Chapter 43: “A Sense of Dread”
Jump to a Chapter:
My attitude had forever been altered for the better, even as I returned to work. Sure, I still despised the job– I mean, who likes trying to get people into debt? Yet I had this sense of comfort in it all. I was alive; so the simple fact I could feel anything at all – even if it was disapproval of the company’s practices – was reassuring, to say the least.
My perspective on life became the embodiment of what a normal person’s 20/20 vision is described as; complete with rose-colored glasses. Except my vision was looking ahead, and it was real. This newfound appreciation of life had only exacerbated from my time in the hospital, and I was sure to keep it flowing.
This new year at our house in Wallagrass was extremely special to me. We didn’t have cable (Thank God), so we had to come up with our own entertainment (much like when we were kids). And since we were so far from the town proper, we didn’t use it often as a time-consuming crutch.
Instead, our fun consisted of hanging out at the house, playing games, and throwing parties. Not the type of party that you surely just conjured up in your mind– at least not all like that, but we had people over almost every night. Whether it was just Mitch or Brent (or both), or a slew of people, our nights were rarely boring.
Even when Jonas would need rides at the ass crack of dawn to work at Paradis’ Shop N Save, and I’d have to drive him, I couldn’t complain too much. Life was still a precious gift of which I had continued to possess, and anything was better than the alternative.
But all of that positive energy and perspective couldn’t hold a candle to the impact of the feelings I would summon as my first monthly check up rapidly approached.
I had scheduled the appointment for April 21st during my final discharge from Eastern Maine Medical Center, but as the day crept ever closer, I couldn’t help but worry.
What if this celebratory living of my life was to be short-lived? What if the cancer cells reformed in my bone marrow, and I found myself back at square one– nay, square zero; this time needing a bone marrow transplant? While I appreciated the doctor’s honesty of that potential next step during treatment, I hated the knowledge of it now on the other side of the hospital doors.
The ride down in my Fat White Cadillac was of course, physically comfortable (that thing rode like an orgasm), but tense for my mental psyche. I tried to avoid the medical dread by tuning it out, listening to music, and talking with my Mom and Gary who had joined me on this excursion. I had thoroughly enjoyed driving them for a change.
When I got to the outpatient clinic, some of my apprehensions melted away.
It was a mini-reunion with Susan, Kathy, Sherry, and the rest. I was with the people who had saved me from death’s grip, and it was good to see their faces again. The nurses took my vitals and withdrew blood while we chatted.
But my fears resumed once I sat back down to await my results. It was never the act of drawing my blood that scared me; it was the answers that that blood would provide. I didn’t understand this fear either; I hadn’t felt this way ONCE since the very first day of my treatment when the nurses on Grant 6 drew more blood than I thought humanly possible.
I’m sure that Mom and Gary were just as worried – but to their credit – they never let their emotions known to me. I had hoped I was giving the same vibe, but since the topic was unspoken, there was no way any of us would reveal our hands, at least yet.
Dr. McGann came around the corner – with the results in hand – to greet me. I looked to Mom and Gary and told them that I “would be back,” and I meant it. I was a fool; I’ve seen Scream enough to know that they were right about those words: it’s often a death nail for that character.
As we got into the examination room, I sat on the table and she performed the usual tests: ears, eyes, nose, throat, and felt my abdomen for any abnormalities. You know, the usual check-up checklist.
Then she examined my testicles for any reoccurrence of cancer via the testicles (another bit of information that I could have lived without, Doc), but thankfully, she found nothing. She reiterated that it was important that I continue my self-examinations to ensure nothing arose of that possibility. Ok, ok. So “arose” was a poor choice of words, but you’re dirty for thinking it.
The testicles were fine, and so she went over my blood results with me. “Your red blood cells are a bit low, platelets are low, but your white blood cells are where they should be, which is a great sign.”
As she said those words, my shoulders sunk and my mind soared with a euphoric high. I felt like my life-loving self again. We discussed my eating habits and exercise regimen which were both subpar. I vowed to improve upon those, but in the meantime, I had a clean bill of health.
I thanked her and left the room for the waiting area. I told my parents the good news and we all cheered. As we walked down the stairs to leave, I decided it would be best to go into the main building and say hi to my other former caregivers.
As the elevator ascended, I tried to prepare what I was going to say. It was weird; this was the first time I had EVER come up to this floor as a guest and not a patient.
I walked through the front doors with my hair full, and my skin the proper color, and saw Michelle. She squealed at my surprise appearance and we shared a solid hug. She led me to the nurse’s station where we chatted for over half an hour.
It felt so good to see all of these fine people in a post-treatment setting. I took solace in that fact and smiled internally in light of that sentiment.
It had been another great day, even in the face of dread. I won this battle, but little did I know: the war had only just begun.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.