The past week had too many reminders that the most important things in life tend to be the things you most take for granted. The medical industry thrives on this sad cliché.
Among friends and acquaintances alone, we’ve had one guy go to the hospital for shingles, and another from internal bleeding. The internal bleeder didn’t even know he lost 20% of his blood until he passed out a couple of times and split his face open. Who’da thunk prescription strength Aleve could abuse your innards like that?
Even me, as I sit here writing this, I’ve got a ball of phlegm just sitting there in my chest cavity, daring me to kill him with double-shots of Nyquil. The impolite fucker’s been there for almost a week and has yet to realize that he’s overstayed his welcome. But who the hell cares, really, as long as it’s not malaria (damn diseased Cambodian mosquitoes).
My baby sister finished her last round of chemo several days ago.
Done. Finis. We celebrated with a quiet family dinner, during which I palmed her shaved head more than usual. Just like a fuzzy cantaloupe, her little noggin. The hair starts growing back in a month, at which time she’s decided to dye her hair purple. ‘Til then, I wasn’t going to waste my remaining head-palming opportunities, even as she contemplated stabbing me with her soup spoon.
Two days later, my hand was on her head again, at the hospital.
I was massaging her scalp and temples in an attempt to alleviate her headache as she lay there in a bed, watching a “Will and Grace” re-run. The medical industry, I joked, loves you and won’t let you leave like the needy bitch it is.
My mom had taken her back to the hospital the day after our quiet dinner. A headache she'd been experiencing had turned into full-blown nausea.
The headaches, dizziness and vomiting, the doctors found out, were caused by bleeding in her brain - just one of the many possible side effects of the chemo drugs. Chemo is, after all, carefully administered poison, always teetering on that line between necessary and evil.
Fortunately the bleeding was minor enough that it didn’t require surgery, and she got to go home yesterday. My little sister with the bald head covered with stubble as soft as a feather. How could I ever take her for granted again?