Thursday, September 09, 2010

Living in the present, part two

Well, I've told Mom. And I've told my sister. And friend Pens the Lotion Slut is on her way, and I've told the love of my life via voice mail, so I might as well tell the world:



I opened my mouth today for the dental hygenist, and she said, "Um....how long have you had that lump on your palate?" and "I'm going to have the doctor look at that" and "Excuse me while I get the camera out to take a picture of that lump" and "We'll just get a 360 on the X-ray on this, and I won't charge you for it, but I want to see the soft tissue involvement."

I laid on the comfy reclining chair with my head in the comfy head-holder and watched the clouds blow past the pine tree branches and tried to come to terms with the fact that the people at my dentist's office--who see a lot of weird shit--thought that I had something in my throat that is Bad News.

You can be as nice as possible when you run into a lesion like the one I have, but one thing is true: when the doc gets solemn, and the hygenist gets solemn, and the person behind the desk is solemn as they make the appointment for you with the oral surgeon who can't see you before Tuesday, you know it's not good.

Not. Good.

I might have cancer.

Really, truly cancer.

I've thought about this so much over the last three hours that it's gone completely third-person.

Radical neck dissection. CT of the neck and chest. Bronchoscopy. Radiation. Chemotherapy. Tracheotomy; not being able to talk.

If it comes to that, no. Just....no. I may be ridiculous and vain and petty, but I would like to preserve my ability to taste food and swallow steak and Scotch and my relatively-normal-looking face, and not have all that treatment.

They really and truly think I might have cancer.

I look at the thing on the right side of my hard palate, right behind my molars, and I can't believe it. It's big, yes, but it's innocent-looking. Kind of pink, kind of vascular, but not anything weird or lumpy or scary. It's nothing I noticed, for however long it's been growing there.

Now, of course, I know it's there. That side of my throat feels swollen and sore, and though I know it's globus hystericus, I wonder: does that mean that my lymph nodes are involved? Because that decreases the chances of survival from 57% to 17%.

Stoya and Bossman just called. Both of them told me not to panic, to wait for a formal biopsy and diagnosis. Neither of them know how hard that is.

I used to wonder why the first question my patients would ask--via voice or whiteboard--was "When can I get back to work?"

I wondered about that. Why on earth, with a diagnosis like this, would you want to go to work?

Now I know. I plan to ask the doc on Tuesday that very question. Because it's not "when can I go back to work". It's "when can I feel some control again" and "when will people treat me like a normal person" and "when can I pretend everything is okay".

I might have cancer.

The doctor is solemn.

The hygenist hugged me as I left, and told me to take care, and let them know how things turned out.

If I'm dramatic enough about this, maybe it'll turn out to be a false alarm. Maybe I should play it up, and ignore how often I have to pop my ears because the right one feels full.

I am sore afraid.

54 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh, dear. Oh fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Part of me wishes this is some sort of sick prank you're trying to pull.

I don't know what else to say except you know you have your whole online community, me included, to support you no matter what happens.

((((hugs)))))

Now go drink some Scotch.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with Andrea. Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Drink some Scotch. Play with your animals.

We're here for ya.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, Jo. I am the ultimate subscriber/lurker here, but I read every post of yours and I just want to say you are very, very much in my thoughts. -Sarah

VMR said...

Dear Jo,
just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you, and will be anxiously waiting for your results, if you feel like sharing.
Love and good vibrations from Ohio.

Gretchen said...

What? No way. You are much too young and pretty to have cancer. They are mistaken. I say go for the drama, totally. That should almost guarantee it'll be a false alarm. I'm hoping for the best, and I'm hoping you will keep us updated as much as you are able.

Jo said...

Dammit.

Whoever offered me their single-malt collection, I am truly sorry, but I deleted your comment by mistake, and Blogger doesn't ask if I'm sure any longer, so it's gone.

I read it, though, and I'm grateful.

Andrea, I really hope this is all a false alarm, a sick prank God is pulling on me, trying to get me to straighten up and fly right, but right now I don't even have a gut certainty about it.

Nurse Ames will drive me to the doc, and drive me home. Pens will be here, and my parents are being sensible and solid, as is my sister. Pastor Paul, Man of God, just came over and prayed with me (I never though that would happen), and has recommended pizza and beer.

I'll keep y'all updated.

Gossamer1013 said...

Well, goddammit. Clearly you need to run out and do some horrid, soul-staining things because these things only happen to good people.

