Friday, July 18, 2014
Day 7 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
I sat in the waiting room at MD Anderson Cancer Center and stared down at the first page of a lengthy medical history form, totally stumped by the question, “Please describe what brings you in to see us.”
I nudged my friend Tamela. She took the day off from work to come with me to this appointment.
“Do I really have to say ‘I have cancer’? I mean, isn’t that why everyone is here?”
She looked over my shoulder at the form then looked around the waiting room. At least ten people wearing scarves over bald heads sat reading magazines or talking quietly. All were obviously somewhere down the line from me in their cancer treatment.
She caught my eye and we snorted laughter.
And I knew, without a doubt, Tamela was exactly the right person to have sitting next to me.
I wrote breast cancer on the line (even though it felt redundant) and turned the form in. A little while later, Tamela and I were ushered in an exam room, the nurse handing me one of those nifty hospital gowns (open to the front!).
Tamela was one of the first people to tell me to get a second opinion on my diagnosis, and I am so glad I did. The staff at MD Anderson was very informative with a bedside manner geared toward the patient.
I didn’t feel like I was part of a cancer treatment assembly line. I felt like a normal human being who has been diagnosed with a very nasty problem.
Tamela took notes while I talked to the doctors. Her note taking made it possible to listen and ask questions, not worry about writing information down.
Most of this appointment was a review of what the first doctor (not MD Anderson) said.
(Quick update: MD Anderson is so efficient they called me just a few hours after my appointment to let me know that my liver function and blood count all looked normal. The nurse I spoke to said, “We didn’t want you to have to wait through the weekend.” This is the kind of attention to detail and consideration I already love about them.)
In between doctors coming and going, I broke down a few times. When she couldn’t find any Kleenex, Tamela raided the medical supply cabinet and I wiped my face with a giant Steri-wipe tissue.
Today’s silver lining: My good friend, Tamela. She was a rock when I needed it most.
Yeah, I cried, but I wasn’t a total sopping mess at this appointment. Something I attribute 100% to having my friend with me. She seemed to sense in only the way good friends can when I needed a joke and when I needed a hug.
I hope someday I will be able to return the favor to Tamela, though I suspect the debt will never be repaid to my satisfaction.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!