I really really like her. Mostly I like saying her name. Gupta. Doctor Gupta. Gupta Gupta. Goooooooooptaaahhh.
Dr. Gupta has a way of talking that I really like. She is direct and forthright, but compassionate. She lays it all out there. But she also seems to really care. I like that. All of it.
We went armed with an agenda yesterday, going to see Dr. Gupta, Gupta Gupta. My Kahuna made a list on an index card. Brain MRI results. Check. Handicap sticker. Check. Monitor lab tests for the Gerson program. Check. We waited in a little white room with a view of the harbor. Gupta came in and logged on to the computer. I knew when she took a little breath and turned to face us both that she was going to say something hard.
This is what she said
This is your brain on cancer. Two lesions. Left parietal lobe, left temporal lobe. Half a centimeter. No swelling. No displacement beyond the midline (in other words, these cancer bits aren’t pushing my brain over to the other side of my skull). We can’t be sure since we don’t do biopsies of the brain, but we would swear on a stack of PET scans that this is your cancer, spreading to your brain.
I wasn’t surprised. I had a sense there would be something. I wanted it confirmed. I didn’t even know why. Does it make a difference, knowing cancer has spread to my brain? I feel the same. I look the same. The way I treat this and come back to life will be the same. But I wanted to know.
And then I became invisible
It is weird, the way people talk to you when they are convinced you are going to die soon. As much as I like Dr. Gupta I wondered who she was talking to some of the time, because she was clearly talking to a dying woman and I am not dying. Palliative care. Pain management. Social worker. She was well meaning but I wondered what it must be like for the people in my position who don’t have anything to hold onto other than what the medical community provides. I felt the crushing weight of expectation throughout the whole hospital. They all look at me that way. You’re dying. We can’t help you. We’re sorry. Please go now.
So this is what I am doing about it
I am thinking about what to make of these spots on my brain. The temporal lobe controls memory, hearing, language, emotions, and learning. The parietal lobe receives and processes sensory information and is where letters form words and words combine into thoughts. I read all that and think, Wow, I’m fucked. I’m a writer. I think words are foreplay for the soul. Better get a move on then and write that goddamn book before I don’t remember words anymore.
I told you, though, about my plans? In a year we’ll have a big party. A celebration of life and of love. All the people who are helping us will come. You’ll come, right? I want you there. Also in a year, I get to dance a tango milonga with my beloved. And in five years we’ll have moved to a house with a view of Lake Union. And I’ll be invited to give a TED Talk. Probably something to do with the book I’m going to write this year.
As far as I’m concerned these cancer bits on my brain are only adding, not subtracting. Talyaa-with-a-little-extra. Talyaa-plus. Enhanced Talyaa. Talyaa 2.0.