I had a four month check up with Dr. K, my oncologist, today.
Everything looks great.
This time, he did a blood test. He had skipped it last time because he says blood tests don't really show anything, so he does them every six months at the earliest. The blood test was fine -- no significant changes from December, the last time I had one.
He did a physical exam, poking around here and there, feeling for any nodes popping up. Again, no changes since the last time he felt me up.
Then he gave me a lecture about CT scans, and why I wouldn't be getting one -- NCCN guidelines have changed over time, and we used to do scans every 6 or 12 months, and now we know that frequent scans over a long time have a risk of causing a secondary cancer, etc. etc. I tried to interrupt him a few times to say I was OK with waiting a long time between scans, but I couldn't really stop him from talking.
The important thing is, my health is good.
After my first appointment with Dr. K, I wrote about how much I had missed Dr. R, my old oncologist. We had a great relationship. We could joke and tease, and talk about current research, and even his secretary would show us pictures of her grandkids. It seems a little strange to say, but going to the oncologist was actually fun.
It's pretty clear that things just aren't going to be that way with Dr. K. It's just not his personality. And it's only been two visits, but it seems like the whole office is the same way.
The word that kept coming to me was efficient. The whole office is efficient.
They aren't cold, or unfriendly, or bad in any way. It just seems like they are there to do a job, and they do it. The phlebotomist made small talk about her hobbies, but there wasn't a lot of interaction. Dr. K asked all the right questions about my summer, if I traveled, about my kids. But I don't know it any of it really sank in. I get the feeling he won't remember any of it next time I see him.
Which is fine. I'm lucky to be at a place with my cancer where I feel like I can go in for my half hour appointment, get my blood tested, learn that everything is OK, and come back in six months. I don't need a best friend.
If I was actively going through treatment, maybe I would feel differently, and I'd need more emotional support. Then again, maybe I would like the efficiency -- "This is what the guidelines say, and this is what we're going to do." Let someone else make the decisions.
I'll be honest -- my wife worries about this relationship with Dr. K. She worries that, if anything happened to me, and she needed to make decisions about my health, she would have a hard time trusting Dr. K.
It's funny how, even when things are going well, we find things to worry about. Cancer sucks. Follicular Lymphoma sucks in particular.
But for now, we can put those worries aside. There's no sense in getting worked up about something that might not even happen. Like I've been doing for seven and a half years, I'll do my best to prepare for whatever possibilities might come down the road.
For now, I had a good check up today, and that's what matters. I'm going to have some ice cream to celebrate.