The next morning I woke up early, showered, and put on my glasses because I knew I would be meeting with an neuro-opthalmologist in the morning and he would probably poke around my eyeballs to check pressure and shine beams of light into them to look at my optic nerves. I also braided my hair to the side in my standard Katniss braid. In a way I almost felt like I was going in to surgery this morning. I was just as nervous, it was almost as early, my family was here (also on pins and needles), and none of us had any idea what to expect. We walked across the street to the Gonda building which is one of the two towers of the Mayo Clinic and headed towards the elevator bay which would take us to the 14th floor. A very friendly woman ushered us inside a car and we were whisked up to the top of the tower. From there it was the usual Mayo routine of efficiency. Check in, get your beeper, sit for a few minutes, beeper goes off, go back to a room, chat with a resident, then your surgeon comes in and you have a few serious moments of “real talk” about what your options are and what your next move will be. Then you are out the door and on your way to your next appointment.
As usual my parents came back with me into the doctor’s office. Many of you may chuckle at the thought of a 28 year old woman needing her parents to come back with her to a doctor’s appointment, but it is actually the most efficient way to tackle something like this where there is fear, uncertainty, and a deluge of information to wade through. I had tried the whole “relay information” system when I had first found out about my tumor and it had only ended in a relentless barrage of questions from my parents and me yelling and crying into the phone saying that I had no idea what the answer was to that question or no I had not thought to ask that. Letting them come back in the room with you takes out the “he said, she said” element. Everybody gets to ask questions and everybody gets the information that they need.
A word of advice to anyone going through a similar situation who is like me and believes (or I used to believe) that you can handle anything alone. If any of this describes you pay special attention:Would you like me to help you with your bags miss? Nope I got it. Here let me get the door, no no I can handle it. Do you want to talk about it? No I’m fine. Is there anything that you need? No of course not. How are you feeling? Fine. Are you going to tell anyone about your tumor? eh, I’ll maybe send my friends an email about it later after I’m already in Minnesota. Can we come back with you to talk to the doctor? No.
Will you let me help you? No.
Pride covers a multitude of sins.
What us “lone-wolf” personality types don’t realize is that knowledge is power, and the people in your life who love you the most are going to feel powerless when something like this happens. Swallow your pride and give them what they need. You may feel like the fact that there is a tumor growing inside your head makes you the star of this show but actually this is not just about you. No one can abide feeling helpless. Let them cringe in the corner or make booger jokes as a doctor threads a camera up your nose, let them help you put on that horribly unflattering hospital gown and skid proof socks, let them be overprotective and territorial, let them sit inside of the exam room while you discuss surgical options. Let them ask as many questions as they want, no matter how trivial, so that they can obtain the knowledge they need to feel strong enough to help you.
You need them more than you could ever imagine.
Let them inside.