The cabinet is hung high on the wall, pure white in color with delicate trim so delicate, while filled with darkness. The double doors can be opened with a gentle pull, quietly, no sound. The shelves are filled with bottles. The bottles are amberbrown with white tops. Some bottles are tall and skinny, some bottles are short and fat, all with a similar purpose in mind. The labels each tell the name of the drug inside, the correct dosage and more importantly each one bears the name of the same patient.
The instructions read “take one every four hours as needed for pain”; “take one a day for pain”; “take as needed for pain”. Then there are the ones that read “take one 24 hours before first treatment”; take one every four to six hours as needed for nausea”. To add to the mix one says “take each night at bedtime for
Enough medicine to kill a congregation but, all for just one person.
These medicines are accompanied or followed with intravenous drugs. The chemotherapy, a mixture of potent chemicals designed to strip the body of everything good and bad. Drugs that literally remove the hair from the head of the person which partakes. Chemotherapy, a last ditch cocktail mixed to perfection as you would order a drink at a bar. A cocktail fed into ones veins slowly and precisely in an attempt to defeat the monster that is breeding inside.
Then in the refrigerator, between the eggs and milk are the hypodermic needles filled with medication. Two of the shots are to assist in building the white blood cells, the other one to promote the red blood cells. One says “give one shot every 24 hours for seven days”. The other says “give one shot 24 hours after completion of chemotherapy”. Then there is the one that says, “give seven days after treatment”. The sterile wipes find a home on the kitchen table. The kitchen is re-purposed as a medical office to induce pain from the shots in an effort to defeat this dreadful monster.
Each doctor’s visit seems to reveal a new plan. “Let’s try this. Let’s see if this will work.”
Fearful of overdosing, I always ask twice to be sure I understood the plan. I took notes, I studied the notes. I was told my the medical personnel. “Don’t worry, you give him what he ask for, his pain will absorb the drugs.” I listen, I abide.
But, he never complained. He never expressed any dread of the chemicals about to be put in his veins knowing that he would be deathly sick for the next 10 days to follow. He took it like a brave soldier. He faced the fire with a smile on his face. He never argued about taking the cocktails placed before him, in the beginning.
As his body grew tired and he became incapable of swallowing, he whispered, he just couldn’t. I begged. His family begged. “Just take it, it will help”.
He whispered, “I can’t.”
I pleaded with the doctor to tell him he must take his medicine. The doctor said, “He can’t.”
He refused a shot for the pain, he wasn’t able to swallow the pills. Did he hurt? He didn’t complain.
In the end it didn’t matter, there was no cure, even though the medicine cabinet was full.