It's already been over a week since I saw Dr. Panwalkar, and I'm just starting to get out of bed a little more. So I am stepping back into that day, to catch up on everything.
He strides into the room, his presence commanding, his demeanor pleasant and professional. The questions start volleying between us instantly. Him, doctor, me, patient. It's this dance that we do, peeling back the layers of, "really, how are you doing?"
"I'm okay, good, (shoulder shrug,) okay."
But as he rattles off the side effects I may be experiencing, it seems my response is yes, more than no.
"9 days," I tell him. "9 days down."
"In bed?" he asks, incredulously.
"Well I get up every day, hoping, I can stay up. But it's usually a matter of hours, before I'm quietly retreating back to my room. So yes, mostly in bed."
He quietly nods, with concern cornering his eyes.
But, I've grown better at disguising the misery. Despite the weight I keep gaining, swelling my abdomen, my arms, my face. Despite the pale tinge to my skin, the sunken eyes, the sores covering my tongue. The rash now creeping up the back of my head.
The fatigue. Oh my... The fatigue.
But on this day, I've taken special care. My wig is straight, my make up is on, and I'm fully dressed. At a glance, I look perfectly fine.
So I surprise him, when I say, "the weight gain is really uncomfortable, and I have little to wear, because I don't like to shop anymore."
He literally takes a step back from examining me. He is always impeccably dressed. Business shirt, tie, dress pants, dress shoes. Long white coat.
"You don't shop anymore? Why not? How long has this been happening?
I stumble, trying to ascertain just how long its been. Months.
I'm just too tired. And the stores overwhelm me. And this is me, just being real.
My professional side that I present to him, doesn't match the "mess," I truly am.
What would he say if he knew, I rarely have energy to clean, either? And cooking went out the door a long time ago.
But my doctor, gets to see me at my best. The very hour before I lay open my chest, to the needle that will pour the cancer eaters, into my veins.
So I'm unprepared once again, for his final comments. "You seem to be tolerating the treatment well! We will go ahead with treatment 3, and then we'll scan the first week in September and go from there."
It's then that a phone begins to "bing," and I cast my glance towards Rick, but he shakes his head no, it's not his.
It's Dr. Panwalkar who says, "It's me, I don't use my pager anymore, Sanford pages me now, through my phone."
But he doesn't check it. It merely continues to rapidly fire off notifications, as Dr. P wraps up his notes about our visit. I marvel at how he musters staying present and focused on me.
He finishes, and turns towards the door, apologizing as his phone continues to sing its song of tortured urgency.
I give him my best cheesy line...
"Well, I think that is what you get if you are an On-call-ogist."
His hearty laugh bursts out, as he shakes his head, and ushers me out the door, and down the hall.
I turn to say goodbye, and he smiles as he rubs my back a couple of times before he jaunts off.
And so many people have asked, how can I help you? And I'm humbled, and stymied at the same time. If we come up with a specific need, we'll ask, I promise, thank you for offering.
In the meantime, the simplest things have meant so much. I have some long days resting in bed, and its so easy to feel disconnected. So when the beautiful flowers, from my friend, (photo above) Brenda, show up? They truly brighten my day. Or when Heidi, my aunt Carol, or Dawn, bakes and drops off bread or treats for our kids? Their eyes light up, and we quickly devour it- which brings me joy.
When my bestie shows up, and spends a whole afternoon with me? My spirits soar.
Or the texts, and emails? So encouraging.
I'm still filling my gratitude journal, counting my gifts, truly sifting through the grit, to fully see the glory.
Even though, the world shrinks some days, the light still finds it way through.