Opinion: Column: The Weak After

Opinion: Column: The Weak After

And now the fun begins. Not!

For some reason, I can't get the Journey song, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" out of my head, except that my lyrics are "Waitin', Wonderin', Hopin'." I'll know the results of last week's diagnostic scans soon enough, on Tuesday in fact, the day before this column publishes, when we have our next usual and customary post-scan, face-to-face appointment with my oncologist.

As it is presently scheduled, what having a Tuesday appointment after the preceding Wednesday scan means is, we won't have received the results prior to our appointment. The interval of time is too short.

When the post-scan appointment had been on Friday, nine days out, as it has been on many occasions, my oncologist felt compelled (maybe because we "compelled" him) to email the us scan's results rather than make us wait so long. But six days is not quite so long enough before he'll be seeing us, so I am humming a Journey song in the interim.

And let me tell you, going in cold (not knowing the results beforehand) "is all it's cracked up to be" – to invoke a quote by "Hawkeye" from MASH when talking to Radar about his widowed mother being alone.

But I won't be alone on Tuesday; my wife, Dina, will be along for the ride. A ride she has made many times, especially during the early years of heavy-duty chemotherapy when infusion days, start to finish, could last upwards of 10 hours, door-to-door.

The process for these post-scan appointments is somewhat different, 45 minutes or so.

It begins in an examining room with yours truly being examined/questioned by a nurse ("Are you in any pain?") followed by her checking my vitals: oxygen level, pulse and blood pressure ("Mr. Lourie, your blood pressure is high." "You bet it is.").

After she enters the information on the computer, she'll excuse herself, and as she exits the examining room she advises us that the doctor will be in shortly.

Typically, with 15 minutes or so, depending on his schedule, we'll hear a knock on the door and my oncologist's voice asking if it's OK for him to enter. "Yes, of course," we say.

The way the examining room is configured, the examining chair, where I'm sitting, is on his immediate left, partially blocked from his view as he opens the door. Dina is sitting in a chair directly ahead of him and in clear sight as he enters the room. This means she'll see his face before I do and instinctively she'll try to read his expression and body language for a hint of what's to be said.

Occasionally, he breaks the ice immediately and says something like "scans look good, very pleased," knowing that we as patients are hanging on his every word. Other times, he says very little as he sits at his computer and begins asking the standard questions with which we are all too familiar.

This exchange will last about five to 10 minutes, depending on my interruptions. Generally, within the context of this exchange, the subject of my scan results will be mentioned.

This is the moment of truth.

I can't really say it's worth waiting for, good news or bad. It's more about enduring.

Unfortunately, we can't change much about this process. I have a "terminal" disease, and scanning is the process by which the doctor can assess my health. Waiting for this assessment is the absolute bane of my existence.

And now with a more frequent scanning schedule, every two months, I am "bane-ing" more than ever before. I can't say it's a perfect set of circumstances, but it's my journey and I'm stuck with it.