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7:42 p.m. - 2009-04-13
Tumor-board

It's not good when your ride to the oncologist office calls (2 hours before your appointment) crying at the top of her lungs to tell you her bridge broke and she has no front teeth. "I know this seems small to you compared to cancer, but I'm so vain, I just can't help it." She had lost her teeth in an auto accident years ago, and yes, she is vain.

I told her it was okay, I could get another ride to tumor board and a new friend to hold my hand if they tell me I'm going to die. Oh well, the way she was carrying on they would probably think she was the patient.

I hung up feeling sort of 'stuck' and then I remembered today was the day I was going to start being a positive thinker and taking responsibility for myself. I would start by finding a new ride, and maybe getting a Thank You card for the people at work who sent the edible arrangement (fruit cut up to look like flowers, very cool) I would even make sure I put the card in the mail instead of leaving it on my dresser for weeks. I called Jim and left a message that I would need a ride to the U-M.

Andrews Drug has greeting cards and they're just down the road, but still, it was too cold to walk just after surgery and I wasn't supposed to be driving yet... but then..if I could just get that far, Tim Hortons was only another 1/2 mile...Screw doctors orders, I'm a positive thinker,,.I can do it, I can do it..oh God, please don't let me hit anyone while I'm on pain drugs.

With no make-up, wrapped in a long sweater to hide the Christmas PJ top sticking out from underneath..in April I hid behind the greeting cards. I took comfort in knowing it was 9:30 on a week-day and I don't know anyone from this town.. who cares what cashiers think. Jim called just as I had selected a card and said he would clear his calendar and take me to tumor board, although it would probably cost him his job!..better buy him a thank you card too.

While in Tim Horton's drive-thru, I called Loyce, my friend with the broken bridge, to tell her Jim could drive me. "OH," she sounded surprised. "Why Jim, can't Erica do it? I was going to call anyway, I glued my bridge and it seems to be holding. I think it's okay, I'll just have to take some extra glue in case. You do know having Jim take you is a mistake... He's an ass."

Two hours later:

I sat staring at the dark cherry walls at the U-M Cancer Center. I was wearing a lime green designer top with a big black ratty looking bow scross my very flat boobs. My boots were Naughty Monkey, and I wore a Wittnauer watch. My make-up was perfect, so was my hair except for the dark roots I tried so hard to hide. "Do I look okay?" I turned to Jim as he searched through my latest cancer book. He looked annoyed over the top of his glasses "Why do you care, you're here to find out about your cancer, not auditioning for a strip-club."

What a shitty thing to say. Was he saying I had on too much make-up? I couldn't help but to think if I looked good I might get better care. Medical people see people the same way they do insurance...are you an HMO or a PPO, God help you if you're medicare. And isn't it fact the attractive woman gets the job? Wouldn't a nice female oncologist think it a shame for me to run around with a bald head while toting a Gabbana purse (even a fake one). I just want a lesser sentence, one that didn't include chemo.

I took my book away. "Oh come on Jim. If I were sitting here with my belly hanging from beneath an Old Navy T-shirt with rhinestones stuck to my blue-tipped finger-nails drinking a Mountain Dew, you know I wouldn't be treated as well. I would be treated like any other low budget cancer. I'm not WT and I have great insurance.. maybe I should mention my insurance." He yawned and it pissed me off that my cancer was boring him.

"I want them to see I'm worth saving, can you try to understand that." He rolled his eyes, and loosened the knot on his tie .He had just come from work and looked very distinguished..although he never really smelled fresh. I hoped he had splashed on a little cologne.

They called my name. I stepped on the scale and freaked, I had gained 2 pounds! They cut my boobs off last week, how could that be? Stress eating? I had just talked to my boss that morning and told her I had lost 10 pounds since I've been off work...well, it looked to me like I had. I saw Jim trying to see my weight and I yelled at him to get away. Just then a nurse, who apparently took HIPAA very seriously...along with keeping her own weight a secret, threw herself in front of the scale and blocked his view. He told her he was just trying to check out the scale. She told him it was the same type of scale they used at the Veterinarians office. He told her he didn't own a pet. Nope, just me, I thought.

20 minutes later:

I sat in a blue hospital gown, my cute top a waste on the chair. Jim was flipping through a boating magazine. My daughter had joined us from her 'mouse studies' in the next building.

"I can't believe they thought my temperature was 93, she must be new, do they think I have ice-water running through my veins." Jim told me to try and relax, that I was talking non-stop.

Then the nurse came in. She started going over my medical history. "Let's talk about your past surgeries" My daughters face told me she knew what I was thinking. I could see the chart from where I sat on the exam table. I saw the words..face-lift, tummy tuck, breast inplants... my heart was racing. Oh thank God for Jim's bad eye-sight.

The doctor continuted the assault. "Now, when was your hysterectomy?" OH GOD forgive me for the time I lied 4 years ago and told Jim I was 42 and my period was late so that he wouldn't leave me for that woman on the internet who looked like Sean Penn in a red neglegee. Why did I lie when he asked if I could be pregnant?? The things women do to hang on to a man. My heart was beating, the nurse was waiting, as was Jim who looked sort of dumbfounded. I could hear myself speaking but not sure what I was saying. "I didn't have a hysterectomy, it was a partial, I have ovaries and they work very well, I think the estrogen..from my ovaries, might have caused my cancer. I have to go on hormone BLOCKERS"

"But weren't you on hormone replacement therapy?" she asked, as if she were enjoying the torture.

"OH GOD NO"... more lies.. "Only for a short while, for my skin, it was testosterone gel and premarin, I put myself on it. I work at a medical clinic and just sort of..helped myself"

The nurse looked though the pages of my file "But it says a doctor put you on it, and testosterone usually causes acne, why would she put you on it for your skin?"

I started to cry. "I don't remeber, I'm so confused..oh wait, yes I did have a testosterone inbalance, but not an estrogen problem.... I took the premarin on my own.. are you here to discuss chemo...I can't believe all this is happening, I can't breathe."

Everyone was quiet. My daughter saw the nurse flip back to the original paper and look over the other surgeries. My daughter's very smart, she knew I was about to panic, and why I was about to panic... I could see she thought it was funny, but must have felt bad for what I was going thorugh and decided to help. She started asking questions about treatments and tests. She was taking up time, distracting... Thank God I had raised her right, although I knew she hated it when I told my little white lies to make me younger, smarter and more appealing to the opposit sex.

Why would they go over my medical history again anyway! What's wrong with those people, maybe they're just used to dealing with people with brain tumors. I was nervous as hell, today's the day I find out if I need chemo, after they told me I wouldn't need it... but then called to say they needed me to come in to discuss it..uh. Why do they care if I had a tummy tuck?? The nurse questioning me looked to be about my age, but had done nothing about it. She was just pissed because I looked better than her, even with cancer.

I should have never told these people about my plastic surgeries. I made a mental note to never disclose such info. If they want to know bad enough they can just look for the scars.

Jim was silent on the way home except to say he needed to stop at the organic food store to pick up some orange chicken for Mitchell (his son) so that the whole day wouldn't have been a waste. Yes, Jim's a giant ass.

That night:

Erica came to my room later and asked if I still had the appointment with the psychiatrist at the U. I told her I did because I wanted something for sleep. "Can I go?" she asked.

"No"

She crossed her arms. "Okay, but make sure you tell him you're manic. I looked it up on the Internet and it fits you." This is what educating your children will get you.

There are some days you should stay in bed, and on the days you don't.. always leave your boyfriend at home.

 

 

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