After the debacle with the ports, I had an appointment with medical oncology. I talked to them, and together we decided to hold off on the chemotherapy for a while. I was getting married in about a month, and they were nice enough to give me a holiday from treatment for the wedding and honeymoon. And boy, did I need a break from all of this. I think I actually went an entire month without setting foot in a doctor’s office. I never thought I’d be so happy with that fact. Before this, I had gone years between doctors’ appointments. Now, a month was a victory. My latest set of wounds was finally healing up a bit, and I was hopeful that everything would be closed by the time our honeymoon rolled around. We were planning on diving, and it’s not a great idea to dive if you have a bunch of open abdominal wounds, as you might imagine.
We had chosen 8/27/16 as our wedding date. Nicole was born on May 8th, and I was born on June 27th, so it was kind of appropriate. And, it was also a Saturday which is also generally important for having fun weddings. We had picked that date and a venue before the diagnosis, and we discussed the timing of everything with medical and surgical oncology before we started down this road. We always knew the plan was for two surgeries. We just made sure that everything was able to be done on the timeline we planned out, and despite the disastrous s**t-show that was my post-op course, at least the wedding was still on, and I was feeling pretty okay finally. I was able to drink alcohol again without getting sick, which I was happy about because I wanted to enjoy my wedding. And after not drinking anything for basically 6 months, I was also a cheap date again.
Perhaps this part of the story isn’t as interesting as others. But, I still want to share it with you. Looking forward to the wedding was one of the things that kept me going throughout the whole process. I wasn’t reluctant to get married at all. Actually, I knew I wanted to marry Nicole from probably our second or third date. I actually had to make myself wait “long enough” to ask her to marry me. We dated for about 16 months before we got engaged. I had the ring ready to go 6 months in. True story.
In fact, I had something of a crush on Nicole for a while before we started dating. When I first moved up here in the summer of 2013, I was actually dating someone else, and so was Nicole. My girlfriend at the time decided she couldn’t move up with me. She had a project she was contracted on to finish up in New Orleans, and then she was heading up to the northeast to work on another project up there. The soonest she could be in the same city as me would have been right around the spring of 2015. Instead of recognizing it for what it was, we both decided to try the long distance thing. But I was not optimistic. Long distance relationships are hard enough when you’re working a normal job and are separated by a reasonable distance, much less going through the rigors of residency whilst over 1000 miles apart.
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, or maybe we just weren’t meant to be, but whatever the reason, we slowly drifted apart over the first year I was up here, until the point that we were going days between communication of any kind, and weeks between actual phone conversations. And so, we finally both agreed it wasn’t really working and went our separate ways, fairly amicably.
Nicole was dating a guy who lived in another city, about an hour and a half north of town. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but apparently she was the one doing all of the driving and going to visit him, and she was also providing a non-trivial amount of financial support for him. From what I understand, she gave him quite a bit of money to use for a down-payment on a truck, for instance. If I sounds like I don’t really like that guy, well, I don’t. It sounds like he kinda treated her like garbage. But, at the same time, I’m kinda glad he did screw it up so badly. Or I wouldn’t have had a shot. So, thanks guy! And again, all of this was unknown to me back then.
But, I did know that I had a huge crush on Nicole. She was one of the x-ray technologists, the people who actually take the pictures and run the scanners. She worked in one of the areas where the residents all rotated through. She was very sarcastic with a great sense of humor, and I always found her to be a fun, engaging, and interesting person. I found myself constantly smiling when we worked together, and she was pretty darn easy on the eyes, too. I remember being happy on the days I’d come in and she was working. It made my day when I called over to the procedure area and she was the one who answered the phone. We’d always banter for a little bit. I remember one day, though, when I came into work, and I found out that she had gotten engaged to her boyfriend.
I don’t even know if she knew me from Adam back then, considering that the residents are constantly rotating through and who’s on service is always changing. And there are a bunch of us, too. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even on her radar at the time. But I do remember thinking something along the lines of, “how do all these guys with high school educations and mediocre jobs get the good ones? I’m a d**n doctor and I can barely get a date.” And it was true.
Continue reading in the next installment by Christopher Graham here: Chapter 6 | Part 2: And the Rest was History