An Unexpected Answer

CAM01203The doctor’s office, and especially an oncologist’s office, is surely awash in stories.

I know from my own experience that a whole lot of people are all about being “inspired” by somebody else’s cancer “journey.” (A few years ago, I addressed my confusion at the inspiration thing. So…what exactly have I inspired you to do, get cancer?)

But at my most recent visit, I decided to look for a different story.  See, I’ve got my own cancer tale, and I spent enough time chatting in chemo those years ago, and I’ve talked to enough survivors that I’m just kind of up to my neck with those types of stories. I’m not inspired so much, because you know, if you actually go through it, it’s kind of a drag. (And that, my friends, was my entry for the Understatement of the Year award.)

There’s a lady named Kiba at my doctor’s office who knows my right arm, well, probably way better than she knows her OWN right arm.  I guess you could say she’s my right hand man. (Except for the ‘man’ part.)

Because I’ve had lymph nodes removed on the left side, my left arm has been off limits for everything from blood pressure cuffs to blood draws since 2007. As you can imagine, all of the tests, IVs and whatnot have taken their toll on my poor, overworked right elbowpit (or whatever you call that, er, pit opposite where your elbow bends).

Whenever I visit, it’s Kiba’s job to hit that vein on the first try.  And most times she succeeds. She also takes all my vitals, and puts me on the dreaded scale. Sometimes while she’s working we chat about how far behind the doctor is running, or the weather. And I usually crack a joke about the weigh-in being the worst part.

But this week, as I sat in the waiting room, I wondered about Kiba–was this what she wanted to be doing when she grew up?

I think sometimes we patients forget that these folks spend all day, every day caring for others. Kiba watches people come through that office that are younger than me and in worse shape. She likely has to comfort those who are scared of needles, or just plain scared! This is an oncology office–sure some people live happily ever after, but a whole lot don’t. That’s some heavy stuff, man.

As patients, we don’t really think about any of that, though, because we’re all wrapped up in our own deal. We just kind of take, take, take, and it’s all about us, us, us.

So I asked her. I think I surprised her.

She told me that, when she was growing up she’d wanted to be, among other things, a police officer and a truck driver. (The truck driver part I never would have guessed–but it’s awesome.) But that now, what she really wants to do is go back to school to become a mortician. Her experience both in that office, and caring for her grandfather, have given her a desire to help others with end-of-life care.

Holy cow. So, the lady who is steeped in heavy stuff and self-focused patients like me everyday, wants to fulfill her dream, not to do something easier, but to have a job steeped in even heavier stuff. To care for grief-blinded folks who are likely even more self-focused.

I don’t even know what to say, except that I’m glad I asked.

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