Friday, January 24, 2003

Real reality TV, in which you really hope no one gets "voted off the island." I was just watching an infomercial about the kids of St. Jude's Children's Hospital. I was amazed. There was a profile of a family in which the mother and the father tried to get pregnant for 18 years before their only child was born. The child became stricken with a rare form of cancer at age 5 or so. Having battled cancer herself, the mother was confined to a wheelchair. Between going to and fro to treatments, and dealing with the massive heartbreak of having a relapse of the cancer, this family continued to remain calm, focusing on the good, and encouraged the child to go skating, and to understand her illness and her treatment. The segment ended with a picture of the child hugging her pediatrician after a follow-up appointment. It made me think about my days as an oncology nurse. I don't miss the heartbreak. Special people find rewards working with the palliative patients and their families. I wasn't that great a comfort to them, in that I myself was grieving too much to help them. During the last few times I worked with Bobby, one of my favorite patients, I couldn't go into his room without my stomach and my chest tightening. I remember one early morning I crept into his room to check his IV. I stared at him for a long time. His face was pale. His cheeks sunken. His hair, what was left of it, cropped close to his head so it didn't fall out in clumps on his pillow. As I jostled the IV tubes to adjust the pump, his eyes opened, and that familiar drawl sounded so much weaker than I ever remember.

"Hi, Jenn."

Bobby died in October, at home, surrounded by his family and friends.

For 8 months, I took for granted Bobby's soft drawl as he greeted me. Now that he's gone, I realize I'll never hear him say my name ever again. It's amazing how much you miss something once it's taken away from you, no chance of ever getting it back.

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