I dragged my weary body out of bed at the sound of the alarm. The sleeping pills didn't work again, leaving me running on an hour of sleep. It was Tuesday, which meant there were no classes for me. I did not have the luxury of sleeping in though, because it was my job to take my mother to her chemotherapy appointment. It's not like I minded taking her, it actually gave us a chance to bond a little. On the way to the kitchen I mumbled out a sleepy hello to whoever happened to be in the living room. My reply was a high pitched meow and my furry four legged friend appeared around the corner.
"Yes I will feed you, fatty." I said to him.
I opened the can and spilled it onto a plate, holding my breath against the smell. I scratched him on the chin and went into the living room to find my mom watching the news.
"Morning, when do you wanna leave?" I asked her with a yawn.
"In a little bit," She replied. "After I have some tea."
I nodded and went to get dressed, nearly tripping over my boots in the process. After burning my forehead with my flat iron and stabbing my eye with the eyeliner, I knew it wasn't going to be a good day. I threw on a sweater and went outside to warm up the car. Autumn was on its way fast and the wind nipped at my ears.
Halfway through our drive to the hospital we had to take a detour down roads I never knew existed. It seemed the whole town of Stony Brook seemed to be undergoing some sort of construction. Traffic clogged the side streets, letting us crawl forward every few minutes. I could hear my mom sigh beside me, annoyed that we were going to be late for her appointment.
"We'll get there on time, don't worry." I reassured her.
A few traffic lights away, I could see the hospital looming above us. For such a small town, we had a very big hospital. This was partially because we shared it with the surrounding towns too. I hated going there, and avoided it as much as I could, which unfortunately wasn't that much. Sirens approached us, and everyone slowed to let the ambulance through. It went in the opposite direction of where we were headed, toward the emergency room.
We pulled into the parking lot, with five minutes to spare, and had to wait for the idiots to slow down and let us cross. We said good morning to the security guard who greeted us with a smile, and passed the volunteer staffs' wall of artwork. This week it was melted crayons swirled into designs, and ribbons weaved into pillows.
"That's a pretty cool idea." I said to my mom.
"Well you should start going to their meetings." She said. "I'm sure they'd love to have you."
"Maybe I will." I replied.
We continued our long trek down the hallway, towards the I.V. outpatient room. We passed unnamed offices with doctors ticking away at their keyboards, and continued walking past radiology. The doors to the insomnia center were dark as always, the patients inside continuously being tested.
Past patient recovery rooms at the end of the hallway, was our destination. I tried not to look in at the resting figures for fear of disturbing their privacy. My curiosity got the better of me when I heard quiet sobbing, and I looked in and met the eyes of a gentle looking, white haired older lady. I gave her a small smile, and put my head back down and continued following my mom.
We rounded the corner and I opened the door to the outpatient room for my mom. The smell of sterilization filled my nose, and I looked around at the familiar blue vinyl chairs. This is where we come every Tuesday for four hours. Many of the chairs were filled, all the men already napping, and the ladies gossiping. The head nurse Kathy, greeted us warmly, as she always does.
"How's school honey?" She asked me.
"Eh it's school." I replied.
She laughed heartily and went to help my mom get settled in her chair.
"I reserved your favorite one for you." She told her.
"I know thank you very much!" My mom replied. "It's the most comfortable one." She winked at me.
I brought a rolling chair over and sat on it, almost slipping off. I watched as Kathy immediately got to work on my mom. I was always amazed at how clean and sterile the nurses made the procedures. She put gloves on, and wiped my mom's port down with an alcohol pad. I always thought it was so creepy that my mom had it implanted under the skin in her arm. It always stuck out and was bumpy. But it made getting her medicine easier, and kept her from getting jabbed with three different needles every week.
She opened her kit, and put a mask on, and opened a pack of special needles made for the port. She re sterilized the site, and then slowly slid the short needle in. I cringed at the site of it.
"Doesn't that feel weird!?" I asked my mom.
"Nope," She shook her head. "Can't feel a thing."
I watched as Kathy attached a small tube to the open end of the needle and connected it to a longer one. She walked over to the counter, and took a silver bag and hung it from the I.V. pole. She connected the tube to it, and red liquid flowed down into my mom's arm.
"Doctor Zarah requested that you get the full bag of doxorubicin today." She informed my mom before tending to another patient.
"You can go get breakfast in the cafeteria." My mom said to me. "I won't be moving for a while."
"Alright," I said. "Do you want anything?"
She shook her head, "Na."
"Ok well call me on my cell if you need me back here." I told her before leaving.
On my way back down the hallway towards the elevators, I passed the older woman's room again.
"Excuse me young lady!" I heard a frail voice call out. I turned and looked in.
"Hello," She said to me. "I dropped my TV remote on the floor and can't reach it, could you please get it for me?"
"No problem." I smiled and went in and got it for her.
"Thank you sweetie." She said smiling.
"Can I get you anything else while I'm here?" I asked her.
"No, no, I'm alright." She said. "But there's a tin of cookies here, my granddaughter made for me, please take one, for being so helpful."
I smiled at her. "Thank you so much." I took one and bit into it. "Chocolate chip, my favorite." I told her.
I remembered her watery eyes earlier. "You know, that granddaughter of yours is very lucky to have such a nice grandma." I said to her.
She smiled and said, "No I'm nothing special honey."
"Oh yes you are." I replied. "And there's no need to cry." I told her. "You're in recovery here, you'll be out soon, don't worry.
"I'll keep that in mind." She smiled.
"Well thank you for the cookie, and have a good day." I said goodbye and closed the door on my way out.
Before heading to the caf on the fourth floor, I stopped in the bathroom to make sure I didn't look like a complete mess. There were two nurses who were gossiping about one of the male doctors, so I tried to ignore them. As I was getting ready to leave, a loud noise filled the air. A shrill siren screeched making me cover my ears. Over and over it blared. I tried to ask one of the nurses what was happening, but they couldn't hear me over the noise. An automated voice joined in with the alarm, CODE RED CODE RED EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM TO FLOOR 5!
"Oh my god!" I heard one of the nurses scream.
I watched them run out, slamming the door behind them. As I tried to do the same thing, I lost my footing on the slippery floor. The next thing I remember is a sharp pain in my head. Black spots swam before my eyes, and I fought to keep my thoughts coherent. The last thing I felt was the cold tile beneath me, and then I was consumed in blackness.