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Jan 28, 2008

Here’s a letter sent to friends this afternoon:

Jan 28.

Today went to the Severance Hospital to get the information on MRI. Marcella was anxious, and had been for a few days, her belly betraying her. Entering the hospital, a handsome well-designed place which manages to overcome the usual bad-vibes of most such places, I confess to a little flutter, a kind of summation of the past weeks’ ruminations: either it was going to be more probing, next with Endoscopic Ultra Sound, and more limbo, or it was going to be “well, dang, these high tech imaging things that let us see in your body saw something, but, well you know those hi-tech things, sometimes they…..” So we checked in, went to the appropriate door to wait, while 6 or 8 others preceded us in quick succession, all the while Marcella getting palpably more anxious. And finally our name, and in we went. Less than a glance I noted the doctor’s peculiar smile and he quickly said he had good news to report. The MRI showed a perfectly normal pancreas, with nothing wrong. He showed us the MRI images. Marcella had tears coming down her face which the doctor saw as she tried to hide it. I felt a little sense of relief, and being myself, as the doctor was scrolling the MRI image down, saying ” that’s pancreas, and its all OK…” and then as he scrolled down, pointing out the aorta beside it, I added, “however….” in a droll voice, a little gallows joke. The doctor, getting it, said promptly, “There isn’t any however…” And he smiled, and after a few more words, off we went.

So, thanks to the “miracle of modern medicine” I got a few years worth of philosophical ponderings condensed into a few weeks, a good workout for those thoughtful mental glands.


Then we went to the fertility lady, and are lined up for an in vitro attempt in March. Caught the bus home, and in front of Jongmyo’s Citizen’s Park we stopped by my favorite Korean donut lady and treated me to a donut. Arriving at the intersection just before our place the light was changing, and Marcella asked “shall we try to make it” and she began to run. I hesitated as it was late, and then donut in hand started to race and then tripped, hands first to the pavement just as the light changed. Got up promptly with scuffed and bleeding hands, ate the rest of my donut and scampered on across. Well, there’s lots of ways to go….

To all of you who sent me a little note of encouragement (and thankfully no one descended to the maudlin), thanks much, and I guess I better not yell “Wolf!” again for a good long while.

Anyway it was a good day. And now back to work.

This all began a short 14 days ago, thanks to a free full-tilt medical exam from the university. It’s seemed a lot longer than 2 weeks, doubtless courtesy of the heightened awareness of time slipping by as one pondered just what to do in the perhaps limited bit left. Lessons in philosophy, indeed. While I can’t say I was immune to certain negative thoughts in these weeks, by and large I was accepting of fate, whichever way it might go, and certainly I considered what options to take in case the word was that time was minimal, and I promptly in my mind set to calculating what condition might be at hand, and what might be done under those. If at all possible we hope – Marcella agrees in this – that at some stage while still functional and useful, to go to some less fortunate realm of this world where whatever we have learned and can pass along that would be genuinely useful, to teach (and to learn), and give whatever possible. My experience in India 5 years ago suggested this wasn’t just an idle thought, and seemed to demonstrate that indeed there is something useful to offer. So now, with this inadvertent reprieve, perhaps it is time to begin to take more concrete steps towards this. Among the thoughts which floated by these last weeks were those.

Curiously, but perhaps predictably, on hearing this “good news” there was a sense of deflation, of anti-climax. I certainly felt it in Marcella who had hidden her anxieties pretty well, though I saw them clearly, and they rushed to the surface, tangible and visible when the doctor said all was OK. Afterward in both of us there seemed a quizzical sense of confusion – we’d both psychological prepared ourselves, even if we had not quite realized it, for, if not the worst, at least for something, and suddenly, capriciously as this had arrived, everything was again normal. Well, maybe not really. A tart reminder that life is limited. And in this case a good reminder.

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