Sunday, December 18, 2011

Medical roller coaster

Last night I actually attempted to be a social butterfly and went to two parties (without my husband because he is cranky as he now has my cold). At the first party a friend was talking about the medical roller coaster of having a heart attack at 43 and now living with the constant what if fear. She said she has a stent and has changed her life - taking better care of herself, quit smoking, etc but constantly wonders what if her arteries are clogging again. She asked her cardiologist and he tells her that since she tests well on stress tests and feels okay the assumption is that her arteries are doing fine. There is no way to tell if they are opening up more or slowly clogging up again without some invasive tests. She feels like she is living in constant limbo. I talked to her a bit about it how learning how to balance the ups and downs of the medical roller coaster. Its just learning to cope and it has its definite ups and downs. Its not just cancer that puts you on that lovely roller coaster.

At the second party, despite the unexpected arrival of Santa Claus to replenish the miniscule beer supply (really he showed up with a case of beer), the elephant was clearly in the room. The host of the party is living the 'chemo for life' program with a stubborn case of Stage IV colon cancer. While he looked pretty good and was socializing with his ever present bottle of water, he did need to sit down for the bulk of the party and at one point snuck off to find one of the really good drugs his oncologist provides. He is on the same medical roller coaster but one with steeper hills and bigger drops but was talking less about it. I am not sure everyone realizes how serious his situation is. His treatment only has one end. When I left I wished him well on his upcoming scans this week. They will tell the story we hope will bring a merry Christmas.

So the medical roller coaster is alive and well for many of us and takes many forms. How scary a ride is a matter of perspective.

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