They came and got us about an hour later. Paramedics bundled Cid up and the nurses brought the crash cart and wired Cid up to it. Once we were all ready, they wheeled Cid’s gurney out and down to the loading dock for the ambulances. Laws here in Alberta prohibit anyone besides the patient from riding in the ambulance. I knew they were going to refuse my admittance long before they told me just that, and I smiled and waved once Cid was inside and told them I’d meet them at the Cross Cancer Center. Surprisingly both of us arrived around the same time, and I had still to go and get Cid’s car from the parking lot when they were pulling away from the hospital. You just never know about traffic patterns do you?
As it was the weekend, the Cancer Center was mostly quiet with locked doors and darkened rooms everywhere you looked. We proceeded down the hallways on quiet feet and all of us talked in hushed tones. We laughed when we realized this and Cid grinned from behind his oxygen mask and tightened his hold on my hand. Once we got to the radiation area, a physician and technician appeared and they took possession of Cid’s gurney and pushed him through a doorway with that sign on it that warns of the proximity of nuclear stuff. The door was red – the surrounding walls outside that area were red. And I was blue with streaks of yellow and small hopeful areas of green somewhere inside me.
As they wheeled Cid through the door, they held up a hand in the stop motion as I tried to follow through. Shrugging my shoulders I gave Cid the thumbs up and told him I’d be waiting for him just outside when he was done. Finding a seat, I perched on the edge and flipped through tattered magazines and chewed on my fingernails. When I got tired of doing both of those things – I prayed. Long and hard and in as many variations as I could think of.
I could hear machines winding up and dying down, then winding up again. I may have been wrong, but I thought I saw the lights dim at one point as well. The paramedics had deserted me as they dashed off for a cup of coffee, and it was a long lonely wait in the bowels of this quiet building. I wished for more activity to take my mind off how the building already felt like a tomb. But that wasn’t to be had. Instead, the clock ticked – slowly. And my heart hurt – dreadfully. I kept trying to find wood to touch whenever I thought of the possibilities of this radiation not working. Everything was plastic. So I patted my head repeatedly.
When the doors finally opened and Cid’s loving face appeared once more behind his oxygen mask – I thought I was going to break down and cry right there. Instead I leaned over and lifted his mask and kissed him long and softly. When I raised my head and replaced the oxygen mask, I found the paramedics had magically appeared at the foot of the gurney – almost like they had been beamed in from wherever they had been.
When we arrived back at the hospital, it was a wait again situation and I climbed back up onto Cid’s bed and we shared the space together, quietly. We wouldn’t know until the next day if the radiation had had any effect whatsoever. To keep Cid’s mind off it, I talked about future plans as if none of this was happening. Cid’s gratitude was evident and he patted my hands or hugged me close.
When the day ended and we snuggled once more behind our curtains, I noted that Cid’s harsh breathing had not abated at all. While he slept – I prayed once more and touched the wooden chair sitting beside the bed repeatedly.