Guest Post by Robert Hanlon
I’m waiting for results. Or rather, I’m not waiting. I’m trying to be not waiting. Most of the time it works. I’ve talked about, written about strolling toward death. Where I do not think about it, and mosey on my way since there is nothing to be done, and I refuse to spend my life grasping for life.
But that was before it was back. When my life span was unspecified, unburdened with impending anything. I got three month chunks of “so far so good.” Where the steady state was remission, and we so believe in inertia. All the universe believes in inertia. The odds are tomorrow will be just like today (even though we know that’s not so). And the next test will show what the last test showed – nothing.
Until it changes. The last test didn’t show nothing. It showed a small something. But I’m not supposed to have a something. I can’t have a something. Something means it’s back. It’s growing. My oncologist’s usual breezy exchange about vacation plans, and let’s lose some of that weight and get healthy is replaced with a curt “The numbers are rising.”
I knew it going in, since I picked up my lab results before the appointment. I knew there was a change that would upend my complacency, my life. I imagined what might follow, what miserable treatments, choices, outcomes. Speculation ran far ahead of likely reality. But not to be expressed, not to be laid on those who would also have to carry the load. The brain recognizes the irrationality of the panic, even as it churns. And the soul shields the pain from those who could give balm, because there is no real need to spread the pain when most of it is so unlikely, so remote. “I’m not worried” (much).
But with the doctor, I speed to what I will and will not do, what heroic measures should or not be taken, until he has to near shout “Wait! We’re getting ahead of ourselves.” He pulls me back with explanation of another round, a minor tweak in the regimen that had kept me steady state for three years. More hormone twists that wreck skin, tire, slightly weaken, make a better woman of me, buy me time and peace and maybe return to tests that say a blissful “nothing.” And even if, there are several others that maybe, could be, before we hit the really bad stuff.
And still I had never been sick from the disease, only the treatments. And still I knew that the disease lurks and promises pain, and loss, and death unless I manage to hold back, push off, outlast it, until I find some gentler, kinder way to die in good time.
So, I go home, fill the scrip, wolf down the new pill that may slow, halt, reverse to steady state. And struggle to find that juggled balance of strolling again.
Until I hear from a friend that his doctor thought she felt something. Maybe nothing. But he needs to be checked. And he’s not worried. He’s just waiting. He tells me, and I listen and try not to volunteer more than he wants, needs to know. And so, we are both waiting.
And next week is my next test.