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

me life.


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.


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