Reflections on the Holiday Gutting of 2011
It all still seems very surreal. You would think I would remember every detail, but I don’t. I remember waking up in recovery and thinking someone tore my leg out of my hip socket, and begging for something for pain. I remember saying stupid things when I woke up. I remember Andy telling me that Dr. Kesterton came out and told him it took longer than planned but that it went well. I remember he had to leave to go to work. And then I remember being all alone when that poor surgical resident came in to see me and had me ask her the questions I am sure she was hoping I wasn’t going to ask. I thought a lot about her today, and I wondered if it ever gets easier for her, to have someone look up at her with hope in their eyes, and then have to look back at them as say, I’m sorry, the preliminary pathology says it’s cancer. And there it was, Merry Christmas to me.
I remember the nurse coming in and asking me how I was, and I tried so fucking hard to be brave. Didn’t last, but mercifully there was morphine being shot in the drip and I was in and out of consciousness until they brought me the blessed jello to eat. They even had me out of bed that same night, giant Frankenstein incision and all. I miss those delightful massaging leg boots. I loved them. It’s weird what you remember and what you forget. I remember the nice social worker who tried to make it better, and I heard almost nothing that she said. I remember being urged out of my comfy massage boots and cushy bed to walk the halls only to find out that since it was Christmas week, I was on the maternity wing – ironic considering all the girly parts were on their way to a secret location to be scrutinized, and I would never see them again. I never even got to say goodbye. I remember Dr. K coming in with a posse and whining about how hard he had to work to get that tumor out and why he finally just said, cut ‘er open kids, we’re going in. I remember having to tell Andy and how scary that was and we both made jokes, I don’t remember what they were, but I know we ended up laughing, and that it fucking hurt. I remember puking up corn after I tried to eat dinner. Those are the things I remember – and I wonder why I can’t remember more. Must have been the morphine.
It still amazes me that I didn’t have a breakdown in those first days. From the time I heard the words malignant to now, I often wonder why I didn’t just sink into a black hole of depression. But I didn’t – I cried a bit, and just sucked it and got through it. I remember looking at 5 year survival rates. That was not very promising at all. But somehow, we got through Christmas. And New Years. And now it’s two years later and I’m still alive. I never doubted I would be. Little Frogger didn’t make it through the ordeal, but I did. So thank you to everyone who was there for me during this journey. I’m 18 months cancer free. I can’t say that I don’t think about it every day, and that every twinge, lump or pain doesn’t freak me out because it might still be lurking in the nuclei of some cells waiting to give me a brutal surprise but I know whatever comes my way I can handle that shit. Because the worst that could happen is that I die. And I didn’t. And have no plans for it yet.
I wish I could make everyone who had a part in helping me through that time understand what it meant to me. Sometimes all I needed was someone to say hey, hello, or to not cringe when I made jokes about it. I can’t be thankful enough. The kindness of my friends and coworkers was phenomenal. I could not have gotten through it without them. And my treatment team was astounding. Even if they thought I could die, they never let me know it. I never realized how bad it was until my last visit with Dr. Kesterson and he said I think we cured you! And gave me a big hug. And turned to his posse and said she was stage 3b and this is a great outcome. I was like, really? I was dying and you neglected to tell me? Really? But I’m glad he didn’t. It makes sense now that when I asked him how much time I had, he never really said anything but we can treat this and not have to worry about that.
Anyway, that’s enough reflection for one day, I wish I knew who that surgical resident was who had to tell me, and where she is now. I wish she knew that I didn’t die, so she could feel better about having to tell me. It probably fucked up her Christmas too. Wherever you are, nice young surgeon, I’m sorry about that.
Lest you think that I’m all serious and not funny anymore, let me tell you, I had to go see a new PCP last week and that, my blog friends, will be it’s very own blog entry…because comedy ensued. And I’ve got some comments to share on free speech and talking ducks. So be patient. And if you are finding that I am writing too much lately for your taste, I’m sorry, no, I’m not. It’s a spurt. I’ll get tired of it soon, and resume another hobby, like picking lint out of my keyboard. Or go back to hanging out in cemeteries with my camera (that said, I was just hanging out in the local boneyard today, enjoying the springlike weather – there’s something very soothing about the stillness of a foggy cemetery – no pictures though, I just drank in the calm and silence and the freshness of the air) So I’ll be back, with my rapier wit sharper than ever.
Even though I write this blog for me, because it amused me, I do like when people read it. So if you do, feel free to comment. It makes me feel special. And while I know I am special, I am a praise whore. I am far more addicted to praise than I am to coffee, chocolate or vodka. Or ice cream. Or pizza. Or any food that seems to look and taste good. And is present. Now I must get back to stressing over Christmas, a woman’s work is never done.
Hey, if you have extra cash this holiday season and are looking for a good cause to put it to, how about my cousin Ginny, who raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society…she runs triathlons and is an amazing woman, with great passion for life…here’s the link, even if you don’t donate, check out her story