The thyroid apt. went fine. They're still not concerned.
In May, I had to return to Dr. N. for my annual check. I remembered the eight tiny swans I saw the year before and how I saw that as a sign of good luck (8 being lucky for Chinese but since I'm a Sinofile...) It was too cold to go swan seeking this time. It was again, a clear day but cold for the season.
I walked in and saw some friends from the synagogue. Their daughter had had breast cancer. She's fine now but this was the mom's turn to get checked. Added to that, there was a death of another member of that synagogue and the mom and dad were worried about getting to the funeral on time.
I came up to the counter. Dr. N. sees me and while still on the phone, runs over to shake my hand. Nice to see you too, but, asking the secretary, would you mind swapping with Madame W. who has a funeral to get to afterwards?
The changed the procedure. You go in for the mammo and then wait for the ultrasound. I saw Madame W. come out but missed her afterwards. Later on, they told me they made it on time...
But while sitting there, I was comforting her, which was kind of absurd since I'm the one who has had breast cancer, not her.
Then, while waiting for Dr. N. in the room, I realized that my attempts at being a Good Samaritan didn't work in my favor. In fact, I was now more nervous than when I arrived.
He burst into the room with a big smile. Shook my hand again. Looking away he laughed. "You're nervous!" Okay, sweaty palms. Dr. No Filters!
Then, in a rather strange gesture, he pulled my arm up. I couldn't figure out what he was doing but somehow moved my hand around. Next thing I knew, he had planted my hand, with his on top, on my thigh. I looked down, in sort of a disbelief and then felt his arm around my shoulder. Then he whispered, very softly, "Don't be afraid" ("Il ne faut pas avoir peur").
I think, for a moment, the world stopped turning. My brain was awash in disbelief and absolute terror. At the same time, I wanted to burst into tears and was afraid I would. But then again, he's seen enough of my tears already...
This tender gesture, surrounded by all these humming and blinking machines, juxtaposed by this very human moment. I gripped his hands and tried to relax.
Finally, I was the one who had to end it. I leaned over and, almost amusingly, started unzipping my top. In any other circumstances, it would have been interpreted differently but to him, it meant getting to work.
He mumbled something about having to start it. Having done this for 15 years, we have it down to a routine but it just feels different after the cancer.
Then I showed him my ovarian cyst scans from my last gynecological visit. "Totally benign. Nothing to worry about..."
I tried to tell him about Dr. B. and my less-than-stellar encounter. He processed it all wrong. I wanted to tell him how I "defended" him to Dr. B. but Dr. N. took it as I was really upset by it all. He didn't interpret what I was saying correctly. I was quite proud of myself, but Dr. N. started comforting me, saying I never had to go back to him again. He'd do my next thyroid scan, which wasn't the first time he's offered.
"I'll take care of you. You don't have to go back there..."
Nothing found. Sure? He's always sure. I start to get ready. He started to talk about Vietnam again and of the 40th anniversary. He saw the Rory Kennedy documentary and liked it. Oh yes, what happened for that? Nothing here but back in Vietnam, with a tone of disgust, yes, they celebrated it.
But, his brother had put together something, I didn't get what, about their trip to the U.S. "It explains it all..." Oh that's great!
Would I like to see it?
Oh my goodness yes! Did he even need to ask? I was so curious now.
"I need your email..." and he started looking around.
What are you doing?
Looking for a piece of paper. I started getting dressed.
You don't need to, I said to him, holding my iPhone. I had tapped on my email address and set up a message.
He walked back over to me and I handed him the iPhone. He held it like I had just handed him a newborn baby. He looked at me blankly.
It was all I could do (partly over relief over my results) to not burst out laughing. Here I was, surrounded by machines that I couldn't begin to even figure out where the "on" button was. Here was my trusted radiologist who manipulates them all day, can't figure out how an email is sent on an iPhone?
Trying not to sound diplomatic, I said carefully "You're going to send yourself a message from my email account. Then when you look at your messages, you'll know it's correct and only have to respond to it, with the attachment."
The light goes on. He then ponders what to put in the subject line. "It doesn't matter. Just put anything. I'll know what it is..." He decided to put the title his brother gave it. He also wanted to show me his email, which actually was very clever and I let him know.
I'm thinking, I bet the others out in the waiting room are really hating me right now!
Sent. Said goodbye. See you in February for the thyroid...
At lunch, about an hour later, I had the email. It was fabulous! His brother put together a sort of Powerpoint show with photos of the boats they took, how Saigon fell, pictures of his family in the refugee camps, even a copy of the bilingual newspaper they put out in the camp. There was even a photo of him and his family, on the day they left the refugee camp in Pennsylvania in October of 1975.
I looked at the map. I had spent the summer of '75 only a few miles away. How funny. We were about an hours' drive away, all summer and he ends up my doctor in Strasbourg, France.
He replied with the link, and nothing else! Totally blank message. Here was all this rather personal information, and not even a "here's the link I told you about". Nada. I had to laugh.
Not even an hour later, another email arrives, from another account with the link to the "Last Days in Vietnam". It actually wasn't. He sent the link to the trailer by accident, but I looked at the strip on the right on YouTube and found it. They posted it on April 30, 2015. It was wonderful.
The brother has a very astute sense of humor. He had little jokes sort of written into what is really, a very harrowing account.
Basically, he and his siblings were originally sent to the U.S. They escaped with extended family. The uncles decided to stay while he and his siblings were reunited with their parents who were already in France. His brother ended up marrying a woman he met in the refugee camp and moving back to the U.S.
But it answered my question. He did not fly on Pan Am. Some charter company I'd never heard of. I must admit, I was a little disappointed!
I wrote him back, and thanked him. Told him that his brother had a good sense of humor. Told him he sent the wrong link, and gave him the correct one;
Never heard back. Wasn't surprised.