Friday, January 27, 2012

State of Denial

Endless Sky, New Mexico
My oncologist called today; the last of the test results have come in and he wanted to discuss treatment options with me.  He asked me if I wanted to come in for a meeting, or if I felt comfortable discussing it on the phone.  I told him that since I was in the middle of New Mexico, I thought perhaps a phone consultation would be best. 

He sounded a bit surprised to hear where I was.  (I guess his staff hadn't talked with him - I DID check with them before I left...)  Apparently most newly diagnosed cancer patients don't take off for the two weeks between appointments and surgery.  Although I'll bet they would if they could.

The final decision on treatment is that I will have a bi-lateral mastectomy done; the surgery is still set for 2/15.  We won't know more about further treatment until after the surgery is complete and the pathology of the tumor is known.  And now on to the interesting part of my week.

I left Kansas City yesterday, and drove through most of Kansas, taking 54, which runs on a diagonal through the state.  The problem with the route I took is that there are no good places to stop in the Flint Hills to take pictures.  And the RV parks are few and far between.  For this first time in the camper van, I ended up spending the night at a truck stop in Meade, Kansas.  It wasn't bad - the noise of the trucks rumbling reminded me of riding home at night after family gatherings up in Browerville in the back of the station wagon as a kid.  I drifted right off to sleep.

I was up bright and early, with the trucks pulling out.  I decided not to take advantage of the breakfast at the local cafe - I'm sure it would have been a carboholic's feast, but it would have sent me straight into a carb coma, and I wouldn't have hit the road until after noon.  I spent a good part of the day driving - I cut across the Oklahoma, the panhandle of Texas, and through New Mexico to Albuquerque.

A few years back, I discovered I could get into the beauty of the plains.  It was windy today, so I got to see a lot of tumbleweeds on their way from where to there.  It made me sad to see so many of them get snagged on the fence that bordered much of the east side of the road.  I wanted to set them free!  Early on, I saw a wolf loping across the road.  (It wasn't a dog, and was too big to be a coyote, so wolf is my best guess.)  He was making good time on his way to whatever appointment he needed to keep.

I was struck by the difference between my drive today and those I'd done just before getting off the road in December.  Out east, if you drive more than two or three hours, you'll miss a beautiful someplace.  Out here, if you drive for two to three hours, you've just gone from nowhere to nowhere else.  The distances are long, the sky stretches to the horizons.  It is a different beauty, one that calls to trucks that can cover the distance and haul the loads.  Not much room for econo-cars out on the plains.

It's a good place to be alone with your thoughts, especially if you have a lot of thoughts that need thinking, as I have these days.  The drives these last few days were long, yes.  But they gave me the room I needed to settle some things in my head. 

Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.


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