About the Blood Draws- Part 2

After my second D&C procedure I told Chris that this would be the last of it. I had no reason to say this other than the fact I just had a feeling.

Rewind to roughly two weeks previous to this, when there was still no talk of a second D&C, I came out of one my weekly blood draws and could barely keep myself together to make it to the elevator. I normally blast Lizzo in my earbuds on the way to and from a blood draw and demand positive thoughts from myself, but this time I couldn’t even fake it. Alarm bells were going off inside of me screaming, something isn’t right. And there was nothing particularly different about this specific visit, I had the phlebotomist that I like, our normal banter was exchanged, and yet for some reason as I walked out that day I felt a pit of doom in my stomach I couldn’t shake.

I put on my sunglasses, stepped into a full elevator, and cried from the 19th floor down to second. One week later my fears were confirmed and I had the second surgery.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I’ve gotten pretty good at my trips to Northwestern Memorial. I know where to park and I know that it will take me about 11-13 minutes to get from the garage to my doctor’s office, depending on elevator wait time and whether or not I get lost. (Yes, I still get lost even after four months of doing this. Northwestern hospital is a city within a city.)

I know that once I pass Panera, I’ll see a Greek restaurant, then I’ll see the two gate keepers near the Larkin entrance. They’re supposed to give helpful information, but I also know they’ll laugh at you if you tell them that you can’t find your car- again. “Well you better figure it out because once you pay your parking ticket you only got twenty minutes to get your car out before you get charged again.”

I guess the parking Gods at Northwestern figure that if you can’t find your car within twenty minutes, you must be a moron and deserve to be charged again. That’s how I take it, anyway.

In the midst of the gift shops and restaurants I also pass a lot exhausted looking doctors and nurses in scrubs, usually clutching coffee, usually with a plethora of papers and folders spread out on the table in front of them. Behind the doctors I see elderly people sleeping uncomfortably in chairs not meant to be slept in. Are they waiting to see a doctor? Or a loved one?

Before I can give it too much more thought there’s always a young guy who rushes by me, probably in his late twenties or early thirties, and he’s got a look of fear and excitement plastered across his face, and he’s almost always holding an overnight bag and a car seat. The new dads. I see them every time I go to Northwestern and they all have the same deer-in-headlights look on their face as they run toward the parking garage. I smile (okay, I mean laugh) their direction every time I see them. I also can’t understand why they’re always holding car seats. Did someone tell them to bring it in and then decide against it?

Before I get to my set of elevators I pass the corridor toward Lurie Children’s. I’ll see kids in pajamas, presumably fighting battles much worse than the one I let bring me to tears far too often, and I remind myself how lucky I am. How lucky that it took me over thirty years to get familiar with a hospital. And I know that I get to go back home after my five minute blood draw, but what about everyone else I just passed?

After my appointment I make the same trek back the other way. I see the same people I passed before, just with different faces.

It takes about 24 hours to get my results, but I already know what they’ll be. Today’s email confirmed it. After four months of hoping and praying to reach an hCG of zero it finally happened. A year ago at this time I didn’t even know what hCG meant, now it’s something I think about daily.

I have to hit zero for a few more months before I’m officially, “in the clear,” as my doctor says. But that doesn’t really matter to me at this point, because if I’ve learned anything from all of this (and trust me, I have) it’s that the illusion of ‘being in the clear’ is just that- an illusion. You never know when somethings going to pop up and throw you off the course you thought were on, we’re given no guarantees about what will happen tomorrow. So the best we can do is let today be today. And tomorrow be tomorrow.

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