Solemn Anniversary-Part IV

I returned to myself finally after replaying that day in my mind.  Since Bob and Teresa stood at the doorway to the waiting room; Gabrielle was sitting there, slumped and I was in no mood for them to be mean to her I went up to them.  I waited for them to move so I could get into the room but they ignored me.   I was in the hallway, my daughter was in the room; and the monsters stood as a barrier between me and mine.

Because there was not enough room for them in the “little room”  I went looking for a larger waiting room that would accommodate all of us.

Bob and Teresa just stood rooted in their spot letting me do that.  Typical of them of course and I was in no way surprised.  I was glad to have something to do anyway.

I did find a larger waiting room—much larger in fact.

It wasn’t directly across from the ICU but only about 20 feet away so it would suffice.  I hoped the doctors in charge of Mike would search me out or at least call my cell phone if they needed me.

The room was about 40’ x 20’ with a wall of windows, some lounge chairs, a couple of sofas, a desk and a TV.    Occasionally a volunteer would sit at that desk, to answer questions, give information, directions to here or there, etc.

This room would be my home for an hour, a day, days, weeks?  How long, I just didn’t know.  Nor did it really matter that much to me as I’ve sat on the floor of 2 other hospitals that Mike had been in and if I had to do that again, it was ok.  But for the time being I had a chair to sit in.

Acting as a hostess, for some reason, I bid Bob and Teresa to come in, to sit down and make themselves comfortable.  Even though they had yet to say anything to me, they did as I suggested and squeezed their big bodies into a pair of chairs against one wall.

I sat across from them (as far away as I could get and still be in the room) and looked at them. I guess I was actually studying them.

Teresa sat in her usual posture of elbows on the armrests and hands gripping her purse.  Her ankles crossed and she sat leaning slightly forward in her chair with a frown.  I don’t know if she frowns in confusion, tension, poor eyesight or because maybe she just does not know where she is or why.

Bob sat back in his usual posture as well.  With one arm across the back of the chair next to him (not his wife’s) and one leg crossed, ankle on the knee.  It is a lounging position; as if he has no cares in the world.

Everyone from the other room eventually followed us in, picked out a chair and sat.  Plenty of seating and space for all of us and more!  Robyn and Matt however pocked their heads in the room, looked around but did not come in.  I don’t know why and I don’t know where they went.  But I didn’t see them again until hours later.

Tom sat next to me, across from Bob and Teresa.

Gabrielle and Robert came into together and sat on a sofa under the windows, situating themselves between me and the monsters.

But for the TV on, as they always are in these waiting rooms, there was no sound.  No conversation.  No words but for mine a few minutes before, conducting everyone from one room to the other.

I did not know what was happening so I couldn’t really advise Mike’s parents; not that they’d asked.   I didn’t feel like talking to them as fatigue was setting in from the stress of the past two months, the utter terror of the day’s events and my impromptu marathon run around the hospital.  It was all coming together to just make me numb.  For a few minutes I had no thoughts, no feelings, and no words—nothing.  I had patience though.   Still.  I was waiting for the doctors to talk to me and tell me what they were doing, how Mike was and what the future holds for us.  I didn’t expect them to read tea leaves or have a crystal ball to give me absolutes, but I expected or hoped for an idea, a clue, an outline of things to come from them.

While looking at Bob and Teresa I remembered that they had not greeted me.  I remembered that Bob was angry. I also remembered that I didn’t know what he was mad about.  Heretofore I have found Bob to be pretty reasonable.  His wife is stupid and frustrating and he does his best to explain things to her.  He might even see my point of view on some things.  Or he used to anyway before cancer.

A few weeks earlier, he and I were standing in my kitchen and he observed that the lawns (front and back) were starting to look like they were dying.  I told him, yes I turned the water off.

He said, “I think that’s a mistake.”

Oh.  Ok.  Well, you see we don’t have any money coming in and I have to weigh the two priorities—food and medicines for Mike or water for the lawns.  I’m choosing things for Mike.   

He said, “Well I think you’re making a mistake.  You have neighbors driving by…”

Uh, neighbors?  Like I give a flying fig about the neighbors!?!

I told him, if you want to pay the water bill then I’ll turn the sprinklers back on.

He walked away without a word in response.  I had a mini epiphany then…he doesn’t know me at all if he thinks I care about what the neighbors think and he’s not going to help us financially at all while his son is dying.

