Tale of Two Cancers IX


By now it’s mid-June and I’m learnig how to get around again. Between the morphine and the muscle relaxants I was taking post surgery, plus dealing with a body that seemed alien to me in all repects, the simple act of walking was a lot more interesting than you might think. For the first three or four days after I could finally make it out to the hallway the floors had a habit of moving around on me, up and down and all around, much like waves when you’re on one of the great lakes or the ocean. It wasn’t unpleasant, either. In fact, it was much like being on mushrooms or acid, but quieter, and it definitely helped me to cope with the featureless grimness that always seeps through in hospitals no matter what they do to make it feel neutral. It must have something to do with a combination of chemical saturation from all the previous patient care coupled with the psychic horror shows that have transpired within the walls of medical institutions, but it’s the same feeling in every hospital I”ve been in, and I was glad to have any combination of drugs in my system that could temporarily take the edge off of that sensation while they also did their job on the physical discomfort I was experiencing.

It must have been three or four days after I started getting out of bed to try walking that I had a very Robert Altman movie moment. Caroline and Rocky came into the room with a surprise visitor, my good buddy Matt Shaughnessy, and they asked me if I would like to go down to the cafeteria for lunch. Having been confined to various beds in any number of hospital wards, rooms and hallways for a bit better than two weeks and living with the food that comes with the territory–awful stuff as you know–I was thrilled at the prospect of getting to see something different and eating something from the land of the living, even if it wasn’t exactly high brow chow. So they got me a wheelchair (I wasn’t walking very far yet, let alone dealing with elevators and human traffic) and off we went.

Everything on the way to the cafeteria was normal enough. Matt was pushing my chair while I guided my I.V. pole and we were all happy to be going for a bite together, something of an event when you consider how long I’d been laying low. Once we got inside the cafeteria, however, things went sideways. All of a sudden I was having an almost out of body experience. On the one hand I was aware of being in my wheelchair and all, but on the other hand I was having a case of sensation/information overload, because all of a sudden I was back in the evryday world of a busy environment with several conversations overlapping as I took them in as well as deciphering a visual world with a much broader scope than anything I had encountered in quite some time, and as I tried to shift focus everything in my visual field seemed to flatten and lose any sort of hierarchical or differential ordering. That, plus the role the drugs were playing in determining my interpretation of reality. And as this was going on I realised that I was in the middle of a scene that could be taken from a Robert Altman film when he does one of his extended takes in a crowd scene, very Nashville or Short Cuts, with things coming at me in subtle and interweaving waves or washes. If he isn’t a painter, he could have been.

These sensations lasted throughout the meal, and when I was taken back upstairs following an after lunch smoke break, I was met with another pleasant surprise in the form of what I immediately called “babes for Bill” day. When we got back to my floor and were passing the t.v. lounge we caught sight of more friends in the sun room waving at us, so Matt rolled me in to say hello, and it turned out to be Helen, Steph and Heather, friends from Peterborough and Kingston. As I was saying hello to them all, I noticed a guy in his mid-50s looking at me with a funny expression on his face, like “how the fuck did you manage this ? and who ARE you ?” . And then it struck me that he’s seeing this guy who’s looking like a wreck being greeted with hugs and kisses, surrounded by four beautiful women, a big crazy looking guy and a skinny guy who’s obviously in on this act, too, by far the liveliest and happiest group of people he’s seen in some time.

I just looked at him, grinned, and dove right back in to soak up every bit of it I could.

Hands down the best day of my year so far.


~ by Rocky Green on May 30, 2007.

2 Responses to “Tale of Two Cancers IX”

  1. ….i mean, cancer. nobody checked THAT with me.

    they should have.

    I’da said NO.

  2. see, nobody checked this with me first.

    cat pee.

    this is what i get for switching over to blogger BETA.

    HOLY cat pee.

    drugs: thy’re a GOOD thing. take lots.

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