Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Priest Walks Into a ...

My mother told me I fell asleep sitting up in a wing chair in the living room.  I had arrived back from the hospital sometime late the night before.  I was giving them the update when my eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning I was up and at ‘em and out the door with the boys to drop them before I made my way back to Rick.  I drove down the highway to the Toll Road and thought and thought and cried and cried and cried.  The car and the shower were two places where no one could hear me cry.  I felt as if my soul was opening and my feelings were endlessly bleeding out of me.  It was a river of pain, grief and despair.   A panicked voice in my head would repeat, "I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it.” 

At times, I would hold my breath and make myself turn red like a frustrated toddler trying to change or force something to be different that never was going to be.  Inside, I screamed NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, Jersey Wall.  Yes, I see you and I know you’re there but you don’t get me today.  I moaned in pain as I drove just looking ahead; my heart was breaking.

When I arrived at the hospital Steve and Rick were there.  At the same time there was a commotion and a troop of nurses and doctors in scrubs headed into the room.  Steve left to get a shower and said he would be back.

“We’re here to do the bone marrow biopsy, Mr. Roszel.  Mrs. Roszel, you may wait in the lounge.” The orders came from one of the nurses.  The lounge was just across the hall from Rick’s room.  When I sat down I picked up a magazine and for the first time realized that my glasses only had one lens.  I got down on the floor on my hands and knees and started looking for it.  This is not what I needed in a crisis, lost glasses.  I didn’t have time for fooling around with getting a new pair.

“What did you lose?” said a voice behind me.  An elderly priest walked in.  “My eyeglass lens,” I replied.  “I just realized it was gone”.  The priest got down on the floor and helped me look under each of the chairs and sofas.  We came up empty-handed.  “Perhaps it’s in my husband’s room.” I said.  “Thank you for looking.”  I put out my hand to shake his. “I’m Jane Roszel.” I said.  “I’m Father McDaniel; I’m here to see your husband, as a matter of fact.” the priest said as he shook my hand.  Oh, I said.  You’re from St. James; my mother in law told me you might stop in  It's so nice of you to come.”

At this point, one of the nurses interrupted and told us we could go back to the room.  Rick looked more beat-up than when I left him.  It seemed a futile act to do the biopsy since they had his blood and scans and were already treating him for bone cancer.

The Grim Reaper spoke to me for a few minutes in the hall.  “It will confirm that it’s multiple myeloma.  It is very rare in patients as young as your husband.”  Yippee, Skippy! 

Rick’s family had been pushing me to ask Dr. Death about his prognosis.  Do I really want to hear the words?  What difference would it make to know?  Rick’s experience will be Rick’s experience, six months, eight months, a year?  I don’t want a NUMBER; I want my husband!  It won’t change anything at all.  I didn’t ask him anything.  I just stared at the “talking head” of  Dr. Death as he rattled on.

Statistically, most people diagnosed with multiple myeloma are over sixty, black, male, blue-collar workers.  A nurse had told me the day before that four male patients in their forties had been admitted in the past two weeks which was unheard of.  I knew this must have been interesting to them but we were not thinking it was so special to be a part of the anomaly. 

I introduced Father McDaniel to Rick when I returned and told Rick about my lens.  I started to look on the floor.  The poor priest was back down on his hands and knees searching for the lens.  “Please don’t!” I said. “I can find it.” “No trouble at all,” he waved me off.  There we were, searching every nook and cranny. I needed the glasses to drive and I just knew the lens had to be on the floor.   

Just then, the phone rang and I got up to answer it. The priest began to chat to with Rick. “Jane, did you lose the lens to your glasses?  Your father found it here, next to the rocking chair.” “Yes”, I laughed, “Thanks for letting me know; it’s amazing I could see at all.”  “I think you might be a little stressed, honey.” she said.  Ya Think?  “Thanks, Mom.  I’ll call you later.” I said before hanging up.
I had driven 26 miles and never even noticed that anything was wrong with my vision.  I glanced at the clock on the wall; it was only 10:15 a.m.  It was going to be a very long day.


  1. Oh my poor Janie! I feel your tired bones and brain.

    I let my mom read your first blog and she was hooked. She read all of them. She wants to be a follower.

  2. I'm glad you she liked it. She can join the gang!