Monday, April 25, 2016
The tumor is small, the size of a lentil. It’s greyish in the Pepto-Bismol pink of my innards, and it probably has not been there long. Still, I’d hoped the test this morning would find me clean, so it’s a disappointment. I’ve been free almost a year from the bladder cancer first diagnosed in 2012, and now I’m angry, a bit sad, resentful and frustrated. I’m also aware that it could have been far, far worse. A very dear friend was diagnosed with the same illness a month ago, and his intervention was truly grim. More than two weeks in the hospital sucking on ice cubes and unable to digest food, and complications that, when he described them, made me blanch.
My surgery will be very minor in comparison, an outpatient event that probably and thankfully will not involve a catheter, followed by five weeks of chemotherapy. The latter worries me a bit. My earlier experiences with chemo left me exhausted and sometimes nauseous for a day or two following the procedure. Then there’s the attendant and largely inexplicable sense of shame, and that of being soiled. I’d been working on that for a year and felt I had it licked, but now it’s back. Whenever the tests come back positive, I come out feeling like an untouchable.
I took my frustrations out on a Fanta truck lumbering in front of me on my way home from the clinic. I unleashed a barrage of profanities in two languages, some explicit French and American hand gestures, and a curse on all Fanta drinkers. I shed a tear or four, being the sensitive guy that I am, but by the time I’d finished my quad shot decaf espresso at Panera and wolfed down a bagel, I had quieted down somewhat.
I’m upset because I thought I was done with this. Even after four years, it remains scary. It did kill my oldest sister because she was not diagnosed early enough, and I know several people who’ve been afflicted by it. I’m angry, as well, because I’d hoped to be able to go from three-month tests to six-month tests; I have to be clean eighteen months before the protocol changes.
I don’t like life interfering like this. I have things to do, people to see. There are new writing projects, books to finish and blogs to write.
This will be the tenth operation. One of my concerns is that being put under that many times can’t be good for me. I always come out of the anesthesia feeling as if I’ve been hit by a semi. Everything hurts. My right arm and left wrist get bruised from the IVs, and other parts hurt from the actual procedure, which involves sharp little blades being thrust up the urethra. My throat is sore from the tube thrust down there for reasons that are still unclear. Also, I’m wobbly. My knees and legs feel weak. I will pee a lot and often, and it will be painful.
I generally return home and stomp around. I feed the cat. I water the plants. I do useless things, laundering two pairs of socks and a tee-shirt, dusting the top of the DVD shelves and restacking books by area of interest and language. I call a couple of people, or sometimes I don’t. This is getting to be old hat.
The cat looks at me strangely, then recognizes the pattern. He’ll do pirouettes around my feet, climb on the bed and lay on my chest while breathing cat food fumes up my nose.
I really hate this disease.