A year ago (almost to the hour) I listened to a man, whom I had met only a couple of hours earlier, quietly tell me over the phone that I should stop what I was doing (I think I was eating some leftover pizza) and check myself in to Regions Hospital. The month or so of mysterious bone pain, abnormal (though seemingly inconclusive) blood tests and plenty of head scratching finally “made sense.” What didn’t make sense was the fact that my body was malfunctioning. The body that I had known and (for the most part) cared for, was in need of some outside intervention if it was going to continue to function.
Virginia was teaching her yoga classes when I received that call. And, as I scrambled to look for the phone number to the building she was teaching in, I could feel myself coming undone. It’s a feeling I’ve never quite felt to that intensity before, and is one I’d rather not repeat. I ran up and down the stairs, not fully aware of my surroundings, still looking for that damn phone number. I remember telling myself out loud to calm down, my frantic search was just that – frantic. But, the search for the phone number, the packing of the bags, the waiting for Virginia to arrive all distracted me from the new reality that I could feel starting to take hold – I had cancer.
Once at the hospital, it only took a matter of minutes to make the unnerving transition from being in control of my own actions, my schedule, my life to that of cancer patient. I was now a case with a medical id number (which, if I think about long enough, might even be able to recall by memory). One minute I was walking around in civilian clothes, the next I was sitting on a bed in a gown, an I.V. already dripping, telemetry device hooked up to monitor my heart and the oncologist (no longer a guy that I met earlier in the day, but now someone who had my life in his hands) was discussing the procedure to insert a hickman line in order to start chemotherapy the next day. Waiting for treatment was not an option (let alone discussing alternative treatments), as my blood was quickly becoming less and less useful to my body.
Through this whirlwind of craziness, Virginia stood next to me taking in what my mind could not (which was basically everything). She was my rock, my partner through every single day that I was either in the hospital, or at the cancer care center undergoing additional treatments and receiving transfusions.
We looked back over the year and marveled at how much happened in just a short amount of time. I remember asking my oncologist (back when he was just the guy on the phone) how many days would I be in the hospital (thinking about my projects at work, about Spring quickly approaching), and being completely shocked when I heard “this will take months.” I had a really hard time coming to terms with the length required to treat and then to heal from the treatments. But, heal I did.
And, now it’s Spring again.
And, I have a chance to live again. (Not to mention, the chance to also get my hands dirty again.)