For the first time I noticed that the sign above the clinic stated Edwin Forman.
I had learned that he had retired. He was my primary doctor back in 1974. Like what the late Steve Jobs did for computing, Dr. Edwin Forman forged the hospital's burgeoning clinical research to the forefront of medicine.
It was fitting that his name was above the door.
I am a bit of a museum piece. No, not chronologically. I get a nod as I walk in. He's here.
It's a tad unsettling. In a microcosm of surreality, I am the Elvis of the clinic even for a few minutes.
After the ceremonial information exchange, I go back to the waiting room that had sent me into consternation during the last visit almost a year ago.
This time was different. Instead of being surrounding by balding, bloated children who clung to IV poles while battles between Spiderman and Iron Man raged on, I was alone.
I picked a chair in the corner of the room facing the door. The lights were dimmed giving the room a morose glow.
When you are diagnosed, you feel like the loneliest person in the world. You are handcuffed to a roller coaster and you have to ride. Once you are done with the corkscrew, the nosebleed heights, and plummeting depths, you are asked to get off the ride - alone again.
And now I sit in a 20 x 20 room, a Wii glowing in the corner, and blocks scattered across the tables. Alone.
Looming out of the shadows, a tall eighteen year old male says "Good morning". He's totally bald with a dramamine patch under his right ear. He's lean with a basketballer's body. The IV pole was at his side of course.
I nodded in his direction, ashamed that I had hair.
He drifted back into the other offices.
The nurse practitioner flew in like the opening song from a grand musical. She's over-happy. I am always amazed by this. It's a gift that seems out of place in the clinic. It shouldn't be. I am just not in the right frame of mind.
She isn't alone this time. Her bright smile has eclipsed the young social worker that fell out of a spy novel. Her character replete with chart in hand was already jotting down notes before I said a word.
As the few hours pass, I am poked, prodded and jabbed like a basic prison film.
It's sobering. I feel guilty and it hasn't been an easy road, dammit. I just want them to leave me alone now. I can't of course. This is how it is. You are now in unknown territory. Alone.
"How do you feel? Are you losing weight?"
Hell, I am trying to drop 4 more pounds but thanks for asking.
The nurse leaves me and the counselor, a student intern, alone. She has a few dozen questions for me. She gets a kick out of the fact that I am Italian. She spent a semester in Italy.
Sad. I spent four years commuting, no less, to Smithfield, RI.
"How were your grades?"
"I was diagnosed with ADD. I flushed the Ritalin after two weeks."
"Interesting." (Jotting on paper) "Do you sleep?"
"Not since I was 14..."
She means well. In fact, I think she will actually do well. Part of survival is that the disease can be the ultimate mind-fuck. People like her will help those coming up from the ranks.
Anyway, they take my blood. My phlebotomist is a middle child but her father's favorite. No lie. We talk about such things.
I am sent on my way with a hand picked Wolverine band-aid. They will send me another post card with my next appointment. Joe, Boy Wonder, will be back. I have no answers for their curious questions other than this is what I do. It is who I am. Sure, I can speak to someone who may be staring a similar situation. There is no formula. It's basic dike survival. Shore up the dam before the next wave hits. Pretty simple really. Grab anything, throw it against the wall and hope it holds.
It will hold. For now. I have a few more decades left in me.
After all, I am putting on a clinic...