I take terrible care of myself. Regular doctor visits are not something I do. I bring the boys to the doctor at the slightest sniffle, but when it comes to my own health I get all “maybe I should put some Windex on it!”
That’s a terribly medical care philosophy. With kids at home and another reunion around the corner, I figured it would be “responsible” to actually seek attention. For Pink Eye. Gross. The doctor called it a “parental right of passage” so I feel a bit better, but still….icky.
I wish I had a viable excuse for not visiting the doctor more often. There’s the ever present chance that cancer will return and the health repercussions of chemo are going to be felt pretty soon now I’m sure. I need to go to the doctor more often. A decade into remission and I still expect just terrible news at every doctor appointment.
It’s not the fear of bad news that keeps me away from doctor offices though. It’s the medical history questionnaire. I was twenty years old when I was sick. That was a lifetime ago really. I don’t necessarily enjoy talking about how I could eat only toast every other Thursday, or how even the slightest off putting smell could force me from a room. Or how seat belts needed extra padding so they wouldn’t affect my port.
It is fun to talk about my bone marrow exam and accidentally kicking the old woman charged with holding me legs down. And the time my college friends all went sledding in the dead of winter and the blood thinner I was on made that whole night laughably miserable. There was the time after my major biopsy that I went to a student teaching observation covered in gauze and assorted bandages around the neck and I really freaked out some 14 year olds. It was not all bad.
I don’t tell my coworkers about my cancer days. I found that once people find out you are a “survivor” there’s pretty limited conversation topics after that. People have a morbid curiosity about cancer. That’s fine, but I don’t want to be the “guy that had cancer” at the workplace. I write about it here because at the end of the day this is meant to be an author blog and the experience certainly affects the stories I tell. It has to.
Still, rehashing the experience is a bit off. It was a time in my life marked by needles and blood stained La-Z-Boys (the doctor’s office had some pretty gross chairs), and shambling down poorly lit hallways for exercise. Talking about it makes me “the cancer guy” and that is pretty limiting. I’m much happier being known as the “Middling Author Guy” or “The Poorly Plotted Serial Guy” or the “This Dude Has Kids? Guy”. It is a chapter from long ago that still has its importance. Like when Ned Stark met his end. It’s important to how we got here, but it really doesn’t matter any more.
At the wife’s side family reunion a few weeks back I was asked “how are you doing?” Often. Always in that sympathetic tone. I’m tired because my kids are four and one, not because my white blood cell count is low. I was the cancer guy. I checked out.
I appreciate the crud out of the question, “what are you doing?” Of course right now my answer would be taking terrible care of myself and getting friggin’ pink eye. Timing is important in these situations.