Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My personal stations of the cross

January 16th- he went into the ER. They realized it was a relapse of leukemia, but the local cancer center didn't want to admit him right away. He told them he'd be dead by the time they got through their waiting list. He called his doctor in Chicago, who pulled some strings and got him in. Once there, he couldn't call out from their intake to reach me. They gave him a bone marrow biopsy without painkillers. Not even darvon, because they didn't want to wait the 20 minutes it would take for the darvon to hit.

January 17th: I can finally see him. He's ok. We talk about how soon he can get out and get back to law school. I bring his text books. During the next 10 days, his younger brother and I get tested for donating bone marrow. We try to figure out how long he'll be stuck there. We're all in good spirits. We've beat this before. Every time he gets a headache, they rush him down for an MRI. He jokes about this.

January 27th, I wake up in his hospital room. I start realizing I have a cold, and will have to stop coming for a couple of days. I'm worried about it: he's been taking medications that cause him to hallucinate, he's too tired to study. He asks me to call his student advisor to see if he can attend classes via the Internet from his hospital room.

January 28th, We talk on the phone. Friends have been seeing him. He reassures me he's fine, don't come up till I'm well, it'd be terrible if he caught it because of his immune system. Don't worry, he says. He has a friend coming over on Monday.

January 29th. I'm awakened by a frantic phone call from the nurse. It takes me a few seconds to realize why she's so upset. I'm at the hospital with his brother before they wheel him out of the room. Medically induced coma. Brain hemorrhage. We're here, Jesse, I call to him. I believe he can hear me somehow. Neurological ICU. I don't leave his side for the next 9 days. They put shunts in his head to try to alleviate the pressure, but you can see from the monitors that his arteries shoot off geysers of blood in there, exploding his brain, slowly pushing it into non-existence.

February 8th. It's too late. He's gone. They pull the plug. They don't want me there when he stops breathing, but I'm just on the other side of the curtain, holding his foot. I don't want him to be alone when he crosses over. Even though I know he hasn't really been there for days.

He was only 22. I lost my firstborn son. And with that lost my fear of dying. Because he has gone before me, how could I be afraid?