12 August 2011

It Just Ain't Fair - How to Accept A Diagnosis You Don't Like

Life ain't fair, huh? So who said it was supposed to be, Bub? HUH?? What about them apples? I'm life. How do you you like me now?

Thursday morning, 8:30 a.m. Upper endoscopy. Nurse takes me back into this little room and starts to prep me. Asks me if I have any questions. I share a few of my concerns. Is it gonna hurt? I mean, really. When they shoved that freaking garden hose up from the south end, my whole ass end ached for days, and this thing doesn't look much different. She's very calming; very helpful; very soothing. Explains the procedure and tells me probably the worst I'm going to feel is a sore throat for a couple days. She's right. It's now 3:30 am Friday morning and I feel like I have tonsilitis.

I tell her some of my fears. I mean, really. Just a year and a half ago, this was sorta the beginning of the end for Papa. It was just after Christmas and he kept throwing up; couldn't keep food down. Two weeks later he was in a hospital and never came out. OK, so that's my biggest fear.

Before the morning was over, I'd had the scope done and had been told that the good doc had found what he thinks is probably esophageal cancer. Biopsies will be back in 7-10 days. Whoopie freaking goddam!!! Ain't that special. After getting dressed, I head out to the waiting room and the nurse glances over at me. Is it my imagination or is she looking at me differently than she was an hour ago?

So he wants me to have a CT scan. Well, sure. Why not. Personally, I'd rather have a Krispy Kreme right now, but I suppose if I can't have a donut I might as well have a ten thousand dollar scan of my entire body. Ya want fries with that? It is about that time that my endurance cycling skills really come in well.

The tech brings me over a barium sulfate solution to drink. Tells me it is flavored, but might not be very pleasant. Hell, this stuff tastes like an Orange Ensure Plus. Got any more of these, partner? This isn't any worse than what I drink at midnight on an all night ride. Well, as a matter of fact, he DID have more. Two of these things in me in short order, then off for an iodine injection and then watch the little bubble man on the screen as he tells me to breathe in and hold, breathe out. I was reminded of our little buddah exercises we've been doing and chuckle. Who knew I'd need it now.

So many unknowns. So many quetions without answers. Read the internet. Look at signs and synmptoms. Look at all the information. The rest of the day is lived in a little bit of a fog. There is certainly some shock, but not much. I think I've known for a long time. This goes back. Way back. 1984. St. Francis X. Cabrini Hospital. 7th floor. Morning movie time. I sit and watch some yo yo doctor telling about all the different ways to die from alcoholism. It is the esophageal hemmorage that gets my attention. I think to myself what a horrible way to die. What a painful way to leave. I've lived with acid reflux problems for several years and if I don't take my one little pill every day, I have horrendous reflux episodes and can only barely imagine what it would be like to have all that crap hemmorage out into the body. YUCK!!!!!

So that's the way its gonna be, huh? Well, OKAY THEN! Let's dance. Boothby's ready.

Two rules:

1) No Whining
2) No Feeling Sorry For Yourself
3) Keep Your Sense of Humor

OK, that's three, but then, I do tend to use Pansy Math when it serves my purposes.

The rest of the day is a sort of a blur. Stop at the store. Buy a flat of strawberries to make jam tonight. Go home. Why does my house look so different all of a sudden? Why does the mess in my office bother me so much? Why do I feel like I have to do something about it all of a sudden (I don't, of course)? Why me? Why now? Well, why NOT me and why NOT now? What makes you think you're so special? You've had 60 really great years. You've got a wife who is your best friend. You have two really great sons who love you. You have a whole host of really great friends. You're one of the most fortunate men on the planet, so don't go giving me any of this whiney baby why me bullshit!

If the doctor wouldn't have told Mimi not to let me drive for 12 hours, I'd be out on the bike.

Well, of course you would!

