18. The Cancer Spreads


The chicken dance. That’s what I heard many mornings on this floor of the hospital. It was always about 6:30 a.m. just as the day shift was beginning. I called it the chicken dance, but really I have no idea about the name of the song. The nurses did have a stuffed chicken though. They put this chicken on the floor by the nurse’s station, gathered around it, turned on the music, and did their chicken dance routine. It was so funny to watch.
Working in a hospital is tough. Unless you have either walked that path, know someone who has, or been in a hospital for an extended stay, you can only imagine how hard it is. Nurses always amaze me, They literally have the lives of the patients in their hands. So many of them carry that responsibility with a smile on their face and a kink word on their lips.

Doing the chicken dance was a way for these nurses to begin their day with a laugh and a bit of fun. Whoever began that tradition for this hospital floor was a genius.

Daddy was moved to this floor the 4th week in May, right after he pitched a fit with the doctor. I remember this because I put together a little wedding anniversary celebration for Mother and Daddy on June 4, and we had it in their family room.

Daddy’s speech had almost returned to normal. He no longer sounded like Forrest Gump. However, I tried to play checkers with him and he could not remember the rules, nor could he concentrate for more than a few minutes.

It was on this floor that he received physical therapy. In fact on their anniversary, he walked unassisted into the family room. You should have seen the smile on Mother’s face. His right hand and arm also gained strength and increased coordination. He began to feed himself with his right hand.

Our goal was to get Daddy strong enough to join Mother at the nursing home. Because we knew Daddy’s days were very limited, we wanted them to have as much time together as possible. We had a sense of urgency because the second chemo treatment did not shrink the cancer at all and nearly killed him. It was then decided that he would not have a 3rd treatment so we knew there was nothing to stop the cancer from growing.

Upon Daddy’s move to the physical therapy floor, I felt that I needed to begin earnestly planning his funeral. It was time for me to cross that bridge. He and I had talked about it at length several times, but I had actually done very little. He talked to me about funeral expenses. He pointed his finger at me and said, “No expensive funeral. I want just a pine box. That is all. No expensive casket.” Mother and Daddy did not have burial plots so I began earnestly looking for that as well.

It was during the funeral planning process that I had several ‘hip pocket’ moments. Deciding on which burial plot. Looking at caskets, talking about the order of service for the funeral. We did do several things to keep the cost low. Yes, I did look at pine box caskets, and I couldn’t go there. I just couldn’t do it. We stepped up one level and did get the least expensive real casket for Daddy.

After about four weeks in the physical therapy floor, the nurses discovered a new lump under his harm. It was determined that the cancer was growing rapidly. It was time to move him to the nursing home so that he and mother could have some time together………

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