Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Code Red

They weren't making it easy, those minor gods or daemons whose sacred duty it is to put everyday frustrations in our path.

I was on my way to Princess Margaret Hospital for the CT Scan that would verify all that recent bell ringing and celebration had been appropriate. That I was healing and there would be no need for further chemo treatments in the near future.

But getting there was not half the fun, it was none of the fun.

One of the lingering side effects of this round of Taxol is a general feeling of fatigue and, specifically, an aching weariness in my legs. It's an annoyance I cope with by resting a lot. And waiting for it to pass.

But when I caught the GO train for my appointment at the hospital, the lower level of the carriage was filled and I was forced to climb to the upper level. But that was alright, because I'd be sitting for half and hour and my legs would recover.

When I got to Union Station, in the midst of the evening rush hour I discovered all the escalators were working to take the caribou herd of migrating commuters out of the city I was trying to get into. All the escalators were running down and I had to climb up the stairs.

When I finally got to the hospital, my legs were more than a little wobblier than when I'd started. However, as I entered the front door I could hear an announcement over the PA, "Code Red. Code Red. Ninth floor. Code Red."

Interesting, I thought. I knew what a Code Blue was, but had never heard of a Code Red before. I was sucking on the last of the barium liquid I'd been given to drink on my way down to the hospital, and looked around for a garbage. Found one but it was full. And had to cross to the other side of the vast lobby to find another. I dropped my cup in. Shoved my cup in. Rammed my cup in.

Then headed over to the bank of elevators. Where a considerable crowd had gathered.

"Code Red. I repeat, Code Red," the woman on the PA was still saying.

All of the elevators sat there on the ground floor, their doors open. Waiting. Going no where. And my appointment was in fifteen minutes on the third floor.

Through the windows outside I could see a fire truck pull up and teams of fire fighters began ambling into the hospital, one with a very large axe.

The meaning of Code Red began to dawn on me.

A weary stream of people were climbing the stairs beside the elevators. I checked that my appointment was actually on the third floor, sighed, and joined them, pulling myself up the vast stair case as much by the railing as by my feet.

It went up forever. I was slow and young doctors and nurses went bounding around me with the agility of gazelles. As would I have only a few months ago. My legs were threatening to give out with every step.

But I made it. And ambled along the long corridor, around the corner and down the next long corridor to the Medical Imaging Department, where I found the doors closed and locked.

I double checked my appointment time. I was five minutes early but they were locked. I knocked on the door but the nurse at the desk ignored me. I knocked again. Was ignored again.

What the heck? Come on, don't do this to me!

Then the door opened as a patient left the department. I desperately grabbed the door and entered.

"We're not allowed to open the doors during a Code Red," the nurse at the desk explained. "But now you're here, lets get you started."

She smiled.

And so I had my CT Scan, the results of which I will not know until my meeting with the oncologist next Tuesday.

On the way home I thought I would stop at Harvey's for a quick bite to eat before my train, but the Leafs were in town and a line up of Leaf fans ran out the door of Harvey's and deep into the bowels of the station.

I sighed again.

But my train was on time and I got home without further incident. Much tireder and no more the wiser. Lindsay was a dancing bundle of joyful energy and as happy to have me home as I was to be there. I took off my coat and boots and bent over to pet her, caught my hand on the mug we keep full of pens and pencils and knocked it all over the floor.

With a crash that startled Linda. And Lindsay.

I slammed my hand down on the counter, hurting it, swore loudly and kicked the pencils with my foot sending them flying across the room.

"That's it! I've had it! Its not fair.I can't take any more!" I roared, stomping across the living room to my chair with all the grace of a demented seven year old.

Linda looked at me with amazement.

"Well its about time," she said softly. "Of course you can't take it. You've had way too much to cope with. Its about time you let it go."

She got up and gave me a long hug and then went into hall where she picked up the pens and pencils, found where Lindsay had gone to hide, comforted the poor dog and put on water for a cup of tea.

And by the time she got back, I was feeling much better, if a little embarrassed.

I was home.