Life changing moments
It started out as a typical day for me almost two years ago. I went out the mailbox to retrieve the mail and saw an ominous brown envelope. No markings and it was addressed to my wife. I generally open all the mail anyway so I tore it open. It was from the clinic that my wife and I go for all of our checkups and general medical needs. I almost did not read the body of it figuring that it was just the results or her mammogram that she had just had about a week ago. She faithfully has her checkups done and so I was kind of expecting the results anyway. But this seemed different… It was not on the typical form letter that I was used to seeing. The letter read that they had been trying to contact her and that she should call her doctor right away. My heart sank.
It quickly ran back into the house and immediately called the clinic and asked to speak with the doctor. The doctor’s nurse answered the call and I again asked to speak with the doctor. The nurse asked what this was in regards to. I explained about the letter we received. She hesitated then explained that my wife was the one that they need to talk to. With frustration building in my voice I explained that I was her husband and that I just wanted to know what this was all about. Without hesitation this time the nursed launched into a standard policy speech explaining that this information could not be released to anyone but the patient. I repeated my request but was again met with standard verbiage. I politely thanked the nurse and slammed the phone down hurting my hand in the process. My ears were red and hot with anger. I would have to wait until she came back from work. I considered calling her at work but decided that was a bad idea.
The rest of the day went by like some nondescript black and white movie. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and had a terrible urge to drink. Of course I didn’t so I just turned on the television and watched like some sort of zombie not listening to anything but the terrible dialog that was going on in my head. What was worse was I was leaving on a business trip the next day.
My wife arrived home at her usual time and I tried to have normal chit chat with her about her day. I asked if she had received any calls from the clinic. She gave me a puzzled look and said no. I couldn’t stand it any longer and handed her the wrinkled balled up letter that I had stuffed in my pocket and read a thousand times. Upon reading it she didn’t even look at me and immediately picked up the phone to call the doctor. It was 5:30pm. The doctor answered and told her that he needed to see her right away and to make an appointment for the morning. Of course I was right next to her and asked her to ask what this was all about. The doctor said it was best if she could come in. I interrupted her and reminded her that I was going to be out of town for the next few days. She could sense the anxiety and the sense of urgency in my voice and explained to the doctor that she would like for me to accompany her on her visit and if there was a way that she could see him today. The doctor said that he was just leaving but could see her first thing in the morning. She explained to the doctor that I was leaving town. Upon hearing this, the doctor agreed to see us. The pit in my stomach sank even deeper. This is bad… This is real bad…
Confronting your fears
My wife looked scared now. I was scared. I asked if she was ready and she replied that she was and so we got in the car and left. The drive to the doctor’s office was a short one but it seemed like the longest car ride I had ever taken. I made some feeble attempts to say that it was probably nothing and not to worry. We both knew that was a lie….
We got to the clinic and the doctor was waiting for us and took us into his office and shut the door behind him. He sat down behind his desk with us seated in two chairs side by side in front. He picked up her folder and pulled out some notes. He said that the results of her mammogram indicated something “suspicious” that he wants checked out right away. He asked for her to disrobe so that he could take a look. After she disrobed he began to probe with his hands my wife’s left breast. He didn’t say much… He asked her to dress again and went to sit down again behind his desk. He looked at both of us and said that he “feels” something “suspicious” as well and would like for her to schedule a biopsy. This news hit us like someone splashed us with a bucket of ice water. I felt sick to my stomach. I looked over at my wife and the blood had clearly drained from her face. She looked up at me with a look that clearly indicated that she wanted; no, she needed me to take the lead on this. My wife has always been the strong one. I was usually the whiny, needy one but I clearly saw that this was my time to take charge.
Despite my urge to fall to the ground and crawl up into a ball I quickly composed myself and took the role that was bestowed upon me. I started questioning the doctor about odds, treatments, timelines and expectations. The doctor recognized my efforts to be strong for my wife and slowed me down and said it would be best to wait for the results of the biopsy before we discuss next steps. I explained again that I was going to be out of town for the next few days. He said that the biopsy could wait until I got back. We thanked the doctor for seeing us and left.
The drive home was quite. When we got home we both did not feel like eating and actually went to bed early. As we lay there we both held each other and cried. In the morning I assumed my role as leader and made arrangements to have the biopsy done on the next day that I was to arrive back from my trip. I kissed my wife like on our wedding night and picked up my bags and left without looking back for I did not want her to see the tear in my eye. The next few days went by like a blur. Each night I called to assure her that everything was going to be okay.
*Stay tuned for part 2 of the story, tomorrow.*