Chapter 13: Homecoming
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The nurse pulled the needle out of my scarred mound of skin. Even the smallest of gauges stung when piercing the tough flesh adorning the Port-A-Cath. Needles never hurt me before, so I had no reason to fear them… That is until they punctured scar tissue, daily.
But today’s point was different. Today, the needle was being removed because I was finally going home. It was rather difficult to keep that secret from my Father and Brother the previous weekend. You would think I’d want to tell them of my escape, but it’s much more amusing to surprise them when they least expected it, in person no less.
I sat there wondering what was the record for longest hospital stay. This day, September 30th, was my forty-second day. 42: the “answer” according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I guess the question I should have asked was: How long will I be in the hospital for the first time? “Forty-two days” is definitely not a broken leg; hell it isn’t even a bad flu. Forty-two was too much of anything– well except the points in a basketball game… that’s pathetic in basketball.
The nurse came back with my counts: Indeed they were strong enough to withstand the public (with a mask of course). It was only eight-thirty in the morning, so I began to imagine the trip up, and formulate the plan of how I would surprise my friends. Will I be home in time to show up at Doc’s gas station and ask Shawn to fill up my car?
Instead I called him. I told him that I was hopefully going up tomorrow, and tried throwing him off of my trail. I did make the mistake of asking him what he was up to today, although I tried to play if off cool, even though I am definitely not cool. He was going to be home after three. Perfect. I will absolutely stop by and ask him to fill up my gas tank. I made the same call to my Dad on his cell phone. If I was going to pull this surprise off, I needed to seed the thought into a few people, in case they compare notes. This time, I just chatted some small talk, and didn’t ask what Dad was doing today. That took all of thirty minutes.
The nurse said they would begin the discharge papers. I wondered aloud, “Oh, so should I even bother ordering a lunch?” The nurse was quick to answer: “You might as well get one, the discharge process can take a bit of time.”
So I listened and ordered a cheeseburger, French fries, and some Pepsi. “Today’s a fat, fat day.”
Lunch came and went. They served it around eleven every day, just in time for The Price is Right. I sat happily, knowing that I would be home soon anyway.
By the time two o’clock rolled around, I was getting really worried. What the hell is taking so long?
Then finally, I was cleared to go– at three-thirty; a full six and a half hours later. Good lord. At this point, my Mom and Gary had also been patiently waiting by my side. They had loaded up the car, checked out of the Ronald McDonald house and were also getting antsy.
I got the go ahead and I was wheeled out of the front door. What the shit, I can walk you know?! Gary had pulled the car up and I was finally able to see that magnificent tree that had called to me all of these days. I wasn’t able to hug it (I already got that out of my system anyway), so instead we hopped in the car and off we went on the long, three-hour trip home.
As we cruised along the highway, I watched the sun set; it was one of the most serene moments in my entire life. I had once feared that I would never be able to see this again, at least not in this setting, but now I knew better. I had this beat. Man… what they had said about maintaining a positive attitude was absolutely true. The mind is a powerful thing.
When we reached Eagle Lake (where Mom and Gary were living at the time), I requested that they dropped me off at my Dad’s so I could surprise him.
I pulled up around the back of my Dad’s house and Mom and Gary took off. I had my old Cadillac here, so I could get to visiting A.S.A.P. I walked into the house, didn’t knock, just entered silently.
I took my shoes off and said nothing. My Dad was in the living room on the recliner watching some action movie. “Hello?” I remained silent and walked around the chair, which faced away from the kitchen entrance. “Hey! Jamie! You’re home early?” Dad’s jovial laugh permeated the cigar-filled air. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too, Dad. Yeah, I wanted to surprise everyone and come early.” We hugged and he patted me on the back. Each pat was harder than my weakened body was used to, and so I jolted inward with each one.
“Is Trav here?” I inquired. “Am I here?!” I turn around, and there he was, standing in front of me. He reached out and gave me a massive hug. “Good to see you home, Bro.” We held on for a bit longer than usual. “You too, Trav.”
“What are you up to tonight?” asked my Dad. “Actually, I wanted to use the Cadillac and surprise Shawn and Tony.” Dad wore a surprised look.
“I’ll be back soon. I just want to use this element of surprise while I can. Do you want to come with, Trav?”
“No, I’ve got some homework to do, so I need to work on that.”
“Okay, bro. Well, I’m off to make them cry!”
Dad threw his thumb up “Cool dude! Have fun!” I had to laugh.
I grabbed my keys and took off.
Oh My God. It felt amazing to drive a vehicle again. I was blown away. I felt like I hadn’t driven in years.
My foot turned into lead and I was cruising along at speeds ten MPH above the limit (in Fort Kent, that’s a bad thing; cops are always on patrol). When I reached the apartment (past the police station itself), I pulled around back where the guys couldn’t see my car from any of the apartment’s windows.
I got out of the car and rushed up the stairs, well, as fast as I could. As I reached the second floor, I stopped, put on a yellow precautions mask, and calmly walked to the door.
I stoically knocked in rhythmic succession three times. I heard some rumblings, then a “Come in!”
Damn, I can’t just open the door. I want THEM to open it for me; it’s more impactful that way. I thought for a moment, and then jiggled the door like it was locked, then proceeded to knock again.
Footsteps approached and I arched my back and stood up straight. Tony opened the door. In my meanest, gravelly voice I demanded, “Give me back my apartment.” Tony yelled “Jamie!” We embraced, and I walked in my old home (for a day).
Mitch was there too playing Dynasty Warriors; that was a pleasant surprise. I gave him a hug as well. Shawn was in the shower. From behind the door and the sounds of the shower, Shawn heard the name. “Is that Jamie?!” I figured by the inflection in his voice, he’d come running out to greet me fully nude, dick swinging in the wind.
I didn’t want to see that… no one does.
This will be my on-going story of my personal battle with Cancer. I’ve been wanting to write this for years, and 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 first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form.
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.
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