I took a trip to Houston Wednesday and Thursday for a checkup which gave me fodder for today's post.
Something is Familiar About this Place
After my 4 rounds (2 surgeries, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy) with a sarcoma cancer in 2006 and my regular visits for checkups I have come to think of MD Anderson as an peculiar “second home.” As the plane lands at Hobby and I catch the Super Shuttle to the medical district in downtown Houston the tension builds in the back and the gnawing worry is hard to drown even with an iPod in my ear. Once dropped off in front of the facility at 1500 Holcombe I begin my 30 hrs at the Bighouse. Even the hotel where I bed at night is just a few blocks from this facility which I walk. It is where I stayed for a little over a month in ’06 and it is always good to see, Philip, the man behind the desk.
Still Doing Time
As I flow through the system during my confinement I have some blood drawn, chest x-ray, and a CT Scan or MRI, depending on what the doctor orders. At each station there are many awaiting their turn. As I wait for my name to be called the fellow inmates and I visit about what brings us to this moment in time together. “What are you in for?” I ask. “Got it in my colon” or “I have cancer on my tongue. Can you believe it? I have never smoked or chewed a day in my life!” And then, there was the response, “It has metastasized to my liver and I am up awaiting a transplant.” We all sit quiet for a time when one old fellow, a former pipeliner who is awaiting the transplant, mutters, “Damned cancer!” The rest of us nod in agreement. Language is not always clean in the Bighouse.
Visiting the Parole Officer
After the tests are completed, the next day I visit the doctor who specializes in my particular brand of cancer – Sarcoma. The inmates in this waiting room and I have a particular bond because we’re “in” for the same thing. Conversation is very minimal here because we are all awaiting word of our treatment. Will we be doing more “hard time” or will we get a “pass” for another 3 to 4 months? My doctor gives me a good report and I breathe a sigh of relief. “Doc, It has been almost 2 years now, what’s ahead?” He replies, “The 1st critical period is 3 to 5 years. Then, 5 to 10 and finally 10 to 20. But you should not sweat it until the week you come here for tests.” Then, he released me until January.
My favorite singer sings of his time in prison, “I paid the debt I owed ‘em but they’re still not satisfied. Now I’m branded with a number on my name.” I got one too - xxxx877. As I move from station to station in the Bighouse I have to give them my number so they can look me up and know why I am in and what my treatment is to be. But as the Bighouse’s advertisements say, “I am a life to be continued.”
Today is a Present
As I made my way back to Hobby and flew back to Tulsa and drove home to the pond I thanked God for my good report and prayed for those whose report was disappointing. I have a reprieve for a few months and will be thankful for today and worry about tomorrow when it comes.
Your Pain Isn't About You
3 years ago