As you may recall, I had labs on Monday and the results were not ready by the time my appointment was over so John was going to call me with results. I didn't hear on Monday and figured I'd call him on Tuesday afternoon. Do you want to know the addled reason I decided to wait until Tuesday afternoon? When I got my diagnosis, I had labs on Friday morning and the confirmatory lab was not ready until 10 am the next day. I figured if my labs were bad and they had to send off the confirmatory lab again (maybe Dartmouth doesn't send it off because they may have a fancier lab than CMC; I don't know), but anyway if they had to send it off, I figured I didn't want to call them and have them say "we don't really have news for you" that I'd rather wait until I could get the whole story. So, essentially, what I did is assume I was getting bad news and plan my schedule around that. Because if you are expecting bad news, everyone knows it won't come. Just like I'm protected from my leukemia recurring by leaving my port in place. OK, then.
It turns out my labs were not perfect, but not so terrible that any additional labs were needed. What was abnormal was my platelets were a little low (124 or 121 or something like that where normal is 150 or so and up). They have been normal for quite a while. The rest of my labs were normal. My diff (the kinds of white cells) was normal. My LDH was normal. My hemoglobin, liver and kidney labs were all normal. Because John is the worry wort that he is, I will be getting a repeat set of labs on Monday with results likely known on Tuesday (for the same addlepated reason as before). I was reminded in my conversation with John about his qualities that I like so much the main one being that he reasons very similarly to how I do, worries as much as I do and about the same things and comes to the same conclusions I do about those worrisome things. I love that he lays the whole case out for me. He also thinks my jokes are funny and recognizes when I tell a joke which not everyone does so I am appreciative of that.
Let me tell you about what happened in more detail, however. His nurse called me in the afternoon, returning my call. Given the situation, she really couldn't say anything besides, John's not worried, but your platelets are low and he'll give you a call. I didn't think it was fair to ask her to give me more information so I waited for his call. In the interim, I tried not to think about what it would be like to have to go back to the hospital now, after feeling almost back to normal. I tried not to imagine how hard it would be for Terry who hasn't really recovered from June-December yet. I tried not to consider the other providers at HHHC and how difficult it would be for them and for the staff who are just getting back to feeling like they can depend on me and whoosh! out again. I avoided thinking about Emily and Ellie and how disruptive it would be to them. But, like the famous purple elephants you're not supposed to think about, those were the thoughts. I reminded myself that Elise said John was not worried and that she would have told me if John were worried. I noticed that I was just a speck grumpier than usual because while the front porch of my mind was helping Ellie do homework, the back yard was churning with all of those kinds of thoughts. You would think that a quick reminder of my mortality would make me a nicer person, but you'd be wrong. It would make me grumpier. Fortunately, I did feel completely reassured by a totally normal rest of the CBC and a normal LDH and after I spoke with John, was a nice mom at tooth brushing and going to bed time.
Earlier today when I thought about what I'd be writing about here that it would mostly be what it means to be a doctor who has been seriously ill herself. A patient today was telling me about an aspect of being seriously ill that I had personally experienced and I found that there is a subtly different way of listening and responding when you are listening as a doctor versus when you are listening as a person who has been through this. It was very subtle, almost just a different inflection in the "mmm, that sounds really hard." The patient I was with was (I think) sophisticated enough to pick up that something was not as usual, but not able to pick up what it was. I don't think it was a positive sensation for them either. And yet, returning to the previous intonation does not feel 100% honest. This is something I will have to give more thought to.
The final thing I wanted to tell you about today is something John found interesting. I did not realize it was an interesting thing until he pointed it out. Most days, I work six hours. Six hours is comfortable and I am not tired at the end. Seven hours feels doable, but I'm tired. One day I worked eight hours for complicated reasons and I was exhausted even the next day. John said he would have thought that if you could work six hours, you could work eight hours. That is really not the case for me. Now that he has pointed it out, it is interesting. The funny thing about it is that yesterday, I was driving home and suddenly thought, wow! I am really tired. I looked at the clock and calculated it out and realized that it was 7.5 hours after I had started my day. Interesting, huh?
For me, for tomorrow, I am hoping for a calm day. For you, I will hope for the level of excitement you wish.