Living in the present, part two

Well, I've told Mom. And I've told my sister. And friend Pens the Lotion Slut is on her way, and I've told the love of my life via voice mail, so I might as well tell the world:

I opened my mouth today for the dental hygenist, and she said, " long have you had that lump on your palate?" and "I'm going to have the doctor look at that" and "Excuse me while I get the camera out to take a picture of that lump" and "We'll just get a 360 on the X-ray on this, and I won't charge you for it, but I want to see the soft tissue involvement."

I laid on the comfy reclining chair with my head in the comfy head-holder and watched the clouds blow past the pine tree branches and tried to come to terms with the fact that the people at my dentist's office--who see a lot of weird shit--thought that I had something in my throat that is Bad News.

You can be as nice as possible when you run into a lesion like the one I have, but one thing is true: when the doc gets solemn, and the hygenist gets solemn, and the person behind the desk is solemn as they make the appointment for you with the oral surgeon who can't see you before Tuesday, you know it's not good.

Not. Good.

I might have cancer.

Really, truly cancer.

I've thought about this so much over the last three hours that it's gone completely third-person.

Radical neck dissection. CT of the neck and chest. Bronchoscopy. Radiation. Chemotherapy. Tracheotomy; not being able to talk.

If it comes to that, no. I may be ridiculous and vain and petty, but I would like to preserve my ability to taste food and swallow steak and Scotch and my relatively-normal-looking face, and not have all that treatment.

They really and truly think I might have cancer.

I look at the thing on the right side of my hard palate, right behind my molars, and I can't believe it. It's big, yes, but it's innocent-looking. Kind of pink, kind of vascular, but not anything weird or lumpy or scary. It's nothing I noticed, for however long it's been growing there.

Now, of course, I know it's there. That side of my throat feels swollen and sore, and though I know it's globus hystericus, I wonder: does that mean that my lymph nodes are involved? Because that decreases the chances of survival from 57% to 17%.

Stoya and Bossman just called. Both of them told me not to panic, to wait for a formal biopsy and diagnosis. Neither of them know how hard that is.

I used to wonder why the first question my patients would ask--via voice or whiteboard--was "When can I get back to work?"

I wondered about that. Why on earth, with a diagnosis like this, would you want to go to work?

Now I know. I plan to ask the doc on Tuesday that very question. Because it's not "when can I go back to work". It's "when can I feel some control again" and "when will people treat me like a normal person" and "when can I pretend everything is okay".

I might have cancer.

The doctor is solemn.

The hygenist hugged me as I left, and told me to take care, and let them know how things turned out.

If I'm dramatic enough about this, maybe it'll turn out to be a false alarm. Maybe I should play it up, and ignore how often I have to pop my ears because the right one feels full.

I am sore afraid.