What A Week
Going to doctors is hazardous to your health. This was a bad week.
If you stay out of doctors' offices the worst thing that can happen is you drop dead unexpectedly. But once a doctor examines you, two things can happen: they can find something, or they can scare the pants off you by telling you they might have found something. They can call in a specialist, and the two of them can stand around talking medical shop to each other, and then the first one says to the second one "mmmm, we'd better do a biopsy, mmmm, just to be sure, check it more closely…" and the second one says "mmmmm, um hmmm…"
Then they say they'll call you and it takes ONE F***ING WEEK to get an answer and every day you are going over and over what they really said and what you think they said, and then when the doctor doesn't call you figure "Oh, Christ, they've got really bad news and he doesn't know how to tell me."
And you imagine the worst, because it's one thing if this thing they found were on a piece of you that you can live without when they cut it off, but it's another thing if it's in a place where there is nothing to cut off, you know?
And it turns out that it's the worst of all when it's your wife.
And you think of the heartbreaking stories your friend in your writing group writes about losing his wife and you say that's it. I've got to quit that group. I can't take it any more.
And you think about how you both stay in shape, and you work out and ride your bike, and you eat healthy food, and all those ice cream comes you didn't have, and for what?
And you wake up at 2am and you're awake until dawn, thinking: Damn. I always figured I'd be the first one to go. So then it starts.
You sit on the sofa watching TV, both of you scared out of your minds, and you put your arms around her and say "I love you." And she says "I love you." And you say to yourself "I don't tell her that nearly enough." And it sounds like a cliche from the Women's Network, but it's true. So you say "I love you" again and she says "I love you" again and, slowly, it starts to make you smile.
And your friend tells you to count your breaths when you can't sleep, that fear is like a tiny pilot light you can't put out, and you must keep it tiny or it can ignite and consume you.
And you go for a hike like you've been promising. And you both lose a bunch of weight because you're too frightened to eat and anyway nothing sounds good.
That's when the doctor e-mails and says "let's set up a telephone appointment tomorrow at 11:15," and you think, "Oh, God, that's it! He'd give me good news by email, but he wants to talk. He can't face giving us a death sentence by email."
So you think it's time to call your kids, but one's on a plane coming home from Israel, so you call the other one, and now she's petrified too.
And then the doctor cancels the phone appointment because he says he hasn't gotten the pathology report back yet. This scares you too. Maybe he's out getting drunk so he can face up to giving this kind of news to a faithful, long-time patient.
And NOW you are a total wreck, so the two of you lie down on the bed at three in the afternoon, the day before yesterday, and then the phone rings. You are listening by your wife's side, and you hear the doctor's voice, and then the expression "Benign Freckle."
And, because this is how sick you are, the first thing you think is "Freckle? F**K you, freckle. This is no little freckle!" But then you remember "Benign."
You hear "I wouldn't worry about it."
You hear "Sorry it took so long to get the report."
You hear "We'll look again next year."
And you hear your wife say "We were really worried" and he answers "Ha ha, well, nothing to worry about."
And then she hangs up the phone and you both start to laugh. And laugh. And you call your daughter and she laughs too. And you dance the chicken dance around the room with your wife and tell her you love her several more times and she says so too and then you go straight to Mitchell's for a toasted almond on a sugar cone, chocolate dipped.