The Catheter Blues
Our relationship had a painful beginning.
Mr. Hickman took advantage of me on our
first date, by slipping a powerful drug
into my chemical cocktail. That was
probably the only way he could convince
a woman to let him enter her.
When I woke up, he was still inside me.
His head laid just beneath my collar
bone. His two thin arms dangled from
a small incision at the top of my right
breast. I despised the ugliness of his
intrusion. Latching onto me. Following
me wherever I went. And the pain he
caused each time he tried to settle into
a comfortable position.
For the first few days, I refused to
look at him. To make matters worse,
he demanded that I take care of him.
Clean around his points of entry.
Change his caps once a week. And flush
his arms daily with a heparin-filled
syringe. But in return, he offered
So it went for just over a year.
The two of us taking care of one
another. And Mr. Hickman proved to be
a most gentle provider. Everything
I needed went through him: nutrients,
medications, blood, plasma, stem cells.
Just think. He was willing to endure so
much pain that I might recover in peace.
He is gone now. Even though I had grown
exhausted with cleaning up after him, he
had become my best friend. I miss him.
I am afraid of the pain caused by needles.
I stare out of the third floor window,
Room B at the City of Hope, thinking about
everything that gets pierced these days,
as if pain were nothing and needles an
essential rite of passage.
The nurse walks in and begins searching
for a good vein. I wonder what kind of
stress my veins must be experiencing as
they blow up, collapse, or run away from
the pressure of needles.
After a number of trials and errors, the
nurse finally locates an agreeable vein.
I miss my Mr. Hickman.