As I stared at the flashing numbers on a computer screen at Stanford’s Oncology Clinic F, I stupidly thought, Yossarian‘s got nothing on me. Numbers in the high normal range mean that I’m not sick enough to treat, but not well enough to dodge the diagnosis. The doctor’s eyes twinkled and I’m sure that behind her mask, she smiled. We take a watch-and-wait attitude, she intoned in a broad accent that might have been from anywhere east of Paris. I shook my head. I didn’t mumble “wait-and-see”, because that would have been rude. I just drew a deep breath and thought, That’s some catch, that Catch-22.
The week had already promised to be challenging. Mechanical failures in my tiny home had strained my patience through the weekend. Parts had been shipped, and I had spent a reasonable night of comfort in a Palo Alto hotel. I had hoped for better news. The pronouncement “not bad enough for treatment, but definitely there” had to suffice. I drove home by way of Lodi, deposited my flat tire, and headed to the park.
The next day saw round two of the maybe-giants. Over video, from another Stanford clinic, the doctor taking calls for my neuro-muscular specialist opined that an inconclusive biopsy meant that his colleague’s opinion could be disregarded. I questioned him as closely as the faulty audio allowed. At the end of the call, I sat staring at my reflection in the mirror at the back of the cabinet of my mother-in-law’s secretary. My penultimate remark reverberated: It seems that every time I get a different doctor, I get a different diagnosis. He had quite literally shrugged.
A hectic weekend looms. I’m helping host the last Sunday Market of the 2022 season, a huge affair with twenty vendors, food, music, a bar, the local volunteer fire department, and a visit from St. Nick. Unless the rain drowns our visitors, it should be an amazing day. By late Sunday, I will be exhausted. I’m tired already from a hard-driving work week.
This evening, I made myself a simple supper. I divided the fare between two of my prettiest plates. With a drink at hand, I sat at my little live-edge cherry-wood table and thought about my friend Sheldon, who made the lovely thing from part of a fallen tree. I closed my eyes and breathed. My legs ache, my feet tingle, my back creaks, and my neck can barely move. But before me sits delicious food served on beautiful china, with cool spring water in a chilled tin cup. Just what the doctor ordered.
It’s the eighth day of the one-hundred and eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.