Monday-We arranged to meet Johnny Reb,wife K and son Sam at the Air and Space Museum @ Dulles. I haven't seen them since a week before Sam's birth 2 years ago. Today we have planned our Northern Virginia activities, which include this mini reunion and a visit to see Gayle. Gayle is Melanoma Man's first dermatologist. She is smart and tenacious and always goes the extra mile for us. She diagnosed his first primary melanoma 16 + years ago and also found and diagnosed his metastasis on August 8 2012. Melanoma. Man has religiously attended his follow up appointments with Gayle every six months for the last sixteen years, even when we lived on another continent. I haven't seen her in 14 years. She comes out to the waiting room and hugs me, Butter, and iMac, even though she is not a hugger. "He's a miracle, you know," she says and I do know. Then she tells me to take out the stitches above his right eyebrow in 7 days. "It wasn't there in February," she says. Instantly I read her meaning. This will be another melanoma. We return to Annapolis and stop for dinner at our favorite pizza place, Ledo's pizza.
Tuesday-I walk to Starbucks with. Butter. He talks non-stop, about Super Heroes mostly what he learned from comic books at Boyscout camp. He talks about how all the Superheroes have dead parents, killed by evil villains. Molly comes over and takes iMac and Butter kayaking. Butter has decided there are bull sharks in this river that drains into the Chesapeake Bay. iMac tells him there are not, and just stop worrying. Butter explains earnestly that it's not that easy to just turn the fear off. In the evening Bob takes the boys tubing in the same river. The excitement of tubing overcomes the fear of the bull sharks that do not reside in this river.
Wednesday-K and family came to Annapolis to spend the day. iMac can't wait to share his plan with K. K's children are 2,4, and 6 years of age. iMac recommends that she should have another baby RIGHT now, so that in two years time she will have a 2, 4 ,6 and 8 year old. Then iMac announces that we can chant, "two, four, six, eight! Who do we appreciate? K!" K takes his humor in stride. I think we should just appreciate her right now. There is swimming in the river, card playing, racing in the yard and playing tag amongst the cousins.
Thursday-We had thought of going in to town to the Newseum, but several people recommended the International Spy Museum. There is morning summer homework for iMac, which is due the first week of 9th grade. Next Molly, Butter, iMac and I drive to the nearest Metro station, buy farecards and take the Orange line into Metro center. I am transported to my days in nursing school when I took the red line from Shady Grove to Brookland/CUA five days a week. Moving forward in time a few years I am taking the red line from Friendship Heights to Metro Center, changing trains and disembarking for work at Foggy Bottom, occasionally taking the Metro to the Eastern Market after work, where Melanoma Man would meet me and take me the few blocks back to his house for dinner. It's been more than twenty years. Then poof we have arrived. We are at our destination. The Spy museum was a hit. There were exhibits that tied in with the movie D Day, which we saw on Monday at Air and Space. Walking back to the metro, waiting patiently for the walk sign to cross the street, sirens and some marked, some unmarked black vehicles whiz by. Butter wants to know what that is all about. We talk about motorcades, and who gets a motorcade, and if it is the President, why would he ever want or need to leave the White House. Where is the White House and can we go? Not this trip, but perhaps another. At our return station I try to add money to our cards at the exit fare. We purchased off-peak round trip tickets but returned during peak hours at 3:15. See station attendant the exit fare machine says. He asks if we have been to a museum today and we say yes. The cards have been demagnetized he says as he let's us through the side gate with no additional fare. Melanoma Man has spent the day back at the house, working on a presentation for a conference at church. I start working on dinner right away. Melanoma Man calls to me, saying "come, sit with me on the porch." I comply. " Gayle called," he says," It's a melanoma. But it's not Metastatic! It's a new primary." I think this is primary number 10, but I lost count years ago. We chat about logistics briefly, as in who should do the wide local excision. He says Lutz. I say, "absolutely not!" MM says, " He's a MOHS surgeon."
"Exactly I say. He operates on basal cell carcinomas, not melanomas. The MOHS technique by definition is tissue sparing. We don't want tissue sparing. We want them to take as much tissue as possible, that is why they call it WIDE local excision, not delicate, petite local excision." I will be happy with a general surgeon. He kind of wants to return to the plastic surgeon he has seen before, but it's not in our plan and would cost a fortune. The plastic surgeon's office was efficient, glamorous and specialized in kissing ass, but mostly made me feel like throwing up. When we were there last, a woman in the waiting room who had taken way too much Xanax gleefully asked me what I was having done, as she waited for her procedure. Melanoma Man piped up "I'm the patient. I am having a melanoma removed," I understood that the women in the waiting room are hurt, but not in the same way as MM. I could not bring myself to empathize with them. "Just keep your mouth shut," I said to myself in my head over and over again until we leave.