Friday, July 1, 2011

Day One


I remember sitting in the doctor's office -  your garden variety suburban MD office -- and thought: "Is this the place I'm going to hear I have cancer?"

I looked around at the medical illustration on the wall -- an annotation of parts of the ear, nose and throat -- the throat cameras and instruments, the signs of domestic abuse poster that seem to be in every HVMA office, and I waited.

And then a polite knock on the door.

Until my ENT who performed the lymph node biopsy came in, I was suspecting it to be nothing but as soon as she walked in, I felt like it was going to be bad news. She seemed distracted, checking the surgical site where the biopsy took place almost as an afterthought -- like she just wanted to get the dx out there and get it over with.

And then the news.

It is lymphoma.

We talked for maybe 5 or 10 minutes without actually exchanging any real information other than I wanted to be treated at Dana-Farber -- I gave her Arnie Freedman's name. I asked about the logistics of scheduling.  I asked about physical restrictions (I did have a softball game that night). And then I think we went over those same questions again. And maybe a third time.

Looking back, it's not just that I couldn't process the info but it was as if I felt that if I didn't leave the ENT  office. I wouldn't have to deal with it.

But I did leave.

And I am dealing with it.

I remember sitting in my car and thinking who do I call: what do I say: how do I say it? Should I drive home so I can tell Stacy at home? Should I call my boss or go back to the office? Should I call my family? Email them? What's appropriate? What's best?

I called Stacy.

On day one, I alternated between thinking of present state and possible future state.  I imagine that will be my toughest mental  battle.  When I think of the future and try to project out 10/20 years, that's when I start to lose it. When I focus on the present -- how I feel today -- fine, thank you-- I'm calm and rational.  I said to Stacy -- this may change our routine, but it's not going to change our life.

I remember eating dinner before my softball game while Noah and Stacy played alphabet go fish. I was watching him play and he was getting silly and having the greatest time -- laughing and playing -- and I wasn't thinking about my dx at all.  This is how I need to live. Each day, as the cliché goes.

I remember my dream last night. It's one that I've had before -- or at least one that felt very familiar.  We were on some island (not sure who the other part of the we was) battling some cyclopsian type invaders. And we turned them away but knew they were coming back-- and we knew how we would need to fend them off because I had lived this dream before.  And sure enough, they came back and we hid in some basement/cellar type space, and then we attacked and we were fine. A metaphor for the battle ahead? Or just random thoughts rattling about because we're  all reading The Hunger Games?

That was day one.

It's day two now and I have the same mental struggle - present life vs future state. And the same logistical questions? Who to tell? How to tell? When to tell?  And of course, the bigger question: what next?