Luck is not honest, nor loyal. Luck is not consistent and luck will not always be on your side. Depending on luck when truly needed is the worst stage of despair. One with the ability to accept fate never looses.
As I entered the room I quickly pulled the card out of my pocket and glanced at the information prepping myself for the speech. The speech I provided almost every day this week as I had an unusual amount of cases.
“Hello Mrs. Amani my name is Sarah I will be in surgery with you today assisting Dr. Khan locate the sentinel node.”
I continued to explain the purpose for this procedure on a light note, and high pitch in my voice. The radioactive materials that was soon to be injected into her breast would travel through her lymphatic system. The drug then would accumulate in the nodes and become easily detected with a gagger counter now known as a neo probe.
The speech is necessary, but I believe few woman understand what I am talking about as they prepare themselves for the news they will receive upon awakening from surgery: Weather disease was found in the lymph nodes which would determine malignancy, and at that point the battle against cancer would begin. The chances are one in three. Today Mrs. Amani will receive a full right breast mastectomy the left was already taken some months earlier.
Mrs. Amani was beautiful in her own right. She had big curls of short black hair that framed her tiny face. She was petite, and fragile and spoke very softly. Her kindness seemed to radiate through her large round brown eyes. Judging by the last name and her moist dark look I concluded she must have been of Indian descent, and so was John the man I thought I would marry. I imagined what his mother was like on many occasions. I wondered if she had any resemblance to Mrs. Amani elegant, poise, and seemingly peaceful as I noticed all older Indian woman were. We never met, JohnŒs mother and I. She and John's father lived in Chicago, and conveniently John and I were not on speaking terms when they came to Florida for visits. I suspected this was planned. He was so afraid of his father, and rightfully so as he controlled every aspect of his life, and the fear that he would one day find an Indian girl that fits his son's stature haunted me, although deep down I knew this was the right plan for John.
Surgery was scheduled in an hour. I prompted: “O.K. Mrs. Amani we are going to give you the injections now”
The four injections around the areola are said to be the most painful part of this procedure as the isotope burns like bee stings going in even when diluted with litocaine a pain numbing medication. I have seen grown woman cry like children. I really disliked witnessing the patient in this state, but I liked offering comfort and support in her time of need. After all, I believed this is why god put me here, and perhaps to teach me a few lessons on humanity as well.
Mrs. Amani asked that I hold her hand, and gratefully I agreed. As the needle went in tears rolled down her tinted cheeks and onto the soft white bed pillow she lie her head on. I comforted her with a strong grip, a tissue, and words of solidarity: “You're doing an amazing job Mrs. Amani”.
The tough part was over with in a few minutes, and I'll never forget what she said next I was forced to excuse myself and step outside to regroup. She looked up at me with her heavy eyes filled with premonition and said: “I just wanted to spend more time with my husband.” Insinuated she knew that her cancer would consume her life.
I responded: “What ever happens it is god's will.”
The words seemed so natural. They just flowed, and at that moment I realized her time here was limited. As we wheeled her into the operating room her husband stood on the sideline watching, blowing kisses, and telling her everything was going to be fine and not to worry. I felt sad that his stage of hopefulness did not match the reality he would be hit with later on that day. I wondered how he would react to the news. I wondered if he would choose denial, pray for luck, or accept fate.
As the patient was being prepped for surgery I sat outside the room on a little circular sitting stool and put my belongings on the cold steel table near me, and pondered on how John and I spent our time together. We were fighting again. The fights were a series of arguments that would send him packing his things and walking out, then coming back then walking out again after another fight. We both loved each other very much, and got along fabulously most of the time, but it was that ten percent that was destroying our relationship. I blamed him and vice versa. These arguments seemed so petty as I recognized our card could be pulled and lives end in a moment. My life is simply time allotted so why spend the minutes angry and bitter at the man I love. I reached for my cell phone and decided I would be the first to call and seek our friendship back. Two weeks had gone by since we spoke. Just days before our last fight we witnessed friends of ours get married. The wedding was beautiful. John and I danced all night. We caught flashes of camera lights all around us while we stared into each others eyes. We felt like the only two people on Earth. The question of the night was when were we going to elope. Our chemistry was strong, and afforded us much attention. We basked in the lime light. We were so happy I remember not wanting the moments to end.
“Ring… Ring… Ring… “
The phone rang three times before I was disconnected. The reception was awful in the hospital especially in the OR. Before I could walk to a service area and retry my call to my beloved I was called into the room for assistance. The time had come to start my case. The doctor made a small incision in the axilla (armpit), and the nodes were found instantly. When my job was finished I left before the report came back from pathology. I did not want to know if our premonition of malignant cancer was accurate. I just wanted to go home and think no further of this case. I can not let my feelings wonder through the barrier the thought is unprofessional. I swung the solid glass doors open and escaped back into day light back into reality, and before I could jump into my vehicle my phone began to ring. The call was coming from the OR. The nurse on the other end exclaimed: “Dr. Khan needs you back in the room!”
Baffled I charged into the OR wondering what the problem was. I shoved my hair back into a little blue bonnet and held a surgical mask over my nose and mouth as I popped my head into the room.
“Yes Dr. Khan, what is it?”
As Dr. Khan stitched Mrs. Amani back together he half paying attention communicated: “I have another case for you tomorrow eight am, can you make it?”
“Sure thing” I said. And, as I turned to leave…
Dr. Khan stated: “The nodes were negative by the way!”
I turned back around and blurted: “What”
Dr. Khan: “The nodes…. the sentinel nodes of Mrs. Amani our patient…they are negative…”
(Surprised) “Oh, yes. That's great! Excellent! She is one of the lucky ones…”
Dr Khan: “Yes,…. she is…”
“OK, see you tomorrow then…” I said, as I turned away in disbelief.
I though my intuition was right on. I could not believe I deceived myself into acknowledging thoughts of premonition. I felt foolish, and very unscientific! Mad at myself for letting this notion rapture me I pondered other unpleasant thoughts like the last argument John and I got into. I was so angry with him, and often. I was upset that I never met this parents. I was upset that we dated for years, and we never got engaged and ceased to talk about a future. I was furious about this girl “friend” I caught him speaking to last year. And, before I could zip through another unsettling thought I gathered our separation as a step in the right direction. I realized the time had come to end this nonsense of a relationship, and understand that we were not good for each other. That the strong love that had seen us through many obstacles was now hurting us not helping. Our time together was trying and for whatever reason extremely stressful, but it was those moments of harmony that kept us coming back for more. And, now as the ride home seems a bit longer and realistic. I knew if I called we would pick up just where we left off as we usually did. We would be so relieved to hear from each other again we would just put the past behind us, instead I decided to ignore my impulse.
That night I settled into bed, and dreamt pleasant thoughts of John as I always have since the day we met. I woke up thinking how perfect we were but only in my dreams, and how unluckily in love we were. I wondered how long these dreams and my thoughts of him would go on until they dissipate like my wild sense of premonition. I found my answer later that day when I heard Mrs. Amani's last sentinel node tested positive for malignant cancer. Sadly I realized the time had come to except the fate of the relationship between John and I, and know that one day I would meet a deserving man that would appreciate our little time allotted together instead of wasting our most vulnerable moments in separation.