Chapter 10: Self-Imposed Isolation
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Normal sucks. This TV was getting boring. I had already grown bored of the PS2, and now, I wanted out. It’s about half past September and I still needed to get out and hug that damn tree before our winter began in a few weeks. Hey, it’s Maine.
As soon as my counts are up, I’m going to run outside whether they like it or not. I’d made it known (several times) that I wanted out and it was making some headway. The doctor was well aware, and it looked like they may actually let me go outside (!!).
Yes, please, this room is depressing. It’s way smaller than 851 and it’s boring. All I can see out this window is the top of the next building over. Whoop de doo. I can almost make out the river. Almost isn’t good enough, dammit.
A nurse was taking my blood pressure, one of the few per day, and I was getting antsy. “Do you think that, when my room opens up, I’ll be moved back?”
She chuckled to herself, “I’m sure we can work something out. Missing the view?”
She knows. “Yeah that, plus, it’s a bigger room.” I looked off into the distance and realized the day, and checked my menu from breakfast to confirm it. “Wow, it’s been a month already.” The nurse let go of the cuff and checked her watch. “Wow, no kidding! It felt like yesterday when you were admitted up here!” Pam was the first nurse who took care of me on Grant 8.
That made me sad. I would have been in college by now– undoubtedly over my head, but in college, working toward my career in film. I had wondered what would have occurred if I didn’t develop Leukemia. Where would I be right now?
In Fort Kent. I guess that’s not a big surprise. Man, I was getting grumpy. With the litany of things on my shit list lately, I don’t think I was in any shape to be around people. So I crafted a diversion. “Could you get me the list of movies please?”
Grant 8 had a few TV and VCR rolling cart combos. In addition to the equipment, they also housed a collection of over three hundred movies (mostly family-friendly fare), but some were PG-13 or higher. Needless to say, I was in heaven with this compendium of recent film history.
The nurse obliged. Screw it; if I can’t enjoy anything, I’ll play a movie that I know by heart. I’ll just conduct a one-man movie marathon and call it already. No calls, no visits, just me and the Back to the Future trilogy. Little did I know, my patience would be tested.
Every morning, a dietary worker would pass out my menus for the day, and then return a few hours later, looking for its completion. And most mornings there would be a certain woman making the rounds. She had such a rich “Mainah” accent that in these “downer” days it was grating, to say the least. Hailing from Northern Maine, I had never heard of such an accent in person (one that sadly, our state is known for), and the accent would eviscerate my ears and make me want to punch a wall.
[[An aside: The best way I could give you an example of what our accents sounded like up North is by saying we had the “Mainerr” accent. I used two r’s because the accent had a harder ending, almost an overemphasis of the end of the word; the polar opposite of the traditional way Mainah’s would drop the end of the word (‘Bah Harbah’ vs. ‘Barr Harberr’). This accent was a mash-up of the “Mainah” accent and the Canadian-French accent. ]]
Well, this woman would knock on my door and ask, “All set with ya menus, Deah?” That was all it took that day. I nevertheless calmly responded with, “No, not yet.” She reluctantly backed away and as the day progressed, she would return. “All done with ya menus, Deah?”
Holy Shit. “Nope, I’m not hungry.” (That was an outright lie; I’m like the Hulk except, on Chemo, I’m always hungry). She seemed more frustrated now, and nothing pleased me more. I didn’t want to speak to anyone that day, and she was definitely included in that broad group of “anyone.”
I soon realized the error of my ways, as I saw that the tray I received in lieu of my choice was another simple pad menu, and I wasn’t having beef tips and broccoli. Gross, broccoli sucks! So I tapped the all-powerful summoner: the nurse button. “Can I get something from the room service menu please?”
The next day I removed the sand from my vagina: I was more receptive to the thought of company and in fact, I was craving it. “What the hell is going on with me?”
I promptly filled out my menus, as I wanted to get the right meal this time (and to apologize to that nice lady), but alas, she didn’t come; it was some other lady who didn’t understand the feud that had been pre-established.
I happily handed over the menu, hoping to start a conversation with her, but she wasn’t having it. Bitch, how dare you be mean– Oh. Right. I sat there in confusion. I’m losing my mind.
A quick rap hit the door. It was Pam. I was beginning to pinpoint which person would come through the door based on the knock.
“Hi, Jamie. Good news!” I smiled in anticipation. Outside!
It wasn’t the outdoors, not yet anyway, but they let me walk back to my old room, 851. It felt so good to be able to walk around, and not be wheeled or drove to a stupidly short distance.
I instead wheeled my IV pole in the room and sat on the bed. What did that other kid do to my bed? It feels frumpy. I bounced a bit and let it conform to my thinning ass cheeks. Good enough.
I rang my Mom and Stepdad at the Ronald McDonald House. They said they’d be over soon. As I patiently waited for more human interaction, I sat there in silence. Man, this sucks. I quickly turned on the TV to WABI TV 5 and instead awaited the dulcet tones of Rod Roddy, and my preselected meal, of course.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.