Thinking about how things happen…
Forgive me for I am in quite a pensive mood. What normally would have caused me to be upset and anger was defused at my door step. I was on my way home from work. listening to the radio, talking to Ricky on the phone about his day, thinking about dinner(of course, food is “always on my mind” to paraphrase Willie Nelson.) when the bat phone rang. The bat phone is my on-call cell that I get on rotation every six weeks.
I parked the car in my stall and called the help desk back to see what was up. It was 4:38 pm. Technically, on-call starts at 5:00pm. There was a problem with a printer in admitting. At this point I am still a little miffed to say the least. I ask the clerk to call them back and tell them I will be there in 30 minutes. I go on into our condo and tell Rick to hold dinner I have a call. This is where the turn around happens both physically and mentally.
As I am leaving the condo the neighbor across the hall catches me for a brief chat. Her sister is back in the hospital and would I mind going and seeing her. She was sure she would welcome my visit. I told her that I was heading back there for an on-call emergency and that I would gladly pay her a visit. I don’t know if I have written here about this before but my neighbors sister has terminal cancer.
My mood changed. I wasn’t going to fix some ridiculous problem. I was going to visit a woman who was dying and needed comfort. I would still have to fix that printer but now my return to work had a higher purpose. That printer seemed insignificant. My time seemed trivial, and my anger trite. This woman had bigger problems. The neighbor told me the room number and we talked about the weather. She was trying not to think about the reality of the situation. I could see the sadness in her eyes. She was trying desperately not to cry. This was her last sibling. She had told me the whole bad luck story some months ago, how cancer had taken her niece and her other sister and now her baby sister was dying too.
We didn’t speak of it (the cancer) directly. I would she her out front getting some air, smoking a cigarette. The older sister told me that the doctor said it was okay for her to smoke, no pointing in worrying about that now. She would tell me about pins that were put in her leg and how she was going to get better. She was very positive and cheery, although if I caught a glimpse of her when she didn’t know I was looking I could see the pain on her face.
So I went back to the hospital. I fixed the printer and I visited my neighbor on the Oncology floor. She was happy to see me. We talked about her sister back home. She was concerned that she might need help with the garbage and things like that. I told her we would check in on her. This woman is dying and she is more concerned about the people around her than herself. It amazed me. I needed to take note and learn from this. She made me feel good about myself and life.
Her nephew was there too. We talked about when she might go home again. She said she was admitted for pain management and proceeded to tell me all the drugs she was taking. The oncologist has seen her and told her they might be able to zap her shoulder with radiation to relieve some to the pain. She said once the pain was under better control she would be going home with hospice. A nurse would take care of her and a hospital bed would be moved into the living room. She was concerned about where the couches would go that belonged to her sister. Her nephew told her not to worry they could be moved into the bedroom. She was eating her dinner so I took that as my cue to leave. I gave her a hug at her insistence and told her I would visit again soon.
Note: I hope I haven’t confused you with all the shes and hes here, but I have to be careful not to use names and violate any regulations. Even though I am her friend I am also a hospital employee.