Monday, February 1, 2010

When you realize the universe just taught you a lesson

AKA- Why Someday Must Attend All Doctor Appointments

Two years ago, my boss wouldn't let me off work for the day that A met with his doctor to receive his diagnosis. That meant he had to go alone. To confirm his suspicion that he had cancer. (Said boss is now undergoing treatment for her own cancer, so perhaps there is some validity in karma...) A came home from that appointment with two major pieces of information- One, he had cancer and two, he would die within twenty years. He heard that a person could only live for a maximum of twenty years on synthetic thyroid hormone. Our lives have been colored by this news ever since.

Now twenty years may seem like a long time, and it is, until we remember that if we had a child now, A might not be there to see Graduation Day. And we'd never get to partake in that retired person's RV around the country trip so many people take. And A's grandchildren would likely never know him. It's kind of depressing, like a really long expiration period. We deal with this news by alternating between pretending it isn't going to happen and by making tentative plans to deal with it. No one likes the thought of knowing their husband is going to die an early death, but to avoid it altogether is also unreasonable. So we try.

Last week I was able to attend A's appointment with his endocrinologist, the one who monitors his thyroid condition. It was the first time I had been. We found out that there had been some issues with information transfer between the oncologist and the endocrinologist, we discussed different types of medication, and we found out that the premise of death in twenty years we had been operating under FOR TWO YEARS was false.

That's right, FALSE. The doctor clarified that one can live indefinitely solely on synthetic thyroid medicine. Which we were, of course, happy to find out. I have to give A a break on this one- I'm pretty sure that after the doctor confirmed that he had cancer his listening skills went out the window and everything she said after that was a blur. I'm sure the same would have happened to me. Well, not really, but I'm trying to be sympathetic.

But to have what felt like a giant countdown to the end of A's life lifted was just an amazing feeling. Expecting to lose him really helped us not take each other for granted and forced us to talk about and make plans for the future. That lesson is one that we can take from this experience, hopefully it's the one we were intended to learn. Because learning not to let my husband attend medical appointments on his own just doesn't seem meaningful enough.


Sandy said...

I had no idea you two were under that cloud. If I had known I would have been able to give you the real skinny. Indefinitely is so much better than twenty years!

globalgal said...

You posted this a couple of weeks ago, but I am so shocked I had to comment. I can't believe you have been under this cloud, as the above commenter said. Hypothyroidism runs in my family and both my father and grandfather have taken Synthroid for years. I can't imagine thinking that they could only do so for twenty years. How painful that must have been. I am so sorry to hear what you have been suffering. And I'm so glad to hear that things are looking up. Best wishes!