The other week Mike had his first colonoscopy. I’m sharing this partly because whatever prompted you to have that “GEEZ Mona, another TMI post?” reaction upon reading the previous sentence is what causes most people to miss treating a preventable form of cancer.
Because we have already battled a small bout with cancer, I was more freaked out than Mike was. He was fine going on the requisite liquid diet and drinking the sweet gunk meant to clean out his system, but I couldn’t help thinking, what if? What if this is it and I’ll have to raise Nathan by myself and he’ll end up on Maury Povich as one of those kids who hates his mama and has to go to boot camp or worse yet, Shalom in the Home? Oy vey, that’s meshuggeneh!
I was mostly afraid of the recovery process because my friends, or so-called friends, warned me that he would be out of it, that I should expect taking care of two babies and to find an adult stroller for Mike (answer: wheelchairs!).
So when the nurse told me that the wait would be an hour and a half, I didn’t think it would be two and half panicked-filled hours staring at a clock and haphazardly leafing through last year’s US Weekly (whenever I read old celebrity mags, I feel like I have some psychic power because upon reading about Britney’s thrice-vag-flash, I totally know what happened next,
pathetic tv-addled great pop culture oracle that I am).
During the wait, I watched other patients walk through the recovery doors and I wondered what state Mike would be when he appeared. I was touched by a professional looking guy who practically threw down his laptop and blackberry when his wife was wheeled through the doors. The nurse listed out the results of her colonoscopy, but he just focused on his wife, kissing her cheek, rubbing her hand and saying, “How about we get out of here, sweetheart?”
Having witnessed such a tender exchange, I was floating on love-by-osmosis until the recovery doors opened to a woman accompanying a wheelchaired man, a man who could not stop talking about how much pain he was in and how the doctors said they needed more tests because it could be cancer.
Granted, if you’ve had a camera examining your crevices for a few hours, then you have every right to announce the amount of pain. But not in front of me, dude, especially when I’m waiting for my husband who may or may not have cancer. Let’s get all Depeche Mode and enjoy the silence, mmmkay?
One of the dark and morbid facts about marrying someone significantly older is that it’s likely he’ll die before I do. I grew up with my mother as a widow rather than an active wife and I think about that, especially when I’m in a hospital waiting room, secretly planning how I’ll handle Nathan all by my lonesome. I don’t know if I have these morbid fantasies of planning funerals and obituaries more than other women. I’m not alone in thinking the worst, of quickly jumping to conclusions based only on hearsay and speculation. But while in that waiting room, where I was privy to the open pain of others and faced with my husband’s mortality, it was easy to include myself in that sad sphere.
And just when I had constructed a mental map of where I would spread my husband’s ashes (into ashtrays of the smoking sections that still exist in this country) he doesn’t want to be buried), the doors opened to my husband *walking* out. I wanted to jump up and yell, “I thought you were going to be in a wheelchair!” but I couldn’t do that with Mr. Wheels still within earshot. (Thanks, friends, for instilling fear into my hypochondriac heart.)
Mike held out the laser-printed color shots of his colon. Four windows capturing pink and brown. “Two polyps,” he announced, “but no cancer.”
Smiling at his glamour shots, he reached for the stroller, our sleeping son still inside and said, “Let’s get out of here, Mona. I’m hungry.”