OK, that theory is crap, and I don't know what to say either except what Andrea said re: support, Scotch, hugs.

KathyR said...

Also de-lurking to say "holy fuck." Waiting and hoping with everyone else.

NNR said...

Oh carp. I hope hope hope it's nothing. I can't wait to read the good news. Thinking of you.

kathie said...

Emerging from the skulking shadows to say I hope it's just a random bump and when this happened to me (just much lower) Ativan was a big help during the waiting. This really really sucks. You have no idea who I am, but I am ready to drive over from SoCal to feed animals, scoop catboxes, and anything else you need.

REH said...

The waiting part really really sucks. I don't know if waiting shared is torture divided, but we're anxiously waiting with you. I also vote for lotsa scotch. And furry creatures in lap.

Anonymous said...

Fuck that fucking shit.

Eloquent, I know.

Love and prayers, Jo.

nurse8

Scrub Ninja said...

That is rough. I truly hope you get good news and it's no problem.

Anonymous said...

Nursing student de-lurking to say my thoughts and prayers are with you. Hope things turn out ok.

Hugs from WV

Jayne said...

Delurking to add my voice to the chorus -- dammit, dammit, dammit!
Hope this is some big cosmic screw-up. Meanwhile, I'll add my prayers to Pastor Paul's and second the recommendation on carbs. Nothing wrong with carbs at a time like this...

k8 said...

Sending love and prayers and good juju your way. <3

Mel said...

Oh my god. Not what I was expecting. I am certain it isn't what you were expecting either!

I truly hope it's all a false alarm, some benign lump that you can add to your list of crazy stories.

Crossing my fingers and wishing you the best. The waiting is killer. Hang in there.

Pam said...

We're with you, Jo. I know it won't fix anything, but we're here, watching, standing by you.

inkgrrl said...

Crossing fingers and toes that it's an entirely boring and benign alien baby lump and nothing that requires further attention. Besides ice cream for dinner. I know what it's like to have to wait to find out. Hugs and all my share of the single malt.

Anonymous said...

I had nodes on my lungs and 2 wks later when all the tests/CT/MRI came back - negative. My mother had a lump on her pancreas. It took them 3 months of intense testing - they gave her a 95% chance at first that it was cancer - and it turned out to be negative. They say everything comes in 3's. You might just be #3, and in that case - the lump is nothing. Meanwhile, I will say prayers for you.

Chef Green said...

I am sending you love and light for healing and peace. I am, in my small way---asking your fear and uncertainty to be taken by the ocean I sit beside. Healing.

Anonymous said...

you are in my heart and my thoughts, and in whatever form of prayer i can muster.....be gentle with yourself, do what you need - carbs, tears, slamming doors, howling, holding on to who and what keeps you grounded. Just as the water threatened to engulf you and did not, we are all hoping this too will be a false alarm.

Loki said...

Fuck, dude.

Luis said...

Oh fuck. Hugs, love, and whatever it is I use for prayers. We're all pulling for you out here, you know. Be loved.

Anonymous said...

First thing in the morning, call the oral surgeon and BEG the recpetionist to work you in; you shouldn't have to wait all weekend for action on this. Maybe have your mother beg for you. And please keep your online community up to date; I will keep you in my prayers.

Lisa said...

I had a cancer scare when I was pregnant... so bad that the doctor told me I would have to abort the baby before they had even done a biopsy. The tissue was HIGHLY vascularized and disorganized on the ultrasound.

I got lucky. It was benign though we did have to remove it during my pregnancy.

I have a beautiful 1 year old now.

I am hoping you will be lucky too... but the time between when they told me their concerns and the return of the bipsy results were some of the hardest in my life. I didn't speak to anyone but my older son and my husband. I couldn't.

ROSIE said...

Adding my prayers. And pouring you a gorgeous Merlot, and raising my glass to you, Jo.

Nurse Rosie

messymimi said...

Hugs.

Yelling at G-d on your behalf will begin at once, and continue indefinitely.

It is horrible to have to wait for a diagnosis, I remember waiting to find out what the baby I was carrying had. Trust me you have my sympathy.

More hugs.

More prayers in the form of yelling at G-d on your behalf.

LaLa said...

I'm also hoping it's nothing and they get back to you with good news soon... You are in my thoughts.

Take care of yourself.

catlinye-maker said...

Delurking to say my prayers are with you. Hoping for dental office overreaction and no actual ill effects.

Bardiac said...

