waiting, waiting

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and...

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and inhaling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

waiting, waiting

fingers shaking

we haven’t even left for the CAT scan, hard to breathe.

i’m playing it strong for my honey, he would do it for me naturally i just need to work at it a little harder but i know deep inside I can do it. I am doing it and have been for the last what seems like forever.

trying not to play the what if game, but once in a while it sneaks into the cracks like a deadly snake, from behind with its rapid, insidious long tongue. hiss, hiss.

this is what a grown-up is, i’m sorry baby, there is nothing for you to do until we know something and even then, your life stays the same.

i’ve been trying to meditate, deep breathing, slowly in and out, but as the hands on the clock keep ticking, I seem to swallow more, it takes more effort to remember how. did you think I would disturb the test for an unknown? never. ever.

life is certainly not always about pudding and pastries, if only, right?

in two minutes, we have to leave, oh that’s now.

of course we’re early but good luck! they take him right away, in less than ten minutes, he’s back, bad news: no results for 24 hours.

we sit again, waiting, waiting. until tomorrow. trying to think that waiting is often better than knowing.

tomorrow comes, not that but this…

see a cardiologist, it could be this or that but not the other.

so we go on, we have no choice, once again. to do what we have to do.

my stomach is clenched, it hurts so much, tension begets tension.

all i want is for all to be okay and then we can breathe normally soon.

or can we?

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The Measure Of Time

English: Woman undergoing a mammogram of the r...

English: Woman undergoing a mammogram of the right breast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people measure how quickly time goes by with the start of a new year, January 1st, others by  their birthday, or the start of school. I measure how quickly the year goes by at my annual mammogram appointment, where I sit in that same musty, intolerable room, sweating with the other women, waiting for our names to be called.

I am not the measure of confidence, breezy, smiling with designer shoes and handbag when I go in but I admire the women who seem to be that way. Count me out. I go, this time with soft, well-worn gray pants, and a loose striped shirt, my hair in two short pig-tails to get it away from my face, my face showing fear and anxiety. The day before this I had a grueling day at The Balance Center so I thought, perhaps, I could catch a break today. Yeah, right.

They call my name rather quickly and for that I am grateful, I have a friendly technician who realizes I have lost weight, by the size of my breasts? Whatever. She finishes the films and I sit down and wait for my name to be called, imagining my relieved smile, walking out the door, perhaps celebrating with a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks. No such luck.

After waiting another fifteen minutes, they call my name again and I proceed to the doctor but unfortunately that is not where they want me to go. Another technician tells me the doctor wants a repeat of some of the films, actually of my right breast and my heart plummets to my feet. I feel weak so I try to hang on to the bar on top of the machine and I try to ask  the technician questions but she gives me no answers. I am already trying to accept my fate and think of myself categorically planning the next step. Why me? Why not me? No one is exempt from this horrible disease, I don’t have any lucky charm or special karma, it’s really a number’s game, isn’t it?

The free pink pens and pink peppermints on the table don’t do much to help my nerves or anyone else’s, I don’t see many people taking the free samples. I take a pen and pop a peppermint in my mouth for the sugar. After another twenty minutes, yet again, a different technician calls my name and I steel myself for the news of the radiologist good or bad, I will be strong, I will cope, not that I have a choice.

Instead of seeing the radiologist, this technician whisks me into the ultra-sound room and focuses heavily on my right breast. I’m not an idiot, the doctor wanted extra pictures of my right breast and the technician is spending 80 percent of her time trying to get clear pictures of my right breast. I timidly ask politely from the technician if there is anything she can tell me. Cool as a cucumber, she says, somewhat haughtily, “the doctor will tell you the results” she looks like she’s 15 and I know it’s her job but again, patient sensitivity is sorely lacking.

She tells me NOT to get dressed (not a good sign, I think) and she will show this to the doctor. I get dressed anyway. After ten minutes she comes in and says she will take me to the doctor. I don’t remember walking there, I just remember being there. Inside a jovial sounding man who I can now image only as Owen Hunt from “Grey’s Anatomy” says “take a seat.” I remain standing because I cannot move. He said ‘you’re fine.” “What?” I ask? He repeats  in a casual, breezy tone, ” you’re fine.” I find my voice and say “what about all the extra pictures and the ultra sound and the emphasis on the right breast?” He leans back in his chair and laughs, “Oh, you have a lymph node there but you’ve had the same one for the last ten years, nothing to worry about. Come on now, not even a smile?” I just stare. Once again, he asks “can I just have one smile before you leave?” I turn my back, and walk quietly out the door.

I’m still in shock but I am grateful.

Waiting In A Too Still Moment

Thunderstorm - NOAA

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of things going on but except for the doctor’s appointment I had today, with a breast surgeon ( I’m fine) I am waiting for things to happen.  My dog looks unwell, tired and scared, she is not eating. Is it the upcoming thunderstorms she feels approaching or…..is she too old?  She won’t come up the stairs, that is very unusual. I changed my own doctor’s appointment next week because I noticed my dog’s exam with her veterinarian is scheduled for the same day. I will go with her; I have always gone with her, every year for nine years. She needs me and I need her. She is nine and sometimes I look at her and want to quietly weep. My pup. I’ve had you since I rescued you at six weeks old.

I am waiting for test reports to come back, not for myself; the phone is quiet, not shrieking, loud and  jarring as it usually is.  It is never this quiet here.  I feel a pause in the universe and inside myself.  There are no sounds in the house except my fingers clicking on this old keyboard. I am concentrating on the stillness and it feels surreal.

