When the chemo goes into my veins it burns, burns, burns and I scream and strain against the straps holding me. I hope they remember to sedate me like I told them and then someone gives me Versed and the burning and sickness don’t stop but I am off somewhere so removed that I don’t care. I wonder where Dana is and if she is enjoying seeing me tortured.
Dark rememberings of tortures unnumbered, intravenous drips constant where the thread of life is very thin and maintained only by the will. Dana beside me with her face tight and drawn, trying to hold my hand, making me hate her more. Trying to use that hate to survive. A push of Morphine and the world comes back alive.
After the chemo, radiation. So much radiation that my throat aches and I cannot swallow. They have to surgically attach a port so they can put nutrition directly into my stomach. The tube does not fit and there is constant pain and inflammation. Since I don’t have any white cells opportunistic infections rage and nearly kill me. More chemo and I think if I weren’t in so much pain and if they would leave me alone I could just settle down and die. And what is wrong with that?
Half dead half alive at five I am more alive when I get stronger pain meds. Doctors and nurses coming and going. Sphinctered back down into darkness when they give me benzodiazepines. Into an iron dark where sad figures work feverishly in weary amusement. Somewhere in the badlands lies a sweet aesthetic truth that is hard to grasp until I see it is manyjawed death and I push it aside like a shark into the graygreen depths. Hospital smells and hating Dana more and more.
I realize that the surgical port has been closed and I am getting Ensure thru an ng tube. Weeks later I can actually drink it down without nausea. Effort of doing that so great that I slip back into unconsciousness. Bowels opening and spilling into a bedpan. Walking by myself to the bathroom where I take a foul smelling dump that is green and bilirubinous.
These clouds begin to part as the will to be is a very thin and thinning thread. Dana’s white face. Dana saying, Honey they almost lost you. Dana leaning over me and I clamp my teeth on her face and bite hard. She screams and two of my teeth fall out and they push me full of dope again. Settling back into sweetening darkness I see a cardinal at the window drop like a stone.
A growing awareness that this treatment Is over. Wet, disagreeable Midwestern spring is here like the spring at the tenement where I should have died. Crocuses in the snow and fungus and mold. Nausea that will not relent for all the drugs they give me. More heavy dope and I don’t care.
As though without transition I am in a wheelchair being pushed outside by a gorilla in scrubs. Daffodils growing up thru cinderblocks and broken glass in the humid cold. I am lifted into Dana’s Escalade and she is driving home, wherever that is.
Welcome back, Erik, she says sweetly.
The place I bit her has stitches.
Fuck you, I say thru what feels like a mouth full of what seems to be oatmeal.
She touches me on the knee and I flinch and she takes her hand away. She says, Listen, Erik. Whatever you did or said to me is forgiven. After watching you go thru that I don’t blame you.
Pain pill, I mutter.
When we get home, she says.
Another fade to black. I am lying in a bed at home, where I have not been for weeks. Xanax in a bottle on the bedside table. I swallow a handful. I find that I can walk without falling and sneak to where I have wine. They mustve pushed me full of antiemetic meds because the wine stays down and mixes gleefully with Xanax and I am riding high. I find the Percocet and am blasted into a higher orbit where protons sleet and groan and I hear the restful sound of Gregorian chanting.