“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength!”
I like to laugh. It’s part of who I am and I laugh a lot! So it was only natural for me to laugh when the cardiologist looked at me in that almost patronizing, almost caring, almost tearful manner. “So I’m no longer a miracle then?” I asked before another little giggle slipped out.
“I am very sorry” she started. The woman was too close to me. I could hear what she was saying. I guess I already knew but she was just too close to me! I could smell her shampoo and see the beginnings of fine lines around her eyes and mouth. Her lips were stained pink and they twisted as she repeated the words I already knew! I understood every word but I just couldn’t concentrate. Her nose was inches away from my face and I had this awful urge to bite it! It was just right there, in my face!
“Are you ok?” she asked again and again. How many times did I have to say yes? “Are you sure you are ok? This is a lot to take in and I understand it is extremely difficult news for you. Are you sure you are ok?” I noticed the silk of her shirt and the ring on her finger. I wondered how much she gets paid for doing this job. Was the fine silk shirt just part of a casual ensemble for her and was that simple but expensive and classy necklace part of her everyday collection? Perhaps it was a gift..from a man? I wondered when did she last have sex? Did she enjoy it? What will she have for dinner tonight? Does she have kids…or was that taken away from her too?
I realised she was still talking. Still being the concerned consultant. I felt a lump in my throat as pools of water found their way to my eyes. I took a deep breath and told her one final time that I was OK and stood to leave. I was not getting caught up in her moment of feeling emotion for a patient. I was not upset, I had always known this day would come. I just didn’t think it would be today!
There was no new information to be understood or evaluated. I had researched it all already. I had a choice of two heart valves: a pigs valve or a mechanical valve. The pigs valve wouldn’t last very long and ran the risk of being rejected by my body. Major heart surgery is not something I would like to have done on a regular basis, I certainly wouldn’t class it as a hobby! The mechanical valve was more permanent, it would last for the rest of my life. Although this may seem like a ‘no-brainer’, there is however a catch. There is always a catch! To enable the blood to pass through this mechanical valve, a daily anti-coagulant drug must be taken. The particular drug used for this today is known as warfarine and unfortunately for me, this drug will not allow a child to develop in the womb.
So there is my choice; take up open heart surgery as a hobby with the constant risk of my body rejecting the valve, or play it safe, get fixed and forget about ever having children of my own.
As I left the hospital I tried to keep a clear head. I wanted to keep it simple and stay positive. I had two exams in the next week and I was dreading breaking the news to my family. I didn’t have time to be upset or think and rethink my options. I was given six months and right now I had exams to pass and nothing was getting in my way!