Jon hasn’t contributed to the blog in days because we’ve come through those initial moment-by-moment swings of panic, denial, and reactions to the different daily chemo cocktails and their cruel/miraculous side effects that make for fascinating reading material. Dylan has come out the other end of the first round of the chemo meat grinder, and now we just wait. Hospital waiting isn’t the best material for writing. Yet here I am. There was a lot of pressure after Emma created her article on The Growl Online and Grandma Eekhoff crafted her contribution to the blog – I think at least 3 people wondered aloud on Facebook, “When are we going to hear from you, Che?” So here I sit with a pen desperately low on ink and a scrap of hospital paper – a la Emily Dickinson – ready to share my peculiar take on this crazy ride.
When you live a life blessed with love (like Beyonce and JayZ), luck (as Oprah says, “Preparation meets opportunity”) and fortune (although, teachers have NOT received a voter-approved Cost of Living raise in 8 years), devoid of Tragedy with a capital “T,” you have to wonder if it will change you when the 2-by-4 finally does crack you upside the head. Will you maintain the inappropriate sense of humor you’ve nurtured over a lifetime in the emergency room minutes after the word “cancer” is dropped? Unfortunately for the staff at Olympic Medical Center and Swedish Hospital, yes.
It’s come to my attention over and over again that, as a family, we share an uncommon sense of humor. As toddlers, my kids recognized my shouting, “NO PICKLE FOR YOU!” as an awesome Seinfeld reference, but it frightened their friends. Go figure. One time, having lunch with pre-teen Emma and her friend Allie, Jon started the meal conversation with, “So, Allie, Emma tells me your dad is a pirate.” We don’t see Allie much anymore. And within minutes of being told by the multi-tasking ER doctor without a personality, “We’re going to have to take another CT scan. Their concern is it might be cancer,” I was sarcastically choking through tears, “This is so f***ing stupid. I thought we were here for an enema.”
I can see the faces I’ve shocked over the past three weeks at Swedish: Dr. Pagel (varsity cancer rock star and chemo cocktail mixologist) stopped in his tracks when I told him my mother-in-law had been checking up on him online, and she approves. RNs Beth and Stephen had to pause when Beth saw my knitting project – the 2nd in a pair of socks – and mentioned she could just never finish a 2nd sock. I replied, “I know, right? Thank God my son’s in the hospital so I can finally knock this one out.” The people who don’t think this material is funny also wouldn’t find humor in my husband asking Dylan if he’s taken his meds/shower/ laps around the ward and Dylan answering back with a weak middle finger. They might even cringe at a mother who tells her son to stop being a baby as he cries for morphine to dull the pain of the violent battle going on inside his body. He’s 20 years old; you can’t call CPS. Some folks do get it. Dylan’s favorite nurses (actually, they’re all his favorites) are the ones who pitch him crap, poke fun at him when he’s weak, laugh with him over the tragically mis-ordered lettuce and jelly sandwich that appeared to our horror one day. I can’t imagine a day, even on the 12th floor at Swedish, without several-many guffaws. Life is full of so much irony, silliness, fun, and joy – every freaking day!
A couple days ago, my brother (who I adore!) caught me as we were both headed up to Dylan’s room. He asked me something like, “Well, are we putting on a mask?” He caught me off guard and I didn’t answer him directly, which probably told him, “Yes, let’s put on those masks and please don’t refer to said masks in the future.” What I should have said was no. No. This is no mask. This is how we do life. This is me trusting completely in Dr. Rockstar and his team. Calling more frequently on the God I had been a little neglectful of in recent years. Accepting love and encouragement from family and friends. We do cry – even weep. But I can’t dwell there. My family can’t dwell there. This is how we deal with this little detour. So, no, I’m not wearing a mask. Mask-es?! We don’t need no stinking mask- es!