Back to Detroit
next plan was to get me roadworthy to make a trip from Knoxville, TN where
I was working to
Detroit, MI, where Iím from. He
basically explained it like this: My working days are over till I get
healthy enough to think about work again.
Could be months or a year or even more, depending on how my cancer
progresses, how I respond to the treatments, etc.
Meanwhile, this is going to be something I cannot deal with on my
own in Knoxville by myself. I
will NEED to be around family, I will NEED their help, theyíre all in the Detroit area, and I
have no choice but to go there to start my treatments (whatever they will
turn out to be) or cash in my chips. He wasn't quite that blunt, but
he got his point across.
been telling me all along that I need to call my family in Detroit to tell
them I was in the hospital, deathly ill, but I refused to do so until they
could tell me what was wrong or that I would need a casket fitting.
I just couldnít call home and say, "Iím dieing and they
donít know why Ė Iíll let you know as soon as I find out anything
more." I knew that would
just cause a big panic and I didnít want that.
So I held back on informing anyone till I could get a better handle
on what to say. I wanted to
be able to say something positive.
informed, I made the phone calls. I
got cancer, but itís a kind that people live with for lots of years of
nearly normal lives, and I will too.
Iím very healthy except for the cancer, so this is going to be
relatively easy. Iím not
very old yet, so this is something that I can get through.
Donít worry, Iíll be fine, and Iím coming home so you can all
help me lick this thing.
Trudy immediately rushed to Knoxville to see me.
Then she loaded up my whole house and moved it to Detroit by U-Haul
that broke down along the freeway and she had to go through an ordeal with
that where U-Haul thought the truck was stolen or somethingÖ I dunno,
but thereís definitely a country song in there somewhere I need to get
around to writing one of these days.
By the time
she got back a few days later, our sister Candy was with her and I had
been out of the hospital about an hour or two when they all pulled in my
driveway to take my computer and me to Detroit. I had taken a cab from the hospital to the house, and was
real happy to just be out of that hospital bed and outside after some 10
or 11 days of hell Iíd just been though with all the prodding and poking
and testing and blood draws and so forth.
Physically, I was a wretched wreck. I was swollen from my chest down
to my toes like some really weird, huge, bloated cartoon. It was all
fluid and I was told it was from the heavy doses of steroids they'd given
me to get my appetite and strength up enough to make the trip. I'd
been lying in bed for nearly a month, so my muscles were all atrophied and
nearly useless. I could barely move my legs at all.
My belly had swelled in the hospital from itís normal 38 to 40
inches to a whopping 47 inches plus.
I was 10 months pregnant to a bouncing baby, fully ripe Georgia
watermelon, or so it seemed. It was all fluid, but it was all skinned very tight, like a
drum. On top of that,
everything from the waist down to my toes was swelled up equally to fit
the image of that belly.
My sisters pried my swollen feet into my unlaced and stretched open
shoes. I could barely walk at all, tottering from one leg over to
the other slowly and methodically. It was all I could do in the
hospital to get out of bed with someone's help every time. Now it
was the same way just getting up from a sitting position. I needed
someone to pull me to my feet each time.
that we all go to my favorite restaurant for my favorite meal on me before
we set out for Detroit, and thatís what we did.
We went to Hops and I made Candy have my favorite meal along with
me, Filet Mignon, because sheíd never tried it before.
The salads were perfect, the honey buns were divine, the
microbrewery root beer and Trudyís Clearwater Light beer were fantastic,
and of course the main course was exquisite.
It was a meal that couldnít be beat, and I felt that no matter
what happened along the road from that point, at least Iíd had that one
last perfect repast to remember and see me though.
We made a couple of rest stops along the way for bathroom, food and
drink. At the very first, I could no longer get my shoes on my feet
because they'd swollen too much by then. So I went barefoot. I
remember it was chilly out, but I couldn't feel anything from my
feet. Not even the ground that I knew had to be pretty cold. I
wrestled with the walks to the bathrooms; each step was a task to be
overcome, each trip was a trek to be conquered.
By the time
we got to Detroit, I was in pretty weak shape again.
bloated, rubbery looking legs, feet and toes were simply balloons that
looked ready to pop if I made a wrong step on them with too much weight,
and by now they were all bigger than they'd ever been and about as useless
as a screen door on a submarine.
even remember how I got up the stairs and into the house.
All I knew was that I could finally rest again.
I made the best of it. I told everyone I felt good, even though they could tell I was beat
to death. The truth was: I DID feel good. I was alive, out of
the hospital and home - really home - in the house I moved into when I was
2 years old and grew up in. This was the best I'd felt, mentally, in
over a month. And even though I was a physical wreck, I wasn't in a
hospital bed wondering if I'd see the next morning. It truly felt
Next: More time in the hospital