The last thing I want is to be a bore. (Not true; the last thing I want is another biopsy, but I think I made that pretty clear already.) However, I did leave my post last week on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I thought I would give an update on my medical progress before returning to regular programming.
First of all, hello, I’m still here. So that’s good news.
I reported to surgery last Thursday at 6 a.m. where I joined a group of about seven others scheduled for various procedures. We changed into our gowns (not together, obviously) and were escorted en masse to a staging area with numbered chairs and beds.
We each sat in our assigned place, and one after another we were approached by members of the surgical team who asked questions and then darted away. It was like speed dating but without the wine.
Eventually they called me in. I lay back on the table as everyone busied around me. A mask was placed on my face, something was injected, and I felt my soul being sucked out of me. It was just like when I watched The Girl on the Train a couple of nights later.
I woke up with six holes stapled shut across my abdomen and a tube inserted where no tube should ever be.
At the end of the afternoon, my doctor came by to tell me he was pleased with the surgery and that everything around my now non-existent prostate looked good. He also told me I didn’t have many lymph nodes to remove. So this: did you know people had varying numbers of lymph nodes? That seems a pretty imprecise way to run a human body.
I was released the next day. I’ll say this about hospitals: you don’t have to worry about a thing. They bring your food and pills, they check your vitals, and there are buttons to call for assistance or to adjust your position just so. By the second day, the nurses were quite interested in whether I had passed gas, but given that they discharged me before my having done so, maybe that was just personal curiosity.
So when I got home and had to do all these things myself, along with Deb and her amazing, patient care (in both senses of the word), I’ve tended to have had some down days.
Little things dragged me down. Fatigue, pain in my shoulders, not being able to do what I wanted, Phil Collins’ “One More Night” going through my head for, like, three straight days. The !$#?*! tube. General worrying about things. Have I passed gas? Have I passed too much gas? Is everything sterile? Is that even possible in this house?
Many kind and beautiful people read last week’s column and congratulated me on being brave, optimistic and good humoured about it all. Indeed, I should be ecstatic that the cancer is out of me. And I am certainly relieved. But I think I may also be in a kind of mourning for my old body before it betrayed me, my old life before it changed for good. Just because it’s good news doesn’t mean I’m not sad.
I actually hesitated putting my story out there, but now I’m so glad I did, because I’ve received so many messages of support, so many stories of people who have kicked cancer’s ass. And these never fail to revive me from my funk (a good shower also helps).
Emails, texts, comments, people stopping by.
Annis sharing her story about how leaving the body behind leads to greater faith in the spirit.
Sarah who offered to send me dried seal jerky “because nothing is as bad as that.”
Mark sending me a pic of his planned reading material (Hemingway, vintage Mad).
Altan confirming that the Western way of saying “no” by shaking one’s head back and forth has no meaning in Turkey.
Kim and Annie sending funny videos.
Andy popping in.
Mike dropping by with a card from my co-workers that made me tear up.
Steve and Karen knowing what fun can be had with helium balloons.
Rebecca openly cussing cancer.
Laurie calling me (more cussing).
My lovely family familying.
So many others, too many to name, so many kind thoughts and wishes from near and far. This has given me cheer. My body may have let me down, but my friends haven’t. This has been the best medicine.
And that is all.