Everyone was as confused as I was over Cid’s condition. I waited beside his bed, holding his hand, while my mind raced over all the possibilities. I couldn’t take my eyes off his face and I watched him as he labored for breath while I prayed.
The brain surgeon eventually rushed into the room and I stepped aside so he could check Cid over. He inspected his surgery site and shone the flashlight into his eyes and then bent and listened to his chest. I kept my eyes on the doctor’s face during this time in case his expression gave away anything. Instead, he straightened up and told us he was going to have several tests done right away so he would know what was going on. When he hurried from the room I squeezed Cid’s hand and told him it was going to be okay. This doctor was a miracle worker.
In no time at all, Cid was being wheeled off for x-rays and a scan. I stuck to his gurney like glue; the warm clothes I had brought for his journey home were stacked on a chair back in his room and forgotten by us both. Cid was hooked up to oxygen and a heart monitor, and a crash cart followed us wherever we went around the hospital. I tried not to think about all the precautions they were taking and why. Instead I held his hand and squeezed it to let him know I was there and thinking about him all the time.
When the last tests were finished they wheeled him back to the unit and parked us next to the nurse’s desk. I could see the warm clothes and all of Cid’s hospital belongings sitting behind the desk on a counter. While Cid and I were shuffling around the hospital for his tests - he had been discharged. The nurses were now scrambling to find him a bed back on the unit. Shaking my head with all the confusion and inefficiency of the main office, I looked at this man who had come into my life and made me love him. Even with his eyes closed and his attention focused on his breathing, I knew he wanted me to be calm and not create a scene. It just wasn’t his way. Even though it was my way in the past, I respected his wishes and smiled at the nurses instead – and waited. It wasn’t their fault and I knew that a scene would just make matters tenser than they already were.
A couple of hours later they informed us they had a bed in the ward for Cid and they wheeled him into a large room with three other occupants. Knowing we had no choice but to take what was offered, I cheerily set up Cid’s belongings on the small bedside table while they got him into his new bed and all settled. The effort took his breath away again and the nurses fiddled with his oxygen levels and waited for his breathing to go back to normal. When it did, they adjusted the levels again and left us to each other.
I asked him if he wanted the curtains pulled so he could have some privacy, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Cid was a social butterfly and would chat happily with anyone he met, or didn’t meet. Memories of being embarrassed many times with Cid’s outgoing behavior flooded my brain and I was ashamed. I should have been happy that Cid would talk and smile with everyone. He had been alone most of his adult life and this is what he did to compensate for that. I left the curtains open to the ward and opened the window curtains to show him his view of Edmonton.
It had been hours since I had first arrived and Cid had been lying on a gurney and shuffled around for the entire time. I wasn’t surprised when he needed to use the washroom, but he had been putting it off because of the effort it would take and how it would affect his breathing. I offered to help get him to the communal bathroom, but he refused my help. So I called a nurse and they got him in and out and settled again. Just as his breathing returned to as normal as it seemed it was going to get – the surgeon walked in. I took one look at his face and bit my lip.
“It seems the cancer has moved into your lungs Cid and it is pressing against your windpipe. That is why you are having so much trouble breathing at times.”
“Can something be done about that?” Cid asked.
“I’m afraid not.” he said quietly.
“But you worked miracles on his brain. Can’t you or someone else work a miracle on his lungs?” I knew I sounded frantic, but I couldn’t help it.
“Unfortunately there is nothing we can do for this. I’m really sorry.”
I stared bleakly into the doctor’s face and then turned to look at Cid. The look that passed between us cannot be described.