Yesterday, after finishing my lunch at work, I remembered something. Back in September, when the most recent part of my ordeal began, I spent a couple of days in the ER following my lung biopsy. A possible side effect of a lung biopsy is a collapsed lung, and that happened to me – just not right away. They monitored me for a couple hours after the procedure, did a chest x-ray, and all was well so they sent me home.
Since it seems like part of my genetic makeup to always be an anomaly, by the next morning my lung had collapsed. It was a slow leak, like you’d find in an old tire. I returned to the hospital and spent two days in the ER, chest tube inserted and hooked up to suction, until my lung could hold air again. (There is more to this story, but I’m saving it for a humorous essay I’ve been meaning to write for months.)
When I was discharged from the hospital, J and I went looking for a cab to take us home. We walked out of the hospital around 5 pm, which is one of the worst times to look for a cab, because drivers are switching shifts. We wound up wandering the streets for almost an hour until we found a taxi.
Just before finding a cab, we were stopped on the corner across from the hospital waiting for the light to change. I spied the Google Street View car going by, and even though I was exhausted and miserable from our taxi quest, I told J we should pose for a photo.
Yesterday, all these months later, I found us.
There we are, standing on a street corner looking as though we were on a date, or about to go grocery shopping, or anything else normal – anything else but what was actually happening. Sure, we’re anonymous and blurry, but it’s unmistakably us.
Finding this cheered me up a lot. I’ve been wallowing lately, especially at night, since I’m in that period where the excitement of my January scan results has worn off, and I realize the next scan isn’t until April. I’ve been doing ill-advised things, like searching the Internet for answers I’m not going to find about my chances of survival beyond five years. When you’re dealing with metastatic melanoma in the age of immunotherapy, however, it’s unlikely you will find any accurate answers to a Google search. There continues to be a lot of outdated information out there. And everyone’s experience is so different.
So it helped to find this photo, this document of myself at the beginning of the ordeal. It simultaneously reminds me I am: a) completely normal, and as unremarkable as a fire hydrant, and b) a medical anomaly who has amazed my doctors before with my body’s capacity to destroy tumors, and who will likely continue to do so.