Grundoon called me at 2. I was trying to find the hematology oncology clinic at Madigan to ask about an inpatient. I answered the phone and said, "I can talk for two minutes."
"I have a two centimeter mass on the MRI in my left frontal lobe."
I was at a desk in Internal Medicine so I couldn't swear aloud. "Ok, I can talk for longer. Crap."
I felt derailed as I went to track down heme-onc. The Family Practice team had drafted me because they were so swamped. I was helping a medical student with three complex patients. This one had a negative MRI of her head, but we suspect a breast cancer recurrence because she came in with a calcium twice normal and has a normal parathyroid hormone.
I found the oncologist. I said, "I'm not going to quite be coherent because my sister just called and has a brain metastasis recurrence of breast cancer." We discussed the inpatient and my question was answered. No formal consult needed, a "curbside".
Then the oncologist said, "Don't give up hope on your sister. I have a patient who had a brain lesion treated 4 years ago and is doing well. There is still hope."
And that made me tear up. Grundoon and I both go into strong brave mode in a crisis, compartmentalize the emotions of fear and grief. But to have the oncologist say this and her kindness leaves me undone. I don't cry much, a few tears by the elevator. I went downstairs and finished all that I could, then checked out to the team and left by 3:15, to drive the 1.5 hours home, get dressed in black. Our chorus sang the Mozart Requiem, wonderful soloists and orchestra, practicing since September. We will sing it again on Sunday afternoon. I didn't cry during the performance. Our director was teared up by the end. She cried right at the start of a practice last week because she'd asked us to memorize the start of one part. She teared up and said, "Every face was up and I can see you all. You all did it."
This am I was very up. I was on call last night and was called to labor and delivery. When my hospital of 10 years and I parted ways, I decided that I was not leaving town. I would open my own clinic. The loss was that the hospital said that "The district has no plans to share call with non-employed physicians." They were blocking me from doing obstetrics by refusing to let me in the call group. I thought I would not be catching any more babies.
So the delivery was a joy, and the Madigan staff were very kind about me being a novice on the computer and with the paperwork. A delightful 6 pound 7 ounce baby girl.
Joy and fear, sorrow and happiness juxtaposed. I was so happy in the morning about the baby that I thought, oh, dear, no doubt something will break this mood. I'd better drive carefully and pay attention. I thought the MRI would be negative because headaches are definitely not a typical presentation.
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
But there is still hope, says the oncologist. Remember that.