Where my next foot lands

The weekly Sunday night ritual of worrying about what my labs will show me tomorrow has kicked in. Every Monday for the past 4 months I drag myself out of bed at 6:20, dress in the dark (although now it is almost light), drive across town to the hospital and assume my position (usually as the first person) in line for the lab to open. I go early so I can get it over with, I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day, lots of other people get blood drawn on Monday morning and I don’t like waiting. I feel horrible that I never have caught the name of the nice lady that draws my blood. She has been there every morning except for two in the last few months. She is always pleasant and she gets me in and out which I appreciate. The act of getting my blood drawn is not a bad experience at all really. I have no real fear of needles and I have pretty easily accessible veins so the act itself is painless. The wondering about the results is by far the hardest part.

I would love to think that I have been though so much that I wouldn’t worry but I suppose that now even more than before I learned I had Leukemia I worry about being told something is amiss. Before my diagnosis I essentially thought I was indestructible. Well, in the last ten years I was a little more realistic about my destructibility factor but I had actually been without any major injury or broken bone in well over fifteen years despite my healthy enjoyment of dangerous activities. I would occasionally be sore after a three game soccer weekend, have a blister after a long back country ski day, and only one broken helmet in 10 years which I felt was pretty good for a mid thirties working man.

Now I fully realize I am not only destructible, but I find myself very vulnerable and the thought of my precarious balance tipping back towards the heavy weight of illness is often more than I want to contemplate. The problem is I just can’t escape the thoughts of the canyon of cancer as I walk along its rocky cliff edge. Be it the labs, the multiple medications, the avoidance of any potential source of infection, or the menacing nausea which seems so often to creep back into my gut. Whatever the feeling or altered activity is I know that I am so close to dealing with the horror of the last year again. So every Sunday night the “what if’s” start again. I know I can’t do a dam thing about those scenarios tonight. Hell, I have learned I can’t do much even tomorrow if the worst case scenarios which I can envision come to life. So why should I worry? I don’t know. 

The truth of life is that we all experience some worry or anxiety. We all do. Some people are just really good at coping with it. Some of us aren’t. I would like to think that the issues I think of on my Sunday night tour of fear are reasonably freaky. I don’t think I should get an award for my willingness to face this weekly, or even a pat on the back. I just want people to understand that a little coldness to my shoulder or a lack of enthusiasm when these thought role through my brain is just that, understandable. I think the people I am around mostly realize this. I think back to when I was working and I hope that I conveyed to my patients that this fear is okay, tolerable, and acceptable. 

What I hope most is that I role out of bed tomorrow, cruise to the hospital, get my arm vamparized move on with my day and find out later that any worries I had were wasted brain power. Until then I guess I will just keep trying to think positive, ask my cells to cooperate, and try to sleep knowing that although I am walking on the edge of the canyon the rocks are tricky and loose. Knowing where my next foot will land is good to think about.

Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure


One thought on “Where my next foot lands

  1. Hey Matt, I’ll be hoping for good lab results along with you tomorrow. Thanks for your continued posts. I try to put myself in your and my many patients situations, faced with their own “destructibility”. I may not know exactly what you and they are feeling, but understanding that everyone needs the space to be worried, maybe angry now and then, scared, and to reflect inward, is pretty easy to do. It is a privilege to be there for those times as well as the fun and easy times. I too found your last Caring Bridge post particularly beautiful and poignant. Thanks for letting me follow along the past year. Hugs to you, Brooke and the boys. Bret p.s. Norma turned 13 Saturday!

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