Monday, May 17, 2010

What is it This Time?

Went for my mammo as prescribed. When I finished checking-in, I was led to a dimly lit room where the machine was waiting for me. After the first couple of pictures were taken, I took a seat, covered myself with the hospital gown... and waited. I passed the time by mentally chanting to myself, "it's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. It's just the implant valve. I'll be fine."

Then the devil on my shoulder would ask, "but what if it's not okay? What are you gonna to do then? How are you going to handle it?" ...And then I'd think back about all the crap I've been through. So I answered myself firmly, "well, I'll just have to soldier on and live through it again. What else would I do?"

And then I'd start thinking, "it's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. I'll be alright..." And the conversation in my head would repeat like a broken record. (For you kids out there who may be reading this and don't know what a record is, it's the device used by your parents' generation to listen to music. We didn't have CDs and iPods and streaming webcasts "in the old days.")

As if I wasn't nervous enough already, the nurse came back to the room and announced, "the doctor wants a few more images." Bummer. I went along with the plan and as I ignored the compression of the machine plates bearing down on me, the voice in my head grew more determined. "I'll be okay. I'll be okay." I was intent on being okay.

You can imagine how alarming it was when the nurse returned a second time and told me the doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound. I thought, "damn, why does he need to see an ultrasound?"

"An ultrasound? You mean right now?", I said. "Yes," she said, "but don't worry, we can do it here. We have a room right down the hall." She pressed her back against the door to hold it open for me as she gestured for me to walk out in the direction of the appropriate hallway.

In a somewhat detached and bewildered state of mind, I was led to an examination room a few doors down. Before I could get my head around what was going on, I said hello to the sonogram lady and crinkled the paper covering the exam table as I took my place on top of it.

She began, "this is just a gel I'm going to put on you. It might be a little cold..." Her voice fell away while I listened to my own thoughts pinging around my brain, trying to reassure myself: "yadda yadda...whatever" "...been there done that." [pause] I looked over to the screen. I thought to myself, "What the heck are we looking at? I don't see anything. I squinted and looked closer. I continued my inner conversation, "What angle are we looking at? I don't see anything but squiggles of black, white and gray." I suddenly snapped-back to the outside world when the lady put down the wand or mouse or whatever that thing is and stood up from her chair. "Okay I'll be right back with the doctor so he can take a look for himself." Huh? Take a look at what?

So in comes the doc, shakes my hand and takes a seat at the helm. He rolls the wand back and forth a few times and stops. Oh... finally I can make out an image on the screen, and it sure looks like the valve to me. "Well we don't see anything suspicious," the doc said. "But obviously with your history we wanted to be thorough." Thank goodness. I'm grateful for the extra care. I was relieved, but I was also a little mad. Mad because I was scared for nothing and because I know it won't be the last time I question my health. I'm annoyed by this whole cancer thing. It's a royal pain and it will always be hanging over me until we find a cure. Remission is great, but a cure would be awesome. Thank you to everyone out there trying to make it happen.