Thursday Feb. 18
Movement, light, my tobacco scented clothing (uhg Mommmm you stink…) sound – it all makes him retch. The chemo is at work. The nurses move purposely, administering their care and medicines and I wonder if they ever get used to such grave sickness.
He lies still, exhausted but also afraid to move lest another wave of nausea overcomes him. Yesterday was the same, and he eats nothing. They hang bag after bag of IV fluid, now running through the CVC, trying to keep him hydrated.
He complains constantly of pain in his right wrist and is taken for an x-ray. Nothing shows up. I’m told maybe its soft tissue damage from an IV. Most of the nurses are young, in their twenties, who still move lightly after a grueling twelve hour shift. Sandra, a stout blonde with a sweet smile helps me put the deep, soft sheepskin we ordered under his wasting body. The pressure of himself lying on the bed makes him ache.
Kathy and Cyndi with Kevin L are standing hesitantly in the doorway. I get up from the chair and am wrapped up in their hugs. They are in town for a wheel chair clinic at GF Strong. My mom sits with Nick while I take an offered umbrella from one of the nurses and walk under steel clouds, in a gray drizzle, my chin tucked into my collar.
Saturday Feb 20
Gerry E.’s big, burly body and ready laugh fills the room, and Nick’s face emerges from the covers with the first smile I’ve seen in days. Gerry arranges a massive stuffed bunny with floppy ears and himself on each side of his little friend. While Nick chuckles over the rabbit with the pink nose I watch our Harley motorcycle-riding neighbor from home who makes his living operating a backhoe, wipe at his suddenly damp eyes.
Ribbons and strings of red are appearing in the white foam Nick is throwing up into the puke trays. I rush to find a nurse and learn his “platelets have bottomed” and it is blood. His violent retching has broken blood vessels.
In a medical book I’ve seen the platelet drawn with irregular edges, allowing it to clump with other platelets and form clots to stop the passage of blood. The red cells are drawn like saucers, the white cells with and without nuclei, and the odd, perverse shapes of the mutant and insanely multiplying cancer cells, all of them birthed from the uterus inside his bones. They drift together inside the tubes of Nick’s veins and arteries where the chemo is introduced, an angry warrior, The Dark Lord. A piss yellow tidal wave that boils, and like acid, it scalds and dissolves the cancer cells. But it’s an uneducated soldier, a killing machine, and everything dies – cellular genocide, even scarring the vessels where within this slaughter takes place.