May 11, 2012 - 2:45 pm
(Steely Dan reference)
I had an appointment with OncoMan yesterday, one I only found out about the day before by calling to ask when I was next scheduled to see him, since I had just had this CT scan of the chest done, the one that would probably determine whether my 'opacity' was permanent or a mere aberration, frankly the one that might determine whether cancer was going to kill me sooner rather than later (or never).
For one of the few times I can remember, especially for one such as is this that might have a significant role in what our future would hold, my wife would not be able to attend, due to the abruptness of notice and work schedule. I did not have a problem with this. The last time we got really bads new, I had to soothe HER on the way home, even if I was the one with as little as ten months to live.
And as I indicated to her, it is what it is and your presence will not change that anyway. Still, she was disturbed and, of course, made me promise to call her as soon as I had news.
I, of course, agreed, although there came a point while driving or waiting when I considered that it would not be a good idea to call her at work with bad news: might not be good for a patient she was dealing with if she suddenly began sobbing uncontrollably, for instance.
I decided I would not call her if the news was bad, even though I knew she would call me over and over again. It's just not the kind of information you want to parlay over the phone.
So, I arose early, scraped off my boxers with a putty knife and put a new pair on (hey, you never what's going to happen when you go to these places!), showered, shaved, brushed, gargled, all of the things you do to make the doctor think you aren't hanging out like a homeless dude, even though there was little I could do about that haircut my wife gave me with the hedge clippers except where a hat, put on clothes and the cowboy boots (in the old days cowboys always wanted to die with their boots on for some reason although I would think it more comfortable to die bare-footed, but OncoMan had admired them previously and I was beginning to consider them a good luck charm, which also led me into this dilemma about whether I should stretch the karma to thin and maybe go relaxed in some sneakers instead, a philosophical debate that the boots eventually won since they are more intimidating and would help me weigh more), and, deciding to end a run-on sentence finally, hopped in the car and headed off to the Chemo Palace.
Driving somewhere alone, I usually crank up the tunes, but this time I Wanted to roll down the windows, hear everything, smell everything (most everything, anyway), and see everything. This leads to contemplation of course, and at a stoplight I watched others whizzing by (not peeing in the pedestrian walkway but rather driving quickly, that other use of the word 'whizzing') and wondered how many unknowingly already had cancer and were but circumstances away from finding out; I wondered what others would think if they knew that I was a survivor on my way to find out, in a very strong sense, whether I was to live or die. I wondered if I had turned the stove off. All sorts of questions ran like, well, questions (if they run) through my mind.
I suppose that in this contentious age in which we live there will be some political or theological debate about whether questions run or even have legs.
In the meantime, I made it to the Chemo Palace with a minute or two to spare, and why, I don't know, as I DO know I am waiting regardless of when I get there.
Interestingly (to me, anyway), while I am normally the type to sit in a corner reading a magazine that Chemo Palace thinks will interest me (they think all survivors/caregivers are mainly women, the occasional jock, people interested in the entertainment industry, or those principally rich enough to own sail boats with a desire to redesign or rebuild their homes). Oh, and, of course, that we want to read about cancer.
I am sure this is largely true (or that the doctors are getting write-offs for their sailboat, architecture, decorating, and sports magazines). I am not complaining: reading of any kind is a good way to get through the waiting, after all, and books would be impractical owing to the rather impermanence of our visits.
Wow, lost that sentence completely, even fell into a new paragraph! Point to be made: I was gregarious. I always say "hello beautiful' to one of the young ladies at the desk, and not just because she remembers my name. But, again, after that I usually go into a corner and read some innocuous thing until called into the blood extraction room. On this day, I did not. Fueled, perhaps, by a notion that the news might not be good (that was my strong suspicion: 'opacity' doesn't just show up on a whim) I was talking to everybody that moved and even some that didn't, smiling, giving thumbs up, helping nurses by calling out names for which there had seemed no response, and, ultimately, when herded toward the blood extraction facility with several others, allowed all of them to go ahead of me, only to discover that they were two seats short of a cancer quorum and me, and this other lady, would have to wait in the foyer or whatever word they used to call the place that had I known I would have had to wait in by being a gentleman, I would have avoided by pushing past everybody.
Finally called in, I had a further wait while one of the nurses could become available after working with one of those nasty ladies who accepted my kindness and went in ahead of me.
To make a long story longer, once blooded, I went out into OncoMan's waiting room and decided to weigh myself. I expected a hefty increase, maybe 10 pounds or more, but it was merely four pounds and my cowboy boots probably weigh that much (although I HAVE worn them for past weigh-ins, so let's go with the four pounds). I was bummed in a small way, but also intrigued when the nurse did not rise from her chair when asking me what I weighed. I guess I had no reason to lie, but was surprised, nonetheless, that she assumed I would have the expertise to handle a weight machine.
For whatever reason, despite truly believing that bad news was coming my way, I was not worried. I do not know why.
I have a suspicion that it is because I have been there, ridden it, surfed it, and was completely prepared to deal with it in whatever way was necessary.
In any event, I saw PA Lady first, and she introduced me once again to the realm of possibilities by indicating that as far as she could tell, while there were 'anomalies' on the scan (I hate that word, now, by the way, so ambiguous), I seemed to be in good shape.
And then OncoMan strode in, shook my hand, mentioned that he had seen my wife lately in the halls of the Grand Healing Center, to which I replied, "Yes, she is optimistic about this because you acknowledge her while you didn't when things were not going so well", eliciting a chuckle from him before he said, "The scan looks great!"
The opacity is gone. Cancer, I don't think, simply disappears. There are new spots, but since I offered to PA Lady that I am eating more and may be aspirating, he was inclined to conclude this was 'micro-aspiration.'
It appears the pancreatic pseudocyst has once again risen its ugly head and will require a scan soon, I am back to six months on the lung scans.
I am NED.