Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back From The Honeymoon

I started writing again on Thursday, July 7, but I ran out of steam before anything was posted online:

Man, it's been a while. Been busy, dudes. Been pretty busy. Went to Ireland. And Northern Ireland. Annoying that you have to specify both, but that's imperfect post-WWI treaties with the British, I guess.

I've also been busy being sick. Sick? Injured. Pained. On May 10, I sat through a four-hour meeting at work. Afterward, my hindquarters felt sore. (HAHAHAHA GAY!) That's not an unusual feeling for me (HAHAHA COULD YOU BE ANY GAYER GAYWAD??), as my haunches are tiny and poorly padded -- I was never very comfortable when sitting for long periods, so some pain was not out of the ordinary.

That night, my back hurt badly enough that I skipped my weekly basketball game (WITH ALL DUDES, HANGING OUT WITH SWEATY DUDES AND BALLS YOU'RE A TOTAL GAY!). The pain subsided, then migrated down to some upper leg muscles, then felt better a few days, then the reset button was punched and more back pain was followed by more leg and tailbone pain. On Sunday I'll celebrate two months of chronic pain! (During this time there have been many visits to physical therapy, where I am consistently surprised and saddened to think about the vast number of people coping with constant pain in the world.)

(Can you do two consecutive parenthetical expressions? Fuck it, I'm doing it anyway! I actually played basketball the week after I'd bowed out, and we only had enough personnel for 2 on 2. My right leg hurt, particularly when I would bend my knees during the first motions of a jump shot, but the muscles warmed up enough for me to play normally. Normally? Spectacularly! I never lost a game, and in the final game I scored 18 of my team's 20 points. The final shot was a dn staple, driving right toward the top of the lane, then spinning clockwise on my left leg before rising, floating (in the sense that a white 31-year-old with limited physical prowess "floats"), and releasing a perfect mid-range jumper. The pessimist in me thinks of this as a decent end to my underwhelming but highly enjoyable basketball career.)

So. The grim specter (specters are ALWAYS grim) of nerve pain has seasoned my past few months, which happens to include my honeymoon journey. I will be writing about the fun and interesting aspects of the journey soon. For the moment, though, please let me show you my map of pain.

[stopped writing for the day]

* * *

On Friday, July 8, I had a CT scan first thing in the morning. Before I had made it home with my three Muncher's Bakery self-pity donuts, my doctor's office was calling to schedule another appointment. The nurse wanted me to come by in a few hours to discuss the scan results. Since my everything still hurt when I drove, Kim agreed to take me.

* * *

We started the puzzle that weekend, as a way to pass the time until Monday's biopsy. I activated my mp3 player to start the live recording of The Pod F. Tompkast.

"It's nighttime on the internet...
...a graffiti artist suspects an E-Harmony profile of deceit...
...a 2,000 year-old vampire views her Netflix queue with disgust...
...a raccoon Googles 'raccoons'."

Kim was above the puzzle at that moment, and I was walking to the sink to fetch a glass of water. "Raccoons" had barely emitted from the speakers when I began to well up. I'll never understand why. It just seemed like a perfect joke - maybe my mind raced ahead to consider how much additional perfect humor I could miss out on.

I calmed myself and took a drink.

* * *

The biopsy results took a long time, and we were finally told the lymphoma was malignant, as we'd expected. It was several more days before we could meet with an oncologist, who assured us the scenario was far from worst-case, and that chemotherapy should treat it sufficiently. There was a heart test, a PET scan, blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy - every time we walked into the hospital they found another reason to perform another test. The final summary:

Large (~10 cm) mass in right presacral space, pushing against muscle and the sciatic nerve.

Smaller masses nearby, all below the diaphragm, all of which can be managed simultaneously without extra treatment.

Up to 6 rounds of chemotherapy, starting Monday, July 25.

* * *

When I was a kid, I would fantasize about having cancer. It wasn't because I needed an in with the Make-a-Wish racket - I wanted to be an inspiring, famous person that courageously beat the odds. It was weird, especially considering that person already existed. His name was Sterling, he overcame brain cancer, and he was in the class above me. We played summer baseball together.

I never liked the analogy of cancer management as a "battle". Fighting is reserved for an odd assortment of diseases, and if you've got diabetes or malaria you're somehow not a soldier, just a participant. I don't feel like I'm in a battle with cancer, which is great, because I've always considered myself too much of a realist to fill the shoes of a brave soldier. Fight or flight? If given an option, I'd apologize to cancer, sign a treaty, and retreat back to safe territory. I am intimidated.

But there is no option. A month ago Kim and I were exploring Ireland. Monday they try to shrink my tumor. Life is overwhelming and impressive even when it's threatening.

1 comment:

Millie said...

Well written. Thank you for the details--I appreciate them. Prayers and good luck.