Last night JJ was talking to a friend through the Internet. They were discussing his cancer. After a bit, JJ called out to me, “What kind of medicine am I on again?” I never can remember the long unpronounceable names of medications. My mind a blank, I grasped for the only word that came to mind: “You are on Oxymoron,” I called back. I was hoping to slip it by him without him noticing that it wasn’t really a name of a medicine. “Oxymoron” means “an expression with contradictory words: a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect, such as ‘cruel kindness’ or ‘to make haste slowly.’” However, we all love words and JJ caught me. We laughed uncontrollably as he relayed, “Ha, ha, ha! My Mom says I’m on Oxymoron.”
I provide the comic relief.
Every morning when we arrive at the Cancer Center, JJ is given a blue form to fill out while we sit in the waiting room before we are led back to the Infusion Room. He has to indicate, on a scale of 0 to 9, from good to worse, his level of appetite, nausea, tiredness, well-being, depression, and so on. He had a few 4s on his form this morning.
After a while, Chris came to take us back to the Infusion Rooms. Chris asked, “You doing ok? You look tired today.” JJ said, “I’m doing ok,” but I translated that to “He always says he’s good, but actually he had a rougher night last night.” Chris said, “I can tell…but, hey, buddy, that’s ok, huh? We guys are TOUGH!”
Today we returned to Room 8, the room we had yesterday. It is my favorite room so far. For the first time we had roommates all day–an older woman, her twin sister, and her twin sister’s mother-in-law, who has dementia. They are from a small town not too far from ours. I am glad that our roommates were of compatible personalities since being in the same small room forces people into intimacy. We all chatted back and forth. They were very sympathetic to JJ. His young age brings out extra compassion, it seems to me. And we felt compassion for our “neighbor” who has Stage 3b cancer and is hurting from both Chemo and Radiation.
There are a lot of people in the Infusion Rooms with suffering eyes. All the people in the rooms keep their doors open. I think they, like JJ, like to watch people walk by in the hall so they don’t feel so alone and isolated. We can see them when we walk by to get drinks at the kitchenette or go to the restroom, and I always pray for them.
Today we had a new nurse, Jamie, to assist Janet, one of our regular nurses. Jamie was very sweet and friendly, and she has a cute smile. She told us that she usually works in the area where cancer patients go if they are admitted to the hospital–for dehydration, or an infection, or whatever. She was working in our area today so we will see a familiar face if we are admitted to the hospital at some point. Hopefully, prayerfully, JJ won’t have to ever be admitted.
After JJ was settled in, EJ went to the cafeteria for our breakfast. He always chooses a variety of different foods because we are never sure what will appeal to JJ. Yesterday JJ chose boiled eggs. Today he chose fried potatoes, and he nibbled some crackers. Whatever JJ doesn’t choose to eat, EJ and I eat for our breakfast.
We had wondered all week if it would be possible for EJ to visit his friend in ICU. Tammy was severely beaten by her son earlier this week and was put in an induced coma. While EJ was gone getting food, I asked Jamie if people are allowed to visit ICU patients. She said “Certainly!” She recommended EJ ask at the Information desk in the lobby to find where she’s at because there are three different ICU departments. She said that if Tammy was not allowed visitors, they’d let him know. Otherwise, he should just talk to her because coma patients can hear. When EJ got back with our food, I explained all this to him, and he went looking for her after we ate, but he returned a short time later and said she wasn’t in the hospital any longer. I hope she was just transferred somewhere else. We are concerned about her.
There is a Weather Advisory out for our area starting tonight. We are expecting several inches of snow. So EJ left us to do a little shopping while he could. He got gas in the car and stopped at a Gordon Foods store and bought cups with lids so the cats couldn’t drink JJ’s water or juices and wrapped plastic silverware to use at home.
All week we have anticipated Friday, the end of the week, when JJ could have a couple of days off Chemo. We weren’t the only ones. There was a different feel in the Infusion area today, a feeling of suppressed anticipation. All the cancer patients can enjoy two days without needles and tubes and bags of fluids. The families can stay home. Freedom!
JJ was released at about 2:30 p.m. As soon as we arrived home and got JJ settled, I drove off to run some errands.
First, I drove to the post office for our mail. We live in such a small village that there is no mail delivery within the village limits. There are only post office boxes. When we first moved here, I couldn’t imagine such a thing as no mail delivery, but I quickly grew accustomed to it. It’s rather pleasant to walk the two blocks to the post office and greet the smiling faces of the post office workers, some of whom have watched JJ grow up. We recently got a new Postmaster. He is very friendly and compassionate. He had heard me tell someone that JJ has cancer, and now he always asks about him and says he prays for him. Today as he handed over a package, he said, “Would you mind if I take a moment to pray for your son?” So he reached across the counter and we held hands and he prayed. There are some very special people in this world.
From the post office I drove to the veterinarian’s in the next town to buy another bag of Luke’s Very Special Cat Food that he needs for his urinary tract problems. I suspect Luke could get difficult if the Very Special Food ran out. The other cats love the food too and always try to sneak into the bathroom to eat Luke’s special food, and sometimes they are successful, especially if Luke opens the door himself to get out. Lately we can occasionally hear the swish, swish, swish of Little Bear pawing at the doors of the cabinet where we keep the bag of special food. But only Luke can have this food because it’s too expensive to feed to all the cats.
After the vet, I drove to the grocery store to pick up a few items for JJ, like crackers and popsicles and juices. Then I drove to the Chinese restaurant. JJ loves Chinese food and we told him we’d get him General Tso’s Chicken to celebrate the ending of his first week of Chemo.
At home, EJ helped me unload everything. I dished out some of the Chinese food for our JJ, poured him some lemonade, gave him one of his anti-nausea pills. Then I did a load of his laundry. The new washer and dryer make very musical tones as I push various buttons to get them started, and when they are finished with their loads. Sometimes I truly feel like I’m playing a musical instrument.
Now, at least, it’s time for us all to rest…although I am on call all night, whenever JJ needs me. And EJ is too.