urgency

I’ve had this post called urgency in my head for a few weeks now. I guess I lacked the urgency to actually put it down on the page.

Urgency has been a theme over my past few weeks. Now that I have been officially accepted onto the liver transplant waiting list (as of yesterday), it seems particularly pertinent. I am on the road to a “cure”–or to a life of anti-rejection medications and possible recurrence of a more aggressive version of the cancer I have–depending on who I talk to. It’s a “roll of the dice,” says my oncologist, but I’ve never really liked gambling and I’ve never really felt lucky with anything, so this is not really what I want to hear. The transplant decision is not a decision i’m prepared to make right now–or maybe ever. I am almost as low on the list as I can possibly be, so the choice is not urgent.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my second opinion doctors lately because they have been spending time thinking about me and because i’ve been busy this week doing the tests they’ve ordered to properly evaluate my case. I really think the difference of opinion between my second opinion doctors and my doctor doctor(s) comes down to urgency.

How urgent–how aggressive–do we need to be? Do I have the type of cancer that I will be able to live with for a long time? My second opinion doctors say, emphatically, yes. They see a lot of patients with my type of cancer, many of whom live a long time without many problems. They see me, a happy, healthy-looking 26-year-old on their exam table, and they are not worried. They are coming from a place of non-urgency. They think I will jump around from treatment to treatment with no problem, and that I will live for a long time. Their nurses, however, are very urgent to schedule me for tests and get my pathology slides and radiology reports and medical records. “I need this–stat” one of them has said to me multiple times.

Or, will my cancer soon wake up with renewed vigor? My oncologist, and presumably the rest of my medical team, also see a lot of patients with my type of cancer, but they also see a lot of patients with other types of cancer, many of whom don’t live a long time. They see me, a happy, healthy-looking 26-year-old on their exam table, and they’re happy to see that their treatments  have worked thus far. But they can’t forget how sick I was when I first came to see them a year and a half ago. They can’t forget how quickly my nausea came back and how quickly my tumors started growing again after my first couple rounds of chemo didn’t work. They are coming from a place of urgency. And they think, with a little bit of urgency, they just might cure me.

—–

In my head, my post called urgency wasn’t actually going to get this serious. My post called urgency was going to talk about school and about dating–the less serious things in my life. Everything about school has been very urgent lately. Maybe it’s something in the spring air, or this is the “sprint” before the “finish line” or something, but i’m sticking around for an extra six months, so it’s going to be a long sprint.

The quarter started less than three weeks ago, and for that whole time, everyone has wanted everything from me right now. My to-do list that my mediation teachers told me not to keep has been getting longer and longer faster than I can check things off. If I find a free moment–and I haven’t found many–I ask myself questions like, “If you found out you had only six months more to live, would you regret getting so wrapped up in doing all these things you’ve been doing?” “What do you think the other people on the liver transplant waiting list are doing right now?” “Now that I have cancer, do I really want to pursue this professional career that i’m going to school for?” Most of the time after I answer these questions I want to stop everything that i’m doing, throw out my stupid to-do list, and try to live my life free of everyone wanting things from me right now. Of course, you can never get everyone–there will still be the nurses.

A lot of it comes down to attitude. My personal sense of urgency in the face of all the urgency around me. I can be amazingly non-urgent when i’m riding my scooter on the streets of Los Angeles during rush hour (some of the most urgent places on earth), when i’m making this big transplant decision, when i’m deciding who to date or who not to date or whether I even want to date. Generally, my urgency is low. But with school, and I fear with eventual work, I just can’t seem to get to a place of non-urgency and stay there. There has to be a balance between being urgent enough to get things done, but not being so urgent that my heart is racing all the time and my breath is shallow and i’m not sleeping for fear of missing a deadline.

I’m going to try harder this week to not get wrapped up in being so urgent about everything. I can’t sustain the next 8.5 weeks of the quarter like that. You might have to remind me, gently, but urgently, if I forget.

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6 Responses to urgency

  1. I would like to remind you gently to please be careful on your scooter while riding around in rush hour in LA.

  2. paulglowiak says:

    The doctors and nurses can talk all about urgency and non-urgency, but you are the one who ultimately decides that, Lindsey. I am so sorry you have to go through the fight with cancer and then have to navigate our screwed-up medical system on top of it. Just take things one day at a time, and don’t lose sight of the fact that you are all that matters.

    Make sense?

    Paul

  3. Mark says:

    The difficult feelings of dealing with urgency may be the common thread of our cancer. Good luck with not going crazy!

  4. Olaina says:

    Remember all those deadlines we were so urgent about when you were in high school? Yeah. Turns out those aren’t the most important memories of high school, are they? In fact, we probably made them too important even then. So, gently, be gentle with yourself. *hugs*

  5. aaronls says:

    Olaina has a good point. Alot of the things we get worked up about, seem insignificant once they pass and we might wonder why we got so worked up about it.

    Also, I used to lose track of the many deadlines/appointsments/todos but now I put everything in google calendar and set the reminders to X hours or a day in advance(you may want to choose the SMS option if you want something a little more in your face than the however the regular reminder might appear on your phone), depending on what it is I know how far in advance I need to know to get ready. I.e. a Dr. appointment would get about 45 min notice so that when I get the notice, I have time to get ready to go and get there in time. Don’t make reminders appear too far in advance that you will snooze/dismiss them if you still have an extra 30 minutes before you have to go, resulting in one of those “time just flew by” moments where suddenly you reallize you are late. I feel much more in control of my life now. As soon as someone tells me a date/time I put it in my calendar. I prefer google calendar over other things because of the variety of ways I can get to it, from my phone, computer, etc.

    Maybe you already have a system in place, so I hope this isn’t received as me implying you are disorganized because I really don’t know the details. Just note that the problem with alot of lists/day planners though is they require that you deiligently review them often and be in charge of remembering to check it to remind yourself to remember… see the risky loop there? The more you can get out of your head and deligate to an automated calendar, the less you have to worry about, the less risk you will have in forgetting things, and the more your mind is free to focus on accomplishing the current task at hand, such as sleeping :)

  6. Matt says:

    My Poppa taught me to do what I have to do..

    When it ought to be done..

    Whether I like it or not.

    He said, “create a plan…work the plan..stop
    worrying about all the crap in the middle.

    It is what it is.

    You are not a percentage so when doctor’s
    start talking about %…just tune that out!

    You are a survivor…not a victim.

    You are a liver!

    So go live your life!

    And please pay attention to the road when
    you are riding your scooter.

    I would be very annoyed to hear that your
    blog was cancelled due to drive error!

    One last thing…instead of a “to do” list why
    don’t you just keep a “done” list?

    Easier to keep up with & it will give your brain
    a much needed rest.

    And you will make your meditaiton teacher
    very happy.

    Don’t forget to breathe…often!

    Matt

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