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Do Not Resuscitate
“I don’t want to be a vegetable. I don’t want to have people sit and watch me suffer. I don’t want to be alive if I can’t live. I’m signing it. Give me the damn paper! I’m signing the damn DNR!”
Having a mole that leads to cancer was not the first thought that I had when I began seeing hallucinations. I’m a hypochondriac, like hearing the word lice makes my head itchy, so seeing a new mole on my arm did bring up some concerns and I got it checked out by a doctor and he said I didn’t have anything to worry about. Well, now I have cancer in my brain and I see things that others can’t. My neurologist told me that surgery would be the best way to get the tumor out, but I could lose my memory - my sense of self.
That’s how the argument began. Mark thinks that if he trains my brain afterward that I’ll be fine, that I won’t be moosh.
“Mark,” I whisper, “You can’t just fix me afterward. That’s not how that works. You can’t just train me like I’m your pet dog.” I know that I’ll be gone after this surgery and I don’t want to be a burden, but I continue on, “If I let you take care of me, that makes me a burden on your life, and I can’t do that to you. I can’t just let you rot away like a finished apple core. You have done so much for me and I can’t let the end of me and my suffering, be the end of you.”
“You don’t understand,” Mark begins, “I can take care of you. Yes, things will be difficult after the surgery, but things will get better. You will get better. Why do you keep looking away from me?”
I didn’t know that I kept glancing away from him. I feel something in the room, something that isn’t supposed to be here, and it is standing in the corner. I look at Mark, with glossy eyes, “I’m not looking away from you, Mark. Please stop yelling at me? I can’t handle this. Please, stop.”
“Liz, just listen to me, okay?” He looks at me with so much concern and he moves his head slightly to the side, like he’s thinking, starting again, “I can teach you the simple skills first, like reading and basic math. See? Teaching you those skills doesn’t make you a dog; dogs can’t do that, that makes you already far better than a dog.” Mark tries to ease the situation and make it better by making a joke about it - typical Mark.
“Wow, Mark,” I say with a hint of anger and bitterness, “Thanks for saying I’m not a dog. Is that the really the best you can do right now, in this current situation? You’re so thoughtful and kind.” Mark flinches at the comment but doesn’t fully catch my sarcasm, so I continue on, “I’m not something you can just fix. I am a human being. I am your wife. You married me because you thought I was perfect, not something that needed to be fixed. I’m still the same person you married, but after this surgery, I’m going to just be a body with a lost soul.” I try explaining this to him so many times and all he does is deny me, telling me that I’ll be fine.
The DNR was the hardest decision of my life. Am I really going to sign my life away? Am I really putting my life in the hands of a doctor? No, I’m not. Yes! I am! My heart is pounding so fast, I can feel it jumping out my chest. My mouth is dry and tastes bitter and metallic. My eyes shift and all I can focus on is the shadowy man. He is dressed in all black, barely making him noticeable. His shirt is so tight to his chest and arms that you can make out the muscles on his body and his pants become a little looser at the ankles. If I didn’t know better, I might say he was an attractive man, but I do know better. I can see him standing in the corner watching me, his eyes running along the lines in the room and then landing on me. He acknowledged me with a slight nod of his head, letting me know that it’s almost time for me to leave, too. I’m not ready yet. Yes, I am ready. I need to just do this.
I look slightly at Mark and mouth, I’m sorry. He looks at me with a confused look, his eyebrows scrunching and nose bunching in the corner. I quickly direct my attention and ask the neurologist for the DNR. At first, Mark looks hurt, and then his anger takes control and he tries to take the paper from me by leaning over my weak body and crushing it with his weight. He gets ahold of it slightly and rips the corner down the side and I lose it, I can’t control myself any longer. I keep screaming and Mark is yelling at me, telling me that I’m the one who is being ridiculous. Maybe it’s the brain tumor talking when I start to scream even louder, demanding for the DNR because the man in the corner seems to get closer and I start to fade out. The doctor gives me the paper and I sign it, with the little loop of my first initial and a scribble that turns into a little line, my name nowhere legible. Opening and closing my eyes begins to seem inevitable. The fading becomes more intense and I can’t stop it.
Moments later, I close my eyes completely, and I hear the faint sounds of beeping and then a long screech.