We’ve all had those conversations. 

The ones where the other person knows they have news you aren’t going to want, but they’ve got the unfortunate task of delivering it.  They always start with “*sigh*…So, how you feelin’ today?” (as if they know how you’ll be feeling by the end of the conversation).

Just to bring you up to speed, the past month or so has had me experiencing some recurrent symptoms, disturbingly reminiscent of last year’s fiasco (which preceded 2008’s version of the same).  This all led me to some time-earned paranoia, which led to a series of brain scans over the past month (if you’ve never seen one, here’s what my old brain scans looked like).  There, you’re all caught up now.

Long story only slightly shorter, I got one of those “the doctor would like to meet with you to discuss your test results” calls, and knew that could only head in one of two directions: either “we have no idea what’s going on” or “we know exactly what’s going on, but you’re not gonna like it.” 

The *sighs* at the reception desk pretty much told me which one it was going to be…

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Here are the facts as I know them:

my old tumor (an Astrocytoma III, supposedly the “best kind of cancerous brain tumor”) is not only back, but it’s growing like a weed (about 2 mm in just a few weeks);

– I’ll be going back to my boys at the University of Washington Medical Center to see if they think this could be taken care of surgically;

– If not, we’ll move towards a form of focuses radiation therapy (perhaps the Gamma Knife technique, perhaps something else);

– If that doesn’t take, we’d go back to some form of chemotherapy;

– We’re not taking the conversation any further than that today, but you get the picture.

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So, where does that leave us?  It’s not good news, but it’s still a very workable scenario here; these guys are the best, and see this kind of thing all the time.  I’m in good hands here…

..And, speaking of good hands, it’s tough to remember in the midst of disappointing news, that everything hitting me in the face right now has come across the desk of my Heavenly Father: He’s never promised a smooth road, but instead promises He’ll be there in the midst of whatever it is we have to walk through. 

 That’s as much theology as I’ve got in me right now, but, as I drove in to my appt. today, I found myself getting frustrated over little things (*ahem,* VERY SLOW DRIVERS ON HANNEGAN RD).  It then really struck me that I needed to start naming off things I was thankful for: pretty soon, I was spouting off everything from “My car hasn’t broken down yet!” to “That school bus I have to wait for saely drives kids to their free, public education” to “My doctor, who’s about to give me bad news, is one of the best I’ve worked with, and my insurance covers nearly all of the bill.”

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But there will be time for much wistfulness (especially since my summer hiking &  travel plans are all on hold now).  In the meantime, here’s what I need from you:

Prayer, Prayer, Prayer – (Save your “thoughts and prayers,” and just skip to the prayer!  Medical science is pretty amazing these days, but we’ve always got the Miraculous Healing card to play (a much longer discussion about this whole thing would be nice someday; I’ll see if I get around to that).

Normalcy – I had to apologize to a few folks at church this last week, because, whenever they saw me, they instinctually started asking me about my health.  This brought out the reaction, “How am I feeling? I’d be a lot better if people talked to me about something besides my brain!”  So, please, please do not feel like this is the only topic of conversation I’m versed in these days; I was just starting to have normal interactions with people again, and want to keep that up.  I promise I’ll keep you updated on the important stuff…

Occasional Logistical Help – When I asked the doctor if I should consider any immediate lifestyle changes until we get this thing figured out, he almost tripped over himself with a “YES!” (“You’re not driving these days, are you?  You are?  Seriously?  Well, don’t!”  *shhh – Don’t tell Dr. N., but I’ll still make shorter trips, until I’d start feeling more symptoms, but don’t want to do any more 5-10 mile jobs than I need to).  Down the road, I have no idea what’ll come up, but you people have been amazing, and I’ll not be shy in asking…

Now, more importantly, here’s what I don’t need:

Pity – Hey!  This is just a big, fat medical setback right now; nobody’s planning any funerals!  I’ll be just fine, once my head stops spinning and I get mad enough to go after this thing full-force.  Don’t treat me any differently than you would if I was in perfect health (which I will be soon enough).  Tell me when I’m full of crap, and just need to shut up.  Feel free to argue with me, disagree with me, and generally tick me off (hey, it’s never stopped you before 🙂 ).

Delicate Handling – Do NOT be afraid of mentioning my health, or of saying the wrong thing, or of being a bad friend.  If you know me, you know that you’ve got to try really hard to offend me.  Just be yourselves, and try to let me be myself, too. 

Constant Reminders of My Health – Once again, let’s find something else to talk about, OK?

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I just completed a storytelling exercise for my Grad School class, in which we told the story of the famous WWF “Loser Leaves” wrestling match of 1993 between Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair (yeah, I said Grad School and Mr. Perfect in the same sentence…).  The story of that was that, after the soon-to-be epic battle, the loser would have to leave the WWF.  Well, I am officially declaring a “loser leaves” challenge on my tumor for this year: if it wants another fight, it’s got one right here I was here first And I don’t intend on leaving town over something as trite as a lump in my head.

Thank you all for your love, support, and understanding of my occasional weirdness in the midst of this.  Though I wasn’t hoping for another hill to climb this year (well, a figurative hill,at least), I look forward to the story playing out.

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