Where The Popsicles Are-52

A Dilemma.

I got back to the Radisson and checked in. Then it was back to the hospital for the day.

Joanie was napping when I got there, and the nurse told me she hadn’t had any problems since she got back from surgery.

When she came to, she was groggy, and thirsty. I had made sure there was ice water there, and it went down quickly. She asked me what time it was, and then I realized she probably didn’t remember much about when I had seen her earlier.

I told her we would be going home tomorrow, and I had called our contact at Northwest Airlines to make sure everything was cool, and we had seats. That seemed to cheer her up a little, and I said it was time for a walk. Surprisingly, she agreed, and we headed out for a tour around the halls of 7C.

The rest of the afternoon was spent like a lot of the days we had spent there before. TV on, but no one watching. Her napping, me doing the Sunday New York Times crossword, and riding the elevator to go out for a smoke.

Around six o’clock, after she had a bit to eat, she told me she was going to go to sleep for a while. I left and headed for Sally’s.

As I sat at the bar, having a smoke and beer, (that was before it was outlawed), I began to think about what Dr. Carson and I had talked about that morning. It occurred to me I had put myself on the horns of a dilemma, one that bothered me when I began to consider it.

I had told Carson we couldn’t tell her about the distinct possibility that they couldn’t take down the ileostomy, and she would be looking at a colostomy for the rest of her life. When I thought about that I realized it put me in direct opposition to something Joanie and I had talked about early on in this process, and that was knowing was better than not knowing, and my telling her she was stronger than she thought she was.

Now here I was, hiding something from her. Something she should know about, and something that could affect her life for as long as she lived. I wondered if I wasn’t being over protective of her, and in the process giving the lie to what I had told her about how strong she was. Along with that, I had always felt it was my job to tell her what she needed to know to deal with the effect of this disease.

As I sat there at Sally’s, I told myself, on the one hand, I knew how much she was hoping the ileostomy could be taken down and she wouldn’t have a colostomy. On the other hand, I was worried about telling her that it might not happen. I thought dumping this on her at this stage would do more harm than good. I wasn’t sure about her emotional fragility at this point, and this setback with the infection from the neovagina had taken a toll on her. She had also only been out of the hospital for two weeks, and every time I would change her ileostomy, she would remark about how this was temporary, and how she was looking forward in a couple of months to be done with it.

There was also the fact there was still an outside chance they would be able to put that part of her bodily function back to normal, but it was slim, and if it was put to her like that, the psychological and emotional impact that came with the uncertainty also made me think I was making the right choice.

I took some solace in the fact that Dr. Carson had agreed with me, and I knew if worse came to worse, they would have a way of dealing with it. I would let them deliver the bad news, if and when it came.

Another thing that was reinforced that morning talking to Dr. Carson was, as a caregiver, it is really important to have an understanding with the doctor of your patient. I think Carson understood that I was not a passive bystander in this whole thing, and was an active participant in Joanie’s treatment and care. Had we not had that relationship, I’m not sure the news we feared might not have been told to Joanie at a time she didn’t need to hear it.

I paid my tab and walked back to the hospital, a little more sure that we had made the right decision about not telling her what Carson had told me that morning, even if it posed a dilemma for me personally.

Back in Joanie’s room, we watched a bit of TV, and talked about what needed to be done when we got home. We went for a walk and later I got her a cherry popsicle, and around ten o’clock that night went back to the hotel.

Joanie’s sister Ginny was going to pick us up around eleven thirty on Monday and give us a ride to the airport. Getting back home was as important as ever.


About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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