Just came home from the hospital – my white blood cell counts are too low for treatment this week. When my nurse Pat came over with the news I immediately saw the sympathetic, “I’m sorry” look on her face – and I’m sure she saw the disappointed, “@#*&%!!” look on mine. I guess my white blood cells have gone into hibernation too. On the upside, it appears my neck bumps are also hibernating — or, dare I even hope it? – perhaps they’ve left the region completely since neither my oncologist nor I can find them when we go a-poking and a-prodding in the neck parts. She examined me, said she couldn’t feel them, and then she smiled. I think I’ve mentioned before her (possibly Swiss) frugality with effusiveness? She’s not exactly an open valve of gushing emotion. But I like her, and I trust her. So she smiles and I think, that’s the equivalent of “whoo-hoo!” in her world. But… I’ve been fooled by shrinking lymph nodes and smiling oncologists before. I’ve let myself get swept up in a wave of hope, only to be sucked down into the undertow of disappointment and fear – and frankly it knocked the wind right out of me. Not just once but a few times now. I don’t want to get all beat up again – but at the same time I can’t quite manage to keep the hope out completely. It’s leaky, this fortification against disappointment that I’m trying to build; the hope seeps in. Then again, fear finds its way in too, and this persistent, worsening, and supremely annoying cough certainly helps to keep me from busting out a premature victory dance. What to do? Wait, of course. I know this game by now: I have a CT scan scheduled for February 23rd. All will be revealed. Until then, my job is to get those white blood cells back up and running, get treatment, and try not to vacillate too wildly between hope (shrinking neck bumps!) and fear (worsening cough!) Steady as she goes. And back under the duvet, to wait and wait and hibernate.