During one of our clinical lectures, the physician gave us some advice. "See this? This is my external brain," he said pointing to his iphone. "Don't waste your time memorizing every single drug and dose. You can always look that up. Besides, that information can change. I'm more concerned with your thought processes that bring you to the correct diagnosis."
My thoughts exactly. To that end, I had started thinking about getting an iphone, much to my son's jealousy. About a month ago, I was spending a few days with my brother down at the hotel near MD Anderson. His radiation to the base of the skull was a Monday through Friday affair that took place over 2 weeks. The actual radiation took all of 20 minutes so we had plenty of time together in the hotel. He loves his iphone and it was never far from him. While he was checking his email on it, out of the blue he said to me, "if you wait long enough, you can have my iphone." He always did have to buy the best technology, even when we were kids. We were always so different in temperment and personality.
"Hey, let's not go there just now," was my reply. We had just recovered from a conversation about death and the fears about what lies ahead. I felt I needed some space to allow those thoughts settle.
"Why? It's going to happen. Besides, it's better than the one you were looking at anyways." It was clear he was in a dark place. How could he not be. Even the room was dark with all the curtains drawn. He was sensitive to any bright light. It hurt. He half-joked, "I've become Gollum lately. I hate the sun."
The past few days, my cell phone's battery had been used all up and I had forgot my charger at home. It seems I was constantly calling hospice communicating what we needed day and night - more morphine, a replacement for the limping oxygen pump, more morphine, backup oxygen tanks in case the pump failed, a nurse visit, more fentanyl patches, more morphine. I used his phone and at some point, the cold irony came back to me. It really is happening. You gird yourself mentally, physically, emotionally for what lies ahead, but when it hits, you realize there are serious limitations to your preparations. And while all those components are taxed enormously, it's your soul that gets bruised, broken and wounded the most. Perhaps naivete isn't a bad thing. If you knew what was coming, it'd probably be a hell of a lot harder to stand and face.