Will it feel like this when both my kids go off to college? My son, is going to college in September; my daughter, my baby, next year. Prom is the day after tomorrow and I am still in disbelief  that time has passed so quickly. Even though I have seen the handsome tuxedo and the grin on my son’s face I can’t believe it is here. I am afraid I will cry when I see the sparkling young couples posing together for their prom pictures. I will bring sunglasses and not let it show although my son only has to take one passing glance at me and he will know. I will NOT let him see.

I could pick up the phone but I don’t want to ruin this eery quiet with unnecessary noise. The silence and solitude, I fear, is meant for a reason. I am breathing deeply. I sip from a small, green Pellegrino bottle, it seems to be the only color in the entire room. I never liked to drink water before but I enjoy this. Maybe it’s because we drank bubbly mineral water, every day, when we were in  Spain.  Our Spain vacation with my husband, for ten days, now seems like a dream I had; it is getting cloudy in detail, in texture, in color, in my memory.

I would like to keep everyone safe and healthy but I have no control. I am  gathering up courage in order for me to help others. I am trying to come from a centered place. I am controlling anxiety by breathing but it is beginning to be hard to swallow. My dog, my son, test results, weather, change is coming quickly, but it isn’t here yet.

It is getting cloudy now, maybe the thunderstorms will come and relieve the awful, suffocating heat. The thunderstorms are supposed to make the weather cooler; I know that but my dog doesn’t. I will keep her near me, my arm around her fur and wait for the storms to come crashing down like glass shattered by a young boy’s errant baseball. Everything can change in a moment, I want to be ready.

What I Miss About Childhood

Up, Up And Away

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100

I miss the innocence of being a child. When you are little you think that your parents can handle all of life’s problems. When I was a child we boarded airplanes continuously since our father worked for TWA. My sister and I had to dress up in matching blue skirts and sweaters, I remember the buttons felt and looked like small rocks. The only feeling we had, since we were flying non-rev, (subject to space) was perhaps annoyance that we may not get on the flight we wanted. We would have to wait for another flight at the airport which could take hours. At that time it seemed like a tragedy. Now, we fear terrorist attacks, bombs exploding, emergency landings and even birds in the sky. We take off our shoes, we go through security; everyone looks suspicious. Back then we dressed like we were going to the opera, now people wear jeans and sweat pants on the airplane, myself included. I would give anything to have that innocence back; I wouldn’t even complain about wearing a sweater set that identically matched my older sister’s.There is no way of making up for that loss of innocence; after 9/11 the world as we had known it, changed forever.

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Paging *All Doctors: Check Your EGO At The Door

Dear Doctors,

Before you enter a patient’s  exam room, where they have probably been waiting at least twenty minutes, stop, pause, and check your ego at the door. This should be standard procedure; but unfortunately it isn’t. There should be a confirmation box needing  a signature for “Check Ego?, next to the automatic Purell dispenser, to assure quality control.  *While the title is catchy I do know I cannot accuse all doctors of doing this but the ones I DO know (and you know who you are) are definitely in need of lessons in humility, humanity and sensitivity training. The bad part about it? Certain doctors just do not care. Full disclosure.

Two days ago I had an experience with my pompous, grandiose, full of himself, doctor who shall remain nameless.   Many of you have heard about this person before. He is an excellent doctor, scratch that, he is an excellent DIAGNOSTICIAN.  He charges exorbitant prices and he does NOT take insurance (insurance, what is that? what is it for?  Me take insurance? Ha Ha! ) but he is very smart, I’ll give him that. Is that really enough? Do we have to pick expertise in lieu of great beside manner, can’t there be a combination? That said, he is so out of touch with the “real world” that it is insulting, aggravating and utterly demeaning. Unfortunately for me the deck is stacked; I need him, he does not need me; and he knows it.

I had been to a local doctor (one who takes  insurance) and the doctor I saw asked me to have Ego- Dr.  fax her some information.  A reasonable request, I thought.  I thought wrong. When I e-mailed him, he flipped out and as an old friend used to say ” had a serious nutty.” I’m talking a crazy outburst in print.  I’m serious, he was FURIOUS. “He should fax her?? ABSOLUTELY NOT.  “If she wants to call him he would try to talk to her but he will not answer specific questions.” The questions she asked, were so innocuous, I have no idea why he made such a fuss. Perhaps he realized that he was dabbling too extensively in my case, acting as Head Dr. of Everything.  He also mentioned that “if I chose to see a doctor in MY INSURANCE PLAN, so be it. His implication was clear, without saying it, he made it known that he felt “You get what you pay for.”

Unfortunately, I need to see this doctor a few times a year for my auto-immune disease/thyroid illness.  I am considering looking for a second opinion and more importantly, some sensitivity. This man is well-known in his field,  however, he is not well-known for his “bedside manner.”  When these magazines come out with their rankings of” BEST DOCTORS” who is filling them out? Other doctors?  Which leads me to think that it might be a little biased.  Maybe they should ask patients and ex-patients their opinion to get a clearer view.  A great idea: ex-patients, that would be ideal “why did you leave the practice of Dr. So and So?. Please explain. Now that is a survey I would read with relish.

Apparently the phrase “First do no harm” was meant merely in a physical way. Some doctors should think about their actions and take responsibility for them. A person is not just a symptom, we are multi-faceted people who deserve YOUR respect as well. A doctor who treated the whole person? That to me, would certainly deserve the title of BEST.