Friday, September 07, 2007

Midnight Morbidity Madness

Wednesday night, the first night of three that I have to take the steroid pills post chemo, I was tired but wide awake at 11:30 PM. So I came downstairs to the office to check email, or so I told myself. There was not all that much to check, so I did a quick look at the bank accounts (which was a bit depressing, I get paid the first of the month, and do all my bills right away, so the account already looked rather depleted for so early in September). Then for some reason, I decided to Google a bit.

And what did I choose? "Ovarian Cancer Mortality". And so I was off on a journey for about another hour or so, reading depressing statistics about my cancer. One site spelled out something that I had not quite gotten in my head before, that once the cancer is in (or on) the liver, it is considered Stage IV. When I was first diagnosed in March 2006, I was staged post surgery at 1c, only a c because the tumor had "popped" a few days before surgery. So to see that I might now be a four from the recurrence was a bit of a slap in the face! But again, it is not that I don't think about my mortality or that my Duke team has not been upfront about the statistical timeline for my shortened life. It is just that most of the time I don't really think about it, I think about living, living well, not being tired and how to maximize the time with Sofie. (from her perspective, evidently I need to have less rules and play more, which sounds pretty easy when you think about it).

But as the clock approached midnight, I began to really try to absorb all the statistics about how evil and deadly ovarian cancer still is, even with advances in treatments. And I began again to consider the whole quality of life thing, which as you may have noticed, is beginning to be a regular theme here. I went upstairs after midnight, and created a to do list, which included talking to the disability lawyer sooner rather than later, and really creating a plan at work so I can make an earlier exit onto short term disability which is the only option I have there, at least for now, since I have not been there for five years.

I am still in a great place at work due to the generous amounts of share leave I have received. And continue to receive occasionally. I just got two donations, but they were both huge, one for 80 hours from Diane McK who just retired from the library after 20 years and 140 from a doctor that I just recently met and who I look forward to working with this coming year. How amazing is that? So I still have a few hundred hours "banked" which allow me to work less than half time but be paid for full time. This has literally saved me from having to make the disability decision much earlier. I feel blessed by this and determined to leave a bit of a "Debra Kent Legacy" at the Health Sciences Library, even if it is not the million dollar donor I would like it to be.

So with all this mortality thinking on my mind, I slept maybe five hours (probably less) and woke up and drank a lot of coffee to jump start my day. I got to work determined to get through a lot of little stuff, since I had been out essentially three days: labor day and two days for sick leave. Instead, I ended up very spontaneously attending a two hour seminar (being held in our conference room) on "Narrative Medicine". I will wait to blog on that separately,but it just might have been one of those life changing moments in time.

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