June 2, 2011

Hours and hours and hours

Time spent in a hospital is oddly vacant.

It stretches out, blank and empty, tucked neatly into hours like the cotton blankets on the patient beds.  Like a vortex, like the Bermuda triangle, the hours spent in a hospital swirl and cycle and somehow never move forward to truly pass.

Gammy's face looks like a crayon, the color of dandelion petals faded by the hot July sun.  Her hair, soft and fine and shockingly white, is brushed back and also flattened so that it stands out like a tiara, a halo of daisy petals around her face.

The doctors give us words to learn: cholangiocarcinoma, adenocarcinoma, lymphoma.  I already know the parts of the words and it is up to me to explain them.  Chol- from cholesterol, meaning bile.  Angio- meaning blood vessel or duct, like angiogenesis or angiotensin.

Carcinoma, meaning cancer.

It is days before they are able to do the biopsies and endoscopes and procedures that confirm what my gut already knew was true: inoperable, untreatable cancer.  Tomorrow she goes home with arrangements for hospice care and a fool's timeline, anywhere from a month to a year to live.  The lack of precision is astonishing and disheartening, and while I would normally consider myself an optimist my experience with Dad tells me to count only on the low end, if that.

I am already mentally packing my bag to leave tomorrow to go and help my mother settle Gam back into her home, or possibly to help her pack up to move to Kansas City.  It will be a long summer, but will it be long enough?

No comments: