Bites of Life 3 Months at a Time
Scan day. It's here again, and I can't sleep. Tomorrow I will wake up and kiss my child goodbye while she still sleeps, drive into the city, and sit in the waiting room on various floors of our nearby cancer center.
What are scan days like?
I'll sit and wait while they poke my partner with needles, fill them with chemicals, and run tests. If everything goes well, it will take about 6 hours. If.
Getting lab work
I'll sit in the lobby on the first floor, dedicated to lab work. A place that will haunt me for the sad scenes I've seen play out. I'll sit beside my partner, fingers crossed, hoping for our favorite phlebotomist. Everyone has one; it makes the day go easier by having a familiar and kind face.
They'll call Steph back, and I'll begin watching the clock and hoping for quick access, a good line, and a clean blood return. Words that once would have meant nothing to me now mean everything.
A quick, easy access can set the tone for a quick and happy day, while a difficult one can spell disaster. I stare at the exit door to the lab, even twisting in my seat every time I hear the door handle turn until they reappear. I'll hope they come out happy and smiling as opposed to the days I can see defeat on their face. Either way, I will be there.
Multiple body and bone scans
We'll take the elevator up, and they'll get a CT and bone scan. The CT scan makes sure there isn't any new cancer spread to the soft bits, and the bone scan checks to make sure that there isn't anything new in, you guessed it, the bones.
Connecting to feelings of hope
I've become an expert at sitting in a waiting room chair. Crossing my fingers, hoping that this isn't the scan day that changes everything. It's hard to feel like you can only plan 3 months at a time, from clean scan to clean scan, knowing 1 day they won't be clean and life will once again change. Hoping your partner will be one of the lucky ones who continue to be NED (no evidence of disease), knowing hope is dangerous but essential.
Having patience with each passing hour
I'll watch the sun move through the sky as the hours pass; if there's a scheduling hiccup or the floor is running behind, I might even watch it move from one end of the sky to the other. Getting up to stretch often, knowing that if I sit in the same place the entire time, I will pay for it with a stiff back and migraine the next day.
What helps with scan days?
In the past 2 years, I've learned so much about how a baby aspirin can make a world of difference in a blood draw, the entirety of my partner's medical history, and where the good bathrooms are located in the clinic. How a look passes between you and the other patients, the other caregivers: the sad eyes of knowing.
When my partner reappears, I'll greet them happily, not unlike a friendly golden retriever, running up and talking about how much they've been missed, and we will leave.
We will leave hand in hand and be happy to be finished. We know that the scans are half the battle and are not over until we get the results. Hoping that these results will tell us what we wish, all is well, and life continues.
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?