Thursday, May 10, 2007

Getting My Head Straight

I went to see my oncologist, Dr. Danny Simms, on Monday who pronounced me, with the concurrence of Dr. Rod McKee, Dr. John Riedle and various labs who examined my blood and tissue, to be free and clear of cancer as far as the present state of medical science is concerned. This means that I have no further course of treatment recommended at this time. No radiation and no chemo. Great news!!

So why has it taken me a couple of days to write this in my blog? Because I still hurt a lot and I had to come to terms of the why and how of that and where it fit in the scheme of things to do with this experience. Over the past week I have had a substantial amount of pain which I didn’t have during the first two weeks after the operation. How come later rather than sooner?

There are a couple of answers. The first one I knew, but didn’t fully acknowledge. The anesthesiologist gave me an epidural anesthesia which controlled my pain and even allowed me to fine tune, for relative comfort, during the first three days after the operation. Even though I knew this to be expected it was easy to say, “I’m a tough guy and this is a piece of cake”. When the epidural was removed a piece of foresight on the part of my surgeon took over, something called a cryo-block, which happily for me in the first week and a half after the epidural anesthesia was removed also eased my pain in the area effected by surgery. Even when it was explained to me I didn’t tumble to what it was or what it was doing until after it wore off last week. It was too tempting to think of myself as a tough old Marine who could take pain with the proverbial stiff upper lip and grim smile.

Well, the cryo-block wore off and my stiff upper lip softened and my grim smile faded quickly. I began to take oxycodone, the prescription pain drug, more seriously. This prescription worked well. The pain pills however had a serious side effect; the oxycodone turned the contents of my intestinal tract into solid concrete, a problem that I have yet to completely solve. All of those things kept me from getting very much sleep which is yet another form of discomfort and a hindrance to healing.

These things are still going on and I have been feeling pretty sorry for myself, but today I took a look in the mirror and said “Self, as a guy who just came out of an illness clean in which the survival rate is less then ten percent, what in the hell is your little problem? Get over it! All of this small stuff you are undergoing right now is nothing compared to what might have been or what so many survivors and, unfortunately, non-survivors go through with less than a one in ten chance of seeing next New Years Eve.” Based on everything that I have seen or heard during the past three months I can hardly call myself a cancer survivor at all; just one lucky, and up till today, ungrateful SOB. So now that I am in the unaccustomed position of being humble and my head is somewhat closer to being in perspective I can sit down and write this addition to my blog feeling gratitude to everything and everyone who helped me get through this experience, which could easily have been my last, instead of fault pride and ego.

In fact, when you come right down to it someone or something chose to give me a very early, very pointed, warning. I was guided to great medical team at a great hospital; I had, thanks to all your prayers and positive thoughts, a great spiritual support team working with me to get the heavens and the universe on my side. In short, I am much blessed. There is no way I can face the world this evening with anything short of wonder and gratitude at the experience and a broad smile on my face.

Stay tuned. I started this and asked you to come with me to see, among other things, if we could learn some lessons. If you have found some answers or good questions please share them with us. Let’s see what a little perspective offers.


Anonymous said...

Everything happens for a reason and as such I see that you have much still to do. Your job is not done here; though you may not even truly know what it is. The pain reminds you of what was; now until it subsides focus on the grand adventures you have yet to experience. What do you want to do with the gift you have been given?

Leah said...

My father was a patient of Dr McKee for his first surgery 5 years ago. My parents were thrilled with his care. I am glad you are in his hands. Dr McKee is still a part of our life even though my father has passed away this year. He is a wonderful caring soul.
Blessings on your journey.