So, yesterday I got to see Dr. White about the failure of my implant. After my meeting last week with his minion, I was on guard and ready to pounce when he told me, “You have a beautiful result…” like everyone else in his office had. Then he did something that surprised me. He agreed with me. Righty HAD broken. He told me I was right. What a buzz kill!
Yes, he agreed with me and told me that he could fix it, not immediately, of course, but soon (and for the rest of my life). I could have it fixed as early as February 15. More buzz kill! I was ready to attack and he agreed with me, rendering my kryptonite-like arsenal of arguments mute and useless.
Then he did something that surprised me even more. He took me out of CancerLand for a moment. “I saw you, you know, at that thing the other day.” Our children had taken part in the same community event recently. I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye while I was saying goodbye to my child, but he was in disguise–a hoodie and jeans–not his usual doctor garb, so I wasn’t sure. Since I was late getting to where I needed to be, I didn’t stick around to find out if it was him or not. He continued. “You know, it can be uncomfortable for both me and the patient when I see people at social events. I’ll be with a group of friends, I see a patient and say hi but don’t introduce them to my group as that would be inappropriate, then the people I’m with ask, ‘hey, how do you know that person?’ and what am I supposed to do?” I assured him he could say hi to me in social situations. I don’t care if people know he’s my plastic surgeon, because, quite honestly, it isn’t worth getting upset about. What are they going to think? I had plastic surgery? I did, and have the scars to prove it. It’s all good–the fact that I know him means that I don’t have cancer anymore!
Our appointment came to an end with him giving me the unfortunate news that yes, I will need another operation before I earn my nipples. At first, I thought, “Great. My ‘frequent cutter’ card would be filled. Do I get a t-shirt or commemorative mug? Egg roll with 6?” Then I remembered–there was a White in a kids group I taught a few years ago. “I think I taught your kid at that place,” I told him. “Yeah? He brightened up right away. “B and G White? Really? With the little kids?” “Yep, I told him, I’m pretty sure I did.” Again he surprised me–we shared stories about living with a little boy in the house and the challenges it presents. He shared stories about how that is complicated with the addition of a girl child. Nothing about my boobs, infections, or broken Alloderm. No discussion of cancer. We, as Kenneth Burke might say, became ‘consubstantial.’ The kids these days might say we shared a moment. He broke it with, “Big hug!” and came toward me. We embraced, not a doctor and his patient, but two parents–both ‘older’ when they had their spawn– who had just shared one of those things parents share with each other. My Yiddish speaking friends would call it ‘nachas’. I call it nachat. Whatever it was, it was one of the few moments I’ve had outside of CancerLand for a long, long time. I will treasure it as a gift of the season.