The weather outside is frightful. Actually, for this time of year it is downright disgusting. As the holiday spirit continues to elude me, I await ‘the call’. It has been 6 months since the last clean scan. I am due. Happy Holidays. Felix’s Nativesdad and all that.
Public perception usually is dictated by television. Medical shows more often than not do a hatchet job, no pun intended, on the true happenings between patient and doctor. There is no haunting musical overtone alluding to a possible future. Doctors aren’t all good looking either. No offense to the fine staffs that I have had the privilege to be cut by. There is no priest standing by. There is no brilliant yet unorthodox in their approach medical scientist that will swoop in with a last minute idea that NO ONE IN THE WORLD thought of.
It’s more basic than that. There is a deadly silence. You always remember the lack of sound. All you hear is the singular voice speaking to you.
And there is no bracing yourself for it. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly, in one distasteful swallow. In many ways, it is a standoff, only you are guaranteed never to draw first.
If subtly had a gravitational force, one may turn into a black hole. I attempted to draw first.
Process is king in the medical world. You don’t get a ticket to the show until your agent health coverage approves anything you do. So you wait.
I’ve never grown rich on my own patience. I called to see if/when I would get my next scan. Call it a To Do of life.
I always ask for Cindy. She is the best representative of any office. She’s pleasant. Informed, probably more so then she can ever let on. She has seen many walk through the door, some for the last time. She carries on with the same attitude and smile. She has a job to do. She knows me by name of course. I can tell when she picks up the phone that this is not the best of times for small talk.
“I’ll get back to you. There is a backlog.” She’s being polite but I know when to hang up.
Now you wait. You draw but can’t fire. Okay. Patience.
As with most things in life, the true triumph and tragedy comes from the fact that no matter what happens in your personal space, the world continues to rotate. It’s nothing personal. Just a reality.
I am at work - a place where it is easy to forget the joys and sadness of the real world. Your call, good or bad.
The task at hand was one of my favorites – lunch. Per usual, I didn’t realize my personal cell was flopping along my desk. Very few contact me this way. The small font is glowing NEW VOICEMAIL.
It is Cindy.
“Joe, looking at your chart you are now going to a yearly scan. Next one is in June.”
There is a pause that ensues like when answering machines ruled the landscape. They knew you were home and waited for you to pick up as you launched yourself over Scooby slippers to grab the reciever.
I can hear a smile. I know that’s not possible but I can.
“Have yourself a great Christmas, Joe.”
It is a long moment before I press 9 to save the message. It was subtle. No fanfare. No angels singing. No champagne to be poured. It just is.
I am still on a leash and probably will be for the rest of my life. For now, the leash has been let out a little.
And I’m okay with that.