I just finished my last session of radiation therapy this morning and am now in a healing period. The radiation is like being cooked on the inside by a microwave oven.
The son stood in the doorway. In his pocket he grasped a letter that he had gotten from his father while he was away in a far-off country. It told him that everything would be OK and that he should stay where he was. He came home.
A few people are amazed I can still play tennis but playing helps. It keeps me active and the doctors feel it is good therapy. These young bucks think they can beat me, but I still shock a few and this verifies my thinking that I am tough enough.
The son watched closely for signs of life. He waited his father’s chest heaved upward before stepping through the doorway. The passage of air through his throat and lungs sounded like a trumpet without the mouthpiece. No note — just an empty hiss through a narrow pipe.
I have not had too many side effects, but I get tired. I am in good shape, but no one can tell if the tumor is diminished until they take X-rays.
They had stopped feeding him fat and protein a few days earlier. All that was left to pass through the tube into his chest was the salt and sugar solution. They started off by feeding him through his arms, but his limbs had refused to accommodate the frequent intrusions of metal and plastic a few days before. His forearms were blotched and bruised. His skin had a yellow tinge. His tongue and lips were dry and scabbed.
I have lost quite a bit of weight. I look svelte at 150 pounds. So far, no women have attacked me. But I live on hope.
The son had discovered his father lying on the bathroom floor a few days before. He was bleeding from the back of his head. As he lifted his father’s head up off the cold tile, they held one another’s gaze. “I knew you knew I wasn’t faking it,” he joked later. He had played his last set of tennis the day before.
The doctors worry that the radiation might cause more problems than it solves. They said something about thinning my internal organs and bleeding from my stomach. I said I’d take my chances.
The son went over to the bed and took his father’s hand. He had stopped responding to sounds the day before and now he was unresponsive to touch. His arms which had twitched uncontrollably earlier in the day now followed only the movement of his chest. The intervals between each agonal breath lengthened and the breaths themselves took more strength than they afforded him.
I’ve enjoyed not working. I keep busy with tennis, domestic chores, reading, picking up them apples so I could mow the lawn. I’ve washed the walls and ceilings in the kitchen, and a myriad of other foolish things. I keep fighting, moving, and am full of faith and hope (piss and vinegar).
Basically, I’m a very happy guy.
The nurse came into change the solution bag. She waited a discreet moment, not wanting to interrupt the communion before her. The son let go of his father’s hand, his eyes moist and distant. “That won’t be necessary.”
The more I think about dying, the more I want my life to be a positive statement. I’d be lying if I told you I had no regrets and I’d be lying again if I told you you won’t have any of your own. I know one thing though. You just keep taking your chances on living.
The young man whispered a brief prayer and went back home to prepare for his father’s burial.