Time heals, it knits up the ragged edges. The memories that are raw and bleeding now will scab over and heal. I know this from experience. I want to try and lance the boil. My hope is that by setting it down here I can begin to let go of it, let it fade.
Stephen went into the hospital on 10 May of this year. He had just returned from seeing his Mum in England, and arrived home feeling really ill. He went to bed, and put it down to jetlag. As the days passed, he didn’t recover. In fact he developed a fever which kept going up. At this point I took him to the doctor, who ran some blood tests. We made another appointment for 3 days later to get the results. The next day – I think it was Tuesday- the doctor called and said we needed to get in today. Now. In his office he said that the results were worrying, but he couldn’t say for sure what the problem was. He sent us to the emergency room, so that Stephen would be admitted that evening. We went straight there, and they ran more tests, and drew more blood. Vials, and bottles(!)…I’d never seen anything like it. Over the next few days they took more blood, for more tests. An infection specialist entered the picture. Scans, x-rays, the lot. The mass in his bowel was discovered, and a colonoscopy was perfomed. The surgeon then joined the team.
All this time, his fever was rising. It would spike overnight. In fact it spiked so high that staff came from all over the hospital to see this patient who had a 40+ degree (that’s Celsius, obvs) fever. A medical marvel. The surgeon wanted to hold off operating until his fever was under control. But no matter what kind or how much antibiotics they ran into him, nothing touched it. Finally the infection specialist said that, in his opinion, they had to get the tumour out. Stephen went into surgery the next day, and by the time he was in recovery, his temperature was down almost to normal.
The oncologist visited him for the first time just after the surgery. When Stephen woke up in recovery, the first thing he said was ‘Do I have a bag?’ One of the possible outcomes of the bowel resection was a colostomy bag. I told him ‘No’, and he was so relieved. He must have asked about a dozen times, the drugs made him a bit loopy. We were both a bit loopy; I had arrived at the hospital at 6 am, before his surgery. We spent about an hour together, then I went with him down to surgery. I transferred to the waiting room, where I stayed until after 2 pm, when they finally let me in to see him in recovery. The next day he was transferred to the ward, where he stayed until 26 May, his birthday. He was so weak, but very determined. The oncologist was of the opinion that he wasn’t going to leave the hospital. He called me at home, and clearly explained Stephen’s condition. They removed the tumour in his bowel, but the cancer had spread to his liver. I did some Googling, and spent the rest of the night crying.
That was the last time I cried, until Stephen was on his deathbed in the hospice. He was so determined, and fought so hard, that I didn’t want him to see me crying. I wanted to be strong for him. He always told me how I brave he thought I was, and I knew he needed me to be brave, no matter how much I was screaming in pain on the inside.
God help me that was draining. I’ll finish this tomorrow.