Hello, my name is Jeffery or as my Susie used to call me “Jeffurry.” The first picture is from my happy days. I was exhausted but happy. That was taken during one of my 16 hour days and the one in the suit, that was from a few months ago. The third picture is of my Susie and our fur babies Frank and Roxy. The fourth was from our first full week living together back in 2006 and I was so very happy. I may be smiling in the pic of me in the suit but I have my doubts as to whether I’ll ever be as happy as I was waking at 6:30 am-quick shower-at school by 7:30am-home by 4:00pm-work by 6:00pm-home by 12:00am-school work till 4:00am-sleep till 6:30am- rinse repeat…
On Fridays I got to sleep in but still had work at 5:00pm then on to my bouncing job at a hole in the wall bar on the west side of Cleveland which kept me until 3:30 or 4am most Fridays. Saturdays were mine but Sundays were a twelve hour marathon of essays, networking exercises, algebra formulas and the like…but what made all this worthwhile and why I toiled so long and so hard was my Susie. She was so good to me. On Saturdays she’d let me sleep while she cleaned the house, did the laundry, the shopping, and ran all the necessary errands and around noon she’d turn on the stereo and crank it to 10 and it was always the same song. Dancing Queen by Abba. As annoying as I found this piece of music it never failed to wake me with a smile and a cringe. 🙂
Susie was one of the most caring and generous people I have ever met. She lived to make me happy and I did the same for her. All those hours I spent on school work or at my jobs she sat alone and although I knew it bothered her she was happy because these sacrifices we each made were for the betterment of both our lives.
Susie started getting sick towards the end of 2009. We weren’t certain as to the cause. One massive headache after another until finally they wouldn’t stop. Her doctor, a hack by all definitions told her that it wasn’t anything serious and prescribed her an antibiotic without knowing the cause. After her third doctor’s visit she was referred to an ENT where without so much as an exam diagnosed her with a polyp which are common for people living in that area due to the poor air quality. There was a surgery scheduled and that was the beginning of the end. Susie did not in fact have a polyp. Susie had cancer. During the polyp removal procedure the doctor punctured a hole at the rear of Susie’s sinus canal causing the protective fluid around her brain to leak into her sinus cavity as well as allowing the cancer into the brain cavity. A few days after the polyp removal I woke up to Susie’s screams. She couldn’t stand or walk because her right eye had began to turn sharply to the left. She had no control over this and her equilibrium was askew and she couldn’t right herself.
After three days in the hospital associated with the botched polyp removal we took her to the Cleveland Clinic and I’ll never forget the look on the doctor’s face when he examined her and used the endoscope to survey the damage caused by the doctor at the lesser institution. It was severe.
They quickly discovered Susie had cancer and set her for a two hour biopsy. The two hours became four and then six and then eight and then ten and then twelve. After pacing the waiting room for twelve hours and smoking three packs of cigarettes the doctor came and spoke with me. Had we not taken her when we did she would have died within a day or two due to the damage caused by the offending “doctor.” Once they were inside they realized just how bad it was, this was when the hole was discovered and they had to call in a neurosurgeon as well as the head of ENT at the Cleveland Clinic to operate. The work those two brilliant men performed that day gave me 14 more months with my Susie.
I love the Cleveland Clinic and the Tausig Cancer Institute. Not only do they have some of the most brilliant minds in medicine they also have some of the kindest. They were all so very nice and sweet and I can assure you bedside manner is extremely important for people in such dire circumstances.
Over the next 17 months these people worked tirelessly and they did all they could do to save my Susie but she was a first for them. The Tausig Cancer Institute is the #1 cancer institute in the country and despite what those commercials on television may lead you to believe there is none better. This is a fact. not an opinion. Look it up.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare childhood cancer. Susie was the first adult in the history of the Tausig Cancer Institute to present with this disease. She became their first case study. Even though she knew she wouldn’t survive she allowed them to do all the tests and procedures they could because their findings may one day save someone else.
Me I believed that she would survive with all the earnestness of a child who believes a Fat man in a red suit is going to bring them presents down their chimney for being good all year. I had faith by the barrel and a determination to do any and everything I could to help get her well. It is very important that if you are the caretaker of someone in such circumstances to never give up. If they (your loved one or patient) see you give up then they truly have no reason to fight, and fight she did.
We lost everything during this time and despite her temporary disability I sold just about everything I had to make sure she had her medications which changed on a nearly weekly basis. I quit school, my job, and everything else to be there with her everyday. None of this I cared about, all I wanted was for her to get better. On February 26th 2011 she lost her fight. It was the worst day of my life. I almost didn’t survive her cancer because I went down a road of self destruction for the ages. The fact that I am still alive and free is a miracle in itself.
I am a writer at heart, it is what I have dreamt of doing since I was a child. Susie did her fair share of writing too. It was one of the things we had in common. We both loved to read and quite often we’d read the same books and talk about the story with one another. She was writing a book of her own which will remain forever unfinished and I a connoisseur of literature am here to tell you it is the best novel you will never read. She had many times discussed what was to come in her book but I feel strange at the idea of finishing it for her. I don’t know how she’d feel about my treatment of her beloved characters.
On this blog I will tell you about Susie and our struggle and I will post my own original work. I hope that it is enjoyed as much as I enjoy creating it. Do not pity me for all that I have lost, envy me that I had so much to lose. – jm