||This page is divided into three sections Those in black were written during stays in the hospital. The ones in blue were written while sitting with my mother as she received her chemo. Those in deep green relate to medical experiences.
Lying in the sterile room
Unpleasant sounds intrude
The gasps for breath
The noises of pain
I, feeling so alone
"What led me here?"
Ever so quietly
A familiar voice whispers
"You are not alone."
For this I knew
But it was so good to hear
The Journey to X-ray
She arrived at my door
Wheelchair in tow.
"I'm here to take you to x-ray."
She cheerfully declared.
Small talk about this and that shared
As we enjoyed the conversational stroll.
She, a shy poet, was later discovered
Making the trip all so worthwhile.
Amazing what surprises are learned
On a journey to x-ray.
Ah, such an elixir1!
A hint of chilled citrus
But a little heavy on the aftertaste
1300 ml, a bit much to drink in 90 minutes
What vintage produced such unusual nuances?
Oh well, there's plenty of time to ponder.
But for now, it is time to drink up
And drink up and DRINK UP.
1. CAT SCAN barium drink
Comments: While no one enjoys the hospital, each time I try to learn from the experience. The time is also used to interact with people and share stories. Many health care workers are under stress and overworked. Patient demands take their toll. Likewise, because of the situation and the emotional demands, some workers built barriers. Thus, positive interacting helps in the healing, shares joys, breaks down barriers, and conveys that I am an individual and not just a patient. I met some very caring people.
|Thoughts while sitting
Hope is sometimes all we have
Why else would I subject myself
to these indignities and discomfort?
The pros say that this helps
Using poisons to kill poisons.
Doesn't make sense to me
But the glimmer is offered.
And I reluctantly seize it.
I want to live.
Hope is all I have.
What a strange place
The oncology unit with my mother
draining into ports and veins
Patients speaking lightly of their misery
Mom sitting nervously
Awaiting her first treatment
Yearning for privacy
That would not be
A woman far too young
A hat hiding her baldness
Yet beautiful she remains
Each dealing with their mortality
Facing their battles
individually and collectively
Nurses talking lightly
As they puncture skin
Whences and grimaces
Part of the scene
"The vampires are here!" one exclaims.
"I have no more blood to give."
Another states, "I plan to enjoy the week."
"My sixtieth reunion this weekend."
On the screen Dick Clark appears
"How does he do it. He must be eighty."
All moving onward
The scene surreal.
The scene so real.
"I bought her dishes years ago."
"They were red. She loves red."
"She wasn't married."
"I gave them to her anyway."
"I wanted to give her something.
to remember me."
Wobbly walking out.
Treatment done for day.
"Are you going to make it?"
"Sure! I will just move like a snail."
Seven days a week I am here.
I see more of you than I do my family.
When will these treatments end?
When will the needles stop?
When will the poisons
ceased to be drained into my body?
Will I live?
Please God answer me.
Mary sat in her chair.
One that had become all too familiar.
The line running from the bag to her duct.
The standard nurse questions.
"No nausea. It hit quickly. A big surprise"
"What a surprise!"
"I didn't quite make it to the bathroom."
Both chuckle at what once was an embarrassment.
Chemo changes you
Modesty gone, hopefully to return someday.
Schedules determined by treatments.
Meals determined by reactions.
The life no longer under control.
Perhaps it never was.
Despite the pain,
Life, more precious.
Hazel talking a mile a minute.
Words coming out with no pause.
Reciting her medical history to her daughter
But for all to hear.
This, not her first time in the ward.
The talk covering her nervousness
For the unpleasant event to follow.
On she goes,
"I had a lot of dark hair before."
"My wig looks good. Makes me look younger."
"But I am not out to win a beauty contest."
Soon, a magazine in hand,
"I like looking at the pretty faces."
Many sentences later,
"Ah, I am relaxed. I am ready now."
"Hey, my sweater's wet. "
Does the tube have a leak?"
A panicked look on her face
Her neighbor in next chair, blurts,
"Are you sure you are not slobbering on yourself?"
The tension momentarily broken,
"I've been known to do that."
The leaking tube replaced.
The minor crisis passed.
The bags continue to drain into the bodies.
A quietness takes over for a few brief moments.
Each patient assessing their own unrequested situation.
White haired, graying moustache
Well past his prime
He sits on the recliner,
A plastic tube leading to his arm.
Quietly, he accepts the dosage
That may soon have him retching
Into the nearby plastic container.
No one dreams of coming to this place.
The vigor of youth and the anticipation of the future
Have faded like a pleasant dream.
