Yet another sad x-ray waiting room chat--that crowded, little room where you change into scrub shirts and wait with 2 or 3 other guys for your chest x-ray.
Last time I walked into it by being chatty. This time it was Bill from Beaumont, TX, who looked about 60+ years old, who started the conversation with the standard question. I showed him my scar, talked about my surgery, and that I feel good and was hoping for continued good news tomorrow. Pause. So I had to ask: "What about you?"
And....of course he found out last week in Beaumont he has about 5 months to live and just had that diagnosis confirmed this morning down here at M.D. Anderson. No treatment plan. I was not quite at the loss for words today as I was last time. I asked him, "So, what do you do now, if you think you only have 5 months left?" He said, "I'm not sure." Nothing prophetic or profound. I wasn't going to slink away and mumble "good luck!" like I did last time. At least this time I looked the guy squarely in the eye, shook his hand, and wished him well and said that whatever happens, I hope that he does well and stays strong and that I don't forget meeting people like him. He didn't look sad or scared, it was either all too new to him, or he's got a grip on it.
I feel like the freaking grim reaper. I'm just not going to talk to people in the x-ray waiting room anymore. (Of course, odds are that 20% of anyone in any room here at M.D. Anderson are looking at short time.)
But as I reflect a bit, checking work emails and typing as I wait for my CT scan, maybe it's not as much about his next few months as it was about his previous 60+ years. There, Bill from Beaumont, there's your answer. Or at least that's what I'm taking away from meeting you--people should live with that ratio of months to years in mind.
Off to drink some barium phosphate now.