At a little after 3, Elena and Igor come over with Anna and after a quick espresso and cookies, we're off to the park. I don't believe I've ever spent an hour at a playground surrounded by little kids that was any more poignant. Life. Lots of it. Watch the kid on the swing hogging it, while shooting hostile looks at the littler kid patiently waiting his turn. Mimi makes some remark about what a little shit he is. I respond back that a lot of life's lessons are learned on the playground. Soak in the laughter around me.

Life is so very precious. Or is it? Maybe it is just a little part, or maybe this is all there is. Who knows? Maybe it is my turn to start to find out. Maybe this, maybe that. The thoughts just turn around and around.

Bedtime. Falling asleep is easy; staying asleep, not so much. As usual, I'm up in the middle of the night. Here I sit. Work laptop on my lap. Open emails from claims unanswered. Somehow, they just don't seem important to me right now. Processes. Tasks. Regulations. Timelines. What is going on in somebody elses' life just doesn't seem to make much difference tonight. I need to do some things. I need to attend to some tasks of my own, and I'm not even sure how. But I'm okay with that. I'm okay with this process.

What's first? Well, I've spent the last 26 or so years learning to just "do the next indicated thing" and for right now, that just means taking little steps and letting a process work its way. Both internally and externally. I lay here trying to sleep and feel my body. Feeling my body on a cellular level is different. I feel like little spiders are working their way through my body, building a dark web. Well, I got news for you, ya little shits! I ain't goin down without a fight. I got me a big old can of bug juice I'm gonna hit you with and I'm gonna hit you hard. I've got a whole lot of riding to do and a whole lot of loving to do and a whole lot of pies to bake, jam to make, donuts to eat and cancer to beat.

So if you little cell killing assholes want to tangle, let's get ready to rumble! I learned how to do this from Pansy Palmetto, the most manned up woman in the universe. Acceptance, my ass!

Disability. That's a funny word, now, isn't it? Long term, short term, blah blah blah. Hey, maybe I can get one of them handicap stickers for the window of my car. I'll mount it on the handlebars of Katrina when I ride in to work in the morning! Work? Will I have time to work? Will I be able to work? Will I WANT to work? Will I be able to put my heart into my work? How do you juggle 8-4 with a bunch of other appointments to take care of? Should I pay off the mortgage from my 401(k) so Mimi isn't left with that if I don't beat this thing? All these random questions just keep cycling through my noggin. There aren't any answers, just questions.

That, I can accept. I don't really need answers. OK, they'd be nice, but they're not really important. Just put one foot in front of the other. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don't do something stupid in between. That has worked for a while now, and needs to continue to be my mantra.

Life is a juggling act. It feels like I've been trying to keep 6 balls in the air for a long time and the harder I try to keep them going, the faster they move, making it ever more difficult to keep them from dropping. I have to remember the rule. If you need to, toss them higher. That way it takes longer for them to come back down, more time to focus on another one. Simple.


MimiTabby said...

yeah, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. Sometimes having tasks to do is better than not having anything to do let me tell you.

CivilMatt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CivilMatt said...

Donald, I am REALLY sorry that you (probably) have cancer. I hope that you'll beat this easily and I plan to support you in whatever way I can, but, (and I really consider this a useful observation), it's all about you.

You'll get all kinds of reactions from those around you. A lot of those reactions will reflect the fact that those reacting really want to be reassured. For those really close to you, this makes sense. For more casual acquaintances, it is not your job to deal with their fears. They can do that on their own time. It's about you.

So whatever you do, whatever you need, we will support you.

Love, Matt Garber

Sagebum said...

Hi Donald

Carrie and I will be following your progress. Your friendship and well being are dear to us and so many others...just like all your great accomplishments, you are gonna get this thing done.

Twain and Carrie

North Florida Randonneurs said...

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, ( other people places or things) the courage to change the things I can, (how I react to to people, places and things) and the wisdom to know the difference.

Livestrong Donald, I'll be praying for you.