It took mere seconds for me to stand on the scale. I had to take my coat and my sweatshirt and my hat off, of course. And my shoes. I had to drop my purse and grocery bag full of crossword puzzle books and magazines. Oh, and my sunglasses and my water bottle too. I blew out all of my heavy breath. I looked forward to the number for the first time in a long time.
“Mrs. Smith, you have lost another two pounds. Are you having trouble eating?” the nurse asked me.
“Well, the chemo has taken my taste buds so eating is a miserable experience. My husband did buy me a Dairy Queen Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard last week. I could taste that. ”
That’s what I said to the nurse. What I said to myself, in my head, was, “Holy heck, YES! I haven’t weighed this in 5 years. Finally, something good about having cancer.”
I didn’t tell her I couldn't finish that Blizzard. She never asked. I was young. I had weight to spare. She knew I’d live until the next weigh in.
“Mrs. Evans, I need you to take your coat off.”
“But I’m cold.”
The nurse pursed her lips and lowered her head. “Mrs. Evans, it is very warm inside. You will not need your coat.”
Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse, frowned and took her coat off.
“Mrs. Evans, I need you to take your other coat off.”
Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse, again, in defiance. After a pause, she took her other coat off.
“Mrs. Evans, you’re gonna have to take that big sweater off.”
Mrs. Evans took a deep breath and declared for the whole chemotherapy infusion room to hear, “My DAUGHTER gave me this sweater. It’s from the Peruvian Andes. It’s very lightweight.”
The nurse raised her eyebrows. “Mrs. Evans, it is a very nice but a very heavy sweater. You need to take it off, just like last time. I need to get an accurate weight."
Mrs. Evans’ eyes were desperate.
Her eyes considered pleading.
Her eyes tried to tell that nurse she wouldn’t do it.
Her eyes dimmed and gave up.
Mrs. Evans’ shoulders slumped. Mrs. Evans took her sweater off and she stepped on the scale.
“Have you been eating Mrs. Evans? You’ve lost 4 more pounds this week. I’ll have to mention this to the doctor.”
“My son brought me a Snickers! “ Mrs. Evans proudly announced. “One of those King Size ones!”
“Did you eat it?” the nurse asked.
Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse. The nurse stared back. The room was full of loud silence.
Mrs. Evans stepped off the scale. She grabbed her coat, her other coat, her sweater, her laptop computer, her iPhone, her purse and her stainless steel water bottle and turned toward the nurse. And as the nurse led frail Mrs. Evans away to her chemotherapy chair, Mrs. Evans muttered quietly, “I tried to eat it.”
Mrs. Evans was in the chair next to me. We both had needles plugged into our chests. We both had poison dripping in. We both had lost weight. I finally fit into my skinny jeans, thank goodness. Mrs. Evans’ pants were hanging loose. Mrs. Evans was weak. She needed that Peruvian sweater to stay warm. I worried about Mrs. Evans. She looked like she was dying.
Mrs. Evans pulled out her laptop and kept her iPhone close by. Mrs. Evans told me she had to finish grading papers. She was a professor at the local community college. She had been teaching for 37 years. She started teaching before she had even finished her Ph.D. It was her first job and she never left. She loved the students.
I pulled out my magazine. I read about the rich and famous. I looked at the pictures of the pretty and super skinny stars. They looked great. Apparently, eating low carb is the latest craze. All the famous people are doing it.
It’s the best way to lose weight.
With tears in my eyes, you give me perspective once again. Thank you so much for returning to writing and sharing.
Awe, how I missed your writings, some so joyful, some very real to the world, some heart wrenching ... I love reading them all as much as I love you!
Cheers to you having an awesome 2016!
Wow Melissa, your strength and perseverance is amazing. Your perspective uncanny. Going from Mrs Evans to the problems of the everyday seems so minor in comparison. Prayers and good thoughts are with you and Mrs. Evans
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