The Greatest Danger…

8 Nov

For the past few weeks my mom has been documenting some memorable moments with Dr. Great. Here’s a few that she wrote up for the blog.

Late Monday night, before surgery and before cancer is discovered
Dr. G: Just because you hear hoof beats behind you doesn’t mean a zebra is approaching.

Thursday morning, to family after surgery, he has to tell them a zebra has indeed approached
Dr. G: We are all very sad. The entire OR went silent. If you are wondering what to say to her, say anything you want. Tell her whatever you want. She will see it in your eyes anyway.

Friday, the first day out of surgery
Dr. G: Hundreds, if not thousands of people in this hospital know your story and their hearts go out to you…(pause)…not because they think you are dying!
The Zebra: Laughter…

Saturday after surgery, the Zebra is worried and nervous
Dr. G: Imagine you are in Vermont, in a canoe, floating down the river, but you have no paddle. Next week, you will get a paddle. Until then, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Saturday after surgery Zebra complains that Percoset makes her “loopy”
Dr. G: Enjoy the high.

Monday after surgery, Percoset makes the Zebra especially adept at crossword puzzles while waiting for Dr. Great to come by the room for a chat before departure
Dr. G: Well, John Lennon did some of his best work under the influence of similar stuff.

Chatting before departure Monday
The Zebra: When can I have a glass of wine Dr. Great?
Dr Great: Tonight. I like your attitude.

I do love my doctor. He’s a UVM grad, drives a big gray pickup truck and calls menopause “the change of life”. Which I find sort of charming and funny. I don’t think I could have trusted anyone else to cut out my uterus and ovaries. It is strange to think of how intimate I’ve been with so many of these doctors. I was talking with another doctor, my reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Cool, and it just came up in conversation that she held my bladder out of the way throughout my surgery. This image really struck me. Dr. Cool, cradling my bladder, my organ, up and out of my body a bit. What a fascinating transaction.

As I was leaving the hospital, Dr. Great gave me a hug and told me to keep the faith. That was good advice and I keep coming back to it. I can’t spend my day googling ovarian cancer survival statistics, or treatment options or frantically researching every twinge I feel in my pelvis. I have to keep the faith. I have to believe that I will be ok, that my treatment will work. I kind of can’t wait for my hair to fall out because it will be a sign that yes, the drugs are doing something!

I recently listened to the audiobook of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” (highly recommend it!!) and in it he described the magical thinking, the almost deliberate self deception that some people employ to sustain a long term relationship. He equates this suspension of disbelief to the old Road Runner and Wilie E. Coyote cartoons. You’re fine, you can keep running, until you look down (evidence below). My relationship with cancer, and it will be a long term one, is like this. If I look down, I’ll fall. So I’m going to keep the faith and keep running. Having weighed my options, I choose to believe in all the things that are in my favor against cancer, I choose to believe my smart and optimistic doctors. I choose to believe that my belief, my state of mind, is just as important as my body’s condition when it comes to kicking cancer’s ass.

I leave you with one last quote. Chris got this in his fortune cookie the night that we found out my CT scan was all kinds of messed up. It’s always possible, right?

P.S. Added a link on my birthday/baseball post from a couple of weeks ago to one of the best baseball songs of all time “The Ball Game”. I hope it works on your computer and I hope you like it.

**UPDATE: just added the baseball song link here, makes more sense…

The Ball Game by Sister Wynona Carr


One Response to “The Greatest Danger…”

  1. Liza November 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    I didn’t comment last week to your post (in case you didn’t notice)! And was feeling rather guilty that other, less significant, things got in the way. So blogging earlier this week is a good prompter for me. Sorry, I am thinking of you.
    Your not dying….or trying to “stay alive.” You are living. After also searching the web for all sorts of statistics on survival rates, talking to a head surgeon of a cancer hospital, and just generally turning this over in my head, I believe this is about living. Living with a different picture of life. It’s a more complicated scenario but also more profound. (Not that you needed that.) I too chose to support your belief that this is about “kicking cancer ass.” So the question becomes how does that look? How do you do your life now…..? Endless possibilities…… taking shape, right in front of our eyes, as you plod through living.

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