a kit to clean it. She uses saline. Then gauze and a swab. His body tenses, he clenches his fists, he winces, but does not open his eyes. She stops and rinses with saline again. More swabbing is next. More wincing, and tensing. I wipe away the tears that break through and refrain from shouting at her to STOP HURTING MY DAD! CAN'T YOU SEE YOU'RE HURTING HIM? Pushes the button. Can't she see? She finishes, with a gentle touch. And makes sure he is comfortable. He is now. He wants to sleep. I tell him I love him and that I will see him tomorrow. Strength fading.
B says goodbye, dad waves and smiles, weakly. But it's there.
We leave hem/onc. We get to waiting area and I collapse. Strength gone. I can't go any further. It hurts. It hurts so much and I just want it to stop. Please dear God, please, make his pain stop.
The kind doctor happens by. He stops and sits across from me. Kind face, soothing voice, gentle words. I tell him I don't know how he does this everyday. He says quite the opposite, he doesn't know how we do it. I wipe away tears. I ask questions, he has lots of answers. He wants dad pain free. He won't hold back meds now. Pain management is priority. Finally. I like him. I stop crying. I tell him I am grateful, he says he will help. He already has. We say our goodbyes.
I cry the whole way to the car. B drives us home, I snap at him for stopping at a green light. I cry even more. I'm thinking about going back tomorrow. Who will pick up the boys from school. What about the Lenten meal and service at church that we are supposed to serve. I think about sleeping forever. Ignoring the world. I am angry at the people in my world. Where are they? Why don't they care? Why don't they care "enough". I'm angry at myself. I'm angry for rejecting the ones who do. For pushing away the friends who want to be there. Guilt. More tears.
I think about what I read in his notebook today.
"I want this to end. I don't want to be in pain anymore. I can't breathe. Unless they find a way to help me breathe and take away pain I don't want to go on. I don't want to do this anymore. I'm in pain. I'm in pain. I'm in pain." Page after page. One conversation after another. Same things, different words.
Make it stop. Please. Make it stop.