Friday, September 01, 2006

Meeting My Destiny

Meeting My Destiny

Friday 1 September 2006

The first day of autumn. The night suddenly cool, and the day, today, wet, with rain on the outward route and rain, again, returning.

Yesterday, Thursday, I made an unscheduled visit to the kaitenzushi bar, the conveyor belt sushi place just down the road from Waniguchi Gakko.

As usual, rather than eat the stuff that was circulating on the conveyor belt, and which had been sitting around for some time, I ordered stuff from one of the sushi chefs. That way you get it fresh and the seaweed wrapping is crisp rather than soggy.

I ate eight saucers of sushi, more than I strictly needed, but I had, at the back of my mind, a slight nagging anxiety about my weight.

Back in 2004, in the months leading up to my cancer diagnosis, my weight dropped remorselessly. And, knowing that cancer was one possibility (though then undiagnosed) I internalized the notion that "weight loss equals death."

And now my weight is dropping again.

We have a good set of electronic scales and my wife keeps track of my weight, writing it down once a week or so. A couple of days ago, I weighed in at 67.9 kilograms. By contrast, when I last weighed myself at the oncology department at Auckland Public Hospital, earlier this year, my weight was about 72 kilograms.

The heaviest I have ever been in my life is 75 kilograms.

Yesterday, Thursday, as I was sitting in the classroom teaching English, I realized that I was a little uncomfortable in the chair because there was not as much flesh on my buttocks as there should have been.

As my train drew in to the home station, I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to buy bread and bananas. I had written down this mission in my notebook, but I had forgotten to look at the notebook, so writing it down did no good.

Once home, bread and bananas secured, I ate a banana sandwich, with bulking up in mind.

I was then, despite what I said earlier about expecting a good result from today's MRI, a little anxious on account of the fact that, yes, I have been losing weight.

Possibly simply because we are eating healthier food, my wife having started to take quite an interest in diet.

In New Zealand, where we stayed for some months earlier this year and during last year, my parents always buy a kind of olive-based margarine which is called, I think, Olivano. (Or maybe Olivani.) Here in Japan, my wife has started purchasing a similar product, a bread spread based on olives, healthier than the standard margarine alternatives.

So my thinking was that maybe my weight has been dropping because I am eating fewer calories. That simple.

But, while looking ahead to today's MRI scan at Meijin Hospital here in the city of Yokohama, I did bear the cancer possibility in mind.

My wife and I wargamed the event, and my wife reminded me that the hospital wanted me to skip breakfast.

This is actually not necessary for diagnostic purposes, but apparently the occasional person throws up after being injected with the rare earth gadolinium, which is injected for contrast for brain scans when lymphoma is suspected.

I have had more MRI scans with contrast than I can rightly remember, and have never thrown up yet, so I thought about sneaking in a covert breakfast in the early hours of the morning, supposing that I was up and that my wife was asleep.

My wife opted to take Friday off work so she could come to the hospital with me. It helps to have here there, because I get lost with the Japanese spoken by my hematologist, Dr Gunma. That said, I must say that Dr Gunma has gotten much better at coping with my severely defective Japanese.

Today's plan was to drop daughter Cornucopia off at the daycare center at the standard time, leaving home at 0830 and arriving at the daycare center about ten minutes later, and to head out to Meijin Hospital at about 1015 for an MRI scheduled for later in the morning, with an appointment with Dr Gunma scheduled to follow it.

Today's plan did not include staying up right through the night, but that was what I did, slipping in an early meal at about 0130, muesli and a banana. In the morning, after delivering the child to the daycare, I crashed out on the sofa for a bit before my wife and I headed out for the hospital at about 1015.

The outcome of today's hospital visit? I got a clean bill of health.

The result of today's MRI scan was that the node which supposedly existed in my cerebellum was nowhere there to be seen. Dr Gunma had my brain up on the computer and demonstrated, conclusively, its non-existence.

Before, this node had been small. "Chichai" was his word for it, meaning "tiny." But now it was completely gone.

It follows that it is possible, then, that the node had never existed in the first place; that it had been, all along, no more than a figment of the machine's imagination.

My next MRI is scheduled for early in December, three months out. I'm expected to live until then. And, observes my wife, perhaps for many years longer. In the interim, I can bask in the satisfaction of knowing that, when my hematologist ran his eye over the results of today's post-MRI blood tests, he pronounced that everything tested for was in the normal range, and my cholesterol level was perfect.