We believe we study, prepare, pray, listen, research and get our ducks in a row. And then we get kicked in the ass so hard, we wonder how we ever got through life believing anything other than health is paramount.
Questions come fast and furious: How much will you share? Why haven’t you been writing?
Where are the blogs? Turns out, death is funny. Cancer, hmm, not so much. Cancer is the bitch that holds the cards. Your hand rises to grasp even one from her grip only to find a black talon wagging in your face. She’s in no need of a poker meme. She is the devil and the game delights her. Pearls of humor refuse to show themselves here. Whaaa?
The second surgery is more difficult. It involves tonsil removal, removal of a portion of the palate and part of the tongue, Eventually, all but the tonsil will grow together but the body does not take kindly to rearranging soft tissue about the head or neck. And it lets us know. Through pain, discomfort, a loss of voice, then return of the voice of a stranger followed by, this girl’s personal favorite, a feeding tube.
I take notes at the hospital; little things that come to me. Things not to forget. Things to share with readers. Things that might make a difference in something, somewhere, sometime. My ideals of coming home and writing while we prepare for chemo and radiation are dashed by learning to feed oneself through a tube and speech practice so that I do, sometime in the near future, sound human again.
Sunday morning, a text: “Mom, I can’t do our Sunday talk ‘cuz I’m on a plane. I’ll be with you tonight by eight o’clock.” It’s Middle Chicken, rerouting her spring break plans. Seems she, Oldest Chicken and Baby Pea have been plotting through the night.
Three hours after her arrival, the nightly coughing begins. We’ve given it names: The Phlegm Monster, The Swallow Schieister and Just Plain Asshole.
I get up. I will just go to the bathroom and spit it out. I grab my feeding tube and off we shuffle. I bend at 45 degrees. I figure one good cough should get it up. I place my hand on my chest and cough. Hard. Blood splatters across the bathroom. A personal Psycho moment.
I cough again and twice as much flies across my pretty little bathroom—the commode, the floor, the walls—blood splatter everywhere. And then I hear, “Oh, oh,” and realize Middle Chicken is behind me. She is already dialing nurse friends who know the score. She is moving in kind of an “I don’t know what to do” wander. Which makes two of us.
Clots and clumps are at the ready. None comes without the bomb that explodes at the end shooting blood shards everywhere. The bleeding stops and a small portion of my throat feels better. Middle Chicken is deeply regretting giving up three days at the beach.
According to all, blood from surgery has to come out. So it’s all normal. Okay, then.
I talk to Sisterella who is out of town. She is also a nurse. She says all is true, “It’s gotta get out of your system. It’s part of healing.”
“The worst thing is, that area is so vascular that it only take a few drops of blood to turn it all Braveheart.”
And there is my pearl in the black hole. I laugh aloud, in some stranger’s voice, at a bathroom covered in blood, where someone would surely begin a search for the body. In that moment, I know the laughter is still there.
“You’re not really going to write about that are you,” questions one of the dolls.
“You bet your ass I am.” The good side of my face is smiling.