Playing my hand

The adventure of yesterday’s PET scan is behind us. It was a wild ride but I was able to have the scan and the MRI yesterday. I was more nervous worrying that the scan might have to be postponed than I am today about the results. I figure the cards have been dealt, and I’ll just have to play it out, even if it’s not all aces.

Later today, I find out the results of yesterday’s PET and MRI scans. This will determine whether my treatment is succeeding or failing or just holding steady. As I said, while I am certainly concerned about the results, I was much more stressed yesterday worrying that I might not have the PET scan because my glucose levels were out of range. It was really touch and go for a while and a cliff-hanger right up until the very last minutes before the scan, but in the end, I was able to have both scans. So, that worrying is behind me.

It might seem funny that I was more worried about having the scans than the results of the scans, especially since the stakes are so high. If the scans show that the treatment is still working, hurray! If the scans show that the treatment is not working and the cancer is progressing, I don’t really have a plan B as far as further treatment goes. A lot is riding on these results, so you think I would be more worried than I am, right?

I always go back to this old psychology experiment I read about once. This was back in the day when researchers were allowed to do cruel things to monkeys in the name of science. These days, they do their experimenting on humans, but that’s a topic for another post.

In this particular experiment, two monkeys were both subjected to electrical shocks at random intervals. A few seconds before each shock was administered, a light would flash, so the monkeys would know that another shock was coming. One monkey, the test monkey, had a lever that, if he pressed it between the time the light flashed and the shock was administered, would prevent the shock some of the time, but not all of the time. The other monkey, the control monkey, had a similar lever but it didn’t do anything. He got the shock every time, regardless. Interestingly, the monkey who had some power over the outcome eventually died from the stress. The powerless monkey, who had no choice but to accept that the shock was coming, survived.

I’ve never considered myself a fatalist, but between now and the time I hear the results, I am the powerless monkey.

Say a serenity prayer for me.

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