I Think Therefore I’m Not

As much as I write a good game, and talk a good game, I don’t think as good a game as I write and talk. As I sit and write this column, on Saturday, January 14, I am four days away from my regular, recurring, quarterly CT Scan, scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, followed up almost immediately by my normal post-scan, face-to-face appointment (I have had telephone appointments) with my oncologist two days later on Friday, January 20. As you all are reading this column, it’s almost like real time, except you only know my feelings and some dates, but not the results/facts.

Nor do I, of course, as of this column’s publication and of your reading it, and therein lies the reason for this column. Waiting, wondering, worrying and hoping is what I/Team Lourie will be doing for the next six days. And though we’ve all been through it before (nearly eight years of ‘it’), enduring ‘it’ never gets any easier. In fact, it gets more difficult in a way. Partially because, given my original “13 month to two-year prognosis, this waiting for scan results shouldn’t be happening. I can’t help thinking that I’m borrowing time. I wasn’t diagnosed as “terminal” for nothing. I was/am a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, meaning the cancer had (1) metastasized (spread) which is never good and (2) was inoperable, which is self-explanatory. Both of which determine a stage IV diagnosis thereby minimizing one’s options. Ergo, my prognosis. Yet here I am, nearly eight years later, anticipating the results of my next CT Scan to learn whether I’ve been given another reprieve or another reminder of why I was diagnosed stage IV in the first place: tumor growth and/or movement.

Somehow, I must ignore the facts and the statistics, ignore the reality; and as Andy Dufresne said to “Red” in “The Shawshank Redemption:” Get busy living or get busy dying.” Which as you regular readers know is what I try to do, or at least write like I try to do. And to friends and family, it appears to be what I’m doing. However, in my head, six days away from learning my fate (at least for the next three months until my next CT Scan/brain MRI), I am not exactly ‘living’ it. I’m stuck, more or less, between “why worry” and “what if?” As a consequence, I can’t get out of my own way, sort of; heck, I can barely get out of other people’s way.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not moping around “woeing-is-me;” that’s not my nature. But I am having some difficulty deluding myself into thinking (living) that the next few days are somehow a random-type meaningless occurrence that will have no bearing on my life. Quite the contrary, it’s everything. There’s no more important time in my life than waiting for the results of the varying diagnostic tests that I have. And though I remain mostly asymptomatic now, (last week’s column: “Slippery Hope” notwithstanding), I was also asymptomatic (generally speaking) when I was first diagnosed in February 2009. Consequently, feeling nothing does not provide the same comfort and joy as you might think. Granted, feeling symptoms would be worse. But considering that over the years feeling/not feeling symptoms have both lead to encouraging and discouraging results, I’m not comforted by anything until after my oncologist tells me if my warranty has been extended.

Feeling something, feeling nothing; I never know what to feel except fear — of the unknown, and for the next few days, my future is what’s unknown. Living through that is always a challenge. If I’ve convinced readers and friends and family otherwise, all the better. Personally speaking, it’s only easy writing and talking about it. Living it is another story entirely

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