I’d been dreading today more than I can express in words. This was the day I’d find out the results of a long series of tests to determine whether I have thyroid cancer. I do have a couple of growths in the area, and given the fact of Cowden’s syndrome, it was hard to know what to expect. Finally, I concluded that the only proper attitude was to expect nothing. Good news or bad, that way it wouldn’t be a surprise; it’d be a fact, but I thought maybe that approach would limit the shock of bad news. I knew that was entirely possible. One growth, named Newt, is rather large and protrudes from my throat, but it’s the thyroid that’s had doctors (and me) concerned. So, today I did rather expect to hear that I was to be admitted in short order and the cutting would thereupon commence.
But it didn’t work out that way at all.
The doctor walked into the room and began familiarizing himself again with the information stored on my abundance of tests. For some reason, I was sure he’d ask for a blood sample, and that became my fixation; honestly, I think I’ve given enough blood now to have earned a pin from the Red Cross. Now, every time I pass a nurse on the street I hold out my arm and point out the good veins.
He spent a long time reading. Then he turned to me and said, “We’re going to monitor this for now. See you in a year.”
“A Year? What?” I thought. The news had taken me by surprise after all. And that, sports fans, was that. C-ya. Leaving the hospital, I said to my wife, “I don’t know what to do now.”
We’d planned on blocking out the late summer in case I was called in to surgery. There’d be a little recovery time afterwards and a lot of anxiety to follow—to say nothing of having to take iodine every day forever and ever, world without end, Amen. Wasn’t looking forward to it. Now, for twelve months, I don’t have to think about that. I can put my mind to other concerns for the first time in too long. There are new poems, there are files worth more consideration, etc.
But the news has clearly caught me flat-footed despite my best efforts. I hadn’t prepared for good news. Now the job’s a relatively happy one: figure out what to do with this time. Last year I devoted to a long draft; this year I plan (so far) to keep to my labors. That’s one idea, anyway.
If this happens to you, then bless you. It’s time to make plans. Do fun things. Follow through on plans you’d made before the detour into the medical world. Maybe you’ve got a respite now. Drink it all down. Use this time. It’s good.