Saturday, May 22, 2010

#168: This is Happening to Us

The days between the PET scan and our next meeting with Dr. Colin were distracted. The nights were filled with unblinking stares at the blackness above our bed. Long fearful silences. "Denial" is as good a word as any.

Kammy was the first to notice at work. She is a young woman at work (nearly everyone is young at work) who pretends to be a silly girl to hide her intuitive compassion.

"You aren't as cheerful as usual today," she observed in that musical Congolese dialect of hers. "What's wrong?"

My candor took me by surprise. "I've been having some tests. The Doctor thinks I might have Cancer." It was the first time I'd said it out loud. Her response was honest and startling.

"I hope you don't. I don't want you to die."

And there it was, out in the air. Together, we had given my silent fear a voice. It was the first of many times I would realize how much I share my condition with the people who know and love me.

The day the Doctor gave us his opinion, Mrs P took it harder than I.

"I can't say for certain that it's Cancer, but if it walks like a duck... There is no time to lose with this. If you delay..."

I finished his thought, bad habit. "It will just keep growing."

The Doc corrected me sternly, "It will take your life." This was not a joke.

He described the surgery and the risks. Nerve Damage. Muscle removed. Loss of taste. Loss of hearing. We thanked him and moved across the hall to schedule the surgery, three days later. The treatment coordinator had strange news for us. My insurance was a strange, bare bones plan. Great for physician visits and prescriptions, but it did not cover inpatient procedures. Blue Cross would not be paying for my surgery.

It was a lot to take in. We rode the elevator down to the lobby and left. In the car, Mrs P started to cry. I was angry about the insurance. She was frightened about the diagnosis.

"I just don't understand why God is letting all this happen to you.."

I would deal with God later. "This isn't happening to me. This is happening to us."

What Kammy had taught me, what I wanted Mrs P to know was that I knew this was a burden we would share. I would not have the luxury of playing the victim. This was going to hurt everyone who cared about me, starting with her. We stopped by work. I picked up a prescription and told my supervisor that I probably had Cancer and would be missing a couple of weeks work after my surgery. I noticed his Livestrong bracelet.

"I may need to get myself one of these." I reached out and touched it, and he smiled sadly. I wondered why he wore one.

Mrs P and I walked out into the sunshine. It was a beautiful April Kentucky afternoon.

I wondered why God was letting this happen to my family.

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