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Bailey the Bald
Last night was restless. I tossed and turned for hours trying to fall asleep but I just couldn’t. Today will be my first day of chemotherapy. For one of the last times, I run my fingers through my long, bleach-blonde hair. My stomach heaves as I try not to let my soon to be toxic tears fall. They fall anyway, just like the rain outside on this gloomy, spring day. I roll over and smash my face into my hairless pillow. Knowing this is only the start and not even the hardest part, I scream. My body nervously shakes to my core as the warm blankets slip off me and off the bed. I’m scared. I’m so scared that my mind leaves reality.
“Alright Bailey, you will be in room 514 on your left, go ahead and get comfortable in your bed and we’ll be back to start the beginning of your chemo in a few” says the nurse.
I say, “Thanks, oh but nurse-“and she had already walked away.
Get comfortable? Yeah right! I’d like to meet a nurse who went through something like cancer to really understand us, to help us as if our lives depended on it. Oh wait, it does. But I know they mean nothing but well and take care of us. They might not be an ordinary super hero, but they sure do save several innocent lives. The cool air of the room hits me before I walk in. The chill of it wakes me up and makes me realize where I am. The nurses say a lot of cancer patients get hot flashes, so they keep the temperature down for us. The word “us” sadly welcomes me into a group of bald people who sometimes, seem like a charity case.
I take a deep breath before I walk into my permanent room, or at least until I’ve won this battle or till the rest of forever. As I take my first step in my room, I already feel sick. My anxiety builds as my body falls. I curl up like a helpless baby who doesn’t understand what’s going on, but can’t say any word to stop the situation. I feel the cold railing of the bed against my knee. Again, my stomach heaves. But this time, it’s like a roller coaster ride that I can’t get off of. Earlier I thought my mind had left reality but I’ve come to my senses and see that it hasn’t. This is my new reality and it seems like a life I’ll never adapt to. So I get up and close the blinds, I shut the world outside. As I sarcastically tell myself, ‘Welcome home’.
“Hello, my name is Dr. Harris,” says my doctor. He takes my hand and looks at my hospital band as he says, “You’re Bailey Wade, born January 19th 1996, and you have leukemia correct?”
“Yes that is correct,” I say with little confidence.
“Okay great, then you’re ready to get started,” he says as he gives approval to the nurse to start the chemo.
My nurse asks, “You ready for this, take a moment if you need to?”
“No thanks, I’m ready as I’ll ever be.”
She wipes the skin above my port with a cold cloth that makes me cough when I smell it. I look away as she gets the needle and everything prepared because I can’t stand to see it. I’m kind of a wimp because I’ve never had anything wrong with me, never had to go to the hospital. I clench my fist together before she pokes me, but oh how I wish I had someone to hold my hand. My shoulders get tense and she tells me it’s important to lay them back. I hold my breath even though she tells me to remember to breathe.
She counts, “One, two, three.”
I don’t speak a word and I don’t make any sound because I don’t have to. My face shows it all. The wrinkle between my eyebrows, my eyes close because they’re afraid to see the world, and the way I’m biting my lip show my emotions quite clear.
“It’s all over, you can relax now,” she says concerned.
“I know,” I say, “I just get anxious about these things and so I get tense and it takes a while for me to get comfortable again.”
“Oh I see, well good news, first only water will be running through your IV just so we make sure you’re hydrated and so the chemo gets out of your system as fast as possible. You’ve already got enough to deal with, we don’t want your kidneys damaged,” the nurse assures me.
With the IV still hooked up to me, I’ve weakly walked into the bathroom and am on my knees in front of something that shouldn’t be anywhere near a person’s face, the toilet. The feeling of chemo is unexplainable. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. But it’s definitely a feeling no one should ever have to experience. I’m literally begging on my knees to throw up. You don’t hear that often. My stomach feels like it’s being punched and stabbed, it goes in and out. Not in a breathing way, but in pain. It’s empty so I can’t throw up, but I was too scared to eat. I guess the chemo doesn’t care and tricks me into thinking I need to get sick. My face is scrunched in pain; I’m breathing heavily and can’t calm down. I look up as tears fall back into my ears and beg, “Please, please I just want an answer, why me?” I get no response. This morning I screamed because I was scared. This moment though, I scream without a voice because I can’t breathe. I have no choice.
A few days have passed. I wake up early in the morning as I also did in the middle of the night to the sound of my IV beeping. I feel different, I feel strong. Hey, I’m not complaining but in my rounds of reality it’s abnormal. A cold breeze runs across my head, I’ve never felt that before. I feel the awkward feeling of a piece of hair in my mouth except this time there’s more then one; I take it out and realize it’s mine. I rub my eyes because there’s something in them. I found even more hair. I turn to look out into the hallway through my window, but then I see something I’ll never forget, my hair. Except this time, it’s on my pillow; all of it. I try to run my fingers through my hair but instead I feel my untouched, bald and bare head for the first time. I scream, and this time it’s with a voice.
My nurse walks in my room hurrying in a fast pace and says, “Hun are you okay? Oh my goodness!” She looks at me like it’s a surprise my hair is gone. “Usually people gradually lose their hair but you; yours all fell out within a night!” She checks the label on my bag of chemo and gasps. “Your chemo is written in a different language, let me go translate it.”
She comes back. But it’s too late, I’m gone. My legs have strongly ran out of the hospital and it felt awesome. I feel normal again. Yes, I know there is no such thing as normal but I’m not in pain or feeling sick which is A-Okay with me! I sit on a bench that has a person’s name on it and I’m surprised to see it’s my mom’s stone. It says that Jackie passed away 14 years ago from this date from breast cancer. I close my eyes and I hear her voice.
“You’re a strong, strong, beautiful girl but you’ve been put through the worst,” she says, “I know you have, I’ve been watching over you. They gave you a 40 percent chance to live, but I put my special love into your chemo and now you have 100 percent chance. I gave you the love and it’s your turn to spread that and your power by rubbing anyone’s bald head due to cancer. Their hair will grow back and you’ll give them hope and strength. I love you, now go on and save the world my beautiful little girl.”
I open my eyes and she’s not there. I was hoping to see her face because I’ve never remembered what it looked like. But I don’t cry, I feel the warm love of hers beat through my heart, and I start to run. I run back into the hospital where my life was saved. It’s my time to save the world, one bald head at a time.