I’ve Nothin’ To Do

I’ve Nothin’ to Do is from Semicolon, Doug’s book that is part memoir and part how-to-survive-and-then-thrive with colon cancer. We’ve also included a poem by Doug, Waiting. His website is: www.semicolonpublishing.com.

by Douglas Beckstein

I opened my eyes and saw my brother, David, napping in the chair in the corner of my hospital room. This was day two after my abdominal resection.

My hair was soaked with sweat. Pain meds worked great, but I had had wild dreams last night. I had no idea what kind of day it was outside the hospital. Food did not appeal. A young doctor making his rounds entered my room. “Good morning, Mr. Beckstein,” he said. “What are you reading?”

I had to look at the book open on my bed to answer his question. “Gods and Demons,” I replied, with a very dry mouth. I took a sip of water through a straw.

“Is it any good?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t really read on this pain killer.” Ignoring my brother sprawled in the chair, the doctor walked over to the window and stood with his back to me. “How’s the view from here?” I asked.

“I can see the highway and the roof of this hospital,” he responded. Then he turned to face me again. “Is that an iPOD you have there?”

“Sixty gigs!” I said proudly.

“Cool. I want one,” he said, inspecting the device closely.

The doctor sat on my bed, lifted the sheet covering my incision, and inspected the tubes connected to my body. I was very relaxed due to his engaging conversation. There was a nine inch incision in my body; staples held me together.

He stared at my drainage tube. “You don’t need this thing anymore,” he said. He placed one hand on my belly, grabbed the tube with his other hand, and yanked. Then he stood up, wrapped the tubing and collection pouch into a ball, tossed the mess into the hazardous medical waste garbage can, and returned to my bedside.

“You are doing very well. Healing right on schedule,” he said, applying a band aid to my belly. Then he was gone.

My brother woke up. “Who was that guy?” he asked.

“I think he was a doctor.” Song lyrics entered my brain. “David, do you remember the artist who sang this song?”

Countin’ flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire ’til dawn, with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me
I’ve nothin’ to do.

“Statler Brothers,” he replied, opening yesterday’s newspaper.

© Douglas Beckstein 2009

Bio of Douglas Beckstein

“I learned that I had colon cancer from a routine colonoscopy recommended by my doctor. Treatment was surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Diagnosis was October 2003. A surgeon performed an abdominal resection and removed half of my colon one month later. Out of 25 lymph nodes that were removed outside the colon, one lymph node was malignant. My Oncologist decided that my colon cancer was staged at level 3. I required six months of chemotherapy and radiation. All medical treatment was complete by June 1, 2004. I am now five years with no evidence of disease.”