beer, blood clot, cancer, caregiver, caregiving, checkup, chemotherapy, colon, Coumadin, cramps, DVT, fatty liver, head/neck cancer, Johnny Cash, June Cash, lung cancer, lymph node, metastasis, oral cancer, scarring, sodium, surgical scar, survivor, survivorship, Virginia Tech, waiting
(Johnny and June Cash reference)
Today, we went to see our personal warden, otherwise known as Onco Man. If you keep up with me, you know that I was a bit worried, a tad anxious about this. I think the cough more than anything disturbed me, because it was the impetus for that original boondoggle. I thought it might happen again.
I have mentioned that my wife has been worried sick about the whole thing. There is not much that I can do about that. When I tell her that I am not worried, she is irritated with me (I am being diplomatic), and if I say that I am worried, then she worries even more. It is a no-win situation for me (can I use the word diplomatic again?)
My appointment was at 11:45 this morning. I think I mentioned that. I was up for a lot of the night but did manage to sleep. Not enough. But enough. You know?
Took my third or fourth bath/shower of the last two weeks (I know! At this rate I will be the model of good hygiene before you know it!). Shaved a bit, under the jaw line, where a bit is starting to sprout on the left side but not the right, where it will probably never sprout again, as that side has been sufficiently nuked, I think, to be called Chinobyl. Sorry, bad pun.
What makes that sort of operative is that I am taking Coumadin to thin my blood. A nick right now might turn into a gusher. I have scabs and scratches and little blood spots on my hands to prove it, to say nothing of the now-legendary Halloween Party incident (to me anyway). I do not want to slit my throat by nicking my chin :). I should also stay away from rose bushes for the time being, as they seem to have something against me. But I did shave. Applied some cologne. Nothing happening here, everybody please move along.
I wore clothes that were not soccer-related, which is sort of different. Not warmups, not a hoodie from the tournament in 2001. Not even any Virginia Tech football stuff. I dressed like I was going to work. And, in a sense, I was. This has been my job of late.
My wife said that she would meet me there. My son woke early, unusual for him, and was busy cleaning and trying to help me find things, unusual for him. Not that he doesn’t work hard and all of that, but he is generally not all that chipper first thing in the morning. I think we can assume that he was worried.
In the meantime, Corrine had set the alarm for me, afraid that I would sleep through one of the most important meetings of my life, and also called twice to get assurance that I was awake, without talking to me personally to confirm it. The answer, both times, was yes.
I was busy primping and preening.
Rain was coming down fairly hard. If this were a novel, that would be a bad omen. It was a bad omen. The sky was grey, the rain was pounding, the street was empty, and even those danged ducks were holing up under neighborhood trees. Not the most auspicious way to start this event.
At least it wasn’t windy. Yet.
I left early, as I always do when I go at all, and made it to the Chemo Palace in plenty of time. Why, I do not know. It does no good. We all know: “The waiting is the hardest part.”
In that front area I would call a foyer if I knew what a foyer was, or maybe not, if I knew what a foyer was, they were selling things, part of some sort of charity event. I walked right by all of that, even though I recognized a couple of the nurses from my time in the Chemo Room. They were busy, and I was preoccupied.
I will tell you, and I really mean this, there is nothing finer than to walk up to the counter at the Chemo Palace, and even before I show them ID or, more importantly, my medical credit card, one of them addresses me by name, even though I haven’t been there for some time. I do not even tip them, I swear!
It almost literally warms my heart.
(Luckily, it doesn’t.)
It turns out, beyond that most personal experience, they now have these buzzers that you carry with you to your chair, while you read or pick your nose and wait for the buzzer to buzz. So much for the personal aspect of it.
I tell you, though, the warmth remained. I was not bummed about the buzzer. I have seen them before, have been handed them before. Whatever it takes to keep me from waiting.
My wife showed up in her nurse gear and told me that she loved me so much she walked right by the charity sale without buying anything. However, she advised, when I went in for blood work, she was going to hit the tables.
I got my blood work, and they took four vials and, for good measure, a slender one for the coumadin check. I remarked to the young lady that it did not hurt as the ones for the CAT scan did. She could see my bruises, of course, as they have remained for more than a week. She said “Sharper needles,” and smiled. The truth is that CatManDude has to use a much larger needle, has to be able to stick stuff in rather than get stuff out, but still, it was clever on her part. If my wife had not been waiting for me outside, well, who knows what might have happened?