Wishing you many years of scotch and ice cream (though probably not at the same time). I'm really sorry for the scary times, and I hope this is the absolute worst of it.

Robot said...

Another loyal fan 'de-lurking' here. It is pretty clear from your posts, candor, humor, honesty and humility that are you are a very good, kind soul in the world. If there is any such thing as calling in a karmic favor, I'm doing it on your behalf tonight. Will also happily make the trek from Atlanta to help with any animals/errands. Head up, single malt down.

JeCaThRe said...

Delurking to say fuckity fuck fuck fuck along with the rest of the chorus.

I agree with the Man of God, pizza, beer, prayer. I will be praying for you.

'Drea said...

I hope that your fears are unfounded...

Holly said...

I'm sending good vibes your way and hoping for the best! I'm so grateful for you sharing yourself with us here in blogland. Just know that behind every comment you probably have several other anonymous readers cheering for you.

Becca said...

Yet another random comment of love and support here, plus this:

I've been there. Not with cancer, but with changes in, and then loss of, voice and most swallowing function. And I wanted to let you know that as well as adding myself to the chorus of those hoping that it is not what it sounds like, if Dog forbid it IS, you won't be on your own, for anything you're facing there will be somebody out here in the interwebnets who has already faced it, and won, and now hangs its scalp from their belt. And you'll join us, if you have to, and we'll carry you, if we have to. You're strong, we're strong, together we are stronger still.

Sonia and Todd said...

Yet another delurking to send you warm fuzzies. Your blog reminds me why I became a nurse, and ever inspires me to do the best possible for my patients. I share your passion for ICU. You're in my thoughts/prayers.

Nurse Sonia

Jo said...

Thinking of you, sending you all my support and good vibes for a negative result.

Anonymous said...

Fuck, dude, indeed.

Best wishes and warm thoughts.

elle said...

I hate cancer. I hate the choices the current state of the medical profession makes available for us. I hate the game of "hurry up and wait" as you go for tests and wait for results and go for more tests and wait for the appointment to meet with the person who will tell you the results. I hate that you, someone I've never met but whose blog I love to read, have to go through this. All I can say is that I hope your "journey" is filled with wonderful nurses. I love nurses. They take the time to explain, to educate, to console when need be. I hope you get nurses like you. And I hope the damn thing is benign.

JannieCPH said...

Dear Jo. I'm joining the fuckity fuck fuck fuck chorus here from Copenhagen. You have my thoughts and prayers with you.

PaedsRN said...

Well, shit. Long-distance good thoughts going out to you from down under.

RN in IL said...

Long time lurker, praying for strength and better health for you.

Nurse Wannabe said...

Sending Hugs as well! You are in my thoughts! xxxx

SoupDragon said...

That was me offering you my single malt collection. Sadly, since I'm on the other side of the Atlantic, thoughts and prayers will have to do instead.

I understand a tiny fraction of what you're going through. Hugs.

Tiffany said...

...shit. I apologize for my inability to be articulate but that's the only thing that came to mind. Be good to yourself Jo, and for what it's worth I'm sending all the prayers, kharma and well wishes I can your way.

Birdy said...

Sending you lots of love and prayers, Auntie Jo!

GothamNurse said...

My thoughts are with ya for sure. On my second round of chemo for a recurrence of colo ca and I feel your pain. As nurses it seems doubly hard to place ourselves on the other side of the bed for a change. I won't say everything's going to be fine, because, as I've found in my own case, that's not always true. What I will say, is that you'll get through it. Only from what I glean via your writing (which I love), I can tell you've got the strength to manage this. Hang in there.

Jo said...

GothamRN:

DAMMIT!

I'm praying right back for you, too. There's got to be enough good stuff to go around. There's *got* to be.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, and hoping for good results.
Psycho nurse

Sarah said...

All I can do is send prayers and karma, along with the gazillion other people who follow your exploits. It will benign. I just know it.

Sarah

Mr. C. said...

Good thoughts, good karma and great big bear hugs coming to ya from the other side of the world.
You are like a member of our family Jo. We care about you.

Anonymous said...

Popping in from a BB we both posted on a while back (someone tipped me off as to your news) to say that I am wishing you all the best and keeping everything crossed for you. Not being into nursing I've rarely read your blog, but your mastery over the written word has long amazed me. Hoping very much that the word of the week next week is BENIGN.

woolywoman said...

The comment that didn't go through was better, I think, but I am thinking about you out here in Nurseland.