I’ll lead with tomorrow, since today is getting blurry already. I should be asleep already. The few hours that await me, since I’ve had to up my Decadron dose due to swollen optic nerves that never would have been detected were it not for my visit to the retina specialist yesterday to follow up on a condition initially caused by my cancer meds. (The dominos fall in more than one direction. It’s confusing.)

Tomorrow I’ll see Dr P. I haven’t seen her since my scans of last week, which resulted in so much drama. The CT scans are fine, though, so I have that to go on. I have that, and I cling to it, because I also have some kind of chest cold developing with bad cough, a sudden pallor that concerns me, extreme fatigue (most likely thanks to Keppra) and as of earlier this evening, a very slight fever. I usually run pretty cold – around 97 degrees – so for me, 99.1 is possibly cause for more concern than in warmer-blooded specimens. I have a sister in melanoma meds in Northern Ireland, who has suffered greatly from fevers on the same combo therapy I have, so I’m definitely on alert.

Tomorrow I’ll also be dropping off a baby gift for Nurse Practitioner R, who had a baby boy a few weeks ago. When I need to buy baby gifts, I never stray from books. Registry items feel practical, but having been through the process a couple of times, I know how quickly needs change, how intractable newborns can be when it comes to what swaddling methods they adore or reject, etc etc. Books are always the right size. And you can read them to a baby starting in the potted plant stage and then keep on reading them, until they start reading them back to you. I picked out some of our favorites.

And now, since it is November and since at the start of the month, when I felt fresh and new and ten pounds lighter and much less tired, I committed (with a couple of friends on Facebook) to starting a new poem each day of the month (to counter the novels that others attempt to write this month), I am thinking about Nurse Practitioner R, and her roles and how they intersect and how they emphatically don’t. I haven’t written my daily poem yet today (though I’m trying to go easy on myself now that I’m sick again), so I’ll try to ruminate here a bit, with a prose poem.

(Nurse, Practitioner, Mom)

From one day to the next you crossed that line – bump on the inside to human on the outside. The slap of his wet skin against your own, the way he burrowed in and found home. Nurse. Do you use that word to describe the rooting, latching, let-down and release?          

Or does the word itself jump you right back into your other self, the white-clad, purposeful, authoritative boots striding hallways to find the next one needing help, picking up the phone extension to find the next weak voice on the line needing your sure tones, your “it’s gonna be okay, hon,” your “we’ve got this.”      

Tomorrow, I won’t see you. You’ll be with him. Your colleagues know, and you know, my disease. Now, I think I know something about you. You and the little he, will I think of, adrift on an oxytocin sea, quilt of snuggles and snoozes and bleary trips for coffee. I wish you the best of care. I won’t call you Nurse, I’ll think of you as Mom, until I see you walk the halls again, knowing the way the scale tips, the way you get back one part, but leave another part, of your heart, at home or at daycare.


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