“The infusion will be at least four hours,” the nurse declares.
“Drip by drip,” comes his reply.
“Can you let my wife know that I will be here longer?”
“I will first give you the lasix and then call her,” she gently replies.
“That will be appreciated.”
Drip by drip, he sits staring across the room
Expression tell little of what is within.
Eyes slowly close
Trying to hurry the passage of time.
His mind has grasped the seldom understood truth
Life is really day-by-day.
Additional Comments: The first time I entered the oncology treatment unit with my mother for her treatments, I was shocked at what I saw. Human beings in recliners, IV's attached delivering the chemicals. Right a way my mother was uneasy with the publicness, the exposure. At 78 years her spirits were high yet also obviously frightened. She continually asked why this was happening to her. I dreaded for my mother the six hour treatment that lay ahead. But as we sat there waiting for her turn to come, the room took on a different aurapatients going on with life, joking, kidding, laughing, and yes, bitching. In a sense, a fraternity formed through mutual suffering. I was amazed as I watched this drama. I realize the poems above will not be my most popular for they deal with one of the greatest fears we all have, CANCER. Yet on that first day and subsequent days that followed, I left somehow refreshed by the human spirit I observed in that room. It gave me hope should I someday succumb to that terrible scourge. My mother has continued to receive periodic treatments. The poems above have covered over five years of accompanying her.
Too much time spent
Staring at sparsely clad walls
With medical charts and graphs.
What are the results?
Such rooms were as strangers during youth
But all too common with passing years.
Flipping through dogged-eared magazines,
I try to escape
This antiseptic, claustrophobic dungeon.
Voices carry, violating privacy,
Sobs interspersed with gasps.
Soon, the knock on the door
Will announce the white-coated messenger.
Still waiting, thinking,
What are the results?
Comments: Most of us have experienced the anxious moments in the doctor's office waiting to hear the diagnosis.
Awaiting on the Table
Soon the dreamless sleep will come.
But now, fully awake, attuned to all sounds.
What brought this person here or that one?
So many ways to arrive.
Mere minutes away, the slow count will begin.
By five, nothingness.
Suddenly, awake again confusion.
Where am I?
New senses and new sounds
Tell me I am alive.
Soon, the experience will be but mere memory.
Comments: Reaction following surgery and the timeless sleep caused by the anesthesia.
The Nocturnal Land
Sleep, blessed sleep
......is all I desire.
......“Need to check your vitals.
............Name and birth date?”
......“Come on, by now you know who I am.”
......“Oxygen and heart rate fine.
............Go to sleep.”
......The infusion pump goes off.
......It is beeping at close to 100 decibels.
......“Please turn it off!
......The call button hit;
............within an eternity the nurse arrives.
......“You must have moved your arm.”
......The mind-altering beep crashes down upon me.
......I wonder what would've happen
............if I threw the machine out the window?
......“I swear, I didn't move my arm.”
......The litany begins again.
......“Nurse, perhaps there is something wrong
............with the damn machine!”
......“We will turn the volume down to 1.”
......“Name and birth date?
............Time to check your vitals.”
......Another malfunction, I almost slept through it.
......“Good morning, I am here to draw your blood.”
......“Name and birth date?”
For six nights, the routine is de rigueur.
Finally, I am sent home to sleep.
Comment: A bit of poetic license, the pump did not go off six nights in a row. It really only misbehaved one night.
Into the Depths
Have you ever wanted to die
......a thought so flagitious
......that shock and surprise abound?
Such a time is
......when you cannot escape the searing torture,
......twenty-four hours a day incessant,
......as if a demon of agony is your master.
During those moments
......you enter the darkness of your soul.
A place so black and dank
......that words and imagination
Your joking and glib comments
......no longer exist.
The standard reply,
......“It’s not bad,”
......but a memory.
You do not want to talk;
......you crave nothing but relief
......and how to escape this madness.
Sympathy means nothing.
Only the pain and the desire
......to leave this world are your reality.
Despite the sermons and folklore,
......the other side cannot be worse
......for you are living in hell.
Comment: I was there but blessedly was able to return.
Into the cool I roll;
......the operating room appears
.......like the ubiquitous ones
......I have encountered too often.
Friendly greetings await,
......trying to calm my 154 BP.
Soon meds inch their way through the tubes.
......as warmth flows through the veins.
Within moments euphoria
......while worries float away.
BP drops to 107/71,
......but I don’t care.
Comment: Many of you have gone through such procedures. This poem takes a lighter look at something that was serious.