Thursday, May 09, 2013

Remembering correctly

Something that occurred to me when I was thinking about the older dream I had about Bonnie was the actual timeline of her first brush with cancer. I'm mostly writing this for my own edification...

I remember now that when I took her in with the swollen nipple, the doctor said he figured it was just a blocked duct. I remember he took a needle and drew off the fluid from it. There was only a tiny bit, and it looked like cafe au lait. He smeared it on microscope slide and sent it off, expecting it was pretty much just pus or something. Then it came back that it showed, if I remember correctly, "irregular" cells with a recommendation that the nipple be surgically removed. It was probably more or less at that point that I had the dream, but it might have been a bit later.

Then, of course, came the biopsy of the actual excised tissue. Carcinoma, I think it was. But small, with no evidence of spread to the margins of the excision, and not found in the lymph nodes. At that point, given all that news, we had every good confidence that we'd caught it in time. It turned out we didn't, and it very likely would have taken her sometime this year anyway, if her thyroid and its complications hadn't run out her time first.

It's hard not to have regrets about all this. What if, what if, what if. I guess there's no getting around it; we're pattern-seekers and it's in our nature to find and plot solutions, even in retrospect. I would have thought I'd be past that with Twinkle and Max by now, but no, not really. I still find myself thinking things like, well, they wanted me to get Bonnie's and Max's teeth cleaned, and I got Bonnie's cleaned because she was older, but what if I had gotten Max's teeth cleaned, and they'd noticed the growth at the back of his mouth? I mean, what if? What if I'd taken a friend's suggestion last fall to do a full mastectomy on Bonnie? What if? But I do realize you can really torment yourself with these things and I'm trying, trying, not to do it. It's hard not to. It's like holding your breath; you can only do it so long and then you have to give in to it.

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