September 30th, 2010
At rounds yesterday morning, the crew decided that it was time for me to get out of there. They planned to irrigate and were quite sure that it would produce something. I started to pack up my bags and called my mom to come down to the hospital and help me carry out the bags.
It didn’t work. I still haven’t actually produced anything, for those of you who are curious. The surgeon had a look at me, though, and felt that pending a good abdominal x-ray showing things headed in the right direction, I could go home. That was at 9:30 AM. Finally at 3:00 in the afternoon a “transporter” came to take me down to x-ray on a stretcher. Hospital policy. Obviously I don’t need to remind any of you that I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 days walking maniacally (over 14 miles by my estimation). I could have walked down there at 10!! Nope. Not how we do things around here.
I was back on the stretcher ready to go back upstairs after the x-ray when the surgeon and my oncologist showed up. They took a look at the films and cleared me on the spot.
“we have gotten back the initial results from the pathology, and 6 out of 20 lymph nodes are involved.”
“you mean, “involved” with cancer?”
“so chemo is certain?”
“6 months of it?”
“yes.. starting in about a month”
“and the prognosis?”
“we can’t say. You have stage 3 cancer. Maybe we got everything. The tumor is out and so are those lymph nodes”
“but it may be in my liver and lungs?”
“yes.. Or anywhere. That’s why we have to do the chemo.”
“If the chemo didn’t work last time, what makes us feel it will do anything this time?”
“we don’t know.”
“no heavy lifting for the next three months.”
“nothing heavier than a laptop”
“My wife is heavier than a laptop.” (“That’s what I’M talkin’ about,” said the transporter.. I’d forgotten he was there. He was clearly feeling pretty disturbed by the news.)
At that point my 70 year old surgeon said something about allowing Hillary to be on top for a while. wow.
I am incredibly happy to be home. It’s hard to put into words. Last night my parents and Thomas and Evans and Beth came by for dinner. I made bolognese. Same thing I made two weeks ago after getting out of the hospital after the exploratory surgery. Hmm. A tradition! I will post directions!
It was a nice evening. It was a restless night. Great to be back in my own bed, but sore and anxious. Today I am having to think about what the next 7 or 8 months will look like. Obviously I will not be able to work in the shop for a while. Nothing heavier than a laptop rules out enough of the activity in the shop, that it’s probably wisest if I just don’t go out there. Two winters ago when I was going through chemo (on the same drugs that I will be doing again) the neuropathy in my hands made it impossible to work all but two or three days out of every two weeks. It may have seemed pretty tough of me to be “working” right through treatment, but the truth is that I wasn’t working. Not really. I spent most of my time feeling anxious about how much I was NOT working. I think that this time around it may make quite a lot more sense just to find a different job. Find some other projects to work on. Ones that don’t involve feeling in the fingers. Focusing on photography for a while… I don’t know what, really.
It’s pretty wild coming to terms with just how quickly I’ve gone from being “cancer free” to having stage three cancer. I can’t articulate it well. I’m feeling pretty beat up. Pretty calm at the same time. I guess I’ve had the last year and a half or so to prepare for this possibility/(eventuality?).
I will go to the surgeon’s office tomorrow for a follow up visit and will probably get more information on the pathology, maybe a clearer sense of what it means. Probably not! Ha! If I do, I’ll report it here.