Mama... Tuck Me In ..Like You Did When I Was a Little Girl...I'm Going To Sleep... Forever
Thursday, 22 December, 2011
We were traveling on the big rig ..we were in Nogales, Arizona where for the first time I didn't feel up to getting out of the truck at the cooler. I loved going to the coolers out west where we met the most interesting people working there.
The 'cooler' is like a wonderful, giant refrigerator... and they were buildings built especially to stay certain temperatures to keep all the vegetables coming out of the fields and in this particular instance... from across the border.. Mexico.... cool.
The vegetables would be sorted, inspected and washed and packed into boxes with the most beautiful logos and labels on them. For a time I collected them because... of the most rich, beautiful colors and pictures on them! The colors made me feel as if I'd found a treasure.. I 'felt' that I had. I lost all my labels in the housefire that destroyed all of our belongings.
At this cooler in Nogales, Arizona I had wanted to get out and walk inside to the office to check in and stand around with the other drivers while they waited to be loaded. Everything in Nogales, Arizona interested me... it was so different and I knew the Mexican border was close by.. so, in my mind and in reality.... I was 'seeing into Mexico' (I could do that in El Paso, Texas, too!).
I'd been having allergies and this was the worst I'd ever experienced in my life. I was becoming weak and I just didn't feel I could get out and see all the wonderful things in my mind that 'I thought I would see'... there. I didn't feel well at all.
I laid down on the big, soft bed in the big truck. I was so thankful that I kept the 'sleeper'... our living area when we stopped to rest our bodies... so nice. I had colors, of course! Soft, pretty colors... the comforter, the pillowcases and the sheets... and even a nice rug! We had color tv and our cellphones and a refrigerator... the only thing we didn't have was a bathroom with shower and commode (we stopped to shower each day and stopped all during each day to take a break and eat and such...). Our truck was like a motorhome on the inside full of all kinds of comforts. This is where I laid down and I appreciated so much to see the 'happy' things around me.. the happy colors.
I was very sick and I was getting more 'sick'. As I laid there I couldn't believe I wasn't outside with Skip mingling with the Spanish people who worked at the coolers. They were fun and they were interesting people. They were always giving me boxes of the most beautiful, hand-picked vegetables. It seemed they would bring me the nicest! Always one of the workers would walk up to me and say 'for you!' I was so honored when that happened so often... it was like ...'I, myself... was special!' I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I never asked for things like alot of drivers did... though there was nothing wrong with that.
I felt at that time laying on the bed that it was 'dark' around me and I was too sick to fight it. I thought to myself.. I must have pneumonia because I was quickly getting sicker. I was coughing though, it was a dry cough. I was feverish and I felt like I was dying and I wished to be home.. I was so far from home.. I wanted to be with my Pups. Our neighbors, Bill and Earline cared for our Pups when we were on the road. I missed seeing their smiling faces. Bill and Earline............ we had such a love for them... they are gone now.
Skip came back with a paper plate that the Spanish guys sent to me... it was filled with the most colorful, diced up vegetables and little pieces of meat. The smell coming from it was so wonderful and I knew I really wanted to taste all.
The Spanish guys had taken a new trash can lid and set it on top of a propane heater, and put oil in it.... they put pork into it and cooked until the pork was done ..then, put all kinds of colorful vegetables in it, along with lemon, and lime, and.......... what stuck out in my mind as sick as I was... orange juice! They squeezed the lemons, limes and oranges to get the juices!
I sat up and held the plate that Skip gave me in one hand and used the little plastic fork in my other hand. I ate slowly ..savoring each little piece of meat and the colorful vegetables and ... it was 'heaven'! Before or since... I've never tasted such good food as that was.
I placed the plate and fork into the little plastic bag that lined the trashcan in our sleeper.. and closed it. I didn't want to keep smelling the food. I laid back down thinking 'I was so honored that the Spanish guys thought about 'me', too'. I appreciated so much that wonderful plate of 'heaven'.
We left there and all the many, many miles back to Jessup, Maryland to the State Farmers' Market where we always loved to go to... I felt I couldn't take anymore... I was the sickest I'd ever been in my life. Skip worried about me and I wouldn't let him take me to the doctor... I would go when we got back to North Carolina... home.
I slept alot and I... coughed alot. It was strange... I didn't feel like it was a 'cold'.... no, not at all.
