There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Infusion of infamy

The wife is napping in her infusion chair. I'm seated next to the soiled linen container at the foot of her recliner, tapping away on my laptop. There's a certain business air about the place as the nurses pace about the room, caring for patients and the attached machinery.

This is our sixth trip to the Infusion Center at the University of California, Davis, Cancer Center. The wife will have two more infusions, and then she'll be done. The sound you hear is the hollow gourd-like noise made when I rap my knuckles on my wooden noggin.

While waiting in the reception area, the wife and another patient got into a conversation in the course of the which we learned that she has been undergoing breast cancer treatment for 15 years. She certainly acted the role of grizzled veteran. She was complaining about the time it takes after you arrive before you see the nurses. The wife sympathized. Her appointment was scheduled for 10 a.m. and it was now 10:35.

The woman made clear -- both in words and her manner -- that she wasn't going to let the staff get away with making her wait longer than absolutely necessary. She would go off to talk to supervisors and nurses and come back and continue her complaint. After so many years, I thought to myself, I guess you become something of a jailhouse lawyer -- the guy who knows all the rules and angles and makes sure no one takes unfair advantage.

Eventually an Avon sales lady sat down and started passing out samples to all of the women. The Avon lady explained that she was a breast cancer patient herself and was there today to deliver some stuff to one of the infusion nurses.

The other woman asked the Avon lady what her name was. The sales lady handed the woman a card and asked her name.

"Ellie," she said.

The Avon lady said, "Nice to meet you Ellen."

"No," the woman corrected. "It's Ellie. Ellie Nesler."

A short while later Ellie was finally called away by a nurse. Once the wife was settled and I had my laptop out it didn't take long to figure out why Ellie Nesler's name had seemed so familiar.

"Ellie Nesler, the Sonora woman who made international headlines after she shot and killed her son's alleged molester in a Jamestown courtroom ..."

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