Monday, April 9, 2007

Health issues

This morning I got up bright and early to head to the doctor's. Well, maybe not that early as my appointment was at 9:30. But if you're on break, that starts feeling like the crack of dawn.

I started going to the doctor at the beginning of February for some other stuff. Then they noticed that I was overdue for both a PAP smear and a mammogram. The mammogram? Obviously a device invented by a man. When I told my mother this, she said that they should come up with a similar device to detect testicular cancer. Hehehe.

So for the first time ever, my PAP results came back and I was told that I would have to return. Not that I was completely surprised. I've been seeing this coming for a number of years. My doctor reassured me that this was perfectly normal in women who smoke. The deal is I was then scheduled for a colcoscopy. And yeah, it was as much fun as the description. She said that everything looked pretty normal, just a little scraping necessary. She did take a biopsy sample just to be safe though. This what has had me kind of freaked out over the last few weeks. It seems like I hear that word "biopsy" a little too often in my family. But I figured that if the doctor was going to let me wait all this time to have it done, then she wasn't too worried. And so I didn't really talk to too many folks about it because that would have probably made me worry more. Instead, I was able to shove it all off into a corner of my mind and to concentrate on other things over the last few weeks. I still have to go back one day for the full sonogram. Given my family history, my doctor thinks it would be wise that they have a "picture" on record of what I look like healthy.

And speaking of family health, things seem to be moving along with my stepmother. She is responding to the treatment, even if it has left her completely drained. The two largest tumors in her brain will never go away and surgery is not safe. But they have been shrinking and as long as they stay their new size, the doctors don't think they'll be any problem. My mom didn't exactly agree when I went to dinner at her house last night. She said, "But it's still cancer." Yeah.

My aunt has an appointment with her oncologist today. She hasn't been responding to the chemo. They have now changed her chemo. Instead of going once every three weeks, she now goes once a week. The appointment today is to put in a shunt or whatever because they've been hitting her veins a little too much. I have heard through the family grapevine that the doctors want to operate but she won't let them. Who knows what's the truth? She is also scheduled for an MRI tomorrow. My dad is concerned because now my aunt proclaims that vicodin is her new best friend. One day soon I'll work up the nerve to ask her pointblank why she won't consider surgery. I know she's had quite a few over the last three and a half years. But she's always been such a fighter so I just can't imagine her not taking advantage of all of the options.

At times I feel like I am reliving my grandmother's death all over again. (Funny thing is that as my aunt ages, she looks more and more like my grandmother each day.) My grandmother suffered a number of strokes. And then there was the congestive heart failure. Her local hospital learned how to resuscitate her quickly. This went on for ten years. Ten years of preparing myself for her death every time she went into the hospital. Ten years of her not dying because the rest of the family was not ready to let go. My grandmother was a shell of her former self by the time the family was ready to let go. I had to explicitly tell my father to let go at this point. Because my grandmother was tired. I was tired. My father, the Leo, has a harder time of letting go of people than I, the Cancer, do.

But maybe I let go because I hate to see my loved ones living in perpetual pain. A law school instructor said that I would be a good lawyer because I was empathetic and could put people at ease. There's a price for empathy though. It eats away at you when you have to feel someone else's pain too many times. A couple of months ago I was talking to my aunt in Savannah about this. I think that my innate pessimism allows me to be supportive of everyone else when the worst actually does happen. The rest of them are always caught off-guard when it does and often lack the tools to cope. Me? I take in all their pain. And when it gets to be too much for me, I go to therapy. Because they won't. Go to therapy, that is.

So now the worst part of my week is over, or it had better be. Time to go out and have some fun.

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