“Just a Little Different” by Karin Gehm Barrett

Karin Gehm Barrett – ‘Survivor’

My life as I knew it
Was there in front of me
Every day the same
But just a little different
Then one day there was a pain
There was a feeling of unease
Of being uncomfortable
Things were happening that were just a little different
My belly was huge and hard as a rock
A doctor visit
I expected to hear something simple
But instead
I was sent for a CT scan
Forced to drink that nasty stuff
Don’t they understand there is nowhere for it to go
I haven’t been able to eat for days
They take their pictures and I go home
The phone rings late that afternoon
Large abdominal mass and ascites she says
All I can think is, what is ascites, did she say mass?
What now?
Google it all
This can’t be?
Ovarian Cancer????
This was supposed to be gallstones or something
No one believes me that this is what this could be
It’s 5:30 on a Friday
Who do I call?
Days later I am sitting with an oncologist
Is this real?
What did he say?
No, not me, this has to be wrong
It’s not
You drain my belly each week for three weeks
Six liters of fluid each time
It looks like tap beer he says
I try not to laugh
There is a huge needle in my belly after all
It’s your birthday and you take me to be cut open
You walk me to the door
You kiss me and tell me you love me
I walk through the door
Down the hall
To the room where they all await my arrival
Why does that table look like a crucifix?
I lay down
They start to hook up my IV
I try to breathe slowly
I taste your kiss on my lips
I feel a tear slide down my cheek
God, I don’t want this to be the last thing I remember
It’s not
I awake the next day
Tube still down my throat
It has to stay in, they say
You lost a lot of blood, they say
Eight and a half hours and four pints of blood, they say
And yes, they also say
It is cancer
We believe we got it all
Three tumors
The big one was blocking the two smaller ones
We didn’t see them on the scan
The next day they make me walk
There are staples
A lot of staples
From my belly button all the way down
You want me to walk?
Give me more drugs
Two days later they send me home
And just when I feel a little better
It is time for the poison
That first time
Sitting in my comfy recliner
The doctor talks to me
The nurse talks to me
The nutritionist talks to me
You sit and hold my right hand
My left hand is being stuck with a needle
We will go real slow the first time the nurse says
We will monitor every reaction
Is she monitoring my heart that is jumping out of my chest right now?
They start will saline, then Benadryl, than anti-nausea meds
And then
Then it is time
The first of the two poisons is hooked up
She unclamps the tube
There is this hot rush into my hand
Up my arm
Into my chest
I feel it in me
This can’t be real
But as I look up I see right under my name
The poison symbol on the bag
Time goes slow
The Benadryl makes me sleepy
He is stroking my hair now
Ah, how long before he cannot do this anymore
Next poison is hooked up
Getting the hang of it now
Just have to do this 5 more times
I can do this
My life as I now know it
Is there in front of me
Every day the same
But just a little different