Anyway, Bob was mad at me; I asked myself why?  I also wondered if I should just ask him or let him tell me if he felt like it.  Did I care if he was mad?  Nope I didn’t.  So I decided I was not going to ask.  I would focus on something, anything else, other than his anger.

We had been sitting in that room all together – but apart- for about 15-20 minutes.  Tom leaned over to me and asked in a whisper, “Who are those people?”  Tilting his head, indicating Bob and Teresa.

I answered in a normal voice, those are Mike’s parents.  Yes, I wanted them to hear me.  I wanted them to acknowledge me and Tom.

Tom looked at them for a few seconds then leaned over to me again and said, “They look pretty cold and heartless.”  Oh yeah.  DING!  You get the gold star for the day Tom.You have NO idea how cold and heartless they can be.  Of course neither did I, until later…

The minutes turned into hours….of waiting.

Suddenly and startlingly my cell phone rang.  It was my friend Jane who had been occasionally helping me run the gambit of insurance companies, admissions, releases of Mike to/from hospitals as well as other things.  I answered and she told me that she was in the “canteen”; the VA’s cafeteria.  She also told me that she had seen Bob and talked to him a little while ago.

Oh?  Before he and Teresa arrived at the ICU unit?

“Yes.”

She asked me to come to the canteen to talk to her—she would tell me about their conversation.

Sure, why not? I said.   I left the room then to go down a few floors and find Jane.  Apparently she knew the source of Bob’s anger and since he wasn’t sharing I figured maybe Jane would be able to tell me.

I did not tell anyone where I was going, as I just didn’t want to.  I told Gabrielle, I’ll be right back and knew she would text/call me if she wondered where I was.  So I just got up, walked out of the room and left.

I found Jane in an atrium type of area that also served for over-flow eating, with metal picnic benches painted green.  She was smoking furiously and seemed agitated.

What’s up?  I asked her.

She said, “I ran into Bob and Teresa a little while ago.”

Yes, I understand.  What about that?

“Bob was talking about getting some of Mike’s things.  He wanted to know if I had a key to your house and if I could let him in”

What things?  That he asked Jane if she had a key to my house should have seemed unusual or suspicious to me I suppose, but I didn’t want this to drag out.  I wanted to get back upstairs to Mike.

“I don’t know…just Mike’s stuff I think.”

Why?

“For Ryan.”

For Ryan?  What the hell are you talking about?  Taking Mike’s things?  Such as clothes?  Or personal items for the hospital?  Or….?

“Apparently Bob thinks he should come to your house and take things like Mike’s gun collection, his motorcycles, some painting that Teresa painting and other stuff.”

Ok, what are you talking about?!  He’s not dead!  Ryan doesn’t get those things!

While talking with Jane, my cell phone rang.  It was a doctor who was with Mike.  She asked where I was.  Downstairs, I told her.

She said, “I need you to come upstairs now please. We managed to get Mike to sign all the authorizations but we forgot one. Can you come up and sign the form for him?”

Yup I can and will be there in 3 minutes.

I found her in the ICU unit, outside of Mike’s room; the door was closed to his room and I couldn’t see him.  The doctor gave me a form and told me they wanted to do dialysis and had not gotten Mike’s permission to do so but they need to do it.  Dialysis?  Uh ok…where do I sign? 

I signed the document and she whisked away to…I don’t know where, but out of the ICU unit.  I asked one of the ICU nurses if I could go in and see Mike.

“Not yet.”

Ok, not yet. But that means I will!  Patience needed still.

I returned to Jane who had remained in the canteen waiting for me.  I asked her for details about this conversation she’d had with Bob.   I asked her if Bob had specifically asked her if Mike had a Will.

He had.  I wondered about that.  Why would he ask about that?  Why would he, at this stage, care?

I wondered, out loud, about Bob’s motivation.  What his goal was and why he would wonder if Mike had a Will.  I reiterated that no one is taking anything of Mike’s.  No one is getting anything.  Ryan is certainly not going to get a thing from Mike because Mike really doesn’t have anything to give to anyone.  Nevermind that Ryan has to share with Gabrielle and Austin, if there’s anything to share.  Nevermind that Mike decided to exclude Ryan from his Will due to Ryan’s bad behavior over the past few years, that he’ll inherit from his mother, Mike’s parents, maternal grandparents and so on.  Gabrielle and Austin only had me so Mike was trying to be fair given the circumstances.  This will all become a very large factor later on….

