July 9th, 2009:
Today, I walked into Dr. Capaldini's office some 48 hours after my last dreadful appearance, and this time I felt reasonably radiant. The prednisone has taken away the intense pain from my fractured rib. And, as Lisa predicted, I needed a day to be really stupified while my body absorbed the doubled dose of my pain management medication. It felt so wonderful to say Hi! to all the staff in Lisa's office; I had been in such agony just two days prior.
I delivered the CD of my CT scan to Dr. Jahan so that he can take a look and pass it on to his pals in radiology. If the prednisone works for more than short term, then I may not need radiation. If the prednisone only works short term, then I am out of pain for now and can have the tumor radiated. It may seem odd, but I am positively ebullient about both of these possibilites because they mean that the pain is banished. That was wicked pain. Also, Dr. Jahan has talked about having a general bone scan done to see what the cancer involvement is throughout the bones in my body.
On Wednesday during the nadir of my transition from acute pain in my shoulder and dizziness from all the new opiates, I had a most unexpected realization which was that I am deeply taken care of. I have a fine medical team. I could move into Maitri very quickly. I've organized my give away of furniture, rugs, photographs, glass and even some of my more outstanding clothes. I could call on my Very Organized Virgo (VOV) team of friends to dispense everything with skill and haste. I could move from my apartment into high-maintenace care very quickly. That's what I mean by taken care of. I lay on my bed and felt miserably physically, but held within the deeper comfort of knowing that I am not heading into chaos. I could feel overwhelmed without being overwhelmed.
Today I happily returned to work. The fellow who coordinates my output stopped by to say Hi. I told him that I'd had a bit of a health crisis earlier in the week, but felt much better. "Are you OK?" he asked. I haven't advertised my health status at work. I have co-workers who regularly read my blog and comment on the posts as they appear. Most of my other team members just assume that I'm getting better since I look good. My hair is back in full vigor, and I appear daily in brightly colored shirts. Who would guess? "Definitely. Much better, " I replied.
I sat with that prevarication for about ten minutes, and was increasingly unhappy with sidestepping the truth. Time to come out. I went to his desk and asked, "Can we talk?" I could tell that he was in project mode and totally unprepared for the direction we were about to traverse. We sat down in a closed room. "Dave," I began, "I don't know how much you know about my health, but I am terminally ill and expect to be able to stay at work for another six weeks or so. That should get me through the basic work on documenting Cost Management." He was clearly stunned. "It must seem surreal to hear this, but I want to let you know. I have excellent doctors and support from friends. I'll move into an end-of-life care facility when the time comes. I've worked at this hospice for over twenty years, so it's a really comforting place for me." The rest of the conversation was a fine example of how someone who is basically caring and empathetic can take in unexpected and fearful information yet stay connected. Dave stayed connected by expressing his sorrow, which was very moving to me. Then, back to work.
Feeling on a something of a roll, I decided that I'd better talk to my boss as well. He has been very supportive of my health ups and downs, but when I see him, he usually tells me how good I look. My hunch is that he has not read my blog for some time. I pulled him into another available office and closed the door. I delivered a similar summary about my declining health, my pleasure at coming to work and being effective, and my need to leave in several weeks. My boss teared up and said, "I am so sorry......we all love you here." Whew, that took me by surprise. And then he treated me to a very succinct dharma talk. "When my old Chinese grandmother was dying we didn't tell her. But she had several months during the Spring and Summer when we visited with her a lot. We loved her and held her and laughed with her, and she loved all of us. That's what you can do for your friends. You can let them love you. They want to do that. Let them love you." Now that's a boss that I cherish. What a wonderful gift.