I have cancer. It’s definitely cancer.
I went in for my needle biopsy this morning. I was strangely calm when I woke up. When I registered at clinic E, I was calm, confident, at ease – I surprised myself. They called my name, had me strip down, and handed me one of those ever-so-stylish hospital gowns with leftover ECG electrodes, from it’s last wearer, that clearly survived the wash. Either that or the dirty linen baskets at the hospital are one giant ruse and somebody just comes along and takes the dirty linen, folds it, and hands it out to the next unsuspecting patient. It always does gross me out to find old ECG electrodes on the johnny shirts. I can’t help but wonder what else the washing machine failed to remove. I dutifully pealed the sticker off before putting it on, like a backwards housecoat, and tied it around the front. And this is when the nerves finally hit me. I must have asked that poor nurse a hundred times if I’d be getting drugs, what drugs would I be getting, when the drugs would be coming, and please don’t forget my drugs.
I was wheeled to the ultrasound department and was met by a rather handsome radiologist. We’ll call him Dr. Handsome, MD. Now, keep your filthy little minds out of the gutter people, but Dr. Handsome squirted warm goo all over my abdomen (HAVEN’T YOU EVER HAD AN ULTRASOUND?! Don’t be so childish!) and applied the ultrasound transducer, or “wand” to you layman folk (haha), to my abdomen. I laid on that table for what seemed like an eternity, while Dr. Handsome muttered instructions like “push out your belly like you’re pregnant”. Finally he decided that going through my abdomen by ultrasound carried too great a risk of perforating my bowel with the giant needle. Good call, Dr. Handsome.
Next I was wheeled to CT (I held the blanket over my face so that just my eyes were peeking out, in case I saw a coworker in the distance. I have some issues). I was passed in and out of this CT scanner more times than I could count. First on my back, holding my breath, breathing, breathing out as hard as I can and then holding it. Then on my belly, with the same instructions. Then the drugs came! Fentanyl and Versed. The doctor alternated between sticking a huge needle in my back and putting me in the CT scanner. Back and forth, back and forth, more drugs, back and forth some more. It was over before I knew it. And then he told me that he was unable to obtain an adequate tissue sample so they would have to schedule a surgical biopsy. Crap. “Do you have a big enough sample to at least tell me if it’s malignant?”, I asked him. “Oh it’s definitely malignant. We just need a better tissue sample so we can determine what type of lymphoma you have so we know how to treat it”.
So that’s that. I have cancer. It’s lymphoma. Jury’s still out on what type & subtype. I’m feeling pretty good though. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but it’s been travelled by many people before me. I will look to those survivors who have fought this battle before me, and I will gather my strength from them.
To my coworkers: I’ll be back to stir shit before you know it. I have lots of time to think of some great pranks.