Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fingers Crossed

fingers crossed
fingers crossed,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
I took this photo on July 13. It was on a whim, with the vague idea of using it for a post about the clock ticking towards our wedding date and hoping that USCIS will come through for us in time.

October 1 - wedding in Pennsylvania
October 8 - reception in Vancouver

We're still waiting to hear from USCIS as to the status of David's petition -- the first part of the application process for my fiance visa. There's more to the story, but we'll save it for a dinner party or something (remind me then).

It feels like our fingers and toes have been crossed all summer. We had one BIG hurdle in the spring. The next hurdle was David's petition to USCIS, which is currently underway. The next hurdle is my interview at the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver (which will, to a large degree, determine when I return West).

Never in a zillion years would I have imagined we'd have a health hurdle, too. David was feeling under the weather for a while now, and he wasn't getting better. But a TUMOUR???

I'd been bugging David to go to the hospital because he wasn't getting any relief from what his doctor had been prescribing thus far. We'd figured maybe it was bacterial/viral/stress-related, the symptoms would disappear over time, and in the meantime it was just a matter of finding the appropriate analgesic. How wrong we were.

It was pure fluke that David ended up in the hospital on Friday, despite my hassling that he not wait for the doctor and admit himself into hospital to nip this mystery illness in the bud. His doctor had cancelled all his afternoon appointments on Friday, leaving David resigned to another weekend of pain with only the prospect of seeing the doctor on Tuesday. Out of desperation, David went to Community Medical Center and that's when they ran the battery of tests -- X-ray, CAT scan, bloodwork -- and found this 'chest mass'. That's when David called me to break the news.

I was sitting in the sun on a cafe patio on Denman Street. My friend had just finished telling me her mother had radical surgery the day before to treat cancer.


While this was still registering in my brain, the phone rang. It was David calling from the hospital in a shocked voice to say they found a 4-cm mass in his left lung. I said I would fly asap and asked him to request the hospital fax me his admission papers in case I get interrogated at the border again. (In January I was held at U.S. Customs at YVR enroute to New York and they warned me not to cross without a fiance visa.) I was on my way.

Door-to-door, it took 20 hours to reach David at the hospital. If I could have teleported myself, I would have. Instead, I packed a carry-on bag, pulled an all-nighter on Friday, and set off early Saturday morning:

05:45 - Amtrak coach to Seattle
06:30 - U.S. border officer looks at my passport, hospital papers, airline ticket, asks a few questions, lets me go (RELIEF)
09:15 - King Street station, Seattle
09:30 - Krisanne drives me to SeaTac airport (THANK-YOU KRISANNE!)
10:00 - SeaTac is chaotic
10:40 - FINALLY get my boarding pass, security is a mess
11:00 - AA 198 to New York is delayed by 1/2 hour
12:15 - we finally get off the ground
20:40 - arrive at JFK
21:00 - JFK's AirTrain to MTA metro station
21:30 - subway into Manhattan
22:15 - arrive at Port Authority
22:30 - buy coach ticket to Scranton
23:00 - Martz Trailways coach to Scranton
01:15 - (Sunday) arrive at coach station, Scranton (deserted except for a rabbit)
01:30 - taxi to CMC
01:40 - arrive at CMC, get cleared through security
01:45 - finally see David
02:15 - sent away from CMC, I take the car and go home, greeted by a very confused cat.

The whole journey to get here gave me a lot of time to think things through, as did David. Thankfully we don't fear the same things, so we can support each other in times of trepidation. If we had the same fears, we'd be quite useless to each other in a crisis.

It reminds me of when we were in Toronto a month ago, when I couldn't step out onto the glass floor at the CN Tower. David walked right out onto the floor, finding the whole experience initially scary but overall quite thrilling. I, on the other hand, was wracked with vertigo and only managed to get over the feeling after he offered me his hand and I concentrated on taking a photo of our feet. He made me feel very safe. I want to do the same for him.

I would be remiss if I did not admit that we both put on a 'brave face' when the circumstances call for it. In this case, I'd call David's first entry about his condition a little too upbeat for how he's been feeling. The truth is he's been enduring pain symptomatic to enlarged lymph nodes but treated incorrectly by antibiotics, and the pain has been escalating. He's been taking medication to get through the day and functioning on little sleep because of the constant, spreading pain and nightly fevers. I didn't know the extent of his condition because we were three time zones apart and seemed to lack opportunity for quality conversation and meaningful discussion. There was just so much in the way, not to mention 4,000 kms. Being together has helped us both tremendously.

Now that the biopsy appears to confirm what David researched about lymphoma and what the doctors believe it to be, we can think more positively while we await the full results of the cell samples. Then, the next hurdle is to find a course of treatment that is the most effective and with minimum discomfort. He's suffered enough already, and the toxins released into his body by the offending tumour won't subside until it's taken care of.

We're not uncrossing our fingers just yet.