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By the morning the pain was so bad I could not breath properly and was turning slightly blue. My brother took me, my Mom and our dog in his car, and the driver drove my car back. We went directly to the hospital, where the first thing I asked for was a pain killer. After it took effect, I could literally breath again.
The family doctor, a very charming, polished, good looking man came in, and after telling him what happened, he ordered an ultrasound of the gallbladder and liver. A couple of hours later it was done, and the results came in that evening. I remember him coming into my room looking rather pale and worried, and I thought “oh oh! Bad news!”. With a strained smile he said that the results were in, but inconclusive. What he would like to do is a biopsy.
I know what that means. My Father had died of lung cancer, and to diagnose it properly he had had a biopsy. Suddenly the room started to shrink and get darker. I wasn’t going to faint. I just felt hollow inside, as though I was a stuffed doll, with all the stuffing taken out. I looked at my doctor and he had such a look of pity in his eyes, which confirmed it to me.
I said No.
He was totally taken aback. He said it won’t hurt, you won’t feel a thing. And I said I know. But if it is malignant, it’ll spread much quicker if pricked. I don’t want a biopsy, I don’t want any kind of therapy, chemo or radio; all I want is palliative. Just minimum pain please.
The room was totally silent. My Mother, brother and cousin were there besides the doctor, all were in shock. I was very adamant and very emphatic. NOTHING. Just pain killers. My doctor said, it is probably an abscess, but we have to be sure. That is why we need a biopsy. I said, no biopsy, but treat it like an abscess. So they started me on a drip of antibiotics to bring down the fever and try control the “abscess”.
It had been a very long day and my brother insisted that Mom goes back to the apartment, have a good night’s sleep, as it looked like a long haul.
When everybody left, my brain started churning. OK. I am one of the lucky ones who are given advance warning. I should prepare myself to meet my Maker. But first I have to put my affairs in order. I had the handling of my Mom’s and my finances. This had to be transferred to my brother and he has to know how to take care of our Mother, her medication, her check-ups, her emotional needs as after my Father passed away she had felt very vulnerable and mostly scared, so she needed a great deal of reassurance and patience. After getting my worldly affairs in order, I have to start my spiritual journey, in preparation for meeting my Maker. As I continued to think, I discovered that the cinematic effect of closing the lense so that you can only see through a small round of faint light in all this darkness was quite true. The world was reduced to just one small point of faint light, the rest was all black. It already felt like I was preparing to get into a coffin. I was not scared, I was still in shock, tinged with some regret at all I would be missing out on. It was a vey long and painful night. I must have dozed off because the next thing I saw was the slight lightening of the dark outside my window, a new dawn. I wonder, how many of those were left for me. I hope to God I can finish this most difficult part of what is left of my life with as much fortitude as possible. The most difficult part would be my family’s feelings, especially my Mother. She will have to be made to accept. Especially as she had transferred all her dependence to me after my Father passed away.
The following few days were the longest of my life. Trying to cope with the overwhelming realization of my fairly imminent mortality, as well as my family’s feelings of hurt, anger, denial and frustration.
It took eleven days of pumping antibiotics into my bloodstream through a drip for my fever to break. And for the first time since I was hospitalized, my doctor looked slightly hopeful. I was very weak, but the fever broke, which meant that my body reacted to the antibiotic, which in turn meant that there was a better probability that the lump seen on the ultrasound was actually an abscess. A ray of very cautious hope. I did not want to believe, just so I won’t be disappointed and that would be even worse than before. Disappointment after hope is so much sharper.
A more specialized technician in ultrasound of gallbladders was brought in, and another ultrasound was taken, which clearly showed the “lump” as an abscess!
I wanted to believe it but could not bring myself to do so, I was too scared. What if they were wrong? Can I really afford the disappointment, will I have the strength to continue if it turned out to be incorrect?
The family doctor was jubilant. He started talking about an operation to remove the abscess, which, unfortunately meant the removal of my gallbladder as well. The best surgeon in that area was a military man who was brought in to take over my case. He was an older, tall, striking looking man, with a roving eye. But was extremely gentle with me and very patient, explaining everything in detail. The medical decision was made and the operation was scheduled for the following week as they wanted to give me time to recover from all the antibiotic pumped into me.
To be continued …