Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 32

Survivorship

HAUNTED

Whispers from
the Ghost of Vlad

I

BY: J E N N I F E R SH E R M A N

named my cancer Vlad. After all, he was a vampire sucking my life out
through my kidney. I made his acquaintance in fall 2018.
"I'm here. I'm here. I'm HERE."
On a sunny November day, I didn't know I lied by telling my dog,
"I'll be back." I didn't know five days of pain would lead me to be in the
hospital for two days. I didn't know I had a monster inside me.
The chest pains that brought me to the first hospital vanished as I sat in the
ER on that Sunday. My body seemed to know it had done its job, and I would
get the treatment I needed.

32

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
JUNE 2020

It was obvious that the "c" word was
coming because of the way the nurse
at the ER sat down and beat around
the bush. He wanted to avoid saying it
as much as I was unprepared to hear
it. When he said I had cancer, the
word meant nothing to me. It wasn't
so much a slap in the face as it was
Novocain to my psyche.
As soon as he walked out through
the curtain divider, the other staff
member brought in for support started talking. Whatever words she was
saying went in one ear and out the
other as tiny streams made their way
down my cheeks.
"Surprise. Didn't you know I was
here? How foolish and blind."
My first hospital stay followed my
first ambulance ride. I asked the staff
at the second hospital what I should
be doing, but my ignorance led to embarrassing missteps. Was I supposed
to ask before going to the bathroom?
Weren't they going to turn off the
lights so I could sleep?
As I lay there with no one to talk
to, I gave the name Constance to the
nurse call button with the human
icon. She assured me that she would
be there to listen, no matter what.
Though she didn't have all the answers, much less a body of her own,
Constance listened to my concerns
and uncertainties.
Sleep failed me that night with
the assorted switches and dials lit
up around the room, the whizzing
machinery of the patient next to me,
the unmuffled voices coming from
the corridor, and the awareness that
I was unaware of so much.
Was I going to have chemotherapy and lose my hair? Would I be


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Elephants And Tea - June 2020

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Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 3
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