Open the box of medical supplies. Start to unpack it. First the saline flushes. Then the alcohol swabs. Then the big Ziploc bag full of all the odds and ends. Batteries, positive pressure caps, needles, syringes, dressings, iodine swab sticks, skin prep, gauze, gloves. Quickly glance at the expiration dates and all is good. One by one, everything to its respective spot in its respective drawer.
Finally, the box of IV tubing sets. Open the box and open their drawer. Ready to put them away. Wait, check the expiration date. 2022. Oh right, compared to all of the other supplies these are always good for the longest. 2022, no problem.
2022…oh man. That’s five years away. Five years!
Five years…five whole years…
That’s twice as long as I’ve been on home TPN so far. Where is my calculator? Don’t do it. Don’t get out the calculator. Too late.
Five whole years. That’s about 1800 nights of setting up my TPN. I hate setting up my TPN. I dread it every day. I can’t believe I have to do it 1800 times in the next 5 years. And then all the years after that. But you’re lucky to have your TPN. I know, but I still hate it.
1800 nights of TPN means 1800 TPN bags. That’s 4500 litres. That’s almost 10 000 pounds. 10 000 pounds of TPN. 10 000 pounds of smelly chemicals being pumped into my body. Ew. But isn’t it awesome that medicine has found a way to keep you alive? Yeah. I guess. Still. Ew.
I wonder if I’ll still have this central line five years from now. It’s my seventh in less than three years. So probably not. But maybe. I hope so. It’s already lasted longer than most of my previous ones. That’s good. I can’t go through lines as quickly as I did for the first few years because if I do then in five years I will be running out of places to put them. Remember what the radiologist told you. They can get creative. This one will last. It has to.
In five years I will use 5400 saline flushes and 25 000 alcohol swabs. I will use 3750 needles and syringes to add 9000 vials of vitamins and medication to my TPN. These are just numbers. Don’t give them power. In five years I will change my dressing over 250 times. I hate changing my dressing. It’s not that bad. I still hate it.
In five years I will have my blood drawn a minimum of 60 times. But it will probably end up being at least 100 times. Why does this even matter? Since when do you care about needles? Drawing blood is getting trickier. Old Faithful hasn’t let you down yet. That’s not true. He’s not as faithful a vein as he used to be.
Oh gosh, I don’t even want to think about how many thousands of dollars of medication five years is. It’s about 30 000 dollars for just one of them. That one is covered. For now. Until they decide to cut off my special authority again. Then you’ll get it renewed again. Unless they decide to stop covering it altogether.
Five years. 1800 nights of TPN. 1800 nights in general. I wonder how many hundreds of those nights I’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning because I’m too nauseated to sleep. Then 1800 mornings of waking up already tired whether I slept well or not. And 1800 nights and 1800 mornings means 1800 days. That’s a lot of days. So many of them will be too long. And for so many of them I will feel sick or exhausted or useless or frustrated or lonely. Or all of the above.
No more numbers. Put the calculator down. Okay. Fine. But I don’t need a calculator to tell me how old I’ll be in 2022.
In five years I’ll be 30. Each year I feel myself falling further and further behind my friends, behind others my age. Will I even have anything in common with them still? Even more of them will have careers and live in places of their own. Even more of them will be traveling to awesome places. Even more of them will be getting married and having kids. Some of them will have all of these things. I want all of these things, too. I’ve always wanted these things. I will probably have none of them.
In five years will things be worse than they are now? How much worse? When will they get worse? How quickly? Maybe things will be the same. I don’t want that. I don’t want 1800 days of the same. I want things to be better. Maybe they will be. They probably won’t be. No, probably not. Maybe the same, though. Maybe. But they’ll probably be worse. I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t know know either.
Just stop. Don’t go there. I can’t help but go there sometimes.
Do not let this swallow you. I’m already swallowed.
Everybody has something. This is your something. My something is too much sometimes.
I know. But you are bigger than your something. I feel small.
I know. It’s okay. Okay.
You’re going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay. Because I will make it okay, even when it’s not okay. Exactly. Things will work out however they work out. And however they work out will be okay.
You are bigger than your something. I am bigger than my something.
You are bolder and braver and brighter than your something. You have more joy than your something does sorrow. You laugh more than your something makes you cry. You have found a way to live with your something. You keep living in spite of it.
I am bigger than my something.
You will be okay.
I am okay.