Waiting for test results is the worst.
I’ve been able to distract myself for the past few days. There have been classes to teach and baseball to watch. My mom was coming into town so there was emergency cleaning we needed to do. I love that emergency “people are coming into town cleaning.” You’re there, scrubbing the floors like, “We can’t let them see how we really live!”
Also by ‘we’ I mean ‘Jaimie.’ It’s not that I don't clean, it’s just that we have different definitions of the word. When I hear clean I think ‘straight.’ When she hears it she thinks ‘bleach it all to the ground.’
But I had been able to distract myself. I’ve meditated and worked on crosswords. I edited a book and stared at the dog. I even pulled out the Mortal Kombat game just to pass the time. That was ok, but I didn’t like hearing the phrase “Finish him” over and over again. Also having cancer has made the characters a lot less intimidating. Like Sub-Zero? Really? You throw ice out of your hand? I get medicine that tries to kill the cells in my body. If you really want to make the game scary have a character called Chemo. His special move is making his opponents throw up for three straight days. Like, “take that Scorpion!”
I got to Emory at 8:30 this morning. We went to the lab. Saw my regular nurse. This is the same woman who asked me where I could go if I could go anywhere in the world. She also asked me what I did for a living, so I gave her the name of my website. Apparently she watched it because next time i saw her she told me I was funny. I could tell she meant it because she said it like she was surprised. She went to a comedy club this past weekend and wanted to tell me all about it. She said I should perform there. I didn’t want to tell her I haven’t picked up a microphone since my surgery, so I just told her I’d look into it.
After labs We went upstairs to the third floor. Past the cafe, past the person in the lobby playing the grand piano, past the other cancer patients, past the inspirational quotes on the wall.
I filled out my paper work and they gave me a buzzer and told me to have a seat. It’s the same buzzer they use at my favorite Mexican restaurant when we are waiting for our table. It was a good technique because when I saw it the first thing I thought about was tacos and it's hard to be nervous when you're thinking about tacos. Property Brothers was on HGTV. The focus of this episode was a married couple of couldn’t agree on anything. I said, “Maybe they could agree on a divorce.” The joke wasn’t that funny but mom and Jaimie laughed anyway. Further proof that the higher the tension, the more longed for the punch line.
The buzzer went off and they led us back to the room. They took my vitals, closed the door, and all of a sudden… there we were. No cleaning. No crosswords. No fatality moves. Not even any chips and salsa.
There was nothing but a wait.
It felt like I was getting a report card on my body. But bigger than that. It felt like my body had gotten into really serious trouble and we were about to find out if it was going to be expelled or allowed to stay in school a while longer. And these aren't like regular tests in the sense that you can't bullshit on them. You can’t make up things on an MRI. It’s not like a CT scan is a multiple choice question and if you don’ know the answer you can just circle C and hope for the best.
These tests weren’t going to lie to us. These tests were going to be the truth.
The doctor knocked on the door. It was Melissa. We like Melissa. Which is weird because if you had told me at the beginning of my treatment my doctor was named Melissa I might not have wanted her. I have a slight prejudice against doctors with American sounding names. I don’t want you treating my cancer if it sounds like you might have rushed Tri-Delt. But stereotypes are made to be broken, and Melissa is brilliant.
And the results…
The results were positive.
Good positive, not like, “Oh shit, she's pregnant” positive.
The lymph nodes are shrinking, and there are no new places of concern. It’s working. The medicine, the prayers, the running, the water drinking… whatever everyone is doing, it’s working.
I’m certainly not out of the woods. The fact that it is in my lymphatic system means that it has a highway to other parts of my body. But love is love, hope is hope, and good news is good news. I’m taking it and running with it.
The only bad news is that now when I'm waiting at a Mexican joint the buzzer reminds me of chemo. Le sigh. I'll find a way to deal with it, I guess.