July 11, 2007

My Italy

An early 30s year old lady came to the ED a few nights ago complaining of leg pain since she hit her left hip on a table 6 weeks ago.


She didn't think much of the minor trauma and subsequent bruise, but the continued pain shooting down her leg and the slight swelling worried her enough to finally come seek help.


That was her story, and she was sticking to it...


But when I talked to her, and when I saw her massively swollen leg and wasted, atrophied body, I knew there was more to the story than what she was confessing. I sat down on her bed, held her hand, and we talked...


We talked about the upcoming baseball all-star game since she was watching SportCenter on the tv in her room, then Barry Bonds and San Fransisco and the time she visited there with her parents when she was a kid. That led to her telling me about the honeymoon to Italy she and her former husband took years ago, and how she would give anything see Italy again but was afraid she never would...


Why not?


And that opened the door to the real reason she was seeing me...


She had first noticed it about 6 months ago, just a little bleeding between cycles - nothing major. That continued for a few months and then she noticed a bump when she cleaned herself after using the restroom. "Maybe it's always been there..."


And she started losing weight... 150# became 145 then 130 and now she was barely 100 pounds spread over her 5'8" frame.


The bump got larger and more noticeable, and she knew something was wrong but by then she knew she should already have done something about it so she was afraid to seek help because she thought she would be ridiculed for waiting too long. So she denied it, and she waited.


Finally the pain made it impossible to sleep, or to walk, and the foul-smelling bloody cancer protruding 6 inches from her privates was impossible to hide even underneath the bulkiest of clothes. So she came to see me...


Wasted... Scared... Dying...


I did a few tests and diagnosed her with metastatic cervical cancer - too advanced for cure, too widespread to be compatible with life. I explained to her the bleak outlook...


And then we started talking about the all-star game again... And about her Italy...


The greatest fear I have is being 80 years old and reflecting back and wishing that I had done more/experienced more/lived more when I was younger.

When it's all sorted out, that's why I walked away from a suffocating marriage that most outsiders thought was perfect. That's why I take my 4 itty bitty kids on cross country road trips. It's why I race cars, and crash cars, and why I flirt with 50 mPH on the downhill at Ironman even when it leaves me bleeding and scarred.

Because she's not going to see her Italy... Because I don't want to miss seeing mine.

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

10 comments:

Matt said...

Very moving.

Bike Chick said...

That is heartbreaking. I can't imagine what must be going thru her head right now. I hope she finds peace.

I've said it before, but I don't know how you do it.

Shelley said...

Good god...so very sad!!!!

IronJenny said...

That is sad. Thanks for listening to her.

Wendy said...

How awfully sad. Yet, a stroke of luck for her that you had the time, energy and compassion to talk about baseball. And Italy.

hak said...

Great story. It's moments like these that help me keep the end goal in mind when the classroom talk turns to covalent bonds.

This one definitely makes the Saturday "best of."

Thanks again for sharing. I hope she is able to have a fairly graceful exit from life's stage.

hak

TriGirl 40 said...

Like bike chick said - heartbreaking. Just keep hoping there is some miracle or cure out there for her that will help her see her Italy again.

mle said...

really makes you think about things huh????

21stCenturyMom said...

That is a very sad story about that woman. Denial is almost never a good thing (unless it is denying your leg cramps so you can get across the finish line)

I believe in living life to the fullest but I also believe in tempering my lust for a thrilling life with enough caution to favor a long one. Just sayin'.

Donald said...

I bookmarked this post before my vacation, and I'm just now getting to it ...

What a compelling, heartbreaking story. Thanks for sharing it. I don't know your own story, but I imagine with all those little ones involved, it must have been an enormous decision in regards to your marriage. I never ponder whether those decisions are right or wrong - too agonizing - but you seem to have an attitude towards life that is a joy to observe.

Keep doing what you do, Jack.