So I need to update this blog. At the end of the day, this story is about a journey. And truth be told, the journey began long before the road trip with Bartowsky. But more on that another time.
For now, I had the first test on Friday. So far, so good on that one. Full results in a week, but only one polyp found and removed and shipped off to some top secret lab for testing. The doc said that if it was pre-cancerous, he still would not need to see me for five more years. I'll take that as a win.
I had the second test yesterday. I have told a couple of friends that I am nuclear now. The PET scan uses a solution that is nuclear in composition -or so I have been told. Am I glowing? If so, are you absolutely sure that it is from the nuclear stuff? The test itself was crazy. Do this experiment: Recline on a padded board with your hands over your head. Breathe normally. But don't move for 25 minutes. Wow! I quickly discovered what I already know; I am out of shape. And a wiggle worm. I can hear my third grade teacher now. She was hot. But she tied me to my chair. You could do that back then and no one would get sued. I was a "wiggle worm." Still am. Confined spaces? Restraints? I am going to kick against the goads. I am going to try to get out of it.
"Calm the mind, grasshopper. Be still and at peace. Breathe deeply through your nose and out through your..."
"Um... no. Got. To. Get. Out. Of. Here. NOW!" Panting. Gasping. Red in the face.
I thought the results would take a couple of days or longer to wind their way from the PET scan doc to my doc to her nurse and then to my ear. Turns out that I got the results today. Mixed review: The lung nodule is benign. YES! Yes, yes, yes! However, they found lesions in my esophagus and now want to do an EGD (upper endoscopy). I'm sorry. What?
So, to recap, I had chest pains and went in. Cut the trip with Bartowsky by four days and drove like a mad man across the country. Did 110 MPH in South Carolina. No kidding. 110. In a Toyota. So, they did a scan for the chest pains and said that the test was fine, but they found a nodule on my lung. I then went for a CT scan and they said that they weren't so sure about the scan. I then went for a PET scan -where they insert a nuke fuel rod into your veins -and they said the nodule is benign and to monitor it (read, "scan") every six months. Oh and they want to take a closer look at the esophagus. Something is no bueno with the old 'gus. This is some trajectory that I seem to be on. However, at the end of the day, the ride so far has taught me a few things -no matter how the EGD-Gus-thing turns out. So what are the lessons I've learned from this?
First, God is good. Everyday is a gift. It is incredible just to wake up and hear my new daughter snoring. Or my wife, for that matter. Tiny freight trains circling the base of a Christmas tree on December 25th. Every. Single. Day. I forgot that. I wrapped myself in layers of planning and thinking and debating and worrying and being tied up with work and making ends meet and this thing with that person and that thing with this other person and the wife and the kids and... Wait. Be still in the darkness. Stop for just a minute. Just one solitary minute out of a day filled with 1,440 minutes. Be thankful that there is at least one more day, or even part of a day, or even just that particular minute. Another second in the land of the upright. There is still work to be done. There is still a reason for existence. Even if it is only to be thankful. In that minute. God is good. All the time.
Second, perspective is vital. I lost my perspective. I have been so wrapped up in me. Self-absorbed. Narcissistic to a fault. What will I do? What will I work on? How will I spend the rest of my life? And then you walk into a clinic, or a hospital, or an endoscopy center where the patients are lined up like cattle along the walls with nothing but a thin curtain chute between them. You hear the stories through paper-thin whispers. The silence speaks volumes as well. And you realize that no matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse. Guilt, care for others, and thanksgiving intertwine in a strange dance that destroys balance. You are not the center of the universe. And possibly not even the center of your own universe. Or you return to work from your colonoscopy and find out that while you are worrying about a lung nodule, a co-worker has discovered that she is in stage three breast cancer. She's 33. Married. Planning a life with her husband. Thirty-three! And another co-worker, a friend, no, more than a friend-a "sister from a different mister" -reminds you in routine conversation (no kidding) that her adoptive son lost his young and besieged biological mother recently. As in death. As in the mother that didn't have much time for him because... Because of the little sister he barely knows. The child she didn't give up. Because of the dog. Because of the weather. Or because of the drugs that robbed both her son and her of youth... and eventually robbed her of her life. And your heart breaks and bleeds. For her, and her, and him, and the faceless voices in the clinic or the hospital. And it seeps out into the vast unknown. And you want to take another minute and regain some perspective.
This rocket ship has been a blessing of empathy and perspective and thankfulness poured out in early morning hours. Or in the car driving home. Or in the clinic. Or while trying to be completely still on a padded board for twenty-five minutes. It has been a payload of benevolence delivered in mere weeks of life. How wonderful! How undeserving, and at the same time, appreciative, I am of this gift. We are to be salt and light for others. Those we like. Those we don't. And the vast multitude in between. And all of this poking and prodding, and pinpricks, and IVs and scanning has reminded me of that fact. At the beginning and end of life, we are all connected. We often forget in the multitude of years between those two formative events. That is until the exponential blessings found in a health crisis reminds us. Wait a minute. One more minute to the two that came before.
I am scheduled for the EGD on Friday. And sure, I'll be praying ahead of time. But in those prayers, I will also be joyously thankful for any days that I am given. And I will be thankful that God loves people. I will be thankful that I remember now...
so do I.