D-Day (Diagnosis Day)
From here on out everything in our lives has been separated by this day… before diagnosis/after diagnosis. This is a marker we can’t ignore, much as we would like to.
Tuesday, 6th October:
After a night of almost no sleep (emergency ward, lights on all night) I chat with the nurses who advise me my treatment will be simple, just a daily injection of Warforin (blood thinner) and a daily blood sample… 6 months worth should do it. Resign myself to the fact that I will have to do it and decide to discharge myself, against Doctor’s wishes.
Q: Why would I discharge myself if the Doc said not to?
A: I work for myself and was already missing the first day of an 8 week contract. Not a good look for a new client, even though they were aware of the situation and very understanding.
Tried to check out but then nearly passed out so was ordered to stay.
So because I tried to leave they gave my room to another patient and now I’m sitting in the corridor. Rachel arrives about an hour later with Jakob in tow… Cody is at kindergarten.
The specialist asks to speak with us. Says there’s been a mistake. They use voice recognition software to get the reports done and the software thought it heard “blood clot present” when in actual fact the doctor said “no blood clot present”. Sorry about that, but while you’re here, we noticed something unusual at the bottom of the lung scan, on your liver. There are lesions there that concern us and we’d like to do another scan. We’re pretty sure that with the symptoms you’re presenting you have cancer. But we need to check it to be sure.
You know that feeling you got in your stomach when you were young and you got caught doing something naughty, that feeling of impending doom? Yeah, that one. I got it right about here. Rach and I just sit there while Jakob gets into all the things a one year old kid loves to get into. So glad he’s oblivious.
If you’ve spent time in hospital you know it involves a lot of waiting around. By the time we get all this info it’s time to get Cody from kindy so Rach heads out to pick him up. As it turns out, today is the day Rachel’s parents arrive from Auckland. They’re here to compete in the Masters Games (which aren’t for a few days yet) so Rach drops Cody off with Nanna and Poppa and Cody thinks he’s in heaven.
Sitting by yourself in a little hospital waiting room is not fun when there are less serious items on the table, let alone the possibility of cancer. It’s not a good place for me to be by myself and in the eerie soundscape of the ER I begin to pray. I have no eloquent words to use. No lofty prayers to the almighty. Just two words:
They’re ready for me to go in for the next scan so I drink a litre of oral contrast and lay down while they prep the scanner. The phone rings, its Rachel’s ringtone (Take On Me by A-ha… I wanted to use I Touch Myself by The Divinyls but she said she would never call me again if I did) and I lose it. I can’t help but be frightened and on the other end of that phone call is my wife. The thought of leaving her and the boys is too much. Trying to keep still for the scan but my body is heaving from the sobs. Finally get it together long enough for the scanner to do its thing and then get wheeled back to my room.
Rachel arrives. More sobbing. Both of us. The sound echoing off the tiny room with high celings. Jude, the Scottish Doctor, comes in to take my cannula out so I can go home. She knows what’s going on, I can tell by the look in her eyes and by the way she gently touches my arm. Specialists in another room down the hall are gathered around my scans. Various noddings and so on. Doc comes in and says its cancer. No primary in the liver so guessing that one is in the bowel. Go home, rest up, see surgeon in a few days.
Rachel drives her car home and I get into mine. Half way home I lose it again and the road becomes blurry. No subtle prayers, no dignified utterances, no sacred recitals…. just weeping….. shouting.