Jane said, “I know!  I told him Mike has a Will.”

She relayed that Bob asked then, “Mike has a Will?”

“And I told him he does.  Bob asked me if I’d seen it and I told him not only have I seen it I witnessed Don and Debbie signing it.  It seems like he got really mad then and he stormed out.”

Oh brother.  So THAT’S why Bob was angry with me when they got off the elevator.  They had run into Jane…oddly….and discussed Mike’s possessions and his Last Will and Testament.  Why would the fact that Mike had a Will make his dad mad? I found it peculiar.  After all I work for an attorney;  I’ve done dozens of Wills for strangers why wouldn’t I ensure my husband has one?  Most especially since Mike had an ex-wife who wanted everything Mike had, though they’d been divorced for more than 15 years.

In our state a Last Will and Testament does not need to be notarized but if it is a typed document–rather than a holograph– it needs to be witnessed.  I had two friends of Mike’s witness his signing of his Will, which contained terms that he had dictated to me—and Jane witnessed the witnesses.  The Will was ironclad according to the controlling Probate laws of our state.   

Even though Mike and I were determined to beat this cancer, we were also practical. His ex-wife was a vampire and would suck us dry if we let her.  If Mike were to die, then I’d need some protection against her ridiculous claims; they would be abundant.  She was addicted to litigation and for well over 10 years she dragged Mike into court for one frivolous issue after another.  Her addiction began with their divorce, continued during the entire course of our marriage and beyond…. Our worry that she would attack me in the event of Mike’s death was not unfounded.   Our worry turned into realization…but that’s later.

In the months to come I was to learn just exactly how mad Bob was…

I returned to the waiting room and noted that no one had moved.  Jane was with me then and she said hello to everyone and took up waiting with us.

Time passed…  Slowly…  Jane and Tom were chatting as if they were old friends; but they had only just met.  Bob and Teresa sat stoically and silently in their chairs, watching the TV which was mounted on the wall above my head.

There was no clock in the room, but if it was an Edgar Allen Poe setting, one would be hearing the loud tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock of a clock somewhere nearby but out of sight.  

It was about 2:00 in the morning when a doctor finally came to find me.  He asked to talk to me in the other room…the little waiting room.

I didn’t know if I should be scared, worried, relieved or what I should be feeling.  So I felt trepidation and wariness.  I followed him to the other room which was conveniently empty.

Gabrielle joined us and then Tom and Jane.  Bob and Teresa stayed put.

As I’ve mentioned before the room is very small. Seating for 3 people at best.  As everyone sat down the doctor stood against the wall.  Then he slid down and sat on the floor.  I liked him then.  I’ve sat on the floor in a hospital haven’t I?  He wasn’t so arrogant or prideful, as doctors can be, that he minded sitting on the floor.

He was young-ish, maybe 28.   It was hard to tell his age really.  He was about 6’2”, with a thin frame.  He had blond hair that was stylishly cut and wore wire rimmed glasses. He introduced himself to me and had an Irish sounding name.  He made light of the similarities of our last names and said we had that in common.  Ok you can’t be that bad then….but….Ok. Ok. Ok.  Thanks, love to get to know you later…but, really can you end my torture and tell me WHAT is going on?

While he sat on the floor next to my chair he looked up at me and took a deep breath.  He said, “I have to tell you I was very worried for Mike. Very, very worried.”

Yes, me too.

“I didn’t know if he was going to pull through.” He continued.

He stopped then and looked around the room.  While I absorbed what he just told me.  Worried for him? Pull through?!

He then told me that toxins were all throughout Mike’s body.   His kidneys and liver were having trouble with all the toxins.  Of course the pancreas was highly compromised so they put him on dialysis to assist him.

“But he’s done very well and I’m quite relieved.” He happily told me.

Well I’m relieved too!!!

Can I see him?

“Yes, we’re done.  He’s very comfortable now.”

Comfortable.  Mike was comfortable while laying flat on his back.

That word, comfortable, was comforting to me.  Mike was resting comfortably, for the first time in weeks and weeks.                      

I was almost lighthearted.  I would have been had I not been outside an ICU unit in the VA hospital.  A wall or two remained between my husband and I; but he was comfortable and I was glad.

The doctor stood up, asked me if I had any questions, I didn’t and he left.

I followed him out and went into the ICU unit.

