Feature: Bob wants to relax

by Jayce Ringwald

The cigarettes and beer would have to stop before he started chemotherapy, but the last ten days of August were going to belong to Bob King. The doctors did not say the word terminal. In fact, they caught the cancer early. Something could be done if they were aggressive enough.

But Bob woke up the morning after the throat biopsy with a pain that throbbed behind his forehead. “I never get headaches,” he thought as he sat down in front of his 70” television. It had to be stress, or maybe it was a reaction to the sedative. It was nothing The Price is Right and an ice pack couldn’t fix. A little headache wasn’t going to take his ten days from him, though it got worse when his wife Leslie started to interrogate him.

Did you hit your head? No.

Did you take anything for it? No.

Where does it hurt? It’s just a headache.

Is it another stroke? It’s a headache.

You never get headaches. Do you need to go to the hospital?

She phrased it as a question, but Bob knew she was not asking. He wouldn’t go without taking a shower first. The shuffle to the bathroom took just a little too long, as if his wife would change her mind if he delayed it. So much for those last ten days.

It was just after 10 p.m. when an ER nurse finally called, “Bob King?” His vitals were taken, he was asked all the usual questions, and the doctor on call seemed excited to be there. He cracked a few jokes, but went white when he measured the interocular pressure in Bob’s blind eye. At 50mm, the pressure was three times higher than the normal 15mm. His eye needed to be drained of fluid before it exploded. The ER didn’t have the tools to do that. The doctor dialed the nearest ophthalmologist, apologized for the late hour, and sent Leslie and Bob across town.

Three days and an hour-long surgery later, Bob had a nickel-sized, tobacco-colored disk cut from his left eye. He had the same surgery done on his right eye in 1997, though the cataract was only the size of a watermelon seed.

Bob King still had six days to relax before tackling his cancer. He’d fill them with his guilty pleasures and The Price is Right and take the time to appreciate the time spent on this earth. There would be no use in starting a “why me” tirade when he still had time, even if it wasn’t spent doing what he expected. “Like anything else,” he said, “you just gotta roll with the punches.”

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