Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Day At The Prom

So I spent the morning over at Our Lady of the Damned today, my first appointment at the oncology clinic since early February. This was just a routine follow-up thing, the kind that cancer patients with private health insurance do every two or three months. Over at Damned General, they only manage to squeeze us in every six months. Whether we're still alive or not.

What a flashback! Ah, that old familiar three hour wait in the crowded room full of people coughing up their lungs. I opted to wait outside in the hot midday sun when I overheard the guy next to me tell somebody on his cell phone that they're testing him for TB.

When they finally called my name, I was happy to see that they'd assigned me to my favorite resident, the really smart one who actually sits down and talks to me and listens to me, who remembers my name and laughs at my jokes. He walked in the room and stopped dead in his tracks, and just stood there gaping at my new blonde hair and my big healthy smile. Speechless! And then he burst into this huge grin and just shook his head back and forth in wonder. And then for the longest time, all he could manage to say was, "WOW."

Shit, I think the last time a guy looked at me like that was when Michael O'Brady picked me up for the junior prom in 1971 and I was wearing that dress that almost got me kicked out of school.

Anyway. We he was finally coherent, we had a talk about maintenance Rituxan. He said I was supposed to start it next week, but I reached in my purse and whipped out a sheaf of recent studies published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology indicating that maintenance Rituxan provides no benefit after R-CHOP in patients with high-grade lymphoma. No benefit, and there are potentially gnarly side effects.

He gave me the same look the guys at the gym used to give me whenever I bench pressed two Volkswagens, one in each hand, and said, "Ooohh-kay. Let me go talk to my boss." And when he came back a minute later he stuck a gold star on my forehead and wryly told me I got an A+ in advanced oncology for the semester. "Aw shucks," I said modestly. "I only have ONE disease to learn about. Y'all have millions."

Then he announced I will have my second post-chemo CT scan in August (private insurance patients have PET scans at least every three months but oh well). I spent another three minutes listing sound medical reasons, complete with references and footnotes, why I should have my hideous port taken out asap, because it turns out that only an oncologist can approve port removal. The cute surgeon who approved it in May didn't seem to know that.

And then we said good-bye, the nice young resident and I. "I'll probably never see you again," he said, "because like you, I'm graduating and moving on." So we shook hands and congratulated each other and wished each other long bright shiny futures. As he was walking out he suddenly stopped and turned around and smiled at me. "You know," he said, "this line of work can be incredibly depressing and discouraging sometimes. But when I walk in here and see how you look today, compared to how you looked a few months ago, that's the big payoff. It makes everything worth it."

So I left beaming, feeling all squishy and sappy inside, though also slightly guilty when I passed the sad sick chemo people waiting in line in the hall. It felt unseemly to be beaming that hard in front of them, because I remember so well what it was like to be them. Anyway, I know this was just an eyeball assessment, and the real test of how healthy I am will be the CT scan in August. But still. I think I made his day, and he sure as hell made mine. Whatever shows up in August, I feel good today, and I feel happy. And maybe, just maybe, if my young man is true to his word, I'm finally going to have this hideous fucking @#$!*&$ port taken out, SOON.


The author decked out in her snazzy prom attire du jour.

22 Comments:

Blogger Cheri said...

Dang.

Best.
Post.
Ever.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Beaweezil said...

I second what cheri said....

and..


look out for Stairway to Heaven ... longest last song ever...

9:21 PM  
Blogger Hieronymous said...

Beautiful post! Made my day as well.

9:55 PM  
Blogger debinca said...

That young man is worth his weight in gold! I hope you cross his path again many years from now!!

11:25 PM  
Blogger cindy said...

Congrats! Phweet Phweet! (those were wolf whistles by the way)

12:57 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

And you just made my day ~ so glad to read those last few lines!

3:28 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Fantastic. Reading this post was like getting a great big hug - thank you so much for sharing. And CONGRATULATIONS, you healthy hot chick, you. I hope today is just as great!

8:49 AM  
Blogger Carole said...

Absolutely awesome. So very proud of you and all you've been through. Thanks for sharing your journey. It's helped me with mine.

