Thameswood – Part One

This Journey through grief has taken a hold of me over the last few days. I can feel its grip in the hollow of my throat. It means to find every last salty tear and rip it from me. Yet I will not wallow in these dark caves.  I will not let the shadows become my reality.

I’ve experienced these dark days after a loss many times before. I’m not a stranger to it. One of the many challenges is facing those places again that haunt you. For me one of those places was the Old Victoria Hospital in London Ontario (we call it the “old Vic”).

A decade ago Mom had spent quite a few days and nights there. I came to hate the place over time. Not the people, but the place. There is a part of me, the historian part, that values it on one level, its age. Now the great hulking structure awaits its own demise. Therefore it was a place I thought I would not have to return to. I was wrong. It happened to still contain the closest Tim Hortons (emmm coffee).

The Old Vic – taken from back of hospital. One of those windows there in the middle was where Mom was the last week before we took her home. I remember that last morning looking out that very window unto the very spot where I took this photo from; now 10 years later.

In the late winter of 2011 Tim had gone through his first round of Chemo in Owen Sound. Due to his frail health his Doctor determined that a light dose would be his best option. So once a week for 6 weeks we would drive up the 40 minutes to Owen Sound. We’d do the big weekly grocery run, and while he got his chemo I’d usually go down for that hour and check into my email and facebook. It was nice. I could stay in touch online and get that hour for myself. The side-effects were not great of course. Even with the light dose he couldn’t do the last treatment. However,  after a couple of weeks recovery we were headed off to London for the next leg of this journey – the Radiation/Chemo treatment.

Thameswood in middle ground – Old Vic looming behind

The place where we would be staying while he had his treatment was a 2 story building that sat beside the Old Vic. I can remember starting to feel the anxiety rising inside as that old looming dinosaur of a place came into view behind it. As we parked and stretched our bodies from the 3 hour drive down, I could feel the tightness in my chest again….tears slowly welled and spilled out the edges before I could catch them. Oh dear. “This isn’t good”, I remember thinking. I’m suppose to as his caregiver stay here with him. How can I do that? There will be hospital approved pillows and bedding, trays of hospital food and more people I don’t know. I was in introvert hell. I wasn’t sure then at all how this was all going to go. We’d spend the week down at Thameswood, then go back up for the weekends. For how many weeks, we didn’t know.

February 7, 2012

You know things have changed when you have to consult the radiation schedule to figure out what the date is. Yup, things have changed.

Yesterday we attempted to take the bloodwork so we wouldn’t have to come in so early today. Owen Sound always preferred us to go in to Markdale Hospital the day before because it sped things up for them at the cancer clinic. Nope. The London Regional Cancer Clinic doesn’t believe in speeding things up. I suppose they maybe think the decor and the two old farts playing classical music below makes it a place we want to spend the whole day. So today Tim decided we’d just take the later shuttle anyways, walked in 15 minutes late and we were outa there. OUR WAY. They had to wait for us. Tim just barrels through. Doesn’t give one rats butt what anyone thinks. Can’t blame him though. With all this diagnosis can mean, time’s a tickin’ and we ain’t waiten’ on no Hospital policy BS. Of course the lady at the front desk at Thameswood gave him crap for it once we got back. Its beginning to feel like we’re living in some crazy high school residence nightmare.
I can’t wait for Saturday morning. Me, coffee and a book, and no humans…for 1 whole hour. Ahhhhhh.

“IF YOU OBEY ALL THE RULES YOU’LL MISS ALL THE FUN”     Katherine Hepburn [ Photograph cHulton Getty/Liason ]

February 18, 2012

I require rituals to stay sane. Something to ground me in the morning is key. Without that morning ritual I’m totally off my game. I feel like I’m trapped the whole day and I go into a fright or flight sorta mindset.

I’m having a hard time here finding that. Finding that private little thing that starts the day off. I’m up at the crack of dawn every day and usually I’m the only one.

Since we arrived here 2 weeks ago the cast of characters has varied. The group here now though is on the same schedule…. so we all were a hootin’ hollar last night. Went out as a group and bought some liquid libation of choice and spent the night in the games room playing pool and Euchre. Well, they played Euchre, I don’t play card games. I just like to watch. They are a great group. Alot of fun. It’s a strange, kinda sideways life for everyone. We’re here, then we’re at home. They have a life threatening illness and once a day they’re dosed with some laser beam and pumped full of poison. Yet most of the time it’s never discussed. I mean I know Jill has Breast Cancer, Dave & Terry have both had at least 2 other rounds at Thameswood and are now here for treatment for brain cancer. All of the various forms are represented and everyone’s treatments different. Yet they rarely talk about the treatment or how it makes them feel. Oh, it comes up…but the camaraderie seems to overshadow all that here. That really surprises me.

Part Two – Thameswood Lodge [Part Two] ~ The Hero’s Journey

14 thoughts on “Thameswood – Part One

  1. every morning on my way to work, I drive by the Old Vic. My mom was in the oldest part – the Colborne building. I went into that building last year during “Open Doors London” – they opened the old Vic for all to see – I went into the room where my mother was so many years ago – and like you, I felt the tightness in my throat…remembering how I felt as a 12 year old looking at my mother suffering from cancer. It never leaves you. But the hurt does fade.


    1. thank you Linda :) Do you know we watched last year a couple of Canada Geese around the old vic…big woop, eh? Then we noticed a window of the hospital was open…they were nesting in one of the rooms …. but I still would not have gone in if Timmies hadn’t been in there. Found my way right to it …. gawd that place still felt like a tomb. Mom used to talk about seeing the ghosts of Dogs that followed the doctors around. I don’t believe she was delusional from the meds.


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