The Doctor Appointment

Last night I didn’t sleep well. My thoughts wouldn’t shut off and I tossed and turned until after 2 a.m. Then I came downstairs. JJ was still up because he couldn’t sleep either. I settled into EJ’s recliner. Several cats settled next to me. When I can’t sleep, I come downstairs to sleep because I find the cuddling cats very comforting–like living teddy bears. I fell asleep for a couple of hours, and then I woke and moved to the love seat. The cats settled in around me and I fell asleep again, and then I heard EJ come down to use the bathroom, and then I fell asleep again. Then, sigh, it was morning and time to get up. I actually only had a series of naps.

Usually JJ says I can blog freely about our cancer journey, but he asked me not to write about the specific health issues he’s been struggling with since Chemo ended. Sometimes a person just wants to not have everything broadcast to the world. I respect that. So I am not revealing those health issues, but they have made him rather miserable and he’s been “just tired of not feeling well.”

For the past week, as his doctor appointment approached, JJ and I have had a bit of a conflict. He has lectured me to NOT TELL THE DOCTOR about his health issues because he doesn’t want the doctor to examine him, or send him to a specialist, or anything like that. I remained quietly noncommittal, making no promises either way. I didn’t want to argue with my son, but I also know that minor problems can quickly become major problems and I wasn’t going to risk him experiencing complications during surgery because he didn’t want to tell the doctor about his health problems. Two days ago he stressed again, “Don’t tell the doctor. I mean it, Mom. Let me handle it.” Then yesterday, “I know you are going to tell the doctor.” Duh, we both knew I was going to. This morning he said again “Don’t tell the doctor. I mean it. If you tell him, I am going to revoke my permission for you to be given medical information about me.” I said, “Go ahead. You are an adult and you have the freedom to do that. But you realize that there will be things I am doing for you now that I won’t be able to do then, right?”

Today a new intern led us through the maze of corridors at the Cancer Center to an exam room. Usually the doctor appears shortly after we arrive, but I think the intern forgot to let him know we were in the exam room because we waited 30+ minutes. EJ finally went to the bathroom, and he ran into the doctor’s nurse, and when she saw him she got a grim look on her face (because I think she realized the doctor had not been notified) and shortly after that the doctor arrived.

But when we first arrived in the exam room, the intern took JJ’s blood pressure and asked him the usual list of questions–like how is his appetite, does he have any trouble breathing, does he feel any pain, yada, yada, yada. JJ didn’t mention his problem so I asked him, “Are you going to tell her about the health problems you have been having?” After she left, JJ turned to me and said, “I TOLD you that I would mention this problem. I TOLD you not to say anything. I TOLD you I can handle it.” I said angelically, “Well, technically, I didn’t tell the intern about your problem. I asked YOU if YOU were going to tell her. Can I help it if she was in the room and overheard?” In a battle of wits and wills, I can hold my own.

I think I have an inner child who is mischievous and rebellious. Sometimes JJ draws it out of me. Like when JJ told me in previous years “Don’t embarrass me by dancing in the grocery store,” I suddenly always had a strong urge to dance in the aisles. I’ve looked around to see if anyone was watching and then I did a cha-cha-cha so only JJ could see me. “Stop it, Mom!” Or when we approached the automatic doors at a grocery store, JJ has whispered, “Do NOT act like you are opening the doors with the Force. You are NOT a Jedi.” So, OF COURSE, I waved my hand as if I was a Jedi using the force to open the grocery store doors. He really shouldn’t encourage me.

So when JJ began to lecture me about NOT telling the doctor, I did what any mischievous child would do. I stuck my tongue out at him. “DAAAAADDDD! Mom stuck her tongue out at me!” I did it again. We started laughing. I made a loud croak in my throat and made a squishing noise with my mouth. We laughed some more. We laughed until we cried. “GEESH, what is WRONG with you today, Mom!” I said, “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” as I poked him in the leg and then poked him again. “Stop poking me, Mom. DAAAADDDDD, Mom keeps poking me!”

Finally, the doctor arrived. He said that all of JJ’s tests look good. He said the Cancer marker numbers are really low but there is something still there in the lymph node. JJ had three types of cancer cells in his body–two were cancerous and one was benign. The doctor believes that the “something” is probably benign but he doesn’t want to risk any cancer cells remaining in his body so he wants JJ to have the lymph node removed. He said he wants JJ to have the very best care so he is sending him to the best surgeon in the world for this type of surgery. Then he exclaimed, “You are going to INDEE-AAA-POOLIS!” He said it as if we had just won a dream vacation, which this trip will definitely NOT be, but he made me laugh.

We asked whether JJ will still need weekly blood tests. The doctor said he will not, but he will have to have CT Scans every other month for the next two years, and he will need regular followup appointments with the doctor, and he will need his port flushed out every 8 weeks or so. In a year or so, he will get to have his port removed. They keep it in that long to make sure the cancer is gone and he won’t need more Chemo. So JJ still has a lot of medical things in his future, but I think they won’t be as difficult as the other stuff he has suffered.

Because his white blood counts are stronger, JJ doesn’t have to be quite so careful to mingle with people, but he still mustn’t be around sick people.

I waited all through the appointment for JJ to mention his health problems, and only when the doctor was beginning to shake our hand before leaving did I speak up about the Problem and ask if it would affect the surgery. The doctor didn’t seem too worried about it. When we got home, I said to JJ, “See? I did really well. I mentioned it only at the end when you still hadn’t said anything.” He said I did good.

After we left the exam room, we took a detour into the hallway with the infusion rooms so JJ could visit the medical staff who had cared for him during Chemo. The were all glad to see him, they said he was looking well, and they all gave him hugs.

Then it was home, and I fixed lunch, and EJ went off to work.

This afternoon I got a call from surgeon’s office. JJ has a consultation with the doctor on March 31 and his surgery is scheduled for April 1. JJ will have to have several medical tests before then. She said this time that JJ will probably be in the hospital for 3-4 days. We will now have to make plans: schedule lodging for us, arrange care for our animals, and so forth. There are lots of things to do.

One Comment on “The Doctor Appointment

  1. You are a great mama bear Teri and you did soooo very well with just telling and knowing JJ could be angry. His health is more important than an argument and I love the way you all handling it. Well we have to pray and pray that your preparations before going to Indianapolis will go well and above all that JJ will get through the operation well and will be living a normal life after that. Ofcourse still with medical issues but more normal than the time that is laying behind you. Loving you all and a big hug for mama bear papa bear and your precious cub…….<3


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