This is a long post but if there was ever a post I would recommend reading the entire story, this is it.
My prayer on the way to work this morning was to be a gift to my patients. I have been suffering a bit from pre-retirement fever. I’m really wanting to just blog full time, but my patients deserve my best and that was my prayer.
I worked in triage in the emergency room and it was a steady day. At times it was a bit crazy. Mid day, I checked in a young lady, “Meg” who was battling cancer. When I was almost done with Meg’s assessment, her husband, “Dave”, approached us. He had gone to park the car while I was doing the infamous computer work and asking the annoying, yet necessary repetitive history questions that are painful for a patient with a serious illness.
Dave wrapped a blanket around Meg’s shoulders and stated, “I figured you would get cold.” I smiled at his tenderness towards her.
We talked for a couple of minutes and then he soon walked away to the vending machine as we were waiting for a room to open up in the department. Emergency rooms always seem to be full when you really want a room. I had no patients waiting, so Meg and I had a few minutes to chat.
Meg talked about her course of treatment and then mentioned her surgeon. I smiled as we shared the same surgeon, too. I just let Meg talk and didn’t mention my history of cancer.
Meg was a breath of fresh air. I loved her attitude and her authentic spirit. She briefly shared with me her worries that are common of many cancer patients – fear of the unknown, death, disability, her husband leaving her, not being able to conceive children, and the financial burdens her cancer could possibly have on their newly formed family. I did interject once though to mention my observation of how much of a caring, doting husband Dave was.
Meg laughed and said that she thought part of the reason was because her surgeon had really challenged Dave to be supportive at one of the their initial appointments. After Meg was diagnosed, “Dr. Smith” spoke with her and Dave about the importance of standing strong together from the start, as many couples can struggle during cancer treatment. I remember that talk.
Then Meg told me this story…
“Dr. Smith told Dave and I about this couple, “Sally” and “Bill”, that walked into her office with a diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer years ago. Dr. Smith says she remembered this couple very well and that they had 3 small children. Dr. Smith told me that she thought initially Sally was going to die and that it often pained her to meet with this couple initially because of her fear. But what she remembered most was telling Sally’s husband that men sometimes leave their wives during treatment and that they had to be prepared for the potential emotional challenges of a long battle. Bill told Dr. Smith emphatically, “You don’t know me. I love my wife. I’m not going anywhere.” At the following appointment, Sally and Bill had to finalize the course of treatment. Sally brought her father along for this appointment. He had traveled in from out of town to offer his support. Dr. Smith had told Sally she had to have a single mastectomy. Sally was head strong and had already chosen to have a double mastectomy. Sally explained she was interested in living a long life and wanted her breasts removed as soon as possible. Dr. Smith explained to Sally that she might want to reconsider. She explained to Sally that she would lack feeling in both of her breasts and that after treatment, she might regret her decision. This decision could effect her personal enjoyment of her sex life. Sally looked at Bill and said to Dr. Smith, “You are right, I might regret it. But I have to focus on surviving right now. That’s all I know how to do.” Bill’s voice cracked and without missing a step, he said, “Don’t worry Dr. Smith. I’ll make sure I satisfy her in other ways.” Meg said that Dr. Smith’s voice cracked as she told her and Dave about this meeting and how she was shocked at how Bill wanted Sally to know that he loved her, and that he was even willing to talk about their future sex life in front of Sally’s father. Dr. Smith said she remembered Sally’s father patting both of his kids on their backs, as his eyes were filled with tears.
I finally got a room for Meg and started wheeling her back. As we walked that hallway towards her room, Meg said to Dave, “I was telling Jenny about Sally and Bill’s story.” Dave responded sort of sarcastically, “I have a lot to live up to. I don’t know if anyone can be as perfect as Bill.” As I assisted Meg onto the stretcher, I told Dave, “Just focus on being you, Dave. You and Meg will be great.”
As I was walking out of the room, another nurse, “Julie”, walked in to greet Meg and Dave. I gave a quick overview of Meg and the reasons she had come to the ED. Julie stated “Wow Meg, you scored! You got the perfect triage nurse to take care of you. Your stories sound so similar and you both even had the same surgeon. You have almost been in remission for 6 years now, right Jenny?”
I looked right at Meg and Dave and lowered my head. I was having a hard time looking at them in the eyes and I felt a lump in my throat. Meg tilted her head as if she was figuring out a puzzle. I smiled and looked at them and said, ” Yes, almost 7 years. And I’m great guys. And you both will be, too.”
About three hours later, I was slammed as patients were backed up in the lobby to be seen. Dave had walked out into the lobby. He told me that Julie had told him about my story, about Jeff, and my blogging journey and that he was reading our stories to Meg while she was waiting to be admitted to the hospital. I smiled as my heart was feeling so unbelievably full.
As I was getting ready to leave, I poked my head into Meg’s room. She was asleep. She looked peaceful with her bald head and cute cotton bandana. I met eyes with Dave and said, “Goodnight Dave. Take care of each other. You both are going to be great.”
Dave looked up at me, his voice cracked, and he stated, “Goodnight Jenny. Thank you for everything today.” I handed him a warm blanket as he looked terribly cold and I whispered to myself, “No thank you, Dave.”
As I drove home, I realized that God had given me more than I asked for. I had asked to be a gift to my patients. But Meg and Dave were God’s gifts to me. It was possibly the most magical, surreal experience I had ever experienced.
And as I finish writing this post, I am looking over at a husband who is helping kids with their homework. And I once again realize how I am so thankful that God gave me my gift, Bill. I mean Jeff.
Blessings sweet friends – JennyTweet