The Sounds of Jim

Dave and Jim on the 4th floor of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Dave and Jim on the 4th floor of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Dave had a visit, this is his perspective of the peacefulness that we enjoy in a hospital room.

Dealing with cancer is LOUD! That’s what I learned yesterday.

Jim went in to have a thing done for his cancer. I’m no doctor, but he mentioned his lipase numbers were off the charts, so my guess is they wanted to get them back on the charts. The problem was pancreas was clogged by a tumor and things are backing up into his… uh… organ type places (medical term) which isn’t supposed to have pancreas stuff (medical term) in it. I took biology in high school, so if I’m getting too complicated, I apologize.

Anyway, a few weeks ago they put a stent in (size 6) (lame) that wasn’t doing the job, (charting numbers, intense pain, etc) so they put in a bigger stent (size 10) (much better).  I’m not totally sure what a stent is, but I picture a size 6 stent as a dainty straw, and a size ten is like  of those loop the loop straws that you get with your barbell margarita in Vegas. The way you put in a stent is you send an army of elves down your throat with a size 10 stent, a ball peen hammer and headlamps. At least that’s how I’d do it. But I’m not doctor. However they did to Jim, apparently it hurts but it’s working, the pain and lipase numbers are down.

Anyway, enough of the medical update - I went to visit Jim the day after the operation.

When you visit someone who has cancer, it’s a funny thing, because you walk into an entire section of the hospital that is for cancer patients. You expect it to be really hushed and quiet because, well, BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS CANCER.  

I found Jim’s room, where I expected him to be lying there, eyes closed and practicing mindfulness but instead I found him with his earbuds in, smiling and texting on his phone.

“WTF?” I said, (which stands for “What’s with the earbuds and texting while you’re dealing with cancer?”)

He pulled out one earbud and said, “Sit down. Wait a second.”

And then it started. There was a woman in the bed beside him who clearly wasn’t comfortable. She started yelling and moaning. Like, YELLING. Something hurt, she couldn’t breathe, and she wanted people to know. A nurse rushed in. Then another. She kept yelling, they tried to help her, whatever they tried to do, she yelled more. Eventually she calmed down a bit.

“How you doing Jim?”

Before he answered, he adjusted his bed to talk. I had no idea they used refurbished 747 engines in the bed mechanism, but the windows rattled as the bed lifted his head up.

I tried again, “How you doing -”

A nurse across the hall called, “Can someone help me put him back in bed?” and someone else yelled “Coming”.

“So, how you - “

Beep Beep Beep. Jim’s blood pressure cuff swelled up. Whssssssss…

“How is it - “

“Cough cough cough!!!!” from another bed. Didn’t sound like a cold. Unless it’s a hairy mammoth with a cold.

“Jim,  how - ”

Someone’s phone went off - a irish jig of a ring tone at full blast. Eventually “Hello?.... Hello?... I’m in the hospital, I can’t hear you… What?... What!? … I’ll call you later… I can’t hear you. I’m in the hospital….”

“Jimhowareyourdoing?” I said in one breath, jamming into the moment of quiet.

He smiled at me. “They want me to rest before they let me go.”

“Rest? How can you rest?”

He laughed. “It’s hilarious. Everything. All of the madness is just funny. So I sit here, laugh, and rest.”

I don’t know how he does it. But he does. There’s probably a lesson in there. Learning to live with grace amidst the noise of your situation. But I don’t know for sure, I can’t hear myself think.

Either way,  that’s what my friend is doing. He’s smiling, he’s laughing … and he’s resting. Maybe you’d like to bring your boombox to visit.


A Story About Jim

Freedom 54