My last post generated some comment conversation about Henry ringing the bell. I thought I'd give some details.
Henry's radiation at Hopkins took place in the same arena for kids as well as adults. He received excellent care there. We felt so very well cared for everywhere we went at Hopkins.
The radiation oncology suite for me was an odd place. There wasn't much privacy, and since Henry needed to have a general sedative for each session of radiation, we were often there for 2 hours to get 3 minutes of radiation. So we met a lot of people.
The first group was what I called the Prostate Club. I of course have no idea what their diagnosis was, but there was a steady group of well appearing sixtyish looking men in their business suits who would show up in the morning, quietly and without speaking change into a hospital gown, enter the radation room, and be off to their day. Then followed a motley crew of outpatients who showed up in various degrees of health, some in wheelchairs, mostly walking but looking tired, for their treatments. Occasionally, an inpatient rolled by in a stretcher, usually looking pretty sick. Sometimes we chatted and got the story, always sad, and sometimes they were too sedated. Everyone smiled at Henry (which is not to say that he always smiled back).
Near to the treatment rooms was a bell on the wall. When treatment was over, you rang it. I'm not sure if it was a thankyou or a f*ckyou to most patients, perhaps a weighted combination of the two. We saw many people ring that bell, from the prostate club to little old ladies clawing to get out of their wheelchairs and ring that thing. The staff, the patients, anyone around would stop and clap everytime it rang.
Henry loved to watch. He knew he would get to ring it on his last day. He used to whisper to me so no one could hear, "She got to ring the bell. I'm gonna ring it three times."
He didn't ring it three times. He rang it four times.
This is the poem that was posted next to the bell. I don't have a good shot of the bell. I'm not sure why he looks so serious in this picture, he was all smiles this day.