They gave me an early appointment today, so I was second to the chemo room. I got the big chair with a view of all that is going on, the mixing of the chemicals and such. Because of the greed of the pharmaceutical companies, each person's chemicals are worth thousands of dollars, and are mixed right before use. Even, then, an oncologist might change their mind, and down the drain, or to disposal, they go. I guess it is as though they are alive, and their life is short without their host, and maybe even with it, since we drink lots of water to flush them out.
When I walked into the room today, there was a woman there with her husband and she was seeing the room for the first time, and she was crying. She will begin chemo in January. I remembered how shocked I was when I saw the room for the first time, and I wanted to reassure her that it isn't so bad. But, then, I worried I would build her hopes, because it is also not so good. I couldn't find an ethical balance for myself, so I slipped quietly behind her husband, and into my chair. She was sobbing. Her tears are with me tonight. I cannot sleep.
I realize she could not see the mountain. It was not there today, but there was a little hill, and there were birds. The wind had emptied all the hummingbird feeders though. She was not seeing the room on the best day. And, all of us, she couldn't see us through her tears. She is with me tonight. I cannot let her go. Perhaps she allows me to feel my own tears. I see the room and myself through her eyes.
I think of all of this, the ethics of all of it, the trying to visualize in some way that is not murderous to the cancer cells and yet allows my survival. I think people are changed by chemo because they have to expand to imagine a world bigger than the usual view of ethics, a world where I can care with all my heart for this woman I do not know, and I can know that she has to feel her grief. There was nothing I could say to her in that moment to make it easier, or, at least, that was my perception in the moment, and, on reflection, now too. I could only occupy my chair with as much grace as I could bring to the moment and the place.
I had a lovely chair-mate. He was so cute. He had shaved his head not knowing he would receive the kind of chemo where you don't lose your hair. His grandchildren think he is really hip with his shaved head, and he now has hair growing in where he hasn't had hair for twenty years. He said we have to find the gold in this, don't we? That is what we do. All I could see was beauty in this man who gobbles down ice cream right now as comfort. We all are so brave as we sit there and chat. Amazingly, each time, I hit those who politically are right, or perhaps, left, with me, so we Bush-bash a bit, but only a bit, because we are all trying so hard to be positive, and if we let ourselves truly feel what is going on in this country right now, well, we would be a crying heap on the floor. We signed our patient oath to be cheerful and pleasant for all concerned, and we are, and, yet, the pain, the true pain, the bumper stickers as we leave pointing out what Bush has done, the pain of what this country has done, it is with me tonight. My pain rests there, perhaps as a way to externalize the internal, and tonight, I feel all zipped together as one.