Jody Glynn Patrick
Too Little Sleep, Too Many Scary Forms
I’m not going to sugar coat these entries: “Cancer” is the last conscious thought I have at night and my first thought in the morning. It is reminiscent of when “I’m pregnant” was my first and last thought of any day. Only this isn’t miracle-feeling, it’s a feeling of dread that I try to chase away with other, more positive thoughts. Still, I’m awake until at least 2 a.m. and up now between 5 and 6 a.m. because I’d rather just get up and do something rather than lie awake wondering: “Have I cleared out my belongings enough so that the kids could easily figure out what of mine, if anything, they’d want?” “How will the garden survive if I can’t work in it for a couple months?” “Will I be able to do things with the grandkids when they come to Florida in August?”
Meanwhile, the forms….
There are always more electronic forms to fill out, and the cancer clinic has mailed me pages about the necessity to be proactive in figuring out how to handle pending financial burdens, since payment guarantees are required at the time a service is rendered. Here’s just one line in the preview document: “The facility fee, which will be charged on your first visit to the cancer center, covers support services accessible during and after your treatment. Those services include a full-time nutritionist, social worker, chaplain, survivorship navigators, and other programs you’ll encounter along the way.” How much will our insurance cover? (And now you can get a feel for why I’m sleep deprived). I guess we’ll figure that out today when we meet with the “patient financial advocate” – a requirement before seeing an oncologist.
Meanwhile, the contractor showed up this morning at 7 a.m. to begin the structural build our long-awaited sunroom -- today of all days. Will we regret that expenditure? We had our retirements planned out … and huge cancer bills weren’t part of the plan. Sunroom furniture was.
So now you know my state of mind before going into a huge, strange cancer hospital complex to see yet another new doctor to begin more intrusive testing to finally formulate a map to help me navigate around the real – versus imagined -- boulders hiding in these uncharted waters.
Robert Ian, a friend of mine, once advised me to approach any fear this way – to realistically imagine the best outcome and the worst outcome possible. ("They made a mistake and I’m cancer free" vs. "I only have a few weeks to live"). Then, he said, “Relax. The reality of the situation 99% of the time lies somewhere in the middle, which is something you can handle -- and almost never in the extreme best/worst spot.”
Finally, a positive thought to take with me to the hospital today.