What does he mean when he says "I want to be 100% sure"?
100% sure the tumour hasn't come back, or 100% sure it has come back?
'He', is the surgeon, who just a few hours ago turned the camera on me, or should I say in me? Don't you know that's my job Doc Derry? I take the pictures round here.
It's that time of year again. Twice a year, pack a bag, take a deep breath, and do a last minute deal with God, yourself or whoever will listen, that you really will stop moaning about the little things this time, just as long as the exploratory check up shows that you're still in the clear.
Its four years now since they found and removed the tumour.
This is pretty much how it went when they told me....
Bad news... It wasn't as cyst as we'd hoped. It's a tumour.
Good news...we found it early, so it hasn't spread. We'll whip it out next week.
Fantastic. (I'm saying fantastic 30 seconds after being told I have a tumour? Amazing how your perspective changes in an instant.
Bad news... It's a grade 3, that's an aggressive type. It's quite likely to come back.
Oh shit, not so good then.
Good news... It's enclosed by four layers of muscle wall so long as we do regular check ups, it shouldn't spread even if it does come back.
It may come back?
Shit, that's bad.
See Saw, Majorie Daw is pretty much how it's been over these past four years. A load of ups and downs.
Tumour out (See), treatment of live BCG (tuberculosis) IN my body (Saw).
Six months normal life, followed by invasive check up and hospital stay every six months.
And so on....
But mostly it's been more ups than downs as I've been well all this time and Doc Derry has pronounced me clear of any reoccurrence at every check up. Until today.
I went into theatre this morning, naturally a little anxious and apprehensive - nothing new there. But soon as I saw my lovely anaesthetist, Dr Willie Sellers, I felt at more at ease. He has a wonderful bedside manner and has been present at every cystoscopy I've had since diagnosis. We chat about our kids, music, food, drugs, travel, anything really to keep my mind off other thing and he's a real good guy. Gives me just a tad of sedation (sometimes none) and humours me every minute of the horrible invasive procedure.
Today he even let me put my own drugs through the needle thing (canula?) that he'd just stuck in my hand. Apparently that's a first in Theatre Two.
Big needle in my hand.
Then I'm on the operation table in theatre - it's quite weird being awake in theatre and you can really see what goes on. Today they were chatting about Willie's tasty flapjacks that he'd baked and brought in and politely mentioning that next time he might want to use rice paper to bake them on, as the greaseproof paper which had stuck to them wasn't very tasty. Oh and his daughter is getting married in Hackney next month. And yes, I am on christian name terms with Dr S.
Brief interruption from writing now, as dinner has arrived. Well I say dinner, it's 5.15 in the afternoon for god's sake. What's dinner doing here? And more to the point, do you call a measly wafer-thin tuna sandwich and two crackers with 20grams of cheese dinner? I don't. That's afternoon tea. But I'll save it for later as I suspect there's nothing more coming till tomorrow morning.
So, back to theatre, they are still chatting about the greaseproof paper not being very digestible, and then one by one they go a bit quiet and are all looking at the monitor. This is the bit where you wish you'd had a general anaesthetic and were oblivious to any ominous blobs on a monitor. After a pause, he told his theatre staff that he was going to take two biopsies.
So, as I was awake I asked him if he'd seen anything nasty.
This is the bit where he didn't say there was another tumour, but he didn't say there wasn't. He hummed and ha'ad while looking down his microscopical camera lens and then back at the monitor and said:
"I just want to be 100% sure". and that's pretty much all I got out of him.
But I'm thinking 'does he want to be 100% sure of what he suspects (that the tumour has come back), or does he want to be 100% sure that it hasn't come back'. But I got no more out of him other than the biopsy results take a week and so if I hadn't heard from him by this time next week to assume it's good news. A week eh, won't be looking forward to answering the phone then.
So the big question is, right now am I a glass full, or a glass empty kind of a girl?
Don't he infamous 'they' say your frame of mind is supposed to have an effect on the Big C?
There now, I almost said it.
I won't be going home today, as having the biopsies means an overnight stay with about two litres of fluid an hour being dripped through my body. Not to mention breakfast at five thirty am.
Come to think of it, I'll probably be well up for it by then.
Drip, drip, drip, two litres and hour. And a room with a view. What more could a girl ask for.
The Erosion of Self
3 weeks ago