One hundred kisses from Sienna this morning and an, ‘over squishing boozzie squeeze’ from me, before she left for school. I quickly study her beautiful face, with pretty blue eyes that dance when she’s happy. The tiny caramel freckles sprinkled over her nose, the perfect bud lips, and the little gap between her teeth when she smiles. I close my eyes so that I can seal this image in my mind for later when I need to think of something to calm my busy mind and crazy beating heart.
Just to intensify the Braveman’s jetlag and anxiety for me, he decided to keep his morning appointment with his dentist. After an unrelenting two and a half years of caring for us girls, there was time for a little maintenance of his own. His visit revealed a badly cracked tooth which was, in the kindest and gentlest possible way…. Extracted, no pulled, no yanked, no…. SEVERED!!!! From his jaw bone, root and all.
Being the bravest of brave, he did not complain, he internalised it and ‘battled on’ as he does.
The familiarity of the day’s proceedings was quite uninteresting as we were common travellers down this road.
Drinking the pre- scan cocktail was as awful as usual and without fail always brings me back to my teenage experience with my friend’s Dad’s Blackberry Nip. Never a good drink to start with when, ‘trying alcohol for the first time’.
I stared at my unfamiliar face in the mirror and missed the old me a lot. The make-up came out and I did my best to bring back some character to a hairless, pale canvas with colourless eyes. I laughed at myself trying to draw on eyebrows, after a 45 minute effort of dusting, shaping, darkening and lightening, I had created a look of being poised to ask an important question.
Greeted by the familiar faces of the sweet girls in Radiology, just a smile would suffice to check in. It wasn’t long until Neil bounced through the doors to come and get me. Normally we’d have polite banter as we walked along, about “the wait wasn’t long today”, or “Is it still raining outside?” But today I caught him off guard by bringing the Braveman into the actual ‘Scanatarium’* room. (*made up). Noel took one look at my face and wasn’t about to mess with the ‘eyebrow’!
My Braveman held my hand as Neville tightened the tourniquet around my arm searching for one of my elusive veins. I quietened myself down and Neil slid the needle into an unsuspecting vein.
I close my eyes and I see the tiny caramel freckles sprinkled on her nose.
The ‘Scanatron’ (sounds much more dramatic), started whirring and Noel and the Braveman went behind the safety screen. The Braveman got to watch from the ‘Major Scantrol Panel’.
‘Her dancing eyes.’
The first scan was done and now for the actual contrast injection, this happens automatically, but Neil will stand over me whilst it goes through to watch out for any complications.
‘The gap in her teeth when she smiles.’
I feel the fluid going in and reaching parts of my body as they become hot and tingly. The feeling of wetting my pants is not the most favourite part, but I always know it means it’s nearly finished.
‘Her rosebud lips.’
And then it happened, a huge wave of nausea. My Fairy’s lovely image burst like a bubble in the air and I was instantly brought back into the present. I called out to, “Neil, Neville and Noel…” clearly I wasn’t on my game with name recollection. He told me to hang-on, I put my hand over my mouth.
I couldn’t hang on, but I will spare you the rest of the details. It wasn’t until later that I would understand why they you ask you not to eat before a scan.
The Braveman and I picked our Fairy up from school….. well the Braveman got her and I waited in the car. She ran like the wind when she saw me waiting for her in the front seat. I love her funny little ducky run, her rosy pink cheeks from the cold air, clutching her beret so it doesn’t fly off as she runs. It’s those visions that get you through.
My parent troops came around and took care of their Grandfairy so we could see my Health Stylist. She loves them so much as they do her. Another thing that gets you through.
The Pretty Leaves Fall
I always position myself in the waiting room so that I can watch the reflection of my Health Stylist as he comes out of his office to call me.
Sitting in front of him staring at his lovely face, he explains that I have the digestive system of an 80 year old and I have a case of, what I politely like to refer as, ‘Colonic Idle Progression*’.
“But there’s tumours in your liver again and they are affecting your liver function.” I stared at his eyes and I saw tears….. and they weren’t mine. They were from a man, now a friend, who’s been trying to save my life for so many years. I just felt guttered for him. It had come back so quickly, we had barely had a break.
We sat there in silence for what seemed like minutes but was probably only a few seconds. I looked back at the Braveman’s forlorn little face sitting there in shock. I felt for his hand, the same hand that held mine, six years before when we were first told I had breast cancer. The same hand that’s been holding mine ever since, I just don’t want to ever let go.
The only thing I could think of saying to my other Gary was, “I know what I want to ask, but I don’t want to know the answer.”
I just don’t think I could ever hear ‘those words’ that I have been dreading for so long. Is it important to know time, or is it what you do with your time?
Still, there’s options and I was booked in for a change of chemo on Thursday, it’s very heavy duty but we have to hope it’s going to storm through my body, blasting these uninvited and most inconvenient intruders.
That night my heart ached so hard as I could feel it break a little more. Not for me, but for what this will do to my Braveman and my Fairy. I was so sorry, so very sorry.
I reflected on the lovely quote I was given a few weeks before by a woman I greatly admire, Lyn Swinburne.