Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hot Mail

June 16, 2016

Dear Friends,

Mail is piling up. No mail run is why. Even junk mail gets delivered. Only one new envelope was added to the short stack. Another one down---dozens to go. It's so hot here we've had rolling brown-outs. They are frustrating and dangerous. There have been heat casualties. How can you forget that  you have a child, and that you must never ever let a toddler out of your sight? Still, life goes on. I couldn't wear my mail-writing rings today. Heat and humidity makes my fingers swell. Oh well. No matter; they're great at helping disguise addresses.

I'm going to share with you what I call "Hot Mail." That's mail you can't handle right away because it's hot, as in a hot topic. It's mail you cannot deal with right away, but must, sooner or later. My most recent piece is from the first hospital I worked for. Because of this institution I learned medical terminology and how to transcribe doctors' orders. I learned that even I could help make patients feel better. When I left I took with me job skills that insured employment if all else failed, no matter where I went. There will always be sick people.

I have not worked for the good Methodist Hospital in decades. I've been a surgical patient at a satellite facility twice, so imagine my surprise when I received Methodist Mail mail several years after my last surgery--a thyroidectomy. I was grateful for the surgeon's response after his initial examination. I needed the masses removed from my neck. Unlike the ex-primary care physician, who made me feel foolish when she scolded me for not knowing the bulge in the right side of my neck was nothing but the fat from my cheek. It was magically sliding down my cheek, past my jaw, and chose to settle in my neck. Forget that it was sliding down past my collar bone and spreading to the front of my neck. Pain and difficulty breathing were "normal."

It's a given that I was stunned to see the mail was from the Cancer & Tumor Registry. Really? I never registered as a bride so wow, I registered with these guys? When? Nobody told me. (Laughed!) Thoughts of Henrietta Lacks were sobering. I never finished reading the book of her amazing story. No, I don't want to be a martyr. All martyrs die. Surely "Health Status Update" meant someone cared enough to wonder if I lived or . . . not? Couldn't they have called? No. A mail inquiry would give me time to absorb the shock. Right?

They know the questions patients must ask themselves before they open the enclosures. Or did someone read my mind? Information must be collected and reported by law in the state of Texas? Really? Why didn't someone tell me? Education? What education? Follow-up? There was never any follow-up! No one ever told me I was in the registry, dang it! See? The research bit takes me back to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Ironically, Oprah Winfrey is doing a movie about Henrietta. One of the nurses in our family was surprised by the lack of information on my part. She, too, has had a thyroidectomy. We talked about Henrietta. How serendipitous that I caught the end of her interview with one of the talk show hosts I care nothing for. See? Everything happens for reasons. Or am I looking for fairy dust? Follow-up appointments are as natural to my second cousin as getting flu shots.  I don't get flu shots. I don't get flu either. Did I mention the only way I knew the word cancer was attached to me and the tissue removed from my neck was because a young woman in medical records sent a copy of the lab results to me by mail? See? Divine providence at work!

Ah, the magic of mail. Contents can elucidate, intimidate, and educate. Liberate?

The envelope sat in my desk drawer until I sat down to write this evening's post. It's been there since four days before my birthdate. It cost just thirty-nine cents to tell me a whole story, from start to . . . No. Not finish. I still do not know what to will do. My initial instinct was to write a letter of inquiry. The left part of my brain whispered, "Just be thankful. You followed you initial instincts and changed doctors. You asked for a referral to an endocrinologist." 

Have you ever had a single dose of chemo? I have. No matter how much you fight it, you succumb to nausea. No, I do not take chemo. I don't want to either. Ever. I no longer blindly trust my doctors. Writing to pen friends as often as good as sessions with a talk therapist. Our one family doctor is an anesthesiologist. Ha-ha. 

It doesn't help that I'm finishing up one of the most depressing but motivating books I've ever read, Atul Gawande's, Being Mortal. I started reading it last year. It's not ecommended reading for the weak and fainthearted. It is for the strong and the realists. Forewarned is forearmed. I almost wrote "four-armed" but humor can stretch only so far. This is funny though. Not ha-ha funny though! Gawande's father is diagnosed with spinal cord cancer. Frightened Jokingly, I asked JC "What if I have it too? I have the same symptoms." He did not laugh at me. Instead he told me of the time his back hurt for so long and unrelentingly that he asked his doctor is he had spinal cancer. JC was in his twenties then. We laughed about it last night, and tonight I feel foolish for having wavered, but hey, it makes for a better post. If this one is too depressing for you; if you only want light and humorous fare online . . . Well, I write about my life, what comes and goes in the mail, and stuff. Stuff is a wide umbrella and sometimes it rains on my head. (grin)

But, even in the darkest parts of a day, there is always light. It comes and goes in the mail with other stuff.

Please know that if things were dark and dire, I'd never mention it until after the light. There is nothing so depressing as hopeless mail. My road to recovery is often filled with the musings I dance with in the night. 

Ah, the beauty of mail.

Be well.

Peace and wellness,



  1. I would have done the very same thing and pushed that envelope to the back of my desk drawer.

    1. May many blessings be yours. Thank you. Sometimes that's all a body can do until they are stronger.

      Be well.

  2. Replies
    1. You're sweeter! Thank you. :) I keep trying, and I most often succeed.