I feel better than I did on Saturday, but I am still struggling with congestion and a cough. Last night I only got a few hours of sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable and my coughing kept me awake. It was a short night because we had to get up at early. JJ had a morning of medical procedures. I always get up earlier than the guys so I can get dressed, get the pets fed, and prepare breakfast.
EJ was getting the car started and I had set my coat down on a bench so I could get my boots when a cat barfed on my coat. It was only a little, most of it went on the floor, but ewww. I cleaned up the barf from the floor and washed it off my coat with a washcloth and then put the coat on. I didn’t have time to search for another. I will definitely wash my coat SOON.
At the hospital, we went to the Patient Registration desk to announced that we had arrived and then was directed to the appropriate waiting room. JJ was given two bottles of barium to drink. Last time JJ was given a CT Scan, he chose to have the berry-flavored drink, but this time he chose to have a coffee-flavored drink hoping that it would taste better. It tasted worse, but as I told JJ, it was worth a try. It took him a half hour, but he got the drinks down.
Waiting rooms are interesting places. Sometimes everyone is silent and sometimes people are more talkative and connections are forged. I always wonder about people because everyone has a story of why they are there. Today everyone was silent until two women came in, one elderly and one middle-aged. I thought they were mother and daughter, but found out that they were neighbors. The younger one got people talking, first about the best and worst places to buy paczkis for Fat Tuesday (which I didn’t contribute to because I don’t celebrate it) and then moving on to other topics such as stories of the dogs we all own. We told them about Danny and they told us about their dogs. The older woman, at some point, mentioned that she had just lost her husband. She was obviously fighting tears the whole time we were there. I told her that I was so very sorry and my heart was very grieved for her. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to lose a husband.
After JJ was taken away for his CT Scan and the elderly lady was taken away for her procedure, the middle-aged woman said that she was the lady’s neighbor. The Lady and her husband used to do everything together but then the husband was diagnosed with a blood condition and given six months to live. He died five days later and she is really struggling with grief. The couple had always been very healthy but after her husband died, the woman started struggling with her own health: she has to have thyroid surgery, but a spot was found on her lung. Her test today was to verify that it is a mass and not a smudge on the film or scarring from a cough she has been having. The couple never had any children and the Lady has no family to help her, so the Neighbor takes her to appointments and tries to encourage her, calls her every day, prays for her, gets her out of the house, and so forth. I feel so bad for the Lady, but it is good that she has a Neighbor who cares for her.
I told the Neighbor that our son has cancer, and I shared our story a bit. I told her that this has been an eventful year for JJ: He became an Eagle Scout, graduated from high school, started his first job, began college, and then was diagnosed with cancer. I said that JJ has been very, very courageous through all this. She said she thought her life was tough until she heard JJ’s story. People tend to say that when they hear JJ’s story. I think his story touches them because he is so young. Plus, it’s hard to see such a nice young man struggle with cancer.
It’s interesting because we think our story is just something we live through with as much faith and hope and love that we can. We have gone through difficulties, yes, but we hear other stories that are much more difficult and sadder than ours. But they think our story is more difficult, much more difficult than theirs. It reminds me of a time a friend and I were sharing similar struggles through email in order to encourage each other. When I heard her story, I sent her an email telling her that her story was very sad and much more difficult than mine. At the same time, I got an email from her saying that she thought my story was very sad and much more difficult than hers. We thought that was funny. I think that being able to see the suffering of others prevents us from feeling sorry for ourselves.
I always think of something a friend told EJ a few years ago: The friend complained to a co-worker about his life. The co-worker listened and when our friend was finished, he said, “That is a very sad story. Everyone has a sad, sad story.” Then the co-worker shared his own story, and the story was so terribly sad that our friend felt he had been complaining about nothing in comparison. Whenever I want to complain, I remember that “Everyone has a sad, sad story” and many are so much more difficult and sadder than mine. We have so much to be thankful for because we have each other and so very many blessings. Our difficulties have taught us so much and deepened our faith and love for God and each other. They have given us compassion and understanding for others. That is not sad.
When JJ got back from his scan, the Neighbor said to him, “Do you mind if I give you a hug?” JJ said he didn’t mind, and the woman gave him a big hug and told him she’d be praying for him.
Waiting rooms are interesting places.
After the CT Scan, JJ needed to have a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) to measure how his lungs are doing. Chemo could affect the lungs. We went back down to the Registration Desk in the Lobby and the woman there notified the PFT woman that JJ was ready, and then we were directed to go down a hallway, turn left, take an elevator to the next floor up, and the PFT woman would meet us. We made contact with the correct person, who led us to the PFT room. JJ sat in a booth and breathed into a tube when directed while we chatted. After maybe a half hour or so, the test was over and we were on our way home. Another step is completed.
We were about four miles from home when traffic came to a halt. EJ looked ahead and said that he could see that there was a bad accident at the junction where two highways split off. After waiting about 10 minutes, we did what many others were doing–we turned around and took an alternate route home. I pray everyone survived the accident.
I fixed leftovers for lunch. Then EJ had to leave for work. He left early so he could take a different way to work to avoid the accident site in case it wasn’t yet cleaned up. After EJ left, I brought in the day’s firewood and then JJ and I lay down–he on the couch and I on the love seat–and we took naps.