We were finally home... and Skip took me to the hospital emergency room (not to the one I had worked at). There... they did x-rays and I was diagnosed with .. pneumonia. That was the only thing that I could think of when trying to 'know inside' what was wrong with me. So now... the doctor said I had pneumonia. I had thought that... I'd had pneumonia several times in my life.
I began to get 'some better'. This was at Christmas time in 1997... I didn't know this would be my last trip of many..... to all the wonderful states we traveled to, traveled in and all the interesting things and people, I lived to see! We had friends everywhere through those 3 years that I got to drive with Skip on that big rig!
Skip decided that he wouldn't chance me getting sick like that again... so far away from home. Skip has always been most protective of me and like he and the Pups (and Tommy was)... are my world.....the Pups and I (and then.... Tommy)... are Skip's world. We 'know' this in our hearts.. it's just the way 'we are'. We are all we have... and we treasure each other.
During the months of January, February, March, April and May... my allergies gave me a hard time. I was so used to thinking and saying 'it's just allergies' when I began to progressively cough more. It seemed though... I couldn't breathe ...sometimes.
In May, 1998.. I was losing some of the weight I'd put on while driving the big truck and I walked each day. I had begun a fun, part-time job in merchandising and was getting to go to stores like Walmart.... to give out samples and get to talk to people and I enjoyed it. This wasn't like the 'real' jobs I'd had in the past... this was fun! No stress... just fun!
The last time I did that fun job... I can 'see' this in my mind.... I was dressed in white blouse and black skirt down mid-calf... and black heels. I can see my pretty hair... as I 'look at myself that day'. I was walking across the Walmart parking lot pushing a shopping cart loaded with the display things and samples of some kind of mix one puts in water ... that tasted good. It was hot... this was in June 1998....
I began to feel very weak and I'd cough... then I had to stop for alittle while. I remember thinking and looking to judge 'how much farther I had to go' ..to get inside Walmart. It seemed so-ooooo far and I just felt so bad... no matter that I looked nice... and had been feeling good.
I managed to get through the several hours of giving out samples and packing things up in that shopping cart to take back to my van. I was thinking I needed to get home.... 'I'm so sick.. and it must be ...pneumonia... again'.
Skip and I drove to Garner, North Carolina to the urgent care center there... that was where Skip would send drivers to ..to get physicals when he would hire them (when he was safety and transportation manager of a company in Raleigh, NC). We went there and I wish I could remember the doctor's name there at that time. I may try to find out in the near future.
You know.... we are always 'knowing' it is never 'nothing serious' wrong with us when we go to the doctor and the doctor is going to give us something that will help us go on to be well again.
I can remember 'this time'... I 'felt' something that I'd never felt going to the doctor 'before'. I felt 'fear'... yes, I felt fear this one time. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was 'shaking inside'. I was afraid.
The doctor had ordered x-rays ... we waited patiently for the results. The doctor was outside the door 'reading' my x-rays that were up in front of the light on the wall.
The doctor came in and began to talk and I began to know the fear I had felt... was 'for-real' ...this time. He was so quiet, so gentle as he began to tell Skip and I ... that there was something about my x-rays that disturbed him ..greatly. He wanted me to go to a specialist.. because there was a large mass of 'dead cells' laying on my left lung... touching my heart.
We left there in shock... finally in our life... something bad was wrong with one of us. Something very bad that the doctor saw... and I was the one that had something .. bad wrong... I was so afraid. I was looking back to all the times I had 'signs' and put it off to being ...allergies, pneumonia. How we fool ourselves... how sad that we just simply fool our silly selves ...and waste valuable time.
Each day thereafter, I began to 'go down' as people say... now, I know what that means. I, myself, began to enter the World of Darkness'.... whereas, other people watched me 'go down' ..quickly.
Tommy was in Germany and I made Skip promise not to tell him what was happening to me.. I remember doing this. I knew in my heart that Tommy would 'swim that ocean' and something bad would happen to him... if he knew his mama was dying... because... I was dying and time was giving out.
Skip was trying to work at the office and he even had to fill in for the drivers... and coming home to take care of me... and take me to all the appointments and tests, specialists ...no one could diagnose what was happening to me though... they knew the mass had to come off my lung and heart.
