The woman you love most in the whole, wide world; the woman that you would willingly give up perfectly good body parts for; the woman about whom you have gut-chilling, tear-spilling nightmares involving the premature death of; the woman that you know is probably the only person who will ever love the you that comes out when all your insecurities and paranoias surface...
What do you suppose your reaction would be when the woman you love calls you after an appointment with a specialist and the first words out of your mouth are: "So, what did the doctor say?" and the first words out of her mouth are: "Now don't freak out, but"?
Well, in that case I think the appropriate response would be to FREAK THE FUCK OUT. Don't you?
Outwardly I remained calm, I think. I asked a lot of ridiculous questions in with the very pertinent ones. And then I hung up the phone and went to speak to my boss about some time off (I have only a few hours of leave that I've managed to bank up since the pneumonia wiped my leave out). I got up from my reception desk, walked through one set of 10 foot tall bullet-proof glass doors, through the marble and steel-clad elevator lobby, through another set of 10 foot tall bullet-proof glass doors into the non-public part of the office and passed a co-worker. I thought I was being admirably calm. She asked me how I was, when I told her I was fine, she said she could tell something was wrong from my face. I am not close to my co-workers, they normally can't tell how I'm feeling. I must have looked very shaken for her to pick up that something was wrong. I told her what I had just learned, walked to my boss' office, saw that he wasn't there and retraced my steps to come upon her telling a group of my co-workers. She was embarrassed, I was too numb to care.
Yesterday Kristin went to see an ENT for this sinus infection she's had for the past 8 weeks or longer despite a cumulative 30 days of the kind of antibiotics that would kill a bull moose, were a bull moose a form of bacteria, and another 20 or so days on just regular antibiotics. Three weeks ago our family doctor was shocked that Kristin was still sick, and they x-rayed her sinuses... a lot of infection -- a lot of infection -- but otherwise it was normal, you know, despite the hella lot of infection. So Kristin scheduled the ENT visit; yesterday was the first day they could get her in.
This is how her visit went:
First she talked to the nurse. The nurse looked sympathetic and a bit worried.
Then she talked to a P.A. The P.A. looked alarmed.
Then the specialist came in. The specialist looked concerned and ordered a cat scan.
They shot horrible-tasting stuff up Kristin's nose and hauled her off to the cat scan machine. She sat in the machine and it started to turn. After a few minutes the image came up before the technician. The technician looked at it for a moment and said, "Oh my! I'll be right back with the doctor." And then left and returned with not one but three specialists. Three specialists who sat there and discussed the situation, and Kristin, as if she weren't sitting right there. Three specialists who were extremely alarmed at what they were seeing.
A mass. A mass that looks like a tumor. A mass that wasn't there three weeks ago. It is nearly completely filling up her entire right sinus cavity. The doctors mentioned cancer as a distinct possibility. Not a certainty, no, but still. They want it removed as quickly as possible and tested. These are specialists. They've seen bad. They know what bad looks like. This is not just a General Practicioner seeing something unusual and freaking out.
The doctor sent her over to a woman to have the surgery scheduled. The woman pulled up the calendar and looked at the first available date. January 18th. Kristin said she thinks the doctor wanted the surgery sooner than that (also thinking that by January 18th she'll be back in the thick of school and practicum and work). The woman said that January 18th is the absolute soonest they can fit her in. The doctor came back over to see how the scheduling was going and when he heard that the surgery is scheduled for January 18th he got very firm and said, "No, I said immediately." The scheduler showed him the schedule that's chock full. He looked at it for a moment and then: "cancel that tonsillectomy on Monday, we need to get her in."
Somewhere out there, some person's just been told that they have to keep their tonsils until January 18th.
In addition to the removal of the lump, Kristin has extra sinuses that they are going to take care of. I'm not sure if that means they're going to remove them, or close them up, or whatever. She was told that the recovery time on this surgery is 1 to 2 weeks. Black eyes for Christmas, hoorah!
We don't know how long until we know if the lump is benign or malignant. I'm hoping that we know right away... like they get in there and discover that it's just a big, hard booger. Or a cyst. Yeah. Just a cyst. Or that they'll come out of the surgery and tell me that it was just a swollen bean that's been in there, growing, since she was a kid and her mother told her not to stick beans up her nose. Or maybe it's a pearl. Maybe some bit of grit got up there and her body's been coating it coating it coating it in layers of pearlessence. We can have it made into a piece of jewelry for Julia.
What I am trying hard not to think of is that when we looked up cancer of the sinus cavity one of the professions at risk to develop the disease is that of Crime Scene Technician... because of the fingerprint powder. And how when Kristin was a crime scene tech she would come home after her shift and blow and blow and blow black crud out that she'd inhaled (the police department wouldn't provide masks) and how she's been saying for years that her sinuses haven't been the same since. I'm not thinking about that. I'm not. It's just a cyst. It's just a tiny balloon. It's just a hardened and out-of-place gummi bear. It's just a scare.
I love her so much. Last night I kissed her cheekbone over the mysterious mass and held her. All night I kept waking from the kind of dreams that wake you up in a cold sweat. And I would turn to her and listen to her breath and tuck my arm around her body and try to fall back to sleep. And Julia was kind enough to sleep through and not disturb us.