I couldn’t make up my mind which might have been better left unsaid Thursday, when I had my first post-surgery brain scan.
“Your MRI shows clearly that you still have a small brain tumor.” Or, “It’s inoperable.” Or, “There’s a 50 percent chance it will grow.” And I wasn’t crazy about, “We’ll try radiation to try and shrink the tumor if it grows,” either.
Some things are better left unsaid. Important information is not one of them.
Whether I wanted those things said or not, all of these bits of news, which my neurosurgeon communicated with compassion and a positive outlook, were necessary and needed to be said – and heard. I might wish I didn’t have to know, but life requires living – through the sad, difficult and scary days as much as through the joyful and fun ones.
I did discern, thankfully before saying it, that yelling, “Ow! That really hurt! Have you done this before?” when MRI technician Jared inserted my IV was probably better left unsaid.
“Did I cause you any pain or discomfort when I put in your IV?” he asked anxiously.
“Do you want me to lie?” I asked and grinned. Jared laughed. “I’ve been through much worse,” I confided. He exhaled in relief and said, “I’m glad.” And I was glad I hadn’t yelled.
Jared offered me a warm blanket (which I refused), held the headband I’d forgotten to remove and asked me not less than thrice during the hour-long brain scan if I was okay. He also told me repeatedly how great I was doing. Every time he inquired and every time he offered a positive word, it cheered me on to patiently endure the remainder of the scan, as statue-like still as possible, though I was slowly beginning to freeze, and shivering would soon ensue.
Some things are better left unsaid. “Thank you” is not one of them.
When the MRI was over and Jared walked me out, I said, “Hey, thanks so much. You were so thoughtful, and the way you checked up on me made this experience so much less scary. I really appreciate it!”
Eyes are more difficult to read than smiles, but the way Jared’s eyes crinkled and sparkled, I was pretty sure a smile had taken over under his mask, and that he was happy to hear he’d done such a good job.
Some things are better left unsaid. Words of hope and encouragement are not among them.
After my appointment with my neurosurgeon, I looked out across the vast and mostly empty waiting room. I paused to watch a woman who was sitting alone and trying to keep herself busy while she waited. She picked up a newspaper. Set it down and picked up a knitting project. Pushed it aside with a sigh. I took a deep breath and approached her. I introduced myself and explained why I was talking to her.
“I know what it’s like to feel anxious while sitting here waiting. I wanted to wish you good luck, and I hope you’ll hear good news today. You’re not alone. I’ve been given some pretty new face masks, and I’d be thrilled if you’d accept one!” I said.
The woman reached toward my box of sparkly masks. Her face lost some of its weariness as curiosity cautiously wandered over her features. She asked questions about the women-owned business that had given me the masks. As we talked, she relaxed into her chair. Tenseness melted out of her. She laughed as she chose a mask, and I learned her name was Linda as it was called for her to go into her appointment. I again wished her good things, and she expressed gratitude as we went separate paths.
Some things are better left unsaid. But these words should not be among them: Thank you. I care. I’m thinking of you. You can do it. You’re amazing. You make such a big difference.
These thoughts need expressed and are never better abandoned to silence: Please don’t leave them unsaid.
Dawn Kessinger lives in Lima.