I saw that the door to Mike’s room was open and I walked in.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Solemn Anniversary-Part IV

  1. Your story is so well written, I couldn’t stop reading it. Thank-you for sharing this tough time in your life. I find that learning of other people’s experiences makes us more human. I’m sorry that your in-laws were so unbearable, especially at a time when their son was dying. I have to say, though, I really enjoyed how you talked about the doctor… how he sat on the floor and you liked that. I will remember it forever… I struggle with the thought of difficult situations like these in my future career, and I want to make sure that I do the best I can when I turn comes to deliver news to mourning families.

    Like

    • You know, I’m writing that “story” to try to get it out of my head…to move on but to memorialize the whole thing in a way. But this comment of yours, gave me chills…I’m not sure why really, I’ll have to think about it…but chills in a good way, ok? 🙂

      The thing about the doctor, I so wish I could remember his name…it was Mc..something. His actions, sitting on the floor showed he was human. He cared and his education or chosen career did not make him better than me. Trust me I’ve dealt with many many doctors over the past couple of years and several of them were so arrogant, so darn dismissive that I felt I was bothering them, annoying them when I asked a question. This doctor though..he was different. Because of his humanity, he was able to talk about a scary topic but without being scary. There are other doctors that are part of this storytelling and they didn’t achieve that in any way, shape or form. Thanks for reading!

      I’m curious now…what is your future career?

      Like

      • I think all Doctors need to show empathy, and be human. We are all human and the moment we forget that… well, we lose out. I and currently in med school and i’m hoping to be an obstetrician/gynecologist. I keep another blog (with my real identity) and there is a post I wrote there a few months back that I think you might like to read. I think I will either give you the link, or re-post it here on wordpress for you, and hopefully others, to read and appreciate

        Like

      • I understand why the description of the doctor–sitting on the floor was interesting to you.

        We are all human aren’t we?

        When I take my pets to the vet and he is more compassionate and caring about my pets than me I’m ok with it. Because I want him to care about my pets.

        I had to deal with a lot of doctors over the past couple of years…in many areas of practice…and too many of them act as if they are superior. Because they went to med school doesn’t qualify them as “better” than me or anyone else. Its a choice of profession…maybe even a calling for some. I had a doctor treat me after a motorcycle accident wherein I was badly damaged including head injury. While I was in the ICU he waltzed in, followed by some worshippers and asked if I remembered him. For crying out loud I don’t remember me! Don’t know where I am or what happened…I told him no, I didn’t remember him. He rolled his eyes at me! I was astounded. My son saw him do it and got angry. Ok my skull is split in 4 places you want me to remember you doctor whatever your name is? Some doctors give them impression they are gods, like this one did. But the fact is they aren’t…while they may be talented/skilled even that was given to them by God and they are mere mortals like the rest of us. Indeed they even make mistakes, like the rest of us.

        On the flip side of the coin, I fully understand the need for doctors to disconnect from the emotional aspect of things. I worked for a family law attorney for 15 years (recently laid off). I had to put the emotions of the case aside so I could do my job effectively. I couldn’t feel the emotions because that would be crippling…so in that sense I do understand the need for doctors to step outside of the emotions. But at no time did I ever forget it was the clients lives we were dealing with. At no time where they just a silly annoyance for me to have to work with.

        When doctors lose their connection to humanity, they might as well quit

        It was a horrifying experience this CANCER thing..when I came across a doctor that was completely in touch with the frustration, anxiety and utter terror that a cancer diagnosis can give to someone, it was extraordinary.

        I would love to read your other blog…repost it, give me the address, whatever works for you!

        Like

      • And, i’m so sorry, I didn’t realize you had written a second reply! These experiences sound horrible and I’m sorry to hear that you had to endure them. People like you, sharing your experiences, will hopefully change this aspect of medicine.

        Like

      • No need for apologizes! Its all good…the replies bog down, you’re writing, I’m writing..they get crossed in the mail. LOL….like my check for payment.

        Like

  2. Oh how I feel your pain about the inlaws! My Mike was living with his parents when he died. I asked for several of his things – all for the kids, not me – and all I received was his wallet (with no cash) and three broken laotops.

    Like

    • I guess, if you didn’t already know, that what they gave you shows exactly how they felt about you doesn’t it. Its a shame really. I know you didn’t want anything, that if you asked for anything of Mike’s you wanted it for your kids.

      I still find it rather uncanny that you and I had such similar experiences with the inlaw’s because of our husband’s both named Mike.

      Like

Tell me what you think...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s