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Certainty, in an Uncertain World

Perhaps that was my problem: I was looking for certainty in an uncertain world.

Yesterday, as many of you know, I got the results back from my latest PET scan. My appointment was at 1pm, so I asked Jaimie if she could take an extra hour for lunch and come with me. She did, so at 12:30 I pulled into the preschool to pick her up.

“I’m thirsty. I want a coke with ice,” she said as we were driving to the doctor’s office.

“You have a drink in your hand,” I replied.

“But it’s not a coke with ice.”

Unable to think of a comeback, I pulled into a Quik Trip. Two minutes later Jaimie came out with a frozen cappuccino.

“I thought you wanted a coke with ice?”

“Yeah. I went rogue.”


Ten minutes later Jaimie, her frozen cappuccino, and I were sitting in the lobby. Soon after that they were drawing my blood and I was peeing in a cup. Then they were taking my temp, my pulse, my blood pressure.

“Ohhhhh that is high!” my triage nurse said looking at my blood pressure. Her eyes were as wide as 50 cent pieces. Remember 50 cent pieces? It’s what the tooth fairy used to bring me. I think at one point I had eight or nine saved in the piggy bank in my room. I spent most of them on ice cream sandwiches.

“I figured it would be high. I’m getting scan results back today.”

“That’ll do it! Hopefully they’re all good.”

She led us back to the examining room.

After she closed the door, I felt like a human version of Schrodinger’s Cat. The news could be good or bad. At that moment, anything was possible.

We didn’t have to wait long. Ten minutes, perhaps. My doctor and his nurse opened the door. We said our hellos and he went to the computer.

“Before I get into the results, I want to ask you how you feel.”

How do you feel.

Is there any more basic medical question than that?

His question was odd. He knew how I felt. When I saw him a month ago he said that he could see that I was doing better. Because I am. I feel much better. My breathing isn’t perfect but it’s vastly improved from where I was in April. Walking up my stairs takes me thirty seconds to recover from. Before it was taking me five minutes to catch my breath, me slumped over in my chair. I’m walking three to four miles a day. Before I started treatment I could barely swing a golf club. And I can talk without coughing! Which is big for me because I talk ALL THE TIME. During class, during dinner, during sex. Jaimie is like, “Could you please shut up, I’m trying to enjoy this!” And I'm like, "Are you talking about the sex or the dinner." And she says, "BOTH!"

My doctor was nodding his head as I was recounting how I felt. “Well that’s why this is so confusing, because on the scan, your lungs look worse.”

He turned the computer our way. There were my scans from May and the ones from last week. He was right. The lungs looks cloudier.

“The problem is, if this scan was correct, you shouldn’t be feeling the way you’re feeling. If you had said you were feeling the same or worse, this would make sense. Something's not jiving. It’s a real head scratcher.”

His voice drifted off as he looked back at the screen.

“What should we do?”

“I really don’t know.”


There’s something oddly comforting about a doctor telling me he isn’t sure what to do. At least I know he isn’t full of shit.

So we’re taking a little time to think. There’s a chance that it could be an infection of some sort, so I’m on some antibiotics to see if that does anything. I’m meeting with my pulmonologist next week. He knows the lungs better than any of us.

And we’re all taking great comfort in the fact that I feel so much better. At some point we have to trust our bodies, right?

I dropped Jaimie off at work. I had a couple of leftover tacos, and then headed to Furman for my walk. I did two laps around the lake. I handled the hill at the back of the track like a champ. Both times. Back in April, at the top of the hill, I literally had to apologize to a total stranger who was walking beside me because I was coughing so much. If that’s not improvement, I don’t know what is.


The first thing I do each morning is meditate. After I’m done I like to say The Lord’s Prayer. For the past couple of years I’ve been really hitting the word THIS. As in, “Give us THIS day our daily bread.” Not tomorrow. Not next week. This.

And this world by it's very nature is not certain! I was pretty certain Jaimie was going to walk out of that QuikTrip with a coke over ice, and she comes out with a frozen fucking capp! I can't even predict the behavior of my girlfriend inside a convenient store!

So this day I feel great. After I write, I’m going to school to prep my syllabi for the school year, and then I’m going to go on hike in the woods.

A walk I couldn’t have taken back in April. That I know for certain.

Who am I expect more than that.

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