Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 1st & Rainy

Testing... testing...

The first cancer checkup of the new year is here (if we don't count the annual skin screening back in January) and so far it's been a breeze. Appointments that were supposed to last until 12:30pm actually wrapped up around 10:00am and now I get to sit around and wait for the appointment with Dr Lewis. I wrapped things up so quickly in fact that I got to the main building with the Chick-fil-a in it's cafeteria too early and they weren't serving yet. Nuts.

They encourage playing dress-up here. 
For now the periodic tests I get are just x-rays of my hand from three different perspectives, front and side chest x-rays and an ultrasound of my left hand and armpit. Pretty basic stuff. I'm sure I've mentioned it before but they use a warmed gel for the ultrasound which I'm assuming is probably the same stuff ladies with child probably experience in their appointments. It has as unique odor to it I'm still not sure how to adequately describe. It's a benign sort of smell that for some reason leaves me with an impression of feigned organic material. At the same time it seems like it almost has a light floral scent but one that is hard to identify. In any case, I'm not it's number one fan. It's not horrible but it winds up being my left side's deodorant for the rest of the day and when you feel like you might smell like someone's grandmother there's a certain amount of unease that comes with that. Then again I could just be imagining things. Why didn't I remember to carry a can of Axe with me?

The time drew near and I realized I'd been sitting in the lobby for a little too long and now had to rush to grab some lunch from the Anderson Cafe. Of course it was also the height of lunchtime and everyone and their mother and possibly one other person in their support group was also at lunch. I grabbed a sandwich, some nuggets, and a bag of chips; there was no place to sit. While walking around looking for a seat I popped nuggets in my mouth until finishing them. At that point I gave up, chucked the tray and headed towards the elevator eating along the way. Thank goodness for fast food.  As I stepped into the elevator right after one other lady, I reached to push the button for the 9th floor but noticed it was already lit. "What a coincidence!" she remarked with a smile. I was still stuffing my face with the original chicken sandwich 9 out of 10 cows prefer us eat and, realizing it might be considered rude to do so, I committed another faux paux of manners. "I should have known better than to try and go to lunch at 12:30; that place was packed..."  I said it with a smile that was masked by the lone appropriate act of covering my mouth with my hand. We neared the 9th floor and she asked who I was seeing, presumably on the off chance that we were actually going to the same place, "Dr Valerae Lewis" I replied. "Oh, ok" was the reply. And that was that.

After winding through the hallways to the Sarcoma Center, I finished the meal and washed it down with some water from an over-eager fountain. The waiting area was sparsely populated and I was able to check in quickly before sitting down. It was time to take down those chips. At that time a number of people started filling in and it occurred to me that now I was going to be making loud crunching noises. I am just a jerk today. With as much stealth as one can muster on a bag of Sun Chips, I took them down one by one, attempting to dampen the impact of chewing by moistening the chip in my mouth before applying the necessary force to break it apart,  further chew, and then swallow. Who know eating chips could be so much work? 

After that was taken care of I folded up the bag and decided to make a run to the trash and hit the restroom while I was at it. After dropping the bag in the trash I headed down the hall to the nearest facility and wound up passing by none other than Dr Lewis and a few of her colleagues. "Hi there Dr Lewis!" I said in passing. "Hello!" she replied with an smiling expression that I'm sure was one that encompassed an unexpected need remember my name that wasn't returning results quite fast enough. I made it to the restroom and washed up. It occurred to me that Murphy's Law might come into play and the attendants were probably calling my name in vain for the vitals tests that always precede these appointments. I hurried back down the hall. To my surprise I bumped into Dr Lewis again, this time with another doctor that now I couldn't remember the name of. "Where are you off to looking so busy?" Dr Lewis asked. I paused wondering if she really wanted to know the answer and also if I really wanted to reply as she was still moving down the hall and I'd have to say "just going to the restroom" pretty loudly. That would ensure most people in the Sarcoma Center would be over-informed of my whereabouts. I replied, she didn't. I don't blame her. 

I got back to my waiting room seat and decided to get back to some photo editing. I opened my laptop and   Murphy's Law reared it's head. "Mr Setter, blood pressure" was the call from the desk. My weight, temperature, and blood pressure were measured and I returned. The Nate Burkus Show was on on a TV on the wall, it ended and some daytime soap came on. A few minutes in some characters starting talking about how they were gay and a burly gentleman also in the waiting room fairly quickly got up and inquired about the ability to change the channel. Nothing else was on and it soon got turned to the 24hr weather channel which really is about the most unoffensive thing one can watch. It's also great to ignore and edit photos to, which I did. 

After a while I got called to the room by a familiar face that I believe was the same doctor that took my stitches out but is yet another doctor I can't remember the name of. She led me in and I set up my laptop, anticipating another hour wait and some good uninterrupted editing time. The crazy thing is that the first lady doctor I'd seen (that I couldn't remember the name of) came in within 20 minutes for the pre-visit feel test of my armpit which I believe is really just a inspection of the lymph nodes. She caught a glance of a picture of the groom I was working on while he was trying to figure out how to tie a necktie. "He looks... intense" she commented. "Indeed" I replied. She finished the inspection and let me know that Dr Lewis was looking at my tests and would be in shortly.

Usually "shortly" means 45 minutes or more. I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be more like 15 this time. Murphy's Law had struck again. Brea had elected not to tag along for the appointments for the first time on the condition that, should bad news come in, I would not IM, text, or call her with it. If bad news came about I was to drive to the office, pick her up, and wait until the doors were closed before uttering a word. You'd think IMing you wife with a cancer diagnosis was a bad thing...

Anyhow, Dr Lewis popped in with her 3 cohorts and in great spirits. I greeted her "hello, how're you doing?" with my hand up in the air and the remark that I feel good and haven't noticed the finger growing back or anything. I was still sitting in the guest chairs with my laptop in my, well, lap. She sat down beside me and looked over at the screen.  I had another photo from the wedding I was working on up. It was a shot of one of the groomsmen sitting in a hall trying to tie his tie as well. It caught a moment when the main part of it was flipping in the air and I'd rendered it in a very nice black & white. She was impressed and wanted to see more. I tried to back out of the collection I was focused on to show her some of my other favorites but in the process crashed the photo application. Nuts; back to the business at hand (pun intended).

"Everything looks clean, you're good to go!" Dr Lewis announced. Fantastic!
I mentioned that my wife would be happy to hear that and also mentioned the deal about communication of bad news if it ever came back. "You should totally text her something like --Honey, I've got some news... oh wait, I'll tell you later..." I looked up at Dr Lewis with an extremely large grin and she immediately retracted. "No, no, don't!"  "That's awesome, I'm going to do it;" I said, "it's doctor's orders!" There was protesting but the seed was planted, it was going to happen in some form or another. We had had enough, possibly too much, fun so I beckoned them towards the door. "I'm sure you have actually sick people to get to, I won't waste any more of your time!" Before they left she did mention that she might have use of my photographic services for a party or something sometime and I gave her my card. That wasn't expected at all but she actually described what I do like doing. Capturing candid and semi-posed shots of real life and occasions. Coolness.

I packed up and headed out.

I did text Brea too, it went like this:
Hey baby! Oh wait, I wasn't supposed to text you...

It's good news, all clear again!

She did not murder me. The end.

Stephen Tyler would love this floor. He'd probably have a coronary event upon stepping into one of the elevators.
For all zeppelins that is...