I am trying to move the language from forever to this moment, in the aiport departure lounge. To loosen up on declaring “You’re always” and “You’re never” and instead say “Right now you are …”
I might think I know what’s coming, but I have no idea exactly what it will look like and when it might happen. For now, the “what ifs” are not dormant, but also not dominant. Regardless, an illness becomes
She is a collector: stamps, coins, wine glasses of various shades and shapes, Donald Duck memorabilia. These are her childhood treasures rediscovered from boxes in the attic. Her mother kept them all, not knowing they would serve a purpose someday. On the nightstand is a recent photograph of this radiant woman with chestnut curls.
The person before me now is an empty vessel and nothing more; her limbs limp, her breaths shallow, her
She looked at me with desperation in her eyes. “I just don’t know,” she said.
“What’s wrong? What don’t you know?” I asked. With tears in her eyes and increased urgency in her voice, M insisted, “I just don’t know…I don’t know. I don’t know!” Hands turning white from gripping the armrests of her wheelchair, she slumped over, shut her eyes and shook her head in honest confusion and fear.
My Dad is eighty-nine years old and has a glioblastoma, the same as former Sen. John McCain. He’s doing well despite his condition, and my siblings and I are surrounding him with support. Someone lives with him full-time, and we have a weekly check-in meeting so we’re all apprised of his current condition and contributing to his health. Based in our home town, my brother and sister are his primary care team; I live two-and-a-half
Not knowing is an uncomfortable state for health professional and patient alike. And it’s striking how often, despite my profession’s reverence for knowledge and certainty, I’m unsure–or simply don’t have the answers.