Aliens II: Assess the Infestation
I’ll cut to the punch early to avoid the lengthily soliloquy that you know will come if I don’t just spit it out now.
There were no new aliens!!! The only thing that showed up on all the wonderful scans was the remaining blob that they were unable to remove during my last surgery. That’s pretty good news.
Pour yourself a drink and dig in for the incredibly thrilling (boring) details. Have a backup drink at hand and don’t be shy to down that sucker as you read between the lines.
First, there was the shot of radioactive something-or-other (octreotide, for you those of you who dabble in nuclear meds) to make all my nasty bits glow. That was at 9:30 in the morning and took about 40 minutes of check-in and waiting for a single shot that took less than five minutes. Then there was the wait for two o’clock so I could come back for the scans once the nukes had a chance to permeate all my soft and bloody bits. The two octreoscans took about 15 minutes each and made pretty pictures of what my insides would look like during a nuclear winter.
The next morning was more of the same. Go in for some scans, do a little waiting, get a little scanning, then do some more waiting. The doc said that they needed to get a radiologist to look over the images to make sure that they got all they needed and that they’d call us in about an hour and let us know if we needed to come back. That sounded fine. Until it turned into five hours of phone tag to find out that they needed some more images to complete their assessment. Back we went. Another half hour of laying still in a super expensive machine, followed by extreme disappointment that they never brought in the machine that goes, “BING.”
This brings me to one of the most annoying things about catching cancer. The wait. Unlike catching a cold, there’s no knowledge of the mortal questions of how long? How bad? Do I need to make a bucket list? And if so, how fast to I have to rally through it? When you catch a cold, you know that the chances of croaking are pretty slim. You’ll get snotty for a few days, maybe get a cough, or do a little puking, but for the most part, it’s over in a week. You know you’ll probably catch another cold in your life, but again, you also know that you’re probably not going to sever the mortal coil buried in a pile of Kleenex. Not so with the cancer. With the cancer, there are a billion and one tests that cost a veritable shit-ton of money and may or may not reveal any results. The leachings (blood tests) are frequent, the shots are radioactive, the test results vary from doctor to doctor and they take forever to analyze. Not to mention that my arm is bruised up like a junky and I’ve already lost about eight pounds – in all the wrong places!
Okay, okay. I’m beginning to sound a bit negative here and that is not my intention in the least. I just got the best news that I’ve had in weeks and I’m sitting here bitching about how long it takes to learn what the hell is going on beneath my epidermal armor. In all seriousness, I am horrible at waiting and the only thing worse than waiting is waiting for news that regardless of how good it is, it’s still bad. There is nothing good about cancer.
Here’s a personal story with a happy ending to tie this whole mess up. My awesome wife, Courtney and I have fun wherever we go. We are so good at going on road trips and no matter how long or short the trip is, we laugh and play, sing and dance. This trip to Denver was no exception, though much more subdued than any trip we’ve ever taken together. That is, until the drive home. The ride home to Oak Creek was one of the most surreal drives that we’d ever encountered. The tests and all the fear left us completely silent. The music wasn’t even doing what music does for the two of us. We were both in such a state of worry that even though we were together, we were completely isolated within the confines of our own brains. Conversation was stunted and mainly about obligations or time constraints. No dancing. No laughing. No singing.
Once we got home and unpacked, I started writing this update, which was promptly trashed and restarted after Courtney (smart girl) called the oncologist to see if the results of the scans were in. As you can probably guess, we had to wait for a while to get a call back, during which time the inner tension in each of our brains was something like that of a Sumo wrestler sitting on a Chihuahua.
The phone rang. I answered and put it on speaker phone to hear the nurse say that there was no added glowing alien spawn evident in any of the nuclear images!!! It was as glorious as the moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world goes from black and white to full Technicolor. We screamed, laughed, danced, cried, smooched, and then did it all again three or four more times. The relief of getting some good news after seven weeks of nothing but bad news was just what we needed to add strength to our fight.
Needless to say, yesterday was awesome. Life took on a faint glimmer of normal for a whole day as I worked, hiked with the pup dog and got to go to band practice for the first time in weeks.
Life is good, and I’m good at life. Fuck cancer.