Calling All Angels

by NotDownOrOut

Monday morning I will be seeing Dr. H for my check-up. I feel the tension like a twisted rubberband from one shoulder to the other. I have an 8:15 a.m. appointment and a 10 a.m. class at the law school. Nothing ever happens on time at the hospital. I will have to get there at about 6:30 a.m. to get a parking space. I will have to beg the receptionist and nurse to get me in and out on time. If the appointment is delayed, then I will have to leave when I run out of time, even if I have not been able to see the doctor.

My doctor only has office hours on Monday mornings. I teach on Monday mornings. I only need to make it to one doctor’s appointment this semester. It will be spring before my next appointment. I have asked to teach on Thursday mornings in the spring. I do not have “sick days” where I work. I was told in the spring when the law school offered me this class that I could not miss any classes. I think my supervisor said that because her boss has zero tolerance for my cancer. She fired me just for having it last fall, not even waiting to see how my surgery turned out.

I would have scheduled individual conferences with my students for this week to ensure there was no conflict between my doctor’s appointment and my class, but I already had to do that to attend my niece’s out of town wedding two weeks ago. I have put a family commitment ahead of my own good health. Now I will put my job before it.

Which explains why it is so difficult to take care of myself. I keep forgetting that I should put on my own oxygen mask before helping others put theirs on. But this feels a little like deciding whether to jerk the steering wheel to one side to avoid a tree or jerk it to the other side to avoid a deer. In each of the scenarios for this semester I have had to make choices to serve some objective of my own–good health, employment, or familial loyalty.

Of course, I may not have cancer any longer. My last scan and blood work showed no sign of its return. In that case, if I have to miss my appointment this Monday in order to make it to my class on time, then I will do so and will suffer no loss. I do not feel like I have cancer. I feel reasonably strong.

But my bladder continues to burn each time I urinate. I am not complaining about twinges or mild discomfort. This is knife sharp and red hot pain. This week it was particularly bad. I attribute that to stress. I think I sometimes have a “guarding” reaction, a flinch that is its own painful spasm. The prophesy of pain is thereby fulfilled. Today that pain was terrible. I had other pain, too. I kept pressing my fist into my stomach in an attempt to find the body part that hurt, but I was unsuccessful. There was pain beneath my sternum and below my navel and deep in my gut, but no tenderness. Its nonspecific ache makes me think it was nothing more than stress leaking out of my cells and pores like acid rain.

I think I should try the hyperbaric chamber to see if it can heal my bladder. I recently watched a video on about this treatment for radiation cystitis and a doctor said that the oxygen would help bladder cells regenerate but would not feed cancer cells because cancer cannot grow in a highly oxygenated environment.

I guess my body is not all that well oxygenated as it has housed a cancer before. If I try the hyperbaric chamber it might be just the thing to empower me for whatever comes next.

In the last few weeks I kept running into stories in which cancer returns. This week I had lunch with Rodney. His mom is dealing with breast cancer for the third time. She has already had two mastectomies and has decided that she is too tired to fight now that her cancer has metastasized. I just saw Robin Roberts on TV. She is dealing with cancer for the second time. First it was her breast and now her blood. How many weeks ago did Andy Williams die? That was bladder cancer, wasn’t it? My aunt has not answered my last note of inquiry about her health. Her breast cancer has persisted for more about a decade.

I push these thoughts away every day with positive thoughts. I am cancer free. I am much stronger than I was when I finished treatment in December. I got at least part of my job back at the law school. I ended up qualifying for charitable assistance with my hospital bills at two hospitals. My family is doing well. All I am dealing with at this time is fear.

So I am calling on all of the angels who got me through the last year and asking them to help me through the next few days. You know who you are. You prayed for me when I went through my surgery. You held my hand during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. You called me with words of good cheer as I completed each challenge. You sent me cards when I was weak. You let me lean on you when I was tired. I need your positive vibes now. Just keep sending your love and support. If you send me your positive thoughts now, then I can handle whatever this week brings. When you lend me just a little of your strength I can handle anything.