Sunday, December 2, 2007

One Month Since the Big News


On November 2, 2007, I went to the doctor's office to talk about my blood test and I thought we were going to talk about cholesterol or a UTI causing a high white blood count. At the most I thought it was a stop to the drug store for a 10 day round of something to stop an unknown infection.

Somehow I knew something was wrong when I heard my doctor take out my file from the door and just stand there. She wasn't talking to anyone, so I thought it was odd that she was just standing outside my door in silence. When the door opened she said,"I have bad news, we think it's leukemia." Genuinely I thought she was in the wrong room. Usually she starts off with "How's Lili?" My brain didn't wrap around the information, and all I could do was stare at her. What I noticed right away was how red her eyes were, and her face was sad. She seemed to be working hard at maintaining her professional calm. She comforted and assured me I would get treatment, and tole me there are all kinds of leukemia so perhaps I had one that would allow me to see several more decades.

Were we really hinting at prognosis already? The doctor didn't want me to leave until they sorted out my insurance and getting me to a hemotological oncologist. I couldn't even pronounce it much less believe that I needed to go to one. That was something sick people needed to do and I didn't feel bad, I was just tired. Maybe I needed more sleep and this blood thing would sort itself out. This had to be a dream, or a thick fog that would soon lift.

It's at the point they are trying to make my appointment that I realize I have an HMO and not a PPO. Seems like a small distinction, but it became the nightmare enhancer. I must have checked the wrong box on the insurance form. It didn't say HMO on my insurance card, this must be a mistake. The company was telling the doc's office that I had an HMO. That can't be right. My head is swimming in dark cold water and the doctor and people come in and out of the room talking about insurance, appointements, tests, a bone marrow biopsy or something.

My phone didn't have signal, so I checked my blackberry. The only think I could think of to do was to email the partner at my firm and tell him. He had asked that I let him know what happened with the tests. Surely he and I both didn't really think that it would be something like leukemia. That first short email prayer just said "they say it's leukemia." My boss immediately responded by saying to keep him informed and that he wanted to help. I think I exhaled for the first time upon seeing his email. It was just a few words, but they powerfully comforted me in the midst of the category 100 hurricane I was facing. At that point I said another short prayer saying "thanks" to God for helping find a work home that understood and was supportive.

It was odd that he was the first to know, but telling him could be done via blackberry and efficient words. Telling my family would be so much harder. How could I do it?
The prayers continued but in a one word short format. Mostly prayers like, "help," or "please," or "breathe."

Somehow the test got scheduled after lots of phone calls to my office, the insurance, etc. At first I just sat there and then the first tears showed up. It was when I thought of telling my daughter Lili. They said my bone marrow test would be on Wednesday... on "I love you Wednesday?"... no. I tried to explain "I love you Wednesday" to my doctor and I started crying. I couldn't go and have a test about cancer on a Wednesday. It was at that point I knew that my mind had completely checked out. Actually asking the doctor to change the appointment to a Friday was a stretch of logic. Did I really think that having a cancer test on a Friday would be less traumatic? My logical mind clicked back in and I agreed to the earlier Wednesday biopsy. Fear and logic are not a well suited pair. I must make a note of that for the future fight.

That's the very beginning of the story. The day continued by going to visit a long time friend in the hospital with a new baby. I wanted to hold the baby and feel that blessing of new life. The energy of a new baby would surely cure me, right? I cried holding him and for the first time realized that it was likely I may not see him grow up as had been the plan.

More of my saga to come. It's taken a month of living to gain the perspective of cancer to find the words. I will offer up more words soon.

2 comments:

Dixie said...

Wow, I read this last night and wanted to comment but didn't find the words. Still not there as maybe my shock or deniel. But today is another day and I was able to log on and read another entry. I think of you everyday and wonder what you are doing and how you are feeling. Sometimes I try not to remember but I can't seem to forget. But you can't forget with each day another dose of the chemo. But, I suppose as bad as it is, at least it is. At least you have something to fight this disease. I know you will fight, and grow in ways any of us can only imagine. Can you remember what our lives were like before Nov. 2, 2007? It's difficult. Nothing is the same. Can it be better? Can it? Thinking of you. Dixie

Steve Phillips said...

Rhonda,
Visited with your Mom at church today. She told me about your blog, so here I am. We had a nice day with the North Houston folks who were gathered for David's ordination. Everyone is very concerned for you and holding you up in there prayers - as are we. Don't hesitate to call if you need to. We live pretty close now and can swing by easily.
Love,
Steve and Alice