Is that like being a little bit pregnant? Can you be a little bit hopeful? Maybe you can, maybe most people can, but I'm a little black-and-white, a little all-or-nothing about my hopefulness. I find it hard to just hope a little. Even if I know that I probably shouldn't get my heart set on something working out in a particular way, if I let myself be a little optimistic, I find myself dejected when whatever it is I was hoping for doesn't come to fruition.
I accompanied Bubba on Monday afternoon to a new doctor. One who is supposedly THE pancreas guru. Type his name into an Internet search engine and prepare yourself for the onslaught of medical-ese that will flood onto your computer, folks. Given that, I can't say I went in expecting much. Three years of meeting doctors who were sure they could decipher my overachieving husband's mystery malady and watching them slowly, over weeks and months, begin to scratch their heads and shrug their shoulders like schoolboys caught shoplifting smokes has dampened my optimism. Forgive me.
I wasn't even planning on going to this appointment. Since the last episode, post-surgery, I have distanced myself from the micro-managing of this particular affliction. For my own sanity, I decided it was time for me to abdicate responsibility for driving the investigation. Besides, I reasoned, it would be empowering and important for Bubba to take the lead on this. I hadn't realized how much that gorilla weighed until I removed it from my shoulders. Fear in the pit of my stomach - gone, thankyouverymuch. He wasn't going to die from this (I don't think), and my inability to find the answers singlehandedly didn't amount to abandonment. Time and energy to devote to other pursuits - welcome!
Lest you think I am some coldhearted bitch who doesn't care, let me assure you, I still worry about what happens when he collapses again (we are, after all, eight weeks in to the twelve-week countdown, so the clock is ticking loudly in my head). I will most assuredly arrange for someone to watch the children while I rush him to the ER and I will sit next to him, reassuring him that we'll get through this again. I will harass the doctors and nurses to pay more attention to him than they possibly can, and I will ask as many questions as they let me before they have an urge to scream and slap me. It is just that I've given up trying to be in control of all the appointment scheduling and web surfing for answers, listing the history for each and every physician we see, collecting records and transporting them, following up on lab tests and recommendations. Nope, I'm done, and it's his turn. And it feels great.
But, as Bubba left for work on Monday morning, he turned to me and asked if I would meet him at the doctor's office, I found myself grateful that he wanted me to come. After we were shown to the exam room and the doctor arrived, I sat meekly and silently (something I find nearly impossible to do under most circumstances) and listened to Bubba relate the entire history of this unknown disease. He had brought every CAT scan, blood test, surgical report and endoscopy report for the doctor to look over and as the two of them talked, I found myself liking this physician. Through their conversation I gathered that he was impatient on our behalf and understood our frustrations. Whoa, girl, went the inner monologue. Just because he symphathizes doesn't mean he will be able to help. Slow down.
He didn't seem to be in any hurry to get on to his next patient, and, although he physically examined Bubba, most of his time was spent clarifying details of specific treatments and tests from the past three years. As we went on two hours in his office he acknowledged that he had seen similar ailments but none quite this severe. Normally that would have elicited an eye-roll from me (duh!), but he followed that up by providing some plausible explanations for why it follows the pattern it does and what he would like to try and do about it.
I didn't expect any forehead-slapping revelations and, it's a good thing because there weren't any lurking in any of the sterile corners of that exam room. What we got instead was a physician who wants to start small but soon and gather as much information as he can to verify his thoughts. Armed with 30 years of expertise and three years of background medical information on my husband, he didn't give us any pie-in-the-sky proclamations about how he'd have this cleared up in no time or it wouldn't require surgery. While those things may have been welcome at one time, by now we can recognize the smell of that particular cow patty a mile away. I can't say that I'm optimistic we will learn enough in the next four weeks to prevent another trip to the ER, and I'm actively trying to quash any hope that I have that there is some magical cure out there, much less a name for this thing, but I trust this doctor to do his darndest to get us as close to that as he can and I guess that's all I can ask of him. Wish us luck!