Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Knocking Cliches

so those words? They're knocking.

At my head.

They want to come out.

I am going to let them out now:

There is a cliche' about trash.

"One man's trash is another's treasure."

I have changed that cliche' in my mind.

For me, it is "one person's routine can be another's terror".

And, I silently bless a few people every time I think of this new cliche'.

I bless them because they saw beyond their routine and stepped out.

I bless the ultrasound technician who left her machine and came around to hold my arm and touch me while the radiologist explained that he was concerned and wanted to do a core biopsy right then. I bless her when I remember her squeeze of my shoulder as the doctor asked "are you here alone?" and the tears rolled down my face.

I bless the pre-op nurse who, seeing my terror while I awaited surgery to insert the port, asked me if I'd like a sedative. She saw the wild look of terror in my eyes. Just my eyes. No words from me. Well, ok, there were a few of those silent-type tears slowly making their way down my pasty white cheeks. But no words.

I bless that same nurse who, when she brought me the sedative, put her hand on my arm and squeezed. And told me I'd be o.k. I bless her.

I bless our friend Gilbert who came to the hospital before my first surgery. I later learned that he came to pray with us, but did not get the chance before they wheeled me away. I bless him for his understanding that both Don and I needed support.

I bless Janis, Don's sister (and a physician), who left her warm home that cold November evening to come to be with me and Don...and brought sedatives with her. I bless her for her calm forthrightness and loving kindness.

I bless Beverly, one of the nurses in the chemo room, er..., the infusion suite, who, on my first visit for treatment, told me "your care is curative, not pallative". She will never really understand the impact those words had on me. They were a ray....a bar to hold on to.

I bless Dr. Lehti, my surgeon, who said "we took the cancer out. It is gone." I bless him when I remember his words telling me not to feel guilty for skipping my mammograms the previous four years. "Stop. It wouldn't have made a difference in your case. The cancer was found early, and it is out. It wouldn't have made a difference." Bless him.

And Jerry. I bless him. I bless him for his matter-of-fact way of explaining things. I bless him for the way he makes me feel safe. I bless him for being my oncologist.

My point in all of this? I am not sure, really.

Except, I recognize that I have routines.

And my routines may not be comfortable for those around me.

My routine of driving. I take it for granted. But for the poor young person who just received their permit and now has to learn to drive in our crazy world, that routine may be their terror.
My routine of public speaking. Sweaty palms, anyone? (Me, too. Still get incredibly nervous.)

My routine of expecting fast, accurate service at checkstands. For the new clerk, customer service can be pretty overwhelming...especially service to demanding, impatient customers.

My routines may not be routine to others.

I want to learn to notice those around me. And maybe take a minute out of my "routine" to be a person first.

Who knows?

I may end up being blessed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Scarring is a Good Thing

Jerry is not concerned.  

Another lump.

In my breast.

Oh my goodness.

Jerry is not concerned.  

At all.

That helps a little bit.

He is not concerned because he thinks it is scar tissue from the surgical site.  So "not concerned" that he says it will be checked out at the next mammogram, which will be scheduled for early February.

But can there be scar tissue a bit away from the direct incision line?

Take it out.

That's what I want.

But if Jerry is not concerned, I will try not to be concerned.  I'll make conscious effort to leave that bag of fear alone.

I will trust that the trial drug, in conjunction with all of my other treatments over the last 12 months, is killing any microscopic cancer cells that may have been in my body.  

I am down to less than 15 weeks left of the clinical trial.  Good news there.  

That means less than 15 weeks left of uncontrolled itching all over my body.  Itching at all times.  Itching so severe that it sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night.  How weird is that?

Less than 15 weeks left of acne-like skin rash.

Less than 15 weeks left of severe intestinal duress.

My visit with Jerry today was just a year from my first meeting him.  December 3, 2008.  A day that sent me reeling.  A day where I heard words like "grade 3 cancer", "most aggressive", "this cancer can travel to the brain".

The visit today, December 4, 2009.  A day where I heard words like "you're doing well", "I don't need to see you so often",  "you're tolerating the treatment so well", "I am not concerned".   

I like the words I heard today so much better than those from last year.

So, while all those words I heard are true, the ones today are the most true.  

I am certain.