Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 259 - an unpleasant surprise

Terry had an interesting experience recently. He was at an award ceremony recently which was having AV problems. One of the speakers announced that before the next category, they would pause to remember those members of their community who had died in the previous year. Then, instead of showing the intended pictures of recently deceased people, they showed the pictures of the nominees for the next award. I wonder how it felt to be at a party, hoping maybe to win an award and instead to get a clear reminder of your mortality. Because, of course, one day their picture really will be up there because they're being remembered. The juxtaposition of hope that you will win an award and reminder that you're going to die one day must have been especially jarring. I hope the person whose picture was shown had already given some thought to their mortality to maybe take the edge off the reminder. I can think of patients I have seen in the past who would find this idea that they actually will die at some point to be novel.
I cannot recall if I mentioned that this week is to be my first official follow up appointment for the leukemia as my last leukemia appointment was my last official treatment appointment where we finalized that I was done with treatment. John sent me email that he was going to be away from the hospital unexpectedly and that some one else was going to be seeing me. I am sure you do not find it surprising that I replied that unless he was going to be out a long time, I'd wait for him. I told him that he's my hematologist and that we're not interchangable cogs. I wanted to see *him*. He seemed surprised, but pleased. It gave me a chance to reflect on the doctor-patient relationship. AML follow up is pretty easy: look at the results of a lab test and ask a few questions about energy, bleeding, bruising, etc. If the answers are abnormal, it gets tricky of course, but if they're normal, it's an easy visit. If it's normal, it will probably take ten - fifteen minutes. I will be driving one and a half hours to get to this appointment. John offered me at one point that I could do it in Manch or even by phone with him and I feel it is worth taking a half day off from work to do it with him and in person. Why is this?
A part of why I'm willing to drive three hours for a short appointment is that John represents safety to me. I trust him and I feel confident that he will think hard about my labs and will notice even a subtle abnormality. Another reason is that we have a history of him taking good care of me and this is the  appointment where I will be transitioning from a person whose leukemia is being treated to a person who worries that everything out of the ordinary signals a return of the leukemia. It will be nice to have someone who I have a relatively long successful history with.
This group of pansy relatives in my front yard is nearly immortal as this is its third year returning. They're not supposed to do that, but they haven't gotten the memo or perhaps they can't read. They're so beautiful and cute. I'm glad to see them every year.
I am thankful for the return of spring. I am hopeful that the natural world will continue to be beautiful and resilient.

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