Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It's hard to blog when I am so distracted. I appear to be more of a consumer than a producer these days: when I have caught up with my reading, it is almost more than I can bear to switch myself around and write. First of all, because there is so much to say about the state of affairs around the world, and second, because my own life is hurtling along like a train without brakes.

The new Urologist is a good man. Good enuff. He looks like Ross and Monica's father in Friends, only more so. More hair, bigger, wilder. He sent me for a renal scan to the wrong place. I took a bus for the first time since I have become unable to walk. I bought myself some crutches, and I planned to go for the scan first by bus, and hoppity-hop on crutches across Central Park in the beautiful sunshine. It was a great success, I was on time, but I was in the wrong place.

"We don't do these tests here," they said.

"You gave me an appointment," I said.

"We misunderstood you, we thought you wanted a sonogram."


I came out onto the street again and realized I was right across the way from my Oncologist's office, shades of 1996. I thought I would go in, pop my head into the waiting room and cry out: "Dr. B.! Remember me? Look.... I'm still alive!" No such luck, he was out and no one was waiting for him. I stayed long enough to force his receptionist to crack a smile, something she always resists with all her energies. When I finally managed, I was out on the street again, gloating, and with that funny feeling of "What now?"

I still had the better part of the gorgeous afternoon to myself, so I decided to hop to where I should have gone for the renal scan, try and get them to take me right away, or make an appointment for some other day. By the time I was done, I had had quite a walk already and I was drunk with the tulips and the sun and the blossoms, so I decided I might as well push the envelope as far as it would go and set out for home, diagonally across Central Park one more time.

At the Bethesda fountain, groups of Chinese weddings were shooting their wedding pictures. They don't do it on the wedding day itself, they do it ahead of time, so what you have is the bride and groom, all gussied up, and the best man and bridesmaid, ditto. The other attendants are all in jeans, they have just come along to support. Red hair, blue and green hair, punk cuts, white tuxedos with ribbons and extraordinary flowers, powder-puffy gowns with crinolines and bows. A parallel world if ever there was one.

I sat down on a bench to enjoy.

Suddenly, I hear a voice: "Pat! How are you doing?"

It's Kenny, my next door neighbor, walking his dog. He joins me on the bench and we have a good laugh for a while. Then we walk home together.

I was overjoyed by my failed day: it's doable, I can take a bus, I can go to the Park for a walk, I can function.

Yesterday, I went to see my surgeon. I told him I rather thought "it" had gone to the bones. He agrees with me that it's likely. So, on top of the renal scan, he has now also asked for a bone scan, and MRI's of the abdomen and pelvis. I am fully booked for the next few days. My surgeon says he will probably send me to a Neurologist. Meanwhile, moving around is not getting easier, just harder. I cannot dress myself normally any more, must sit down and use both hands to put my left leg into my pant leg, for instance. Shoes are also a nuisance, on or off.

Of course, this is just what it takes for me to have some really ambitious plans.

Actually, this is one time in my life where I would like to have at least one meal a day outta the house. Go and figure, too, why I have suddenly developed a craving for a slush margarita, in a large glass, without salt or ice... None of which is happening, unfortunately.

I am trying my best to put my affairs in order, without freaking out those who need to be involved, and myself in the process. Regretably, there is a vast gap between my attitude and theirs, particularly as concerns death and dying. Most of them are scared ****less at the idea of death.

I told my surgeon: "All I want is a beautiful end of life and a beautiful death." He laughed, "Wouldn't we all?" At least I can say what's on my mind with this guy. It's funny, but I think surgeons are generally more down to earth and honest than doctors. I always attribute it to the fact that they are more courageous, because it does take courage to cut into another human body, say to open someone's heart. I don't think doctors are up to that kind of thing, at least it has never been my experience to come across one who could speak frankly and openly, let alone look me in the eye, and certainly I have never known one make a mistake and admit it.

Whereas Steinhagen talks like this: "I have made mistakes before, I shall probably make more mistakes in the future, and I may be making a mistake right now, but I think, bla, bla, bla".

The first time I met him, in August 1995, after I told him I wanted him to tell me the truth, he said: "You will find me brutally honest". I answered: "That's the way I want it to be, I want to know what I'm facing. I don't like to be told it's going to be a picnic and then find myself in hell." I am so comfortable with this guy and glad that I went to see him.

Anyway, when all the tests are done we shall see what's what, so that within a week or two I shall have a better handle on what to expect next.

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