"Kaity! In here!"
I stopped and tried to locate the sweet little voice, and finally realized it was coming from the car stopped just ahead of Hope and I. As walked closer, I saw a face peering out at me - one of my nurses from Radiology. We had shared the fact that we live in the same neighborhood, but I never really thought I'd run into her.
She asked how I was doing and when I would be in again. She would be there too. I feel like I have a little family in that department now. And while I'd love to see them without getting speared in the side, I am so grateful to have them in my life.
And that's all I felt as I walked on after our talk - gratitude.
* * *
I never liked doctors before I met my father-in-law. He is a brilliant radiologist who loves bones more than anyone should really be allowed to love bones. He is passionate. He works hard. But he is also kind and soft-spoken and humble. He is the opposite of what I always pictured doctors to be in my mind.
Shortly after I met my father-in-law, Dr. Ginder came into my life. I may be biased - seeing as he is the oncologist who saved my life the last time - but he is also brilliant and passionate and hardworking coupled with kind and soft-spoken and humble.
Between the two of them, I started to think maybe doctors weren't so bad.
* * *
What my nurse didn't know when she called out from the car was that just before I turned the corner and heard her calling my name, I was fighting back tears. I've taken to walking my old running routes lately, and I don't think I ever realized that each one takes me down my favorite strip of my neighborhood. Or maybe I should say what used to be my favorite strip of my neighborhood. It contains a long block of what seems to be nothing but windows - windows that now reflect back a body that I can not stand to look at.
So every time I walk through there, it feels like walking through a field riddled with landmines.
Having avoided mirrors for days, I had convinced myself my belly was not actually that large. Until I encountered those windows today.
And then I just wanted to cry.
Until she called my name.
* * *
By the time I left Durham, I didn't much care for doctors anymore.
Sure, there were doctors like Dr. Ginder and my father-in-law, but the majority of them I could do without. Fortunately, I had little reason to interact with many doctors - my Hodgkins stayed solidly in remission and even after my BRCA1 diagnosis it was primarily Dr. Ginder or radiology technicians that I spent my time with.
When you were the kid that bit the doctor (see previous entry) being throwing into a situation where you find yourself in a hospital 3 or more times a week is harrowing. And even if you never bit your doctor, I'd be willing to wager that being stuck and prodded as often as your typical cancer patient is is liable to send anyone - even the most strong stomached - directly over the edge.
For me, its almost always scary being in the hospital. I'm deathly afraid of needles. I get claustrophobic in the MRI machine. I frequently feel like I'm getting information I don't fully understand. And without one person who can consistently go to things with me, its on me to remember everything the doctors tell me, remember all the questions to ask, and sift through all the information and figure out how to convey it to other doctors or how to implement it at home. I often feel overwhelmed.
But after my chance encounter with my nurse today, I couldn't help but think of all the people in that hospital who help make a scary, overwhelming situation a little easier to bear.
* * *
For as difficult and sad and frustrating as this situation may be, I also find myself filled with gratitude more often than I can count. Many days, that gratitude finds its focus in someone at the hospital. A phlebotomist who took the time to compliment something about my outfit. The research nurse who always gives me as much time as I need to get my questions answered. The radiology nurses who hold my hand during the entirety of procedures and who remember my favorite post-procedure snacks. Dr. Carter, who might rival even me in how frustrated she gets with people who ask her patients if they are pregnant.
Everyday, these people make the road just a bit easier with their kindness. They make it a little easier to get through one more day.
* * *
As I turned another corner, I couldn't help but think less of my belly and more of all the blessings I've been given in this space. Not that they hadn't occurred to me before, but sometimes we need God to drop a little angel into our lives to make us really focus on those blessings. And I have so many. The friends (and their moms!) who have given so much time to feeding me, driving me, sitting with me, talking to me. The people who keep sending cards and packages, even when I can't keep up with the thank yous. The guy who is painting my house to get its energy back in balance, the yogis helping me ease back into my practice, the colleagues keeping my practice afloat. The people in the rooms who help keep me sober even when I can't get to a meeting. It overwhelms me when I stop to think about it.
I don't do that enough in my everyday life. Sure, I acknowledge my blessings and thank God for them daily, but I don't focus on them enough. For as cliche as it sounds, its so easy to take them for granted when things are going well.
And its easy to forget them when they aren't. Or to give them less weight that we ought to. And we need God to remind us that even when it seems like everything has fallen away, quite a bit has stayed. And quite a bit will be delivered.
I am grateful.