I guess Dr B was optimistic when she told me I’d have results from the lumbar puncture one day later. The nurse says it takes about a week and a half. Curious discrepancy. Doctors and nurses have different preoccupations.
It might not occur to the doctor that when she says tomorrow, she starts my anxiety clock running. I’m good at keeping stress on a schedule. Really. I can hold off on the worry until 24 hours before the theoretically anxiety-provoking news or event. That seems a reasonable amount of time to ramp up. But once it’s started, there’s no reeling it back in. Unlike premature ejaculation, where you blow your wad and you’re done, there’s an endless supply of this shit (if you'll pardon the grossly mixed metaphors).
It’s not that my hematologist doesn’t care about me. She’s my everything, she and Dr. J that is. But I’m just one of her 3000 cancer patients. My friend Neil suggested that doctors are a bit like prostitutes. If they’re doing a good job, you feel like you’re getting their full attention while you’re there, but then they're on to the next John... er patient. You’re thinking about them all the time, but they won’t think about you until a minute before your next visit, when they wash up, and head in.
There’s an imbalance. I’m going to have to get used to it, and find a way to right it that doesn’t involve the doctors’ attention.
Everything has happened so fast. I’ve probably had this Lymphoma for years - a bizarre thought. I had it at my son’s bar-mitzvah. I had it when I was in Guatemala last February. When I was in Cuba the year before. When I was trying to sort out questions of ADD medication for my kid in 2006. When I was pregnant. (How far back does it go? Cancer makes an odd retrospective lens on life.) But really, for all practical purposes, one day I didn’t have it, and the next day I did.
That’s the day that everything changed.
I could have slowed down the pace, asked for more time to consider my options, delayed appointments, but the fear kept me moving. Combine that with the fatigue (first mental, now physical), and I may as well be a new Hare Krishna inductee chanting “I have Cancer” over and over, for days on end, depleting all my resources.
I know nothing. They know everything. They say to swallow the pill whole. The pill will save me. Expect to be told only what the pill might do, what the pill has done for some folks, what the research and statistics say about the pill.
I’m a month into swallowing the pill. It’s time for me to take the reigns. A bit.
As I was leaving Sunnybrook the other day, the receptionist came running after me waving the sheet they print off every time, with a list of upcoming appointments.
“I’m glad I caught you. You have an appointment with Dr. X the radiologist, on Tuesday.”
Every time someone tells me I have an appointment with someone new, my adrenaline fires.
So, a) I’m no longer in gyno, but as far as I know this doc does gyno radiology. b) I was told I wouldn’t see a radiologist until after chemo was done in six months. c) I hate Dr. X.
She's the one who called me a liar when I was being diagnosed. Her only redeeming quality, as far as I’m concerned, is her small fingers.
But the first step in righting imbalances is: If I don’t like someone, I don’t have to see them. Even if they’re a doctor. And that’s what I told Sunnybrook.
I slept nine hours last night. The desire to sink to my knees in gratitude, instead of fatigue, is almost glorious.
Glorious is relative. It takes a different kind of looking to identify the bits of glorious in Lymphomaland. But they are here.