Fringe Observations felt like a good title as that was exactly where I was standing – on the fringe, observing every thing, one and place connected with this journey…
The original Facebook post…
“Fringe Observations – Day One. First time we’ve DRIVEN into Manhattan in ages. Got lucky – got the right weather and timing and zipped in without any traffic. Of course traffic IN the city is a different issue. Sally trying to get some sleep but they just brought in a roommate so it’s a bit hectic. I have this chair that pulls out into a lounge. Staring at the ceiling I started counting the holes in the acoustic tile, then realized there are no holes – it’s just a cross cross-pattern that looks like pinholes. Ahhh- the roommate was also at MSKBR last week – something in common to chat about. Nurses here are crazy busy – but all have a great attitude. I wonder if the roommate objects to having a strange male in the room. Time will tell. Looking forward to a sponge bath in the public restroom. The Purell concession alone is worth a fortune.”
The first day was scary, although not as scary as the three months that led up to winning an extended contract at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Now, just so I don’t have to type that title out every single time, and I know I would have to ad nauseum, I will employ the following abbreviations:
MSKNY – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York
MSKBR – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Basking Ridge NJ
TSMFDW – yeah, we’ll get to that later.
Sally and I were sitting around the house, waiting for a starting time. Monday November 24th, 2014 – the day Dr. G told us to be ready to head for the city, assuming the hospital census dropped below 110% and there was a bed for us. Sitting around waiting was actually the easy part. At this point the reality of CANCER still had not sunk in – as long as we were snuggled in our house, the big C was something that was still – out there somewhere. Denial is a beautiful thing. It makes life very safe in the face of the uglies.
But finally the call came. A bed was waiting. Room 715A. I took the call because, well at this point even working a phone had become too great a task for Sally. She was watching TV – it must have been “story hour” because it was after lunch.
Story hour, by the way, is 1 PM to 2PM daily, EST. That’s when life comes to a halt at the Cooper household and we (using that we a little loosely) become immersed in the lives of Nicole, Zander, Brady, Mel, Serena (oh dear God I know these people)…”Like sand through an hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives…”
So anyway I walk into the den, the gay guys are making out on the TV – which happens EVERY time I walk into the middle of story hour without fail (i’d rather see the evil redhead in some Victoria Secret leather teddy…sorry. Just took a short vacation).
I sit in front of Sally, taking her hand, and ask if she’s ready. That moment was the first hole punched in the denial. Tears sprang from her eyes. I just held her, telling her we could do it together. It took the wind out of both our sails, so we took a few seconds to silently say goodbye to life as we knew it.
So this was day one – a beautiful sunny day which was a bonus as we ended up sitting on 66th street for awhile. See MSKNY has a fairly cheap parking garage which everyone within a three mile radius takes advantage of, so it’s not unusual to wait in line twenty-five or thirty minutes just to get in the place. Not completely unexpected; the MSKNY web site told us this might happen. It’s jammed enough that we leave the car on the ramp going into the garage. Having no idea where the friggin’ building is we walk out of the garage onto 66th and just start walking – not knowing we were walking the wrong way, naturally. Stopping to ask a fresh-faced young man who looked medically connected in some way where the entrance was he said it was one street over. So we continue to walk in the wrong direction up to First Avenue, a block over to 67th then right back down the hill to York Avenue. OK. York. It’s somewhere on York. We cross York because there are some really nice looking hospital buildings across the street. Hmmm, no those are all New York Presbyterian Hospital. Oh there it is…
We cross back over York, but not before a young gentleman of the homeless starts telling his sad tae to Sally, who I can see is ready to help in in anyway she can. After explaining to the man that were were late for chemotherapy, and explaining to Sally that her current sob story takes precedence.
And yes, had we walked INTO the garage instead of OUT of place, we would have found the tunnel leading right where we needed to go. It’s tough to have these rational thoughts when we are both in a fog.
In the hospital. Admissions? Bah. Who needs admissions – we go straight to 715A and park our butts in the room waiting. It’s an empty room, currently, so no one is in residence to strike up a conversation with. Staff members walk by, giving us very odd looks, wondering who these crazy people are.
Then Kristyn walks in. Things got better immediately. Kristyn is a pixie with long brown hair and a sunshine smile who belongs lounging on a beach on the West Coast – at least that was my first impression. I’ll alter that as I go – at least the West Coast part. Kristyn was the first of a group of angels to care for Sally. You’ll get tired of hearing me talk about them after awhile – too bad. Kristen was the first day, Alexa was the first night – a taller version of the same attitude.
They both made sure we got settled, had what we needed and could breathe a little easier. They knew what we were in for – we didn’t have a clue.