Friday, June 10, 2011

the day time stood still

After being severely ill for almost a year and not having any health insurance in this god foresaken country, Paul made an appointment for a full MOT on June 2, the day after our new insurance went into effect. On June 3,  he was told that he needed to have an immediate colonoscopy, which we had already assumed would be the next step. Over those preceding 11 months, we thought it might have been food poisoning, detox from not drinking (out of nowhere, Paul no longer fancied a bevvie, a sure sign that it was something serious), celiac disease or our latest guess of Crohn's disease. What came a week later, we never suspected - a diagnosis of Stage 4 colorectal cancer with metastases to the liver and lung (in layman's terms that means cancerous tumors in the liver and lung also refered to as mets). The main tumor in his colon was quickly named Timmy the F*cking Tumor and he was causing a 99% obstruction.

Of course, Hornby luck would be in full effect and the first colonoscopy which was performed on June 9th did not provide a good read of Timmy's true extent, so Paul had to retake the test which involves one of the most barbaric preps in all of medical history and had the pleasure of  having yet another camera insertion on June 13. To demonstrate Hornby luck a little bit more, the doctor had informed Paul that he had cancer while he was still coming out of anesthesia so Paul had no idea why he was being wheeled immediately down to the CT scan area of the hospital for further tests. I only knew something was up because I took a peek at his bloodwork and all of his levels were all over the place. But no one that day told us. By the time we got home that afternoon, we came home to  voicemails from two medical offices: a surgeon and one that was a garbled message that we decided to disregard until the morning since we were both exhausted.

The next morning came and after listening to the garbled message about five times, I finally managed to make out what the phone number was and googled it. My worst fear was confirmed. The message was from an oncologist's office. Paul had woken up and asked me in a sleepy haze if I had figured out the message and I said that I had and he then asked, "Well what was it." I replied, "It was from an oncologist." His next questions was, "What the hell is that." I meekily replied, "It's a cancer doctor," and then ran out the door already late for work reminding him to call the gastronentrologist and have the scan results sent to me at work.

About an hour later, I sat at work staring blindly at the scan results that said in big bold letters, "DIAGNOSIS: STAGE IV COLORECTAL CANCER WITH METATASTASES TO THE LIVER AND LUNG." I not only totally broke down but became enraged at the doctor, flew across town and confronted  him in his office where he explained that he thought Paul was alert and awake when he had informed him that he had cancer.

The question on my mind was "How do I tell my best friend he has Stage 4 cancer?" The answer was I didn't and, of course, the doctor didn't follow through with my request of calling us that evening to tell him. So there I sat for three days knowing the worst news ever and having to just keep it to myself until his next scan on the 13th. This is when I learned quickly that the caregiver's secret weapon in times like this is Vitamin Xanax. Needless to say, it was a long weekend.

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