May 26, 2017: Snapshots of Memory

I mentioned on May 18th that I called Columbia to ask about Avastin. In that call, they didn’t reject us outright. The new patient coordinator said the doctor might be willing to do what we asked, but she’d need to review the medical records and meet us first. No promises, but a glimmer of hope.

I didn’t follow up again until May 26, 2017, until after every other institution we’d approached had refused to help.

We’d left Columbia as the last option for a few reasons. It was in the city, which isn’t always a pleasant drive. They didn’t possess any of Matt’s medical records, and the process of obtaining, faxing, and shipping reports and MRI scans that are filed in various departments of three different East Coast hospitals (Morristown, Hackensack, Duke) is a tedious, frustrating endeavor. And, honestly, we didn’t want to meet yet another doctor, deal with another ego, if we didn’t have to.

I know exactly where I was the moment Columbia called me back for the first time and I remember exactly where I stood in the kitchen to fill out the new patient form on May 26, 2017. It’s funny to look back and have such a vivid flash of memory of a moment that, at the time, seemed relatively insignificant. I’d filled out a dozen similar forms and I couldn’t, and didn’t, know the vital role Columbia would play in the coming months. But some part of my memory took a snapshot of receiving that phone call and filling out that form in a way it didn’t for Hackensack or Sloan.

My memory is full of these snapshots, moments that at the time seemed as routine as filling out paperwork for the umpteenth doctor. The first moment I locked eyes with Matt across the dance floor at a random club in the Meatpacking District. The moment I set down a book I was reading, turned to Matt, and said, “I bet I can write one of these,” and he said, “go for it.” The moment we met a doctor with inexhaustible compassion at Columbia who happened to have the availability to take on a new patient.

Plenty of other moments I wish I remembered are gone. But these snapshots remain, and it’s only in looking back can I see that these were the moments when we’d started down a new path without realizing it. They are the moments my heart chose to remember even though my brain overlooked them as ordinary. They are the moments that formed the outline of our story. I’m not sure what to make of that except it makes me believe our story was meant to be told. Maybe that’s how memory works for all of us, and all our stories are meant to be told.

On May 26, 2017, we had one local hospital left. One final institution that hadn’t yet rejected us regarding Avastin. We had one glimmer of hope and we grabbed for it.

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