Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Parole Officer

I always know when it is time to check in with my oncologist. In my case, it's still every 3 months. The 2 weeks or so beforehand like an alarm clock my pulse starts racing a little faster. My heart is a little more on my sleeve and tears well up even before I know it. I start questioning the meaning in my life. "I survived cancer for this?" I think as I walk again through the River entrance of the Pentagon into the fluorescent lit hallways where I will remain tethered in a windowless room for the next 10 hours until about 8 pm when I get to go home and jam some food in my mouth before scooping Luke up to bed in his cowboy boots (he sleeps in them) and to read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" for the umpteenth time. There's not a lot of variety to our routine, unless of course I get to drive to Rockville after work to pick Amelia up from gymnastics, like I did the day that Anwar Al Awaki was killed by a US drone in Yemen and I had been on the air straight since 6 am. Yeah, two years out and sometimes I feel like I want to jump off the pedestrian bridge that connects North Parking to the Pentagon (except I'd probably just injure myself so even that would seem like a waste.) I always know it is time to check in with my oncologist when I leave Luke's preschool in tears, feeling battered from the morning routine and worrying that the stress of the year with cancer has turned him into a more than terrible two. A friend of mine whose lymphoma is in remission says the return visit to the oncologist is like checking in with your parole officer, a reminder to get back on the straight and narrow, to eat a little better, to exercise a little more and to stop stressing about the small stuff. And yes I usually feel better a day later. Just the psychological relief that comes from seeing Dr. Isaacs usually gives me some sort of relief - or it may be the cathartic cry that comes every time that I leave her office and find myself sobbing so hard I can't catch my breath once Solomon (the valet at Georgetown's Lombardi Center who knows me so well by now) brings my car and I smile long enough until I buckle my seatbelt. I guess this is normal, as is the need to fill a prescription for xanax at each visit, just in case - though I don't use it or need it. It's nice knowing they are in my medicine cabinet for those sleepless nights when I fear getting a call from my parole officer.