Sooooo, Momma was back in the hospital the first part of October, and she was so ill, she couldn’t even keep Ensure on her stomach. They had to IV her just to give her some nourishment and get her pain under fair control. She underwent testing (endoscopy, colonoscopy, liver biopsy (I had heard that test was very painful), etc.) to determine what the chemo had accomplished. Dr. Beck made his rounds and told her that the chemo had somewhat retarded the cancer cell growth for a few weeks, but now it was back with a vengeance. She regretfully, but knowingly, opted not to have anymore chemo.
It was during this time that we noticed the poor woman couldn’t stand the least bit of smell of anything or she would become violently ill. We saw first hand that everyday smells caused her some pretty major adverse reactions. Many an hour I stood by her hospital bed holding a spit bowl, garbage can anything I could find for her to retch in. I had quit wearing perfume and would use only unscented soaps and deodorant. The smell of my shampoo even made her nauseous. If she smelled food on your breath she would get sick. When it was food time on the cancer ward, just the aroma would cause her to become ill. It was a nightmare for us, but I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for her.
One day, while she was still in hospital, my step-father comes for one of his visits. He was chewing gum and brought in coffee and a McDonald’s burger with onions. He had also slathered Vick's or some other kind of liniment on his feet (he has foot problems), as well as dousing himself with his cologne. He brought all of these smells into the hospital room with him and proceeded to take off his shoes, wherein the whole space became stagnate with a myriad of different foul smelling vapors. The combination of smells almost made me sick and I was not the one with cancer. I was livid that he would be so thoughtless and careless where my momma’s senses and feelings were concerned and told him to take his food and go down the hall to the waiting room. He said, “I just got here,” and I believe he didn’t take too kindly to me telling him to leave the room. Plus, his food would have had to be bagged back up and he would have had to put his shoes back on, so on and so forth, and he didn’t want to have to go through all that bother, or so it seemed to me. So instead, he turned and asked momma if the smells were bothering her. At the time, they had only been married four years and she was still in the early stages of her love for him and didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so she very lovingly told him that he was fine and that he could stay, even while she was turning her head to the other side of the bed, her face all shades of green and gagging from all the fumes. Since I was on that side of the bed, I could see just how sick momma really was and it made my blood boil, that he did not have the decency to remove himself and all of his noxious odors to another room, at least until he finished eating, for her sake. One of my brother’s had come into the room about that time and told my step-father to take the food down to the waiting area and they ended up getting into an argument. I'm sure momma was mortified. She probably said to herself that we were acting just like our daddy. When we did anything she didn't like, she would say, "Ya'll got that trait from your daddy's side of the family."
Needless to say, it was not a pleasant situation, but what else could I do, I felt it was my duty to do everything in my power to take care of my momma. Maybe I did the wrong thing. Maybe I should have just left the room and let her handle the smells with my step-father as best she could and he could have cleaned up after her when she became ill or called a nurse to do it. I could have taken the path of least resistance, but I didn't, maybe that saddened my momma, but if so, I can only note that I was like a tigress with her cubs, about her during that time. I tried to make her last days here on earth as comfortable as I could manage. I certainly didn’t manage it all the time (another time/another story), but at least I tried.
I have never professed to be perfect and God knows I have made many a mistake in this lifetime and its a pretty sure thing I will make many more if I live long enough, but if there is one true thing I know, the fierce love that I had/have for my momma has always anchored me and kept my feet firmly planted on the ground. It is my love for God and my family that has always seen me through all of life's difficulties.
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