During my last appointment with her, I'd filled Dr. Green in on the details of my mastectomy. I happily reported that the surgeon had declared me "cured"--the tumor's margins were clear and my nodes were negative. Because I had large breasts and wanted to avoid wearing a heavy prosthesis, I'd had a reduction on my healthy breast at the same time. A routine biopsy of that tissue had showed dysplasia--abnormal cells. As a nurse, I'd researched this finding and found scant evidence that it would develop into cancer. My surgeon had concurred.
As I sat on the exam table while Dr. Green stood by the sink drying her hands, I told her I'd decided not to worry about it.
I worry that in the future, doctors won't touch patients. When I put my hand on the foot of a dying patient--and feel that it is still warm and offer measured encouragement--I am doing the work of this profession.
Telemedicine, on the other hand, is part of another world; I don’t wish it to go away, but that it coexist with the tactile, earthy, demanding, inconvenient reality of patients' bodies.
How does a mother not worry when her son is a heroin addict? Yet, counterintuitively, it was letting go of my worry that allowed me to survive.
We were waiting anxiously for a surgery to correct a stricture in our newborn son Ethan's aorta, just four days following another procedure, to repair defects in his throat. After Ethan was prepped for surgery, the cardiovascular surgeon called us aside.
"Our first surgery," he said, "took much longer than we anticipated. We are all a little tired. If you feel strongly that we should go ahead with the operation, we will do it as scheduled. But we would rather wait until Monday."
Ten years ago, I had my first jaw surgery; this past December I had my fifth. The latest surgery also came with radiation to--hopefully--prevent heterotopic bone from regrowing over the prosthetic device in my jaw and from causing me 24/7 pain. And worry.