So, on Sunday, January 9th, at 6AM, was ushered into the MRI scanner at the General Hospital in St Catharines, and had my very first Multiple Resonance Image scan, of my back from shoulders to hips. The scan took about 2o minutes. If you suffer claustophobia, this cannot be an easy process to deal with: you are in a tube so tight you cannot move your arms from beside you to above your head, as there is not enough room. It’s also a very noisy procedure, and on that day the radio station on the headphones they give you was hard-rock (97.7 HITS-FM). Oops… not the greatest, but what the heck. It was a new and exciting experience, and I was OK with it. By 7 we were home already, and prepared to wait two weeks or so for the results, as we’d been told on our way out of the diagnostic suite at the hospital
Well, it wasn’t two weeks. It was two days. On the following Tuesday morning we got a call from Dr Nancy’s office: she wanted to see us at 2PM today. ”Today?” ”Yes, today. Can you make it? Nancy thinks it’s important”
Well, I am respectful of Nancy, and if she says it’s important, I am going to have to assume that it is, so of course, we say we’ll be there.
2 PM comes, and Beloved and are are in an examining room with Dr Nancy. Some preliminaries: how am I feeling, etc. And then the words “Multiple Myeloma” come from Nancy’s mouth. She’s obviously quite discomforted by what she’s telling us: her face is flushed and red. ”Any questions?” Not really. ”Well, I’ll give you a few minutes alone to talk about it, and I’ll be back.”
We had no idea what “multiple myeloma” meant. We had never heard the word, and had no idea what it meant. Obviously a medical condition. So when Dr Nancy came back, we indeed had a few questions. And she told us: I have cancer. A cancer of the blood system. Something growing (a lesion) in the vertebrae at T9 and T12. And that we’d be starting to deal with that immediately, of course. We set up an appointment for the following Monday, January 17th at 2:00 PM at her office again, and she’d at that time have some more info and a plan for us.
So, home we go. The first thing I do, of course, is open up my lap-top and fire up trusty Google to tell me everything I’ll ever need to know about multiple myeloma. I love Google. It’s so smart.
But not very sympathetic or empathetic… not wired for kindness, exactly. Have you read my warning page yet? The third link I found, and the first I clicked on, was on Wikipedia… and what do I read there, but the words: “With conventional treatment, the prognosis is 3–4 years.” So, from a sore back due to compressed or slipped discs that morning, thru a visit at the doctor where I find out I have a cancer we will start to deal with right away… to probably being dead in 3-4 years, or maybe less. I have to tell you quite honestly and clearly that I was just not ready for that. Not at all. Not even close.
I went into shock and panic. Out of control, actually. I wasn’t able to cope or handle that news at all… “this does not compute” wasn’t even close. Wilma called the doctor back, and within an hour we had a few nice little anti-depressants floating around in me, and not a word of a lie: within an hour, I was back under control. These pills are supposed to take days, even weeks, to hit their stride, but I was feeling positive effects in an hour!
Anyhow, I obviously took the rest of that day, and a few more, off from any research. Made a few phonecalls, and generally got my information a little more slowly and a lot more carefully, but the information was remaining clearly quite ominous: we were dealing with the very definitely real possibility of quite imminent death. 3-4 years, when you thought you were relatively fit as a fiddle, might as well be tomorrow!
Needless to say, the following week waiting for the appointment with Nancy was long. Very long indeed.