Saturday, June 22, 2013

'I guess leukemia isn't for sissies'

The quote in that headline is what my local doctor, Ronald Berger, said to me when I saw him Thursday after not having had a check-up with him in ages.

He was thumbing through a mile-high pile of reports that Dana-Farber sent him about me. Also I was filling him in on my latest medical "adventures" and updating him on my long list of medications.

His comment interested me. While I do have many anxious days, I have been remarkably tough about the big things while still having my natural tendency to obsess about the little things.

When I was first diagnosed 10 years ago, I made an emergency appointment with a therapist I had been seeing. He said that worriers often surprise themselves by rising to the occasion when confronted with something serious. I guess it's your mind and body's way of saying, "Come on, you need your energy to be really focused on this crisis." (By the way, it was Dr. Berger who drew the first suspicious blood test when I saw him 10 years ago complaining of fatigue during the St. Patrick's race that we both had run.)

Meanwhile, I found out last week that I would be in the hospital for four days after surgery. I don't know why I thought my stay would be shorter. When I saw Barry and Mark Thursday at Starbucks, I said I was worried about the coffee situation on the surgical floor where I will be. When I was on the sixth floor where I had my bone marrow transplant and where I returned during my pneumonia stay, the nurses know me well enough (and are kind enough) to bring me their own coffee just how I like it. As anyone who has been hospitalized knows, the hospital coffee is undrinkable.

 Up on the 11th floor where I will probably stay, who knows what the coffee situation will be? Mark said he and Barry might make a coffee run. In any case, I'm sure my local people and visitors will take care of me with coffee and Coke because the Brigham is a Pepsi hospital. See what I mean about worrying about the little things?

I bonded with my urologist, Dr. Steele, last week. I thought that he was the emotionless surgeon type, but then I saw that he was very sweet. He drew me a detailed diagram about the procedure and then asked me what my situation would be like at home when I returned. He asked if I had a dog, and I told him about Maddie, and then I asked him, and he said his wife breeds Vizlas. He rolled over to his computer and showed me a picture of them. Then he pointed to one and said that particular dog had run 1500 miles with him...not at one time! Turns out he is an ultra-marathoner.

When I got home, I sent him a photo of Maddie "in action," i.e. lying on her bed with a toy. When he responded to say beautiful Lab, I noticed he called me Ronni instead of Mrs. Gordon as he had done  before. (I never corrected on the Mrs. Gordon, who was my mother and, not me.) The point is that I liked the familiarity. I figure that if you are friendly with your surgeon, he will do a better job. Only kidding, but it is nice to have a good relationship with your doctors.


Julie Goodale said...

Good luck with everything! I'll be thinking of you on the 25th. And he must be a good guy - he's an ultra-marathoner!!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful dog-bond with the surgeon! also a great sign, since i am superstitious -- Vizlas are Hungarian and red -- i've known a few...and they are so sweet --

i'm sure everyone will bring coke and your coffee...i'm with you --- coke not pepsi, however i am dunkin' donuts...not your caffeine of Melville...

Wendy Fitch said...

Thinking good thoughts for you in this next procedure. I admire your strength and humor in the face of it all. Our fingers are crossed!

Nelle said...

I agree about the bonding with your surgeon. My surgeon calls me by my first name. He sent me to the ER two weeks ago based on what the VNA nurse told him and they he called my cell while I was on my way (he knew I wouldn't be driving) and explained why I needed to go there and told me they were expecting me. His treatment has made this last ordeal so much more bearable.