For five fury filled months I dreamt about what I’d say to this woman when I saw her again.
I’d lay in bed in the cold, quiet part of the night and compose the complaint I was going to lodge with the Health Professions Council. I held her image close the better to know my enemy. She was my Wicked Witch of the West, my Nurse Ratched, my Cersei Lanaster. I seethed and ranted and held my sparkling, diamond-hard outrage close.
Her behaviour in those early days of Joshua’s diagnosis became cannon – she was the villain of the story. She was the one who sent us home with no treatment plan and no hope. When she heard we were pursuing treatment with another oncologist she let it be known that we were making a bad decision, a decision that wasn’t in Joshua’s best interest, a decision that bordered on abuse.
Over the months we’ve come to realise that she simply didn’t know how to treat a kid fighting a geriatric cancer. Her crime wasn’t that she didn’t know. Her crime was that she didn’t bother to find out. She made finding out a crime.
So I planned and I obsessed. Not today, I fantasized, but one day. One day she’d experience the full fury of my wrath. She’d crumble and snivel and prostrate herself before my towering rage. I, in turn, would rise up merciless and cruel and hard and unyielding. I’d destroy her and her sense of hope in the future in exactly the same way she destroyed mine. No other kid would go home hopeless and afraid.
Yesterday I got my chance.
Without a knock, the door to Joshua’s room opened. I had a smile at the ready for who I was expecting: Dean, the anaesthetist. Dean generally arrived, rushing, with the sense of being slightly late and clad in motor-cycle leathers. He brought with with him a haze of pure, reassuring energy. He teased Josh with the gentle, sparkle-in-the-eyes fun of man who gets long with kids. The personification of safety.
But it wasn’t Dean.
“I saw Joshua was here and I thought I’d pop in an see how he’s doing.”
My smiled faded. Here she was. She reminded me of a sparrow, all jerky movements and dowdy plumage. For a second I was silent. Gobsmacked.
“How are you doing Joshua?” She asked.
“Fine.” Josh answered.
“Um, yes, we are here for Yttrium 90 treatment.” I added.
“That’ll be some special treatment, yes?” It was obvious she didn’t remember that she’d told us this treatment didn’t exist in the country, let alone in the hospital she worked from.
Without waiting for an answer she turned to the door. She left with the half smile of someone who had done her duty. Been polite. On with her day. Bustle, bustle. Bustle.
Oblivious to the battle between anger and good manners that raged behind her.
“Dreadful woman.” Shannon said.
And, in the blink of an eye my fury melted and along with it the power she held. This was no worthy adversary. Just a doctor, unaware of the damage she had caused.