Exactly 9 months ago today it was Valentines Day. But not the hearts, flowers and all the bullshit kind of day. It was more like a “12” on the 1-10 pain scale, intestinal obstruction, new chemo at a new hospital kind of day. I could say with certainty that it falls in my top five worst days of all time.
It was my third round of chemo but my first infusion at Women & Infant’s hospital. My roommate, Kelly, was kind enough to bring me in early that day for an emergency 7am visit to the doctor having been up all night with excruciating pain in my abdomen. Not the best way to start a day of chemo (at a new facility no less). Little did I know that this emergency visit would lead to a ten day stint in the hospital (many of those days being NPO). Luckily my sweet Stacey volunteered to be my Valentines date and stayed with me the entire night when I got admitted.
I’m jumping ahead of myself. I swear I have a point here. Back to the chemo infusion-
I get sat in a little room with two recliners and my chemo nurse walks in and introduces herself as Sheila. She’s tall and very eccentric looking. Edgy, multi-colored hair and a laid back but confident and comforting approach. I’m going to be quite honest with you, the actual infusion was a skosh fuzzy because Sheila hooked me up with a solid dose of pain killers. Despite my hazy memories of the actual few hours Sheila took care of me, I’m going to infer that she did a great job.
Sheila continued to see me almost weekly. We got into the “chemo rhythm”. She knew I liked to check my work email before my Benedryl nappy-time cocktail so she would always save that for last. Her enthusiasm for my CA-125 improvements matched my own and when times were not-go-great she was always honest but reassuring. I don’t know if it was fate or luck but I bagged myself the perfect chemo nurse.
As the weeks went on our chemo routine turned into a sincere friendship. I knew this with certainty when the girl waited an hour after her shift was over to find out my CT scan results on a FRIDAY and proceeded to invite me to the bar, buy me a beer, and tell me that I was cancer free.
Nine months later, Sheila and I are together again but not for a port saline flush or further treatment. We’re at a concert, throwing back a beer, and enjoying some great bands. How appropriate that exactly nine months later we’re enjoying a high energy, upbeat, evening out together. Shocking considering that she was actually poisoning me for many of those months…
It’s even more appropriate that we’re seeing The Mowgli’s. A band I admittedly only got to hear of this past year but one of their more mainstream songs “San Francisco” kept me upbeat during some really dark days. Watch this and don’t smile. I dare you (you won’t be able to)
I must admit that I wrote everything above this link prior to going out tonight. I was just so excited to see some great bands live, that was enough for me. Never did I imagine what would happen after the show. Sheila remembered me saying that San Francisco was a meaningful song for me and secretly arranged with her friend from the radio station, 95.5 WBRU, for me to meet The Mowgli’s!
I honestly thought we were just going to meet them on the fly because her friend worked for the radio station hosting the concert. It turns out everyone, including the band, has known about this for weeks and they even autographed a bunch of gifts and put it in a WBRU gift bag for me! We hung out for a while after the show and I was quite literally shaking. It may have been a combination of being starstruck plus them taking the time to be so nice to me when they really did not have to be at all. We hung out, talked, ate fortune cookies, and I even met their dogs. I couldn’t have been happier and more overwhelmed.
More than anything I am amazed at Sheila for knowing how meaningful this would be and making the arrangements just to put a smile on my face. She is remarkable. There is a special place in heaven for a person like Sheila Enderby.
Check it out!