It's been nearly a year, and at the time, they said it could be as little as three months.
Nearly a year? Around a year, let's leave it at that, because at no point beyond her initial hospitalization has she actually gotten better. The outlook has improved, but her condition has not.
She was aphasic, but she'd always been a little aphasic; I put it down to a personality quirk. What did the Rev. Spooner have growing in his head?
She had seizures though, which she'd never had before, and the aphasia went from quirky to incomprehensible, so they took her in and found the cancer.
But she was better in that she wasn't having seizures, and the surgeries helped, but she was still diminished from what she'd been. Quieter, less energy, less appetite.
No more English.
In her younger days, she'd been a translator.
But they opened her head and took out a baseball, opened her guts and took out a two liter bottle, and it was to be expected that she'd be a little under the weather, with ongoing chemo and radiation to make sure it was all gone.
Or something like that, I'm not a doctor.
And at Christmas she was up and walking around, slowly, eating a little, sleeping a lot.
And after the New Year she got taken in by ambulance for the sort of surgery that starts on a Saturday evening. I may be repeating myself here, but I'm not doing research for this one.
In bed, always in bed. No more talking, but she'd laugh at jokes, silently opening her mouth, big smiles. Strong hands at the end of weak arms, reaching out for human contact. Pet her forehead until she dozes off to sleep, hands reeking of the alcohol jelly that's available, like holy water, outside the door of each room.
Not getting enough nutrition. No appetite, no legal weed, no illegal weed, so they added a second IV, one in the arm, one in the neck. Hands strapped into mesh oven mitts to keep her from fiddling with the tubes and pulling them out, and one more surgery scheduled, open head again.
This time they left a window, a mail slot into her cranium to reduce the trauma if they need to go in again, which suggests to me, with my thirty years out of date high school Health class knowledge, that they think they're going to need to go in again.
But now. I don't know. We went to see her, she's got the two IV lines and a tube in her nose, being fed like a Guantanamo detainee so that her stomach doesn't forget how to do food, and she's not moving. Surgery was only a couple days before, and opening the head has got to be a big thing, but you could tell she was awake when she opened her eyes. They tracked, they followed movement, and she'd swallow from time to time, coughed once, but no other movement.
We put her hand on the little stuffed dog doll I bought her. No resistance, no reaction.
No movement, just they eyes.
Is she still in there? Is she fighting?
Yes of course you hope she's still in there, you hope she's still fighting, you hope the doctors know what they're doing but over the break Johnny Got His Gun was on and you read that years and years and years ago, re-read it the night before you went to the MEPS in fact, stayed up all night, and if she's in there, how much is in there? The nurses come and shift her every hour or so to prevent bedsores, but she had a view of a couple square feet of institutional beige curtain, followed by a few more square feet of institutional off-white ceiling, followed by you hoping that she's in a bit of a haze, a bunch of a haze because otherwise it would be so fucking boring to die that way.
And what if she's not fighting anymore, but she's just too damn strong?
And what if it doesn't matter? How far away is her personal Schwarzschild radius? How long before there's not enough ∆v in the medical world to escape the pull?
I started this series asking for the pilot to divert, but now I'm reminded of the child's perennial question:
Are we there yet?
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