When you spend New Year's Eve in New York City, and follow that by going to a play with your favorite actress (and watching it from the front row), and follow that with a memorable time in Brooklyn with your best friend and your family, could you really expect to possibly top that series of days with an even better day?
Well, folks, my day today -- incredibly and amazingly -- topped the others.
I had my consult with Dr. Sugarbaker, met Howard, ate incredible vegan food, spent time with Abe at the Lincoln Memorial, hung out with friends from high school, college, and law school, and capped off the day with a little kickboxing lesson and chamomile tea. This was one of WunderGlo's finest days, and I can't wait to tell you all about it, so I'll cut the prologue and start already.
I waited for Dr. Sugarbaker in the exam room with Will, my parents, and my second cousin Brendan, eagerly anticipating our meeting. Within a few minutes, there he was. In his late 60s, Sugarbaker looks fitter than a fiddle and utterly unlike a man in his late 60s. He was calm, professional, and one of those brilliant people whose intelligence and experience just seeps through every word he speaks. We talked about my initial symptoms, my first surgery, my recovery, and how I feel generally these days. I did not ask him to feel my guns, but in retrospect, maybe I should have.
Then he kicked out everyone but Will and gave me a little physical exam. Listened to my lungs and heart, then gave me quite a thorough check of two of my orifices (and I'm not talking about my mouth, nose, or ears). I don't like to be coy so I'll come right out with it: no man, woman, or child has ever been that far up my rectum, and I'm grateful that Dr. Sugarbaker calmly explained what he was looking for as he rooted around up there. He didn't find any growths in those nether regions which is, as you could guess, a good thing.
Post-physical exam, I rejoined my crew in Dr. Sugarbaker's office, where he gave a full recorded dictation of my current condition, the ins and outs of my future surgery, and his prognosis. Once he successfully removes every visible speck of cancer and pumps the heated chemo through the ol' bod, my chances at a full survival (which means living cancer-free for 10 years) is 25%-50%. 50%! As if I need the survival percentage to be that high to be fully convinced that I'll dominate this cancer and be a hard-core, long-term, ass-kicking cancer survivor. 50%! You could've told me 2% and I'd be pumped and ready to go. WunderGlo is a survivor, people. We all know this.
After Dr. Sugarbaker finished his careful, thorough explanation, he opened up the floor for a little Q&A. We bombarded him with a lot of good questions (example: Where could my parents and Will stay during the surgery and when I'm in ICU? Answer: at the hotel on the hospital premises) and a lot of WunderGlo-style fun questions (example: Could I listen to my iPod as I'm wheeled into the operating room? Answer: Yes.) He patiently answered every one of them until we were all talked out and ready to go. Then I nabbed him for a picture without actually waiting for him to agree to one, because I'm always thinking about the readers and knew I needed a picture for the blog.
As we walked out of his office, I turned around and asked, "Where can I find your wife?" because you know I needed to see Ilse. He told me where to find her -- at the Physicians Office Building -- and I did. Instead of the traditional handshake, I gave Ilse a big hug and then we took a picture. Ilse was great -- very impressed with my physical condition and very nice. Probably not ready for a big hug from me and a photo shoot, but she took it well.
My date with the Sugarbakers was as positive, exciting, and confidence-boosting as possible. It's obvious to me that I'm in the best hands in the world, and I'm that much more excited for the "pick it out/pour it in" party that is now officially set to take place in just a month's time.
Soon after my Sugarbaker date, I got to meet my buddy Howard. We chatted for a while, agreed that the Sugarbakers were the best, and had a great time bonding as only two people going along the same cancer-killing path can bond. What an awesome way to end my visit to the Washington Hospital Center.
The rest of the day was just as memorable, if you can believe it.
We set off for a vegan restaurant, Everlasting Life, which was just down the street from the hospital, and feasted on a delicious meal. Vegan mac n' cheese, artichoke salad, potato salad, pepper steak (not actually steak but still very good), bean and corn salad, Asian noodle salad, cornbread, dinner rolls (I include the dinner rolls because they were OUTSTANDING), and peppermint tea. I've got a feeling that I'll be requesting the mac n' cheese when I'm chillin' at the hospital post-op.
With full bellies, we set off for the Lincoln Memorial because I was dead-set on seeing Honest Abe before I left D.C.. There was some confusion about where to park, some wrong turns, and a little driving-related distress, but we eventually parked, bundled up, and started on the very cold walk over to the Memorial. Will and I started to jog to keep the blood pumping, but after a few trots, we realized that my parents were no longer walking behind us. We retraced our steps and couldn't find them. We called their cell phones about half a dozen times each and nobody picked up. Did I start to freak out? Yes. Did we continue walking toward the Lincoln Memorial, hoping that my parents weren't mugged but simply taking an unseen different route? Yes. Did my parentsshow up about five minutes later, waving and completely oblivious to the fact that we were calling them obsessively and worried about their well-being? Yes. Did we then take some pictures in front of the Lincoln Memorial? Yes, indeed.
You'd think the walk back to the car couldn't be as heart-stopping as the walk to the Memorial, but it was. As we crossed the last street before getting to our car, Will was almost hit by a car. Luckily, he's a secret ninja on the side and jumped away. Even more, though, the dude stopped his car before barreling into my hubby. Within about 10 minutes, I could've lost all three of my nurses to shadowy criminals (that weren't there) and a bad driver (that was there). Craziness.
We bounced back from the feared and actual near-death experiences and headed back to Vivian and Brendan's house, where I knew my friends were waiting. Did we get lost more than once on the way back home? Yes. Does D.C. need to invest in better street signage and lighting on the highways? Yes. But did we finally make it back? Yes, indeed.
I walked into a full house -- not only was my family there, but a good group of my buddies came by to visit me, too. I had all phases of my educational life covered -- friends from high school (Meghan), college (Katie and Don), and law school (Jon and his wife, Raquel). I had a great time catching up with them and telling them about my rectal exam experience. You'd think people wouldn't want to hear about a rectal exam, but I have good friends and they know me well (that is to say, they are good sports about the kinds of things I like to talk about).
After my pals hit the road, I put on boxing gloves for the first time and trained with Vivian. I have a new love, and it's boxing. I'm planning on buying all the equipment I need the minute I get home tomorrow.
So like I said, I had a pretty excellent time today. I learned about exactly how I'll triumph over cancer, I visited our nation's capital, I spent quality time with friends and family, and I got to throw a punch or two. A picture perfect day.