Sunday morning, Sparky came in to visit me on his way to pick up my sister and mother from the airport. When he came in, he asked me if I noticed anything different about him. ‘Um, you shaved?” I guessed. Nope. He was no longer wearing a mask, which meant that tuberculosis was finally ruled out. So the two options were now either lung cancer or a fungal infection. We were getting closer to a diagnosis anyway, so that seemed positive even though both choices sucked. But now my sister and mom wouldn’t have to wear a mask when they visited me, and Sparky promised to bring Bee by tonight so that I could finally see her again! Of course she wouldn’t be allowed up to my room, but I could go downstairs to the waiting room and visit with her there and I wouldn’t have to wear a mask and freak her out. Sunday was shaping up to be a good thing. Except for one thing.
A good friend of ours, our “go-to” person for all things Bee had gone bad. Somehow this episode at County-USC just didn’t register for her. In the suddenness of it all, Sparky had been calling everyone we know to find someone to watch Bee for a few hours so he could visit me in the Contagion Room. The painful part of it all was that she would have been insulted, hurt even, if we hadn’t asked for her help. And who knows what turmoil lurks in the chambers of the human heart? It was never explained, but after four days of saying “nope, too busy, can’t do it”, Sparky gave up on her, and she on us. Many have said that tragedy and emergencies bring a real focus to family and friends, but this was the most unexpected turn possible. And despite the generally happy ending to this medical tragic-comedy, that multi-year friendship is nothing but a burnt bridge now. It was even more unexpected than the host of potentially life ending diseases that I was being probed for, and was nearly as painful. And through it all this so called “friend” never even asked how I was doing, or communicated directly with me. I was a bystander in the towers of County-USC, and it was a very lonely place to be. For all I know, she may think I’m still there. Because of this situation it has taken me forever to continue on with my hospital chronicles because I have been in full avoidance mode. But I now fully accept it, it is what it is, and was what it was, C’est la vie.
My very good friend Ali who was in France during my hospitalization was there for me despite the distance. She contacted her parents who contacted me and offered their help. And on that Sunday, despite it all, things were looking up for the Misers. I had to have a pap smear done in order to rule out cervical cancer, but that should be no big deal. And soon my family would be in my hospital room with me. My mom and sister were going to be staying with Ali’s parents, who very graciously offered their guest room to them for a night or two. And then they would be at Ali’s spare apartment which was being cleaned. The generosity of my friends was pretty awesome, and I’m forever thankful to them for being so sweet to my family. Ali’s mom told me that it was no big deal, that it was what friends and neighbors did for one another in times of trouble.
Sparky left to pick up my mom and Kiki, and I was taken across the hall to have my pap done. It did not go very well. The doctor who was doing it hadn’t done one in a while and was having problems. She had to call another doctor in to help her, and they finally managed to get some of my cells. I then went back to my room and waited for my visitors.
They finally showed up and I was very happy to see them, I think we all cried a little. I don’t really remember what we talked about, but it was good to have them there. I was served my dinner and my mom made me eat every single thing on my plate because she thought I was too skinny. And then Sparky called me to let me know that he and Bee were downstairs.
I put on some pants under my hospital gown, hid my IV line under a sweater, and the three of us headed down. Bee seemed a bit disheveled, as though her hair hadn’t been properly brushed for a week, and she had a bit of a glazed look in her eyes. She was as happy to see me as I was to see her. Her voice seemed really high to me and I could tell that she was overtired and needed both a bath and some sleep. But it was so good to finally see her again. Seven o’clock came too soon, and everyone was asked to leave and I hugged and kissed them all and went back upstairs to my little hospital room. I felt both happy and depressed. I dearly wanted out of there, back into my old life. It was hard to get use to this new life in this hospital, and I was afraid of what was going to happen next. But tomorrow I would see my family again so it was not all bad. I took my valium and read my self to sleep.