Martese

Originally, E and I took today off to celebrate his birthday.  My plan was to take him around NYC and make him a tourist in his hometown.  Just like he’s always complained that he’d never been.  But a month ago when the MRI results came back begging that the next step be a biopsy of the mass and the FIRST avail for that procedure was 9/29, we both didn’t hesitate to readjust the plans of the day.

We arrived at the Perlmutter Cancer Center at 10 AM for a 10:30 appointment, as they suggested because paperwork would have to be filled.   Done with those by 10:15, they promptly called me in at 10:17.  I kissed E and walked into the back area (where they didn’t allow men because this was mostly mammograms and sonograms of breasts being done so, there’s that.  I sat in that waiting room from 10:20 (after disrobing and putting on the strange smelling gown – seems that they tried to wash it in “unscented detergent” but that always has an actual odor) until 11:00.   The frustration and boredom set in so I took to browsing around

The frustration and boredom set in so I took to browsing around in my phone.  Notifications from work kept popping up and I kept trying to ignore them.   Of course, because no one there on my “team” actually bothers to get to know one another or be cordial, I never mentioned to them WHY I was taking the day off.   Shit.  I don’t even know if they know I have a child.  Or am married.  Or anything pertinent about MY life whatsoever.   I didn’t tell them because how would I jump to such a deep conversation about myself if they don’t even know the basics.   But at the end of the day – it shouldn’t matter “why”.   It’s MY day off.  Don’t bug me.   But one of the notifications caught my eye and I made the mistake of reading it.   One of these… people…  had taken it upon himself to place me firmly in a lane and run a bus over and back and over me multiple times.  Wild assumptions were made about what I was equipped with to fulfill the original request – which HE personally did not make.  And my boss – who didn’t even check with me first – issued apologies and promises to fix what I’d “mucked up”.   It sent me into what I imagine is fight or flight response.  I felt chills all over and instantly hyped up and ill and scared and angry and angry.  AND ANGRY.  But what could I do with all that emotion?  Sitting in the waiting room for this biopsy with other patients waiting for whatever they were waiting for…  nothing.   I could do nothing.   But stew in these juices and await an opportunity to respond.

Mrs. Fleary? they finally called.

I walked into the room and the nurse asked me to remove my left arm from the robe, lay on the operating table on my right side, lift my left arm above me and turn my head all the way to the right.  Quite the provocative scene from Titanic pose, if it weren’t for the circumstance.  She started to do a(nother) sonogram  but her “oohs” and “ahs” and “that’s interestings” were more than annoying at this moment.  Firstly, there was no other professional in the room to receive her reactions and my only reaction wanted to be “WHAT??? WHAT THE FUCK IS IT???”  But again – I had to maintain my composure.   I felt the anger welling up.  She called another two specialists into the room and they talked about how what they were looking at was consistent with the MRI… you know… the ones whose results claimed that what I had was “suspiciously malignant” and came back with a BiRAD of 5 (usually 80 – 90% chance of it being cancer).   More anger.  More fear.   The doctor took a moment to explain what they were talking about, but by this time I was too far gone.  My politesse was gone.  My patience was gone.  I stared off into the distance deadpan and just grunted at the end of her sentences to keep the conversation moving.   Tears were streaming down the right side of my face but they couldn’t see that because it was the side I was laying on.  They finished yammering and exited the room.  A nurse with mint green scrubs and a wig that was extremely fluid came in and started chatting with me with her back to me as she typed away on the computer.    “OH KAY, we’re going to get started soon, I’m going to explain to you the whole setup and then we’ll get going.  C’mon… sit up so we can talk.”    I slowly sat up and it was as if gravity pulled the emotion out of me and I started to sob.  She whirled around and walked directly to me and put her arms around me and stroked my shoulder.  “Shhh… it’s okay… it’s going to be okay…”

I really had forgotten how real nurses… ones that are meant for this job; the ones with an actual calling are true angels.  My mommy was one.   I’d met countless others because of her.  I allowed myself to be in the moment.  I muttered an apology which she instantly refuted.  “You don’t EVER have to be sorry hon.  This is stressful.  You’re human.  It’s okay to be scared.”  I started to collect myself anew and she just talked to me.   I told her how hard of a month it’d been just waiting to know what the fuck is going on.  How the doctor had limited connection with me the whole time.   How the test results that showed up in my app were cold and harsh and I had no real context for the doctor.  And she just listened and told me she understood.   Once I got back to my normal self, she joked with me and kept me laughing and comfortable while still getting her job done.  Explaining what was going to happen, needle sizes, sounds of extraction etc.   Most of it was as she explained.  Except for the core biopsy which HURT the first and last times but they kept anesthetizing me to see if I could handle all four extractions.  It was over in a matter of minutes.  She kept me company into the low-pressure mammogram and gave me all my discharge instructions.  She was an angel.  All the prayers I’d requested for this day manifested themselves into her being there… just in time.

Preliminary results of the fine needle aspiration showed the tissue to be benign and consistent with a viral infection – much like the mastitis I suffered from 2 years after weaning Athena from breast milk but my breasts still were producing non-stop then got infected.   Core biopsy results will return with more conclusive results on Thursday of next week so there’s no “all clear” as of yet… but mostly clear.

The biggest decision I made yesterday though… for Christmas, I will give myself the gift of freedom from fifteen-forty.   Whether or not there’s a landing place.  I will leap.   I will not bring that foolishness and eviltree into 2018 with me.   I’ll work fast to make sure I can land on my feet.  But falling is better than dying.

Thank you, Martese.

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