Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In Case of Emergency

We had a destination wedding.

While the ceremony took place in Key West, we were actually officially married two days prior in Fort Lauderdale.  (We were required to have our marriage documentation fully executed before we shipped off for Key West.)

And even then, in the Fort Lauderdale court house, Jill took the lead filling out the forms.  Not b/c I'm incompetent (I think), but b/c of the two of us, Jill had legible handwriting.

(I remember Jill prompting me to sign my name legibly so 'this marriage is legitimate.')

Like all of us, Jill's penmanship was unique to her.  As I look at it now (literally now), it's often a combination of both print and cursive.  And no matter the ratio, it was always legible.

I, on the other hand, after receiving an award in third grade for cursive honors, took a nose dive into the illegible world usually held exclusively by physicians.  I can read it.  Most others cannot.

As a result, from that sunny day in Fort Lauderdale on, Jill was the default form-filler-outer in our family.

Applications.  Jill.

Surveys.  Jill.

Medical forms.  Jill.

This last one she became quite efficient at completing.

Ahead of most every oncology appointment, Jill was given a clipboard, a pen, and the same form that required her to circle and/or fill in that week's ailments.  Fatigue.  Neuropathy.  Swelling.  Mouth sores.  Fever.  Bone pain.  General pain.  (This short list being the tippy-top of the ailment iceberg.)

Over the last several weeks before Jilly passed, there were a few appointments where the form-filler-outer duty was shifted to me.

Among the many ailments now hindering Jill's ability to function was neuropathy.  If unfamiliar, neuropathy is essentially a numbing of the nerves (typically in the hands and/or feet) as a result of extensive chemotherapy treatments.

Fuck this disease.

I have to be honest.  When we originally heard that neuropathy was a potential side effect, I didn't think - if it hit - it would have a significant impact on Jill's overall functionality.  It causes numbing, I ignorantly thought to myself.  That might be a welcomed ailment.


What I learned thru our personal experience is that if it impacts your hands, neuropathy can make it very difficult for you to hold, and therefore properly operate, a writing utensil.

You want to witness some sad shit?  Watch your fucking 43 year young wife struggle to put pen to paper b/c her grip is failing her.

I mean, really - murder this fucking disease.  

So, for her last few doctor appointments, I filled out the forms.  I knew all the ailments.

You lay on my shoulder, Jilly.  I got this.


Then Jill has pockets where she rallies.  To be clear, this means she has brief spurts of energy to assist in the planning of our impending ten year vow renewal.

After one particular doc appointment, before heading home, we stopped at Jill's favorite local cakery to discuss, taste, and order our wedding cake.

And like most events, Jilly had her vision.  Smart phone in hand, she pointed out images she had bookmarked that clearly expressed what she wanted for our cake.  She was excited, so I was excited.

While we waited for them to finalize the order and pull samples from the back (my favorite part), a day of delivery/pickup form needed to be filled out to complete the order.  Jill snagged the paper and pen, filled out a line, then quietly passed it to me.

"I can't write legibly anymore.  Can you?"

"Yeah, I got it.  No problem," I responded as I glanced at the writing she left for me atop the page.

She was right.  It wasn't Jill's handwriting anymore.  It was illegible.

Come on.  Really?  It's enough already...

One of Jilly's many to-do lists

A few weeks back I needed a script filled.  I called my doctor's office.  Apparently she left the practice, which left me in GP limbo.  I just needed a damn doc to refill a script for me.

I was referred to another office.  But, of course, they needed a face visit before they would give me the goods.  So, I begrudgingly played along and made an appointment.

I rolled into the office and was greeted by a smiling receptionist and a stack of forms.

That's fine.  I'll fill them out.  It's not like I had to tap Jilly to fill out forms for me at my own doctor appointments.  I'm somewhat functional.  Somewhat.

I'm rolling thru the pages, taking my time to ensure I offer my best penmanship.  I don't want medical staff misconstruing any of my medical history.

It says here you have a history of herpes diarrhea.

No...that says 'heart disease.' 

Then I hit the line that causes me to pause.  Emergency Contact.

I pause b/c I genuinely don't know who my emergency contact is anymore.

You want to feel isolated, alone, on your own island?  Dwell in the space between reading 'emergency contact' on a form and actually knowing who to put on the line.

That moment of not knowing anymore felt like I was in a free fall.  If I didn't scratch something down quickly, I would just continue to fall deeper into the darkness.

As I quick as I could I jotted my parents down.  Thank God for them.

But, damn, it's like I'm reverting back to my childhood.  In case of emergency, please call my mommy and daddy.

Not that my parents won't come to my rescue, but Jill's my emergency contact.  She's been my default emergency go-to for nearly fourteen years.  It's a given.

It was a given.

I got my script filled.  But, maybe now I need another one.  One to help numb this grief...not my fucking hands.  B/c I've got many more forms to fill out in this lifetime.


All love,

J, J, & r

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