Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Completely Normal Encounter with Antibiotics

“I’m going to be unconscious for this right?” I wring my hands and try not to tense my jaw too much. The blue chair that I’m lying in is the only colour in the white room.

“Well, you’ll be mildly sedated” says the nurse smiling. The surgeon walks in, Seattle coffee cup in hand. He greets the nurses and quickly acknowledges me.

“No, listen, I want to be OUT.” I start to shake as she moves the needle closer to my arm.

“Just count backwards from forty.” She calmly inserts the needle in to the crux of my elbow as
another nurse puts the laughing gas mask on. I make it to twenty before everything goes black.

* * *

I wake up in a thin bed on my side. I can feel thick cotton balls in my cheeks and my mouth tastes like dried blood. I can feel large holes in the back of my gums where my wisdom teeth
used to be.

I’ve seen friends come out of wisdom teeth surgery high as a kite. I’m surprised at how normal I feel. No dancing faries, no nothing. I dizzily start to stand up as the nurse comes over.

“You can’t get up until your mom gets here,” says the blonde nurse matter-of-factly.

“I’m 20 years old. I’ll sit up if I want to,” I shoot back through the cotton balls in my mouth.

“Lie down until your mother gets here, you can barely stand.”

“Whatever.” The second my numb face hits the pillow my mother walks into the room. “Can I sit up nooow?” I say tauntingly. The nurse ignores my comment.

“Alright Mrs. Goyan, here’s Stacey’s prescription for antibiotics and Tylenol 3, she can take these…”

“WHAT?!” I shout at the nurse, unaware that people are also sleeping in the rooms beside me.

“Antibiotics?!! Are you fucking kidding me?!”

“What’s the matter,” says my mom, shocked that her polite and mild-mannered daughter is yelling in public.

“I can’t drink on antibiotics!” I shout, reminding myself of the three weeks I have just spent on antibiotics due to tonsillitis. “I just finished my exams! I’ve worked hard and I want to go out!

I’m not fucking taking those!!” I start flinging my arms in ridiculous directions.

“You will if you don’t want an infection,” retorts the nurse.

Before I can respond with more colourful language, my mother covers my mouth, takes the prescriptions and sends the nurse away.

* * *

My feet feel like bricks as I walk into Shoppers pharmacy. I start touching strange things in the aisles. My mother finally grabs me before I laughingly start playing with a box of Vagisil.

“Hi there,” says my mother to the young pharmacist, “the oral surgeon said they called over the prescription. I’m here to pick it up.”

I start to think about all of my friends going out drinking without me. I think about the three weeks that I haven’t had a social life because of assignments and exams. I think about the four months before that I spent dealing with mono. I slam my fist down on the pharmacy counter, alarming the technician in front of me.

“This is bullshit. Do I really need to take these pills?”

“Well if you don’t then you risk the wound sites becoming gangrenous, which could kill you,” says the pharmacist.

“But I want to go out! I don’t want to not drink for two weeks! I want a life again!” My tearful sobs sound like a spoiled five year old, mad that I can’t go play with my friends. The only thing that could have mad it worse is foot stomping.

“You can drink alcohol on antibiotics, there are just certain pills that they recommend you don’t.”


“Yeah, some just make you nauseous. Although, from the looks of it, you won’t want to go out anytime soon. Once the anesthetic wears off, you’re not going to be feeling…”

“Wooohooo!!” I shout as I gleefully run out of the store.

The pharmacist rushes to get my mother the pills. “What’s the matter with her?” he asks blankly.

My mom quickly shrugs as she grabs the pills. “Apparently she really needs to go party.” She quickly runs after me, chasing her high adult daughter down the snowy street.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Discussions with God

Dear God, if she’s going to die, don’t let her suffer.

I know we haven’t talked in awhile. I can’t even remember how to anymore. When I think of you, I think of protestors who think piety means politics. I think of school teachers telling me what God wants me to do. I don’t think of these talks. I really should.

The hospital reeks of failing flesh. The room looks like it was meant for two but we’ve cramped it with ten family members. Uncle John left Randi at home. Death is too much for a seven year old. My fifteen and twelve year old cousins make nervous jokes in the adjoining room.

I haven’t seen this woman before. I thought I was coming to watch my Nonna die but she’s been replaced. Some nurse replaced her with a sickly mannequin. Her sallow yellow skin sucks into her face, making her once smiling cheeks cavernous.

There she is, God. She’s closer to you than she’s ever been. Her liver has given up and her food has no where to go. Cancer won. Thanks a lot.

What good did her hours of prayer do for her? She talked to you constantly about everything. No matter what went wrong with my life, she said you had a meaning for it. She didn’t lie to me, you did.

I feel sedated. I try to make my fuzzy thoughts focus on something living. A nurse talks to my dad and uncle about pulling the plug. I cover my ears with my hands and sob quietly into my lap.

You could stop this if you wanted to. You could make it all go away. C’mon, if you’re so fucking great, give me a miracle right now! Let her talk. Let me hear her voice one more time. I don’t care if she tells me to go to hell, just let her talk.

I haven’t heard her speak in a week. I remember going over to her house at lunch and eating delivered KFC in her open living room. “Oooh, don’t you look beauty-ful today buhlah.” She sat in the same chair. The TV was usually on a spiritual program or a children’s show to appease my brother and I.

She spends most of her time resting. I imagine there isn’t much to do in hospice. My mother would know better. She works on the next floor. Despite my parents’ divorce, she came to say goodbye to her mother-in-law. My Uncle John and Auntie Gail try to hide their sniffles, but my cousins don’t really know what’s happening. My brother tries to be tough, but I know he can’t handle this either. I’ve had more time with her. She always favoured her first.

My dad hasn’t cried yet. He looks around the room anxiously as though he has somewhere else to be. He hugs her like a bar buddy and then pats her hands. “My favourite son,” she said to the doctor last week. I like to think she was being sarcastic.

My mother taps on my shoulder. “Go say goodbye to Nonna.”

I wonder if she’s had enough time to say goodbye. A priest came a week ago to deliver her last rites. Do those things have an expiration date? A week feels like a long time for God to remember his blessings. Maybe someone takes notes. Maybe he forgets.

Okay, I take it back. I was a bit harsh on that last one. I’m not ready yet. Two weeks ago she was fine. Now… cancer? A little notice would have been nice. Did you give her notice?

I’m kneeling beside her now. Her formerly bright and welcoming eyes peek out as slits. She’s refusing water, leaving her mouth dry and parched. I just want her to say anything.

I want to kiss her but her skin scares me now. Holding her hand could make the sky change colour but now I flinch. I give her a half hearted kiss.

Tell me what she’s thinking. Will she miss me? Will she be too happy to see Nonno that she’ll forget me? Does she hate me for not calling her back? You can have her tomorrow. Today she’s mine.

She groans as I put my hand on her face. She blinks fast and then closes her eyes. I say goodbye. I’m the last one.

Promise me you’ll love her more.

The nurse checks with my father and uncle whether it’s okay now to pull the plug. Her eyes close, she’s resolved. The nurse turns off the machine. We watch her take her last breaths. They get softer. Quieter.

The beeping stops. The nurse checks her pulse. I wonder if my prayers were heard.