"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so let us all be thankful."
We returned last night from John's six month checkup at MD Anderson in Houston, on the brink of being too tired to go to sleep, on a high from having had better news than we had feared we might receive.
It was a quick turn-around trip, there and home again in three days. It requires a shuttle drive of a couple hours to Vegas, using a wheelchair to navigate the airport, a three hour flight to Houston, another wheelchair, and then a long taxi ride to the hotel, a stressful trip under any conditions, anxiety laden under present conditions. Prior to the trip, John had experienced a sudden drop in his white blood cell count and I had read that such a drop could indicate progression in the disease, even indicate the onset of leukemia.
John was to receive a bone marrow biopsy to determine how well his current chemotherapy plan has been working and whether he would need a more aggressive chemo as suggested by his St. George hematologist, a treatment plan that would require stronger medication that carries possible serious side effects. Treatment we were hoping to avoid, nevertheless treatment we feared we might be returning to St. George to initiate.
Following the biopsy, we were scheduled to meet with the hematologist who is consulting with us, Dr. K, a Russian-trained, rather austere, cool and contained woman who had been almost two hours late for our initial consultation in September, known for her tardiness, but thankfully also known for her expertise. Thursday, she was on time, greeted us warmly, reassured us that John's blood work looked good, that the white blood cell drop was a minor glitch, and that she did not feel the aggressive chemo was necessary. Just like that, in 20 minutes, the air in the balloons of our anxiety was released.
Relieved, we recognized that John was stronger this trip than our initial visit six months ago. We recognized that we had managed the trip with grace and competency. We recounted, once again, how grateful we are to have access to this wonderful organization, to another fine doctor, to the collaboration our health care team is exhibiting, to having one another.
We learned a lot in that 20 minute consultation, not the least is that I should not be doing my own research. I don't know enough to make distinctions about the information. I don't have the necessary training to understand all the vocabulary. I am too close to the situation to take in the information neutrally, too quick to jump to the worst conclusions. Almost as valuable a learning as what Dr. K shared with us. Almost.
This is as good as it gets...and that's pretty good. We are grateful.