It's good news and it's bad news. Dr. Collins doesn't play the game, asking which one I'd rather have first. She just launches into the good: everything is clean. Sparkling. The single expensive, full-color, uncomfortable bronchoscopy has confirmed what multiple thrifty, black-and-white, simple x-rays were telling us all along. There are no infections in my lungs.
Dr. Collins smiles. She shrugs. She stands at the foot of my bed and does this little half smile, apologetic, because she knows that as good as the news is -- no infections! woo-hoo! -- what it really means is that the Hickman is coming out. We're both reading between the lines. She's standing there, right, all cool and calm and collected, and it really is good news, that the myriad tests I've undergone recently have turned up nothing but nothing.
But we both know where this is going.
Dr. Collins is standing at the foot of my bed and I'm trying to pretend like I don't have a temp. Stupid. Stupid, Robert. I'm shaking. Blankets are piled. She can read my charts. She knows better. I haven't been able to go, what, two consecutive days without spiking a temp? My teeth are chattering while I wait for the demoral to kick in.
If it's not my lungs, then it's my clean, infection-free Hickman. It's really not all that complicated. It's binary. A process of elimination.
It can't be the Hickman, but then again, it can't not be.