Friday, February 01, 2008

Putting Away the Bucket List for Now

Three weeks ago today, I wrote, but did not post, a summary of part of my conversation with my doctor:

"So, what is the prognosis?" I asked after listening to the doctor describe the various treatment options that might come up. I had been peppering her with questions.

"I am not saying that you have myeloma," she said. "That is why we do the bone marrow biopsy."

"I know," I said impatiently, "but if I do have it, what is the prognosis?"

"3 years, or 5 or 7," she replied, her eyes looking firmly at me, though not without sympathy.

That was not what I was expecting. My mouth opened as I started to ask another question but then closed silently as the words that I had just heard began to sink in.

My world had just changed.

I just received the results of that biopsy and am relieved that my world has not changed as much as I thought. I will have to be monitored for the rest of my life, but, without getting into the technicalities, the condition that I have is benign for now, and may remain perpetually so. There are no words to express the sense of exhiliration I felt when I realized that I did not have cancer.

I have often quoted the statement by Samuel Johnson to the effect that it focuses the mind when one knows that he is to be hanged in a fortnight. While that may be true, I have also learned that it can merely confuse the mind. I had gone to the doctor without any feeling of illness or observable symptoms. All of this started with my car accident in November. A full body scan had shown no injuries from the accident, but did reveal one spot, and possibly two, on my ribs. Tests of blood and urine followed, and the above conversation was the culmination of the doctor's discussion of those lab results. Before that day, I had thought the doctor was being overly cautious. Suddenly, reality slapped me in the face.

I had to wait two weeks for the results of the biopsy. I managed it reasonably well, thanks to the prayers and thoughtfullness of friends who provided encouragement and helped to keep me occupied. When one is starting to think that retirement savings is no longer a relevant issue, the mind careens all over the place -- ranging from a do-gooder interest in taking a pay cut and doing something to help the world (teaching kids became a focus) to a "bucket list" interest in seeing and doing as much as I could while good health remained.

While thoughts of those radical changes are drifting away, the sense of the joy of having life has returned. I have also been brought back to my Christian roots which have always taught me that this life is but a vapor, and that one ought to live, so to speak, with his bags packed up and ready to go. I have also realized the need to seize each day and enjoy it.

I hope those thoughts will stay with me, however long life will last.


Blogger John Norris Brown said...

I'm glad things are looking up. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you. I will be praying for you.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Positive thoughts and my prayers are always with you, and will remain so.

12:29 PM  

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