Saturday, October 1, 2011

Prometheus Unbound: Part I of the Series

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving three years ago when I got the call for which I'd spent the previous 10 years waiting. I knew who it was and I thought I knew what he was going to say. It was my doctor. And he said, very quietly and carefully,"Heeeeeeyyyyy, Zelda. How are you?"

That's when I knew that I had only been right about the first part.

"So, the ultrasound? It shows you have 2 tiny, tiny spots on your liver. We just want to get some more images of these. They're probably nothing. Probably just some clusters of blood vessels. But, we should check."

I understood. He was right. We should check. After all, I had spent the last ten years being monitored for a condition (I'm Not Ready To Talk About That Yet - INRTAT) that carries with it a high risk of liver cancer. The ultrasound was part of the monitoring. We had been looking for liver cancer. So, yeah, probably a good idea to follow up on these spots on my liver. Made perfect sense.

I tried to stay calm only I really didn't try to stay calm. That's just a thing people say. What really happened was that my inner cave person took over my body for me so I could collapse in a corner of my brain and throw up there for a while. My chronic tinnitus flared dramatically (it's a bit of a drama queen) and my head was buzzing with the noise of it and was swimming with cortisol.

"Is it cancer?" I asked simply.

"Probably not. But we should look to be absolutely sure. My office will schedule a CT scan for next week. In the meantime, don't let this ruin your Thanksgiving."

At this point, you might think this paragraph will describe how I didn't touch my food from being sick with worry but if you've read my previous entries here you will realize that it would take a lot more than a fear of dying to keep me from eating pumpkin pie. Like actual death. Even then, I don't think we can say for sure. We just don't know enough about what happens after we die. I like to think that pie is still on the table.

Still, it did ruin the Thanksgiving I had intended to have which was one that did not include me thinking about liver cancer every 30 seconds. But it didn't ruin Thanksgiving. I mean, not that anyone has mentioned. I don't remember anything but the pie part.

After that Thursday, I was a wreck. A wreck. I cried a lot. I was often overcome with anxiety. I was short with the children. You know, so that they wouldn't suspect something was wrong. I realized that the only thing that would alleviate my suffering was an answer. I focused everything in me on that scan. I couldn't get the CT done soon enough. I even happily chugged the half gallon of chalky disgusting possibly irradiated tracer fluid because I wanted the thing done and drinking that stuff was doing something other than waiting. I actually felt good as I showed up to the appointment early and had the gown on in a flash. I sat at the edge of the table looking at the tray and the IV. IV?

"What's in there?" I asked.

"That's the iodine solution."

"Oh. That's not good. I'm allergic to iodine."

And that's when they sent me home.

I walked through the automatic doors of the hospital and started for my car but I passed by an empty bench and it occurred to me that this would be a good place to sit down and sob openly for a while. I made some calls. I have friends that I call when something goes horribly wrong. Some of them I call because they are deeply empathetic and will cry with me. Some of them I call because they will lend a few kind words about my despair and then ask, "So, remember that brownies recipe you mentioned? Did you happen to bring that to the hospital with you?" I call them for perspective. To get out of myself and put my focus back on externalities. I called a combination of these friends during this crisis and we all managed to pull me together enough to go home.

And wait. For two more weeks until I could get an MRI.

The good news about going for the MRI was that I stopped being so worried about the cancer because now, I was terrified of getting an MRI. I spent the next two weeks vacillating between dry heaves and cold sweats. And, can I just say this, thank goodness for the internet at times likes these. It really opened a dialog between me and my husband during this time. It usually went something like this:

Me: So, this person at says that they had a similar finding on ultrasound.

Thor: Oh, yeah? What does he say about it?

Me: Nothing. He died.

Thor: Please stop reading that.

Me: Stop telling me what to do! I have cancer!

Thor would want me to tell you that these were long weeks for him too but because he didn't think I had cancer his stress was of a different variety. He had to be very careful of everything he said. Here's why:

Thor: "Do you think you could drop off this dry cleaning on your way by there this afternoon?"

Me: "Sure. Do you think I should do that before or after I die from cancer? Probably before, huh?"


Thor: "I'm going to refinance the house since interest rates have dropped."

Me: "I'm sure your second wife will be glad to hear that. You know, when you remarry after I die from cancer."

See what I mean?

Next: The MRI.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful. I love the mix of moods, the wit, and the immediate closeness I had to the protagonist. Very much looking forward to more.