Carole in Houston

10:08 AM  
Blogger B. Dagger said...

I have been going to Brooklyn to see an Ex who is dying of brain cancer.

A few weeks ago, after seeing ‘B’, I was walking to a nearby park to meet Miss Patsy. Because Miss Patsy has a kind and generous soul, she waits in a coffee shop or park when I visit ‘B’.

It was a warm sunny day, and the wind was making the leaves shake. All of the trees had blossomed at the same time: cherry trees, magnolias and lilacs. Their petals flew through the air and the flowers tossed up and down. I saw Miss Patsy walking down the street towards me, wearing the ridiculous shoes she favors.

At the same moment as I felt grief-stricken for ‘B’, I thought—and I know this is trite—I thought, How many moments of the present, of the right now, are perfect, if I could only see and recognize them. If I am not ill, and those I love are not ill, or in danger, how perfect the moment is!

Welcome (back) to the perfect moments, Liz.

Yrs, the Reverend B. Dagger

10:30 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Liz,

Your post actually made me teary. I am so happy for you and your getting better, and I love that your resdient was overcome by your spirit (as he should be). As a patient I have been blessed by a wonderful doctor (since I fired the horrible mean man- who said amputation was the only way to not die of this disease), as a doctor of the critically ill I know how the improbable successes can sustain me through the bad times. I wish you continued luck and health.

11:47 AM  
Blogger saraarts said...

See? It's not just us, your blog readers, who can see the difference in all those cheval glass photos. It's amazing what being able to breathe and hold down food at the same time can do for a body!

Here's to many more good days. (raises coffee mug)

12:50 PM  
Blogger Gosling said...

*sniff*

That was beautiful. Thank you.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Irish Goddess said...

This makes me so happy. Hooray for you!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hooray! Thank you - that's the happiest thing I've read all day. And the happiest thing I've seen - you look like a million bucks in gold.

8:12 PM  
Blogger virgotex said...

wonderful amazing post. It's always great to see evidence of humanity in those working at the houses of the damned that hospitals often are. I think a great many health care workers ARE extraordinary people full of compassion, but we don't see it often enough. (why? I dunno)

Congrats for looking great and advocating for yourself. Your post lightened my heart.

cheers

9:37 PM  
Blogger JoannaOC said...

I have such a vivid picture in my mind of that moment when he walked in the room. You are a fine writer.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Cheri said...

I just tagged you with a meme because, well, because I found your first blog a year ago, spent my week-long summer vacation in Lake Arrowhead on holed up in a cabin, reclined on the couch with a borrowed laptop, reading the whole thing. You give good blog, and when you went on hiatus it was like when West Wing ended. I'm glad of this blog, and really glad of the Prom post. Please don't find me annoying based on this meme tagging thing alone, although since you don't even know me I can see why you might. If there is a sliver of interest on your part, the meme rules and format are on my blog post "Eight is Enough." :)

3:17 AM  
Blogger virginia said...

Hey, Biz-
Wow. I can't believe I found you here after all these years! It was so sad to read all that you have gone through and wish I knew how to reach out to you. How wonderful that you are doing so well! BTW, I remeber tormenting you and Michael Brady... In fact, I have PICTURES of your guys. Should I post them? (Once a pesky niece, always a pesky niece)
I miss you and love you and would love to reconnect!
Ginny

8:59 PM  
Blogger bint alshamsa said...

Even with insurance, most cancer patients don't get PET scans every three months. Unfortunately, the entire healthcare system is so messed up that we're all getting screwed with or without insurance.

I can't wait to hear that you've finally had that port removed!

10:08 PM  
Blogger Trasi said...

You look like a million zillion dollars, Liz. Whatever the future holds for any of us, all we have is today, and I'm glad it's been good for you lately.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Delta Lady said...

chemo chair for me tomorrow...cant WAIT for the day when i leave a waiting room grinning!

thanks for ALL the gusty blogging. i am humbled and inspired

a fellow traveller :)

6:40 AM  
Blogger Schmutzie said...

Your good news has made me cry, because, wow, I'm learning how hard this crap is to deal with. My joy runneth over.

10:21 AM  

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