Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Misnomer: The Battle With Cancer

People often talk about the "battle with cancer" whether it be winning or a loss but I feel like that terminology is a bit misleading. The fight against cancer is war.

You do have battles within it of course, but it can come back and attack you in the same way or potentially come at you in a totally different location or category. The fight against cancer, for those that have just completed a "successful" battle is pretty much like the Korean War. There were sacrifices on both sides, what could be done was done, lines were drawn, and there is an uneasy ceasefire. You hope it stays that way and dissipates but every now and then you might get a skirmish (what's that mole?, what's causing those aches and pains?) that usually turns out to be nothing. Still, there's always that possibility one side might launch a full offensive.

And now that I've got that thought out of the way, here's something just a little different.

So what does a check-up look like for me? These days it looks a little something like this...

6:00am
Ugh. Getting ready to head out the door and it is still dark outside. You pretty much have to leave early just in case traffic is bad and this is Houston so it will be bad.

6:30am
Google Maps seems to think traffic is light, listing the route as green. Not yellow, orange, or red... green. They must have a relative scale because most cities would consider this "stop & go" traffic.

7:41am
I just got done (4 minutes before the scheduled appointment) with the standard chest and hand X-ray. It's cool that it's first come, first serve. That helps when appointments are scheduled so close together. I'm always curious if the jitters from holding my hand in the positions they need will degrade the quality of the image but at the same time I know it is probably neglible. It's funny how sometimes I can just wear my t-shirt, sometimes I have to put a scrubs top on. For that quick 10-15 minutes, when I get to put the scrubs on, I can just about see Turk, JD, or Elliot pop in.

8:05am
Now I'm just waiting for the ultrasound. On the way up to this section of the medical center I passed a baby grand piano and tried my hand (pun intended) at it again. I may have disappointed a lady that was sitting nearby as I am not actually a pianist. :D In any case, it wasn't chopsticks or Chopin.
Ultrasounds are kind of fun but you wind up with a bunch of oddly benign-smelling goo on you. I don't know how it manages to smell both neutral and  distinct at the same time but it does. One cool thing about it is that the gel they use here is typically warmed.

8:17am
Still waiting to get called in for that aforementioned ultrasound. It does seem to take longer mist times but I'm still running early.
One thing that I can't help but think about is a girl named Madeleine. I had gotten to photograph her back in March or April when a food fight was organized for her. She was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors years ago and had been beating the odds. Cancer took her yesterday. I suppose at least the fight is over and that provides some relief even in her friends and family's grief.


9:35am
Wound up starting the ultrasound a little late but it was a quick 10 minutes for the actual scan and another 15-20 for the tech and specialist to go over the images. The cool thing about the ultrasound is that the tech has always given a reassuring "everything looks good!" After checking with the doc. It's not a substitute for my primary doctor's pronouncement but it is a nice bonus!

9:45am
A quick brisk walk via the skybridge has me sitting in the Imaging Library and waiting to request a copy of the X-rays and ultrasound.

9:50am
Done until the appointment with my Dr Lewis! I need some breakfast!
This is actually Dr Lewis on a promo plaque on the first floor of the Main MD Anderson building. Hi Doc!

1:45pm
Checked into the sarcoma clinic... ok actually I got there at 1:52pm because I forgot how long it had taken to walk to Starbucks a few blocks away.... Paid co-pay. Whee!

2:00pm
Got weight, temperature, blood pressure and pulse taken. Bam! Multi-tasking!

2:45pm
Got called in to an examination room, possibly the same one that I'd come to to get my stitches taken out...

2:55pm
Visited and interviewed by a colleague of Dr Lewis, Dr Chaffey. Was told x-rays looked good and ultrasounds look great. I told him about intermittent aches and pains, got it confirmed that they were normal considering the types of activities I'm doing and what the surgery had affected. Was told Dr Lewis would be back to have a quick look herself and then we'd be all set.

3:05pm
Started playing Angry Birds app on Google Chrome to pass the time as the wireless network, while connected, wasn't delivering an internet connection. Boo...

3:10pm Noticed the wireless network finally connected with internet access and started updating this post again. :D

3:38pm
Drs Lewis & Chaffey, along with two guest doctors arrive, much to my wife's delight. She had started seriously second-guessing her choice to join me for the appointment. One of the guest doctors was a Chinese gentleman whom I'd met at my last appointment and somehow mis-communicated with as I tried to speak Mandarin and he apparently didn't understand that I was asking if he spoke Mandarin or Cantonese. The other doctor was new and from Japan. Anyhow, Dr Lewis checked out the hand, my underarm, and explained my situation to the doctors. The bottom line? I'm still left-middle-finger and cancer-free. Boo-ya.

3:43pm
Headed down on the elevator to the parking garage to get outa town. Wife, exasperated, exclaims that we just spent 2 hours waiting for the doctor to spend 5 minutes with us to tell us I'm okay. Another couple in elevator replies, "you've got our doctor?"

So there you go, that's what a  check-up day looks like for me. It's a mixed bag of fun, drama, and patience development. Thanks for tagging along!

1 comment:

  1. I know I should be thankful that we are waiting a long time for good news rather than spending a long time receiving bad news...one day maybe I will have that kind of character developed, it just wasn't today, I got real antsy. I really think they make us wait that long so she can bring the docs in for some good news with Eric after what has probably been a long day of not so good news. Every visit she explains his story briefly, everyone marvels at how great he has/is recovering. God really is so VERY good to us. PRAISE!

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