July 19, 2017
July 19, 2016 – One Year Ago Today
It was the afternoon and I was at my nutritional consultant/master herbalist for my 3 month check. I told her that I had experienced some chest/lung area/upper abdominal pain a few nights earlier. It kept me awake and I wanted to talk it through as the pain resolved for the most part but I could still feel something when I took a deep breath or turned in just the right way.
‘Any other symptoms?” she asked.
No, nothing I could put my finger on. So we did some body testing.
“Gallbladder?” Nope. “Heart?” Nope. “ Liver?” Nope.
Hmmmmm. And then a thought came to me. I had a client who came for a massage once who was having similar pain, it turned out to be a PE – pulmonary embolism. CHECK!
“Can you drive yourself to Urgent Care?”
Phone call to Jim to let him know I was headed to Kaiser urgent care. But stay put, I’ll call when I’m headed home. Just want to rule out a PE. Shouldn’t take too long for life as we know it to take a 180 degree turn.
Once there, I gave my list of symptoms to the admissions nurse, thought to ask for a D-Dimer test to check for a PE, had blood drawn and a chest X-ray. My urgent care doc that day was new, young, handsome and the nurses enjoyed teasing him about just about everything. Funny what one remembers. My curtained room was very close to the doctors station and I could watch as they pulled up test results on their computers. There were quite a few patients that afternoon and I found it fascinating watching the myriad of expressions on the doctors faces as they read their reports.
Uh oh, what was that look on my handsome docs face? He rubbed his eyes and kept staring at the computer screen, double checking, buying time, collecting his thoughts. It was obvious to me that he was gearing up to give someone bad news. Must be someone else’s results I thought to myself, I don’t feel bad enough to warrant that look. But then he made some phone calls, shook his head, took a breath, grabbed a chart…my chart as it turned out…and headed my way. I smiled, he didn’t.
Handsome Doc: “There is a shadow on your X-Ray, right lung, and your D-Dimer is high. Could be a PE, could be something else. Can you get to St. Joseph’s for a contrast CT?”
Me: ‘Yes, but I have a contrast dye reaction so they will need to pre-medicate me’.
Handsome Doc: “Can’t wait that long. Can you get to Swedish so they can do a nuclear CT?”
I stopped smiling and called Handsome Husband.
“ Hi Honey. Don’t be alarmed but I’m on my way to Swedish for a CT. Meet me there?”
One year. Seems so long ago. Seems like yesterday. Where’s Bobby Ewing and his Dallas dream sequence when you need to borrow it.
In the past year, I have known 3 people who have died of cancer. One, 8 months after a diagnosis of esophageal cancer. One who had been successfully living with multiple myeloma for 6 years to be then diagnosed with a second concurrent cancer – pancreatic. The third successfully beat melanoma years before being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. He was a warrior and put up a valiant fight before running out of treatment options. They were all warriors. They each took on their disease and their life in ways that resonated with them. I also know of at least three others who have been diagnosed with one form of cancer or another just in the past few months. It’s like when you buy a new car and then that’s the only car you see on the road. Were there always this many cars on the road like mine? Were there always this many people in the periphery of my life fighting this disease?
I haven’t asked yet what the past year has been like for those on the front line whom my diagnosis has touched. It might be easier for the person with cancer than for their family and friends. Family and friends have to watch and wait. The word impotent comes to mind because it’s not ‘their’ cancer. They cannot take it away or banish it as much as they might want to. Their job is to be supportive while feeling helpless. They worry about saying or doing too much while balancing the fear of doing or saying too little. They (you) have the more difficult role to play in this drama and yet, you are helping so much more than you know. You comfort me, bring normalcy to my days, ease my fears and remind me that there is so much to look forward to. You bring me joy and I recognize the God spark in your faces, your thoughts, words and deeds. And still after a year, my current reality is shockingly unfamiliar to me. Aren’t I supposed to be the healer, the supporter, the caregiver? I am already really good in that role after all, I made my living doing it. What the heck is this! Who turned the friggin’ tables!!! I’m reminded of the line in Jerry Maguire at the end of the movie when he gives the ‘you complete me’ speech before Renee Zellweger delivers her famous line: ‘Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at Hello’.
Jerry says: “…..This used to be my specialty. I was good in a living room. Send me in there, I’ll do it alone…”
Healer. Heal. Thyself.
Does it suck? Depends on the day. But I am learning, yes I am.
Before we leave Jerry, as you know he discovers that he can not do it alone. Live and love that is. I also cannot and have not navigated this past year alone. You have been on this ride with me. I have learned much. I have experienced so much love. I am forever healed.
I fully expect to be delivering a two-year ‘caniversary’ post, one year from now.
And then a three-year….
etc…. etc…. etc…
As always, I am deeply thankful for your continued prayers, energy and good wishes. I am abundantly blessed.