Sweating like a pig
It’s Tuesday, 14 May, 2019. The big day. When I arrived at the cancer center I couldn’t get out of the car. I just sat there, frozen, looking at the building. Seemed harmless enough. OK, just breathe. I had been sweating so bad all morning worrying about the meeting that I smelled like a dirty gym locker. Of course it doesn’t hurt that I live in the Sonoran Desert and it was 92 degrees today. Anyway, I didn’t know what to do so on the way there I stopped at a gas station store and looked for body spray. Nothing. I needed to be creative. I was ready to give up when I saw them. Make-up removing towelettes. Anything in a pinch. I bought a package and, yup, gave myself a quick “bath” with them in the car. Don’t judge me! I couldn’t go in her office smelling like I just came from the gym. This doctor might save my life one day. I was not going to make a bad first impression.
Meeting the doctor
Finally, I got out of the car, walked to the entrance of the building, checked in, and took a seat. I was told to wait for a financial counselor to call my name. What? A financial counselor? Do I have to apply for credit to be treated for cancer? When the counselor spoke to me, he said, since I am retired from the military I have good medical insurance. I also had purchased supplemental medical insurance. So I’m fine. I can’t help thinking though, what if you aren’t “fine.” What if you don’t have good medical insurance? Shit. Do you really have to pass a credit check to have cancer? Only in America.
Financial test passed. So, what if I just leave now? I mean, if I don’t know, do I really have it? They gave me one of those disks you get at Olive Garden when you’re waiting to be called for your table. You know, that thing that lights up and buzzes when your name is called. Seriously. I started thinking about breadsticks. Damn. I want breadsticks. I sat playing solitaire on my iPhone until the Olive Garden disk buzzed and scared the hell out of me. “Marulli, table for one!” I wish.
Triage. My blood pressure was high. Go figure. Then they ushered me into an examining room and after about 20 minutes, I met my doctor. My oncologist. That’s right, I have an oncologist. Don’t be jealous. I hate having an oncologist because, well, it’s a cancer doctor. It’s like joining an exclusive club that nobody wants to belong to. “My oncologist is Dr. Jones. Who is yours?” (By the way, her name is not Dr. Jones but I don’t feel comfortable using her name here without asking.) I’ll say though that I really liked her. She was empathetic and reassuring. And she laughed at my stupid attempts at being funny.
She asked me what I know about my medical situation. I explained what I’ve learned. MGUS, SMM, multiple myeloma, red blood cells, platelets, bone marrow… She was impressed. She went over my blood tests with me. I was hoping for MGUS, but she said it’s SMM (smoldering multiple myeloma), if not already myeloma. Oh well. So goodbye MGUS. Who wants a disease called Gus anyway? The doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy and a PET scan. After the results come back we will reconvene, in a few weeks, and see where things stand.
The bone marrow biopsy
She explained that a nurse will stick a long needle in my hip and remove bone marrow and a piece of bone. Ouch! She’ll give me something to relax me, and a local anesthetic for the pain. I told her, “Write this down. Always give me drugs! When my time comes I don’t want to suffer. Keep me drugged.” She said, “That I can do!” Anyway , the results from these tests are the final pieces of the diagnosis puzzle. When I see her next month she’ll know for certain what’s up; if I have the cancer yet or, if not, what my odds are. She’ll know how aggressive this cancer is, and so on. A few more weeks.
And so more waiting. Thinking. Wondering. And trying to figure out what all this means.
Sorry. I’m having a hard time being funny tonight.