On Friday, I had my first doctor appointment since 2007.
How does someone go so long without a checkup?
That’s simple enough, no insurance. Since I got out of the Navy and then Justin got out of the Marine Corps, I’ve been without insurance. For the most part, I’ve been okay. There were probably times when I should have seen a doctor, but hell, I’m still alive and kicking, so it can’t be that bad, right?
Well… maybe… maybe not.
In June 2005, I was stationed on the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and we were deployed for six months that year. We were already half way through with our cruise when we hit Bahrain for a second time. Now for you non-Navy folks, Bahrain is what we would call a “working port” or a stop where no matter if we were on watch that day or not, we still had to work a normal day’s worth of work before being allowed liberty off the ship. The only way out of one of these days was to participate in any of the scheduled activities that were provided to us.
Cameron’s father, Justin and I had been seeing each other.. I guess about six weeks at this point and we were planning on signing up for one of the events. Now, I really wanted to do the swim with the dolphins thing, but he was resistant and opted for us to do breakfast and horse back riding at a spa.
Eventually, I gave in and for the most part, we had a fantastic time. Several of my friends from the ship were on the same trip and we spent a few hours playing in the pool while the allowing the upper enlisted Marine Corps participants enjoy their ride first. After our breakfast, we headed over to the stables and I was excited. I hadn’t been on a horse since I was like three or four (ironically the last animal I had ridden was an elephant in 5th grade at the Nashville Zoo). Anyways, with no prep talk or anything, I was helped up onto the horse, an older mare who seemed calm and steady and we began our trek.
Now, if you ever travel to a foreign country, this is not one I would ever suggest you visit. The beach was the nastiest beach I had ever seen, filled with bags of trash and debris.. Anyways, I digress.
We weren’t far down the beach when I noticed my saddle was slipping. I shifted my weight and straightened it out without little trouble. Now, remember, I’ve never ridden a horse (without my mother on there with me).
So I am blindly trotting alongside everyone, laughing and having fun under the hot, sun when the saddle begins to slip again. I tried my best to adjust it once again, only it didn’t work this time and as the saddle slipped, I began to fall with it. I knew nothing about bailing out of a saddle, so I’m still holding on as I fall and this causes my horse to panic. As she panicked, she slipped in the sand and fell as well. Luckily for me, the largest part of her body fell in the opposite direction as me and all I got was a hoof to the head (see the picture above once more), instead of her crushing me.
Needless to say, there is nothing like bleeding profusely on a dirty beach in Bahrain. Especially when the tour guide is yelling at you for hurting your head and when one of the people on the trip gets a hold of the ship, they refuse to allow you to go to the hospital.
Fast forward about two months later, the cut on my forehead has healed into a faint Harry Potter mark and besides a little “veil” as I call it, over my right eye, my vision is fine. But just in case, they have my vision and eyes checked when we pull into Rota, Spain by some of the Naval personnel there. Looking over my charts, they realize something is wrong and demand that I be taken to see a Spanish Ophthalmologist the very next day.
So I’m escorted by a translator and after an torturous hour of him constantly using those eye pieces you see jewelers hold up to their eyes to inspect gems, directly on my eye (which let me tell you is NOT comfortable) he informs me that he believes I have what is known as Intraocular Melanoma. Now, his English wasn’t perfect, but he was fairly clear that he believed it may be skin cancer of the eye and he wants it taken care of immediately…
That was seven and a half years ago…
I have never been firmly diagnosed with it and the Navy wanted to just observe it, once every six months instead of having me choose between some undesirable options, such as chemotherapy or even having my eye removed.
You know, once I looked up the survival rate for it and it said something like five years. So, the day I made it to that five year mark, I stopped holding my breath every day. But now, that I have insurance and they noticed it in my records… I have to hold my breath again.
They want me to be checked out, immediately. In fact, the doctor I spoke to was stunned that I was told to wait it out. He said it was infuriating because melanoma is such an aggressive cancer and that letting it sit there, if it was that, then I’ve given it seven and a half years to spread… which leaves me… scared once more.
See, the thing they noticed is that on my eye exam upon entering the Navy, there were two chirpies (birth marks/freckles on or in your eye) inside my eye, but in 2005, the two had grown together into one. So I have spent all weekend trying to push this out of my mind and trying to focus on anything but this.
My appointment is on the second and I will probably hold my breath until then, but there’s this lingering thought in my head about what I will do if they say, “Yes, this is what you have.” or worse “It’s spread.”
I may not be a lot of things to a lot of people, but I don’t know how to deal with the possible choices that will be set before me if this comes to pass. Back then.. I had Justin to lean on. He was my rock and if I had to make one of those choices, I wouldn’t be alone. But not long after I found out what I might have, I found out I was pregnant with Cameron..
I know Ty is going to be okay. He has his father and Becky to take care of him and I know that if anything were to happen to me, he probably wouldn’t really even notice anything different.
But Cameron… I am all he has ever known and had. I have been there almost every day of his life and I don’t know what will happen to him if something were to happen to me.
Okay, I think that’s enough. I needed to put that out there somewhere. It’s something I’ve not mentioned to anyone… except for Justin, since he’ll be picking up Cameron on the second after school. Now, I can go focus. I can set out Cameron’s presents from Santa and spend the day enjoying the fact that despite us being so far from the family and life we’ve known these past few years, that he’s having a great Christmas.
So I wish you all Merry Christmas and all the best wishes in the New Year.