The imaging department at my hospital (or the hospital I attend regularly, I don't own it) schedules an anesthesiologist on Thursdays. The imaging department also requires that I have an anesthesiologist on hand for my MRIs. Why they require that is an involved story that wasn’t always the case but now it is. Regardless of why, they do require it. And currently, combating my cancer involves regular MRIs. SO, my last MRI, without necessarily accounting for any other demands of my schedule, was last Thursday. The results were good. Yup, good. Fine. I’m measured in my response because there’s still a bit of tumor (even though it’s a small bit now) in my head. Any tumor in your head, no matter the size, is a little disconcerting. Also, I’m painfully aware that even the absence of visible cancer does not mean no cancer forever.
I have MRIs every two months, more or less. As a tool that allows the doctors to assess the situation in my head, MRIs provide pivotal information. Yet, as I conveyed earlier, a conclusion drawn from that information is not definitive. The first weekend of NFL football is an appropriate metaphor. Fans are ready to bungee jump, skydive, to a conclusion upon every game result. Suddenly they are seemingly flooded with information after complete deprivation. Following starving for some knowledge, any morsel of substance seems like a fantastic meal. But that’s dangerous. The juxtaposition of anything with none seems like a ton, however, it’s only one data point. By itself it just sits there, directionless. Two points might help show a direction. Three might start to show a trend. One is a lonely number.
BUT, without an MRI there is not even a first dot. Without One no Two. That's how numbers and counting work. No foundation, no possibility for a connection, and never the possibility of a trend. Going into the second week of the NFL schedule, a previously undefeated team (1-0) could suddenly boast a .500 record with a loss. Similarly, a previously entirely defeated team (0-1) could suddenly boast a .500 record with a win. The definition of One partially depends on Two.
A contrarian (I know some) might correctly point out that I have multiple past MRIs to point to - to help establish a trend. But those past MRIs assuredly incorporate the effects of other treatments as well - in fact this one even may. With that lack of exactitude, the further away from other treatments the more the results can be attributed to the trial drug. In fact, we will never be able to establish a definite direct causation. The most we can hope to do is find a correlation. Since I’m not willing to be, or ask others to be, the control group I am, in essence, perpetually playing the first game of the season. Sure, it’s very good to have a data point that provides some bearing in the fog (hopefully a lighthouse that prevents the ship from horrendously crashing into the jagged rocks!). But having one point alone is not necessarily enough to triangulate a position. I’ll just have to settle for 1-0. It's much better than the other way around.