Chapter 19: The Starlight Friends
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Ok, where’s that saw?
My legs were getting worse. I couldn’t stand up without that same unbearable pain shooting up and down my legs. I had to get into just the right position to be somewhat comfortable, even while hopped up on morphine.
I needed something to do; I was getting stir crazy and normal television wasn’t cutting it– hell even the PS2 wasn’t cutting it anymore. As much as I loved this new room, 864, there wasn’t anything to do.
For a while, I had been looking forward to the Four P.M. timeslot on ABC. In this hour, they showed two episodes of the show Friends. All I knew about this show featured Courtney Cox from Scream, Jennifer Anniston from the first Leprechaun, and Matt LeBlanc from Ed (the baseball-playing chimpanzee movie).
Well, that and my nurse Michelle was obsessed with it. Every time it was on TV during my slow afternoon period, she’d rave about how it was the funniest show on TV and offered to bring all of the seasons of the show (released at the time) on DVD so that I could (what we later called) binge-watch it all. I had to borrow the floor’s rolling cart with the PS2 in order to do so, but oh well, my mind couldn’t focus on the pain anymore.
Before the hospital, I had never watched the show, and she just about fainted when I told her that. I decided, “What the Hell?” and indeed borrowed the first season of Friends. Michelle seemed more excited than I was about the prospect of sharing the experience; I mean I had heard mixed things about it even though at the time it was still one of the biggest shows on television. This was at a time when NBC’s Must-See Thursdays was the ratings giant of the week. Regardless I began to watch an episode here or there.
Soon, I was blazing through the episodes, calling a nurse to swap the DVD once I consumed the three or four episodes on each disc. It was crazy that one season of television required six discs, but that was a lot of runtime.
The theme song soon became an anthem for my stay in the hospital. I’ll Be There for You was interpreted as the friends and family I had, sticking with me as I fought this hard battle. Plus, it was a funny show– high on drugs or not (although it was funnier on morphine). As I neared the first six days with this pain, I was already nearing the end of season two. That’s twenty-two episodes per season!
Each day’s strife was lessened with the gift of this show. When I had to take a break from just watching TV, I would borrow the floor’s Nintendo Gamecube. The Starlight Foundation had donated the Nintendo 64, and the Nintendo Gamecube to the hospital (through the help of their corporate partner Nintendo), and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. The ability to play a video game to get your mind off of an ailment or disease is immeasurably helpful (much like when I had chest pains as a youth).
The donated system was set up in a way to prevent theft: the television was on top, and it was set upon an enclosed case on the bottom with just enough room to put your hands through to change the games in the gaming system. The only two games that they provided were Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion; two great games with long legs.
But this was my first time playing either one of them. Sunshine was a blast to play as it took the series into new territory with the inclusion of a water pack that could allow Mario to hover over, shoot, and clean up all of the “paint” covering Isle Delfino.
Luigi’s Mansion had Luigi searching for Mario (for only the second time ever), in an old haunted mansion. Here Luigi was provided with a device of his own: a Poltergust 3000 (essentially a Ghostbusters proton pack); which he used to suck up the ghosts inhabiting the dusty manor.
The games were great and all, but when my stepdad Gary would come and visit (almost everyday), he would ask to play and got lost in Luigi’s Mansion. My favorite of the two was Sunshine, but he liked busting ghosts better. As much as you’d think I’d be upset that he’d use the Gamecube, I was happy that he was sitting by my side playing games, as I caught up on Friends. It was like playing video games when I would stay at my friend Brad’s house for a sleepover. We’d switch off on the TV and whatever system we’d want to play.
Whenever another child wanted to use either system, I’d happily give it away. I’d only use both when no one else requested them.
But the allure of the Gamecube was already getting stale with only two games from which to choose. Gary’s love of Luigi wasn’t waning, but I vowed that if I were to walk again, I’d look into other games. But who knew when that would be?
Then on day seven with this pain, between my relentless quest to finish Friends and my sessions with the Gamecube, I awoke to something shocking…
…The pain was gone; vanished. I threw the sheets off of my legs and swung my body over the edge of the bed, and slowly but surely applied pressure to my feet.
I was able to walk again, and without the necessity of bending over ninety degrees like an old man with a cane. I had no idea what to do with myself, so I went for a stroll around the floor. The nurses were marveling at the decidedly surprising one-eighty; they were just as dumbfounded as I was.
At any rate, after my jaunt and my lunch, I felt an itch. The Friends were calling my name and I had to answer. So I sat down and popped open in the first disc of the third season in the Playstation 2 from the floor. Let’s see what misadventures the gang can get into this season. After all, I “owed it” to them now, as they saved my sanity.
“I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
‘Cause you’re there for me too.”
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.