I had surgery on Monday morning to remove the larger of two hard, swollen lymph nodes on the back of my neck. For more than a month since discovering the second node, I’ve over-Googled and WebMD’ed “lymph nodes” and “Hodgkin’s disease” and “lymphoma” and everything in between. By the time I arrived at the hospital before sunrise on Monday, a part of me wasn’t sure I wanted to get the results of the biopsy after the surgery.
My surgeon’s office left a voicemail on my cell phone sometime this morning. When I returned the call, the receptionist put me on hold for what seemed like an eternity; finally, the nurse came on the line and wasted no time letting me know that the node was benign. In the minute or so that I’d been on hold, I think I actually convinced myself that I had cancer, so when I heard a voice telling me otherwise, I wasn’t even quite sure how to react. Quite frankly, I’d spent so much time imagining bad news that I didn’t know how to handle good news, at least not right away. After the words had had sufficient time to sink in (all while the angel on the other end of the line stayed put), I rediscovered the reality of my own essentially good health and hurriedly asked mundane questions like, “When can I play soccer again?” and “Can I take normal showers yet?” And the ghost of cancer drifted out of my life before we ever really got to know each other, just like that.
These past several weeks not withstanding, and especially if you eliminate stress as an indicator, I tend to take my own health much for granted. I assume that tomorrow, I will still be able to run and kick a ball and see the world all around me and hear its many voices and breathe its air and find my own words. But I cannot take a single day for granted.
My sister cannot take her tomorrows for granted, and unless I can learn to appreciate a world that does not include her, I won’t be able to rest.
Taylor has Batten disease.
If that phone call today had been different? If they had asked me to come in to discuss the results rather than receiving them over the phone (what fun that drive to Matthews would have been)? What then? Well, I’ve already said how unsettling the thought of being diagnosed with cancer was to me – as it would be for anyone. But the truth is, even if that had been the case, I’d have been given options, at least. The wonders of medical science would have been waiting in the wings to receive me and give me the best shot decades of research could buy.
When T was diagnosed with Batten disease, we received instructions on how to seek out support for what would, no doubt, be a very difficult journey – a journey with a predetermined ending. If I took that ending for granted, I wouldn’t be posting right now.