I remember this while 'all of that' was happening.... I was living 'inside myself' at this time and barely knew Skip was taking me to all these places. I did become aware when at the hospital the woman doctor who did a fine needle aspiration on my lung... she hit bone when she put that long needle through my back... and in a short time.. I had a collapsed lung. I had to have two of those procedures.
I did become aware of the most horrible pain when someone did the blood gas on me.. and couldn't after many times in wrist. I kept telling them all the time feeling that awful pain... 'it's going to be alright, it's going to be alright'. I think I was trying to comfort both the one sticking the needle in me and... myself.
I remember one oriental woman looking at me and she burst into tears... she was telling me she was so sorry for hurting me and I was so... kind. She said she couldn't hurt me anymore and she asked someone else to finish getting the blood. Many times I saw tears in my caregivers' eyes... like 'they really cared'.... like maybe 'I could be special'.... I 'knew' I couldn't be... but, it comforted me.... anyway.
I met many for-real angels on that journey in my life... each in their own way saving my life... it took each one to do it. I'm so grateful to all of them... one day I will sit down and try to remember all the doctors, some of the nurses and tell you.
I'll tell you lots of stories from that dark time in my life... I will tell you this.... at this very moment..... and you should remember this always..... 'don't ever talk in front of a very sick person who is 'in another world' and think they don't hear or 'see' ..you.... or smell...you. You would do well to keep that in mind being around people who are in comas or just too ill to be able to communicate with you. This would be some of my most valuable advice to give another person when they have a very ill person in their world.
As I became almost unable to walk... and I could only talk at a whisper... as my bronchial tubes were almost closed off... from that 'mass' on my left lung and resting on my heart. I was close to death and the specialist was trying so hard to find out what it was, so, they could treat it.
In the meantime, while I 'waited'... I was home in bed until Skip could take me to the many tests I had to endure.. until the doctors knew what was wrong with me.
During that time.. I lay there in 100 degree weather in June and July... under many blankets and I couldn't bear the air-conditioner to be on... I was freezing and never did feel warm. I was in the dark world ...sinking deeper and deeper into it. I only could 'see the thoughts in my mind' though.... I could hear around me and could answer.
Skip told me I would talk when he talked to me... I don't remember. I have a fleeting memory in my mind when I was changing gowns and happened to see Skip's face and his ...eyes. They looked at me in such ....shock! I remember asking him 'why' did he look at me like that?
He said he couldn't believe how much weight I'd lost in such a short time... in a just a few weeks! I couldn't see and I couldn't tell it... I was 'lost in that world of not knowing or feeling' what was happening to me. He had to work and he would make sure there was food ... and my cousin, Jimmy, had just come to 'live' with us would 'help' me while he was gone.
My memories of my cousin Jimmy, aren't quite the best ...then. To know Jimmy was to love him. I'll get to Jimmy alittle later in the story.
In that dark world... my mind went back to when I was very small.. and lived in a 'real' home... before Grandma Alma and George. At nighttime.. when I went to bed... my beautiful mother would lean over me with her very long, curly hair and a little smile in her eyes... and she'd tuck me in by pulling my covers up to my neck and then, gently 'tuck' the covers over my ears and around my shoulders. At that time was 'when' I knew my mama loved me... and my mind was there when I was so close to death. That's 'where' I was inside the morning Skip took me for my first surgery. That's what comforted me 'seeing' my mama tucking me in to go to sleep... and this time... it was being tucked in... forever.
Skip... my hero, my best friend, my husband......... wasn't having any of me not living. I remember him doing what we always called 'dangling the bait'... where one of us would say 'just the right thing' to pull that fighting spirit out when it was needed. Skip kept doing that all along to make me fight to live, he wasn't letting me go... easily. I knew he was 'there' and our Pups were there though, I couldn't see them very well.
This was right up until the morning Skip took me for surgery... in my mind I was with my mama.. she was standing there to tuck me in so, I could go to sleep forever... I felt comforted.
I never remember any fear of dying... I wouldn't have known it. I will write later in time more about my illness. I have to do it alittle at a time... I don't dwell on being sick because I can't afford to... I want to live.
I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma after that first surgery. I live with it today. I will write about my journey down many paths to come back... but, for now... I need to come back to reality... now. :)))) I have alot to say and tell about my life... another world that I wasn't aware of ...until it touched my life. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma..... was a 'whole other ballgame'.......................