Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The last goodbye

With conviction I called my dad last night to cancel our trip to see Dr. Surgical Oncologist today.  The first snowstorm of the season struck yesterday afternoon and evening.  Area schools were delaying morning classes, and so it seemed like the rational choice to avoid the extra driving by rescheduling my appointment with Dr. Surgical Oncologist.  My dad, however, had a different opinion.  He was confident that the roads would be better by morning, and that we'd be fine in his extended-cab, 4-wheel drive Ford F-150.  I deferred to his expertise and driving abilities in favor of keeping the appointment.  

He picked me up just after 8am.  I tossed my snowpants in the cab just in case we had to hike out of a snow-filled ditch.  Once we hit the interstate he disclosed that the southbound traffic had been plugged up earlier, but hopefully it's cleared now?  Between this question and the thick layer of snow beneath the tread, I began to question our decision.  Fortunately my 511 road-condition app revealed that traffic was indeed flowing up ahead and that road conditions were improving by the minute.  Indeed, by the time I closed the app the packed snow had given way to pavement.  I breathed a sigh of relief and settled in for another pleasant drive with my dad.  

Dad has been my chauffeur to all of my distant appointments this entire Cancer year.  He has been gamefully unemployed approximately since my diagnosis, which I selfishly admit has been glorious.  I don't think he's missed a single distant appointment.  He packs snacks for the car ride.  In the exam room, he remembers to ask the questions that I forget to ask.  He asks me things the doctors and I forget to think about.  He thanks the doctors and nurses while I'm still reeling from whatever news has been delivered.  After the appointment, we do lunch, and we've discovered some delicious food.  Sometimes we get a chocolate shake, if it's been that kind of appointment.  Usually we just hit the road.  He makes me laugh.  

It's fitting that just as my Cancer year is winding down, Dad has found a new job.  He starts on Monday.  Congratulations, dad!  I'm glad you have an exciting new job, and I'm so glad that I have fewer appointments, but maybe we can keep the regular lunch dates?  I'm going to miss them.  <3

Today's appointment with Dr. Surgical Oncologist was a simple surgical follow-up.  Everything is still healing well.  I took this opportunity to describe my only concern, which is that when my right arm is at my side I have a sensation that there is something wedged under there.  You know how it is when you wear a shirt with too-small armholes, and the sleeve hikes up and gets bunched in your armpit?  It feels like that, all the time.  This led to my concern, which was not about the sensation itself, but perhaps I was having swelling that was causing the sensation?  She checked me out and determined that I do not have swelling (huzzah!).  She also said that although the surgical team tried to avoid damage to major nerves, microscopic nerves were certainly damaged.  She has had other patients complain of this full-armpit sensation, and she thinks that it's due to damage to these microscopic nerves.  She expects that the sensation will go away with time.  

Then the appointment turned a sad corner.  As long as I stay healthy for the next eight months, this is the last time that I will see Dr. Surgical Oncologist.  She is retiring in October, but now I only need yearly check-ups at the clinic's survivorship center.  I suppose even if she weren't retiring I would probably be graduating to the survivorship clinic and out of her purview since I no longer bear the subjects of her profession--she is a breast surgeon, after all.  Although I am sad to know that I will have to find a new surgeon should the occasion arise, I am truly happy for her at her retirement.  I am grateful to have been her patient and to have benefitted from her expertise.  I hope that she will do everything that she enjoys.  

We parted with a hug, then another hug.  There was so much I wanted to say that I couldn't say any of it.  I thanked myself for sending her a thank-you note in November and I hoped that I had said everything in that.  There's no way to fully convey my sentiments, and yet they can be summarized in eight words or less.  Thank you, Dr. Surgical Oncologist, for my life.                      


  1. Yes, thank you. (I shall swap a little piece of paper out of my ur!) :-)

  2. 1. Now I have the Jeff Buckley song in my head. Always welcome.
    2. Glad to get the update and know you're doing well! Even more welcome.

    Thanks on both fronts!