Oh yeah, I would have been directed to the doctor’s waiting area, just as I was.
Someone showed up, someone that used to work with my wife, and someone, it turns out, who injected me prior to my first surgery. I did not remember her. I do not remember what I ate yesterday, so that is no surprise. But I did not remember her. That was sort of disappointing to me, as I really want the people who have provided me care to know that I care in return. But I can’t fake it.
I do think that lifted my wife’s spirits. It helped further that I have gained eight pounds, when before I had been slipping in the other direction. I wanted to tell my nurse, as we then walked to The Room, that the beer is really paying off, but decided not to go that way.
Believe it or not, I kept my mouth shut :).
No need to complicate things.
BP good, pulse good, the usual. I wonder, though, and wondered today, as she held the results of the scan in her hand, why we couldn’t talk about those selfsame results THEN. Who needs a doc? Let’s get it over with!!!!
We waited. And waited. My wife thinks it is funny when I start looking at my watch. She waits, she WAITS for me to say, well, he is 30 minutes late…is his time more important than mine?
She waits for that and I always comply and so she laughed today when I said it again.
Onco Man knocked on the door, but it was not Onco Man. It was Resident Man. Someone hanging out and learning. Someone who has not read my history, knows nothing of it, and never will. He has good intentions, but they turn out to be frightening.
He says How are you doing? and I say Fine, except for this thumb, and I show him the thumb which is red and infected, and my wife already knows that and told me to show (geez), and he says See your family doctor about that Pronto, and she pipes up with He’s not good about that (geez).
I tell him about the cramps on the left side of my neck, and he feels it and has no conclusion other than that I should drink seltzer water for the quanine (sp?). How about that? I did not know that. I will do it, for sure, because he cited a study and also downed my wife’s suggestion re sodium (:)).
Sodium, incidentally, may CAUSE cramps, it turns out, or at least help them along.
But I am not here for cramps or infections. I am here for results. CAT scan results. Live or Die results. This is where Resident Man runs into some problems, since he doesn’t know my history.
He clearly has not read my results, and more clearly than that, as I mentioned, he doesn’t know my history. As he rather blathers about what is going on, I interrupt and ask, What do the results say?
He proceeds to go through them item by item, literally reading them from the sheet to us, and even my wife, the medical professional of some standing, asks him to give us that same information in English.
He goes from top to bottom, from head to pelvis. I have something in the right side of my neck that may be a cancerous lymph node or a surgical scar. Later, my wife and I would agree that we immediately thought, WHAT? That has always been the surgical and radiation scarring. What is up now?
My lungs look good except for an anomaly in the right lung.
My pelvis and abdomen are fine: no metastisis there.
But he talks about the next stage of chemotherapy. What the heck is he talking about? What next stage? He says I should be good to go with that if Onco Man approves it, and I ask, again, What chemo? I haven’t BEEN on chemo for a couple of months!
He says Onco Man will clear that up.
He adds that I have diverticulitis in the colon and some swollen lymph nodes in the abdominal area.
He says not to worry about the lymph nodes, as they have been watching them, and they probably swelled up as a result of treatment (well, he doesn’t say it that clearly, but I know what he is trying to say) and that the diverticulitis is usually the result of old age or lack of fiber.
Thanks for that one, hombre :).
Of course, being on mostly a tube feeding diet for three (I will delete the word myself) years, of COURSE the fiber is lacking! I can take care of that. I can. I mean it. I am eating now. A lot. This has nothing to do with old age, Resident Man!
Maybe it does. He cited another study. The guy has studies coming out of his colon!
Still, he has a nice, if unknowing, manner.
My real problem is with my wife, who has been a nurse now for longer than the United States has been independent (okay, when we WERE independent), I think, and who smells fresh prey when a new resident is in the room.
She has to ask him questions I do not care about the answers to, she has to tell him, even, that I cannot take the Keflex he is recommending for my infected thumb! I do finally harumph enough, well, shout her name, actually, and she quiets down momentarily.
We have an agreement whereby this is my cancer, not hers :). She has broken the contract.
He, Resident Man, leaves, promising that Onco Man will be in soon. Corrine asks, What do you think? That is good news, right? And I say, I don’t know any more than I did before he came in!
She says, sadly, I know, but it SEEMS promising. And I promise not to say anything when Onco Man comes in. I know I (diplomatically) made you angry.
I say okay.
We wait. We wait. We wait.
Onco Man finally comes, bringing Resident Man with him. We shake hands and he says I am very pleased with the results!