A trip to the ER and a life changing diagnosis
When your spouse gets cancer everything changes. Your vision of the future is gone, replaced with people telling you to take things a day at a time. My spouse Katie, was not feeling well. We believed it was depression caused by working from home during the lockdown. She bought exercise equipment and started a new diet plan. She seemed frantic. She knew something was very wrong with her. I decided to see if she would walk with me during her lunch breaks. I brought her on a walk in the December sunshine with our son Bjorn. The walk went well, it seemed to uplift her mood. When we got back to the house she said she didn’t feel well and wanted a glass of water. I got her the glass of water. She then collapsed towards the ground. She stared off into space. I immediately thought something was wrong with her brain, but I quickly pushed aside those unbearable thoughts and chucked it up to fainting. The next day she didn’t feel well again and wanted to go to an urgent care clinic. My dad drove her to an emergency room and I stayed home with Bjorn. We didn’t think much of the situation. I laid down to nap with Bjorn and waited. Eventually I got up and called Katie. She answered the phone and said the doctors did an MRI. I asked her to call me when they knew something. She did about a couple hours later: a brain tumor. I was standing in front of the washing machine not understanding what I was hearing. I knew nothing of brain tumors. I knew nothing about the severity of brain tumors. I later found out. The head neuro resident at the hospital told me the different types of tumors Kate’s tumor could be and one was a glioblastoma. I asked how people did with this type of cancer. Patients do not do well the resident told me. I asked if it could be removed and she said yes, but since then no neurosurgeon will remove it. Kate didn’t sleep well at the hospital because her roommate most likely suffered from dysphagia and would apologize to Kate throughout the day and into the night. When Kate was discharged after a litany of tests she went home with the diagnosis of diffuse astrocytoma. Our lives changed. No longer did we talk about retirement. We started talking about biopsies, surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. I started researching clinical trials. I looked up the statistics online of survival. One to two years. I started to grieve the potential loss of my spouse at the age of 41, seeing my kids without their biological mother. I saw myself raising kids alone. I cried and wept in a way I didn’t know was in me. I could not understand why I was most likely the only lesbian in the nation with a spouse with glioblastoma. I felt alone. I dreamt of my spouse walking away from me and me getting lost in an unknown city. Katie calling me on the phone and telling me to find her. I could not find her, so I boarded a train. A train that was running in the wrong direction. A train with no stop, moving faster and faster away from Katie.