Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I have had worse things than cancer in my life

That other life had its moments.  Times of happiness and joy, pleasure, fun and the birth of our daughter.  As hard as I try, I cannot figure out if there were more good and decent times than not.  I truly cannot let memories flow in a way that can help me decide if there was more pleasure than pain.

I believe that many people face the same challenge, and it is a challenge to remember and honor the times of suffering, fear and pain without not giving the same credit to all of the great stuff, because it is likely that the great moments were/are part of how we survived, no matter how that survival is for us.

I have survived well.  Mostly because I am alive.  I am not dead.  I can hardly stress that sufficiently...I am not dead.  No one killed me.  I did not kill myself.  I sometimes think that either was just as likely to happen.  I used to self-harm, but only dreamed of having the courage to end it all myself.  I had a plan and a back-up plan.  Probably only one plan is needed, but I did have two because you just never know when circumstances will mess with your plans.

I lived on the threshold of making an inadvertent mistake or not being able to translate the signals being beamed my way, and whilst the consequences were unpleasant (enough said about that) they came with the sharing that things could always be worse for me and that included dying.  I believe that I came close a couple of times, but something held his actions, probably fear of facing his own consequences for acting on his anger and pure hatred for me.

The day I left had been preceded by months of escalating abuse.  I never called it back then, never came close to understanding that what was happening to me was abusive.  I always believed that if I could just find a way to follow the rules, anticipate mistakes or missteps, that I would be fine.  Or, at least not have to face the bad stuff.  I really do not want to rehash all of that stuff, but it bears mentioning here because I did survive.  I paid attention to what was said.  I paid attention to body language and I most carefully paid attention to the flow of what was happening.

But, I made it out that day.  And, that is another story, parts of which I have shared previously.

So, anyway, worse things aside, three weeks ago I had a regular visit with my internist and when she asked me a question, it reminded me that I had been having irregular spotting, something, it turns out, who knew, that women of a certain dotage and nearing their seventh decade are not supposed to have.

I mean really, who knew.  Within days I was having an ultrasound.  Not all that pleasant, but, well, you know.  Within a few more days I was having biopsies snipped, pulled and unceremoniously yanked from my nether regions.  You know.

Within a few more days I was having all of the pre-surgery testing done and an EKG had some "squiggles, but I do not want you to worry about them, but I think it would be a good idea to get a cardiac stress test before your surgery next week."

O.K.  By the time of the pre-surgery testing, the biopsy results were back and it was not looking all that wonderful. 

The sun was not shining, the birds not singing, and the unicorns were not eating butterflies and pooping rainbows. 

Two weeks after that first accidental memory and comment, I had the big gun surgery.  Aside from panicking about being sedated (a certain kind of flashback about not having control of my body), I welcomed all the sedation meds they had and came through just fine.  No actual panic attacks.  No physically defending myself whilst going under or coming back out of that unconsciousness.

I had not embarrassed myself.  No one learned what an emotional mess I am and mostly I did not embarrass myself.  I cannot properly express how grateful I am for that.  Even now, a week later, I have a startle moment and have to breathe a bit to relax away from that whole humiliation possibility.
There was a moment just before I succumbed to the anesthesia when they strapped my arms to these crazy shelf things on both sides of the operating table when I thought that I was going to completely come apart.  But, I kept on breathing, had been meditating my ass off since before I left for the hospital, became a bit more sedated and went off-line, so to speak, and did not freak.

I learned that once in there, a whole ecosystem of weird stuff was found that never showed up on the ultrasound.  Polyps were harvested, fibroids left alone (except for more tissue samples), the tiny assortment of cysts will be watched from now on and the pathology reports were back in thirty-six hours and no cancer was found.  None. 

The surgeon and my internist both expressed their concern about how I did not seem worried about the rush of procedures and tests and more tests.  And, whilst it seemed weird to share with them, I do not worry about much any more, here in my now new life.

I am free and alive and the things that worried me are no longer a part of my life.  So, I mean, what is the point?  Worrying never solved or helped anything.  Nothing.  Not a single thing.  I always mess up this quote, but it is something about worry being the payments on a debt you do not even have yet.  Something like that.

Anyway, I do not worry.  Truthfully, whatever happens will just happen and there is not a thing that I could have done about any of that two weeks of health care.

I was in good hands, with people I trust and since I am not a doctor and they are doctors who do this sort of doctor stuff all the time, I mean, even if I tried to think of something to fret about I am sure that I would not have been able to excavate a single thing.

If I had cancer then I would have figured out what I was going to do next.  If, as it turns out, I did not have cancer then I would have wasted valuable time that could have been spent on napping, chocolate (I am totally serious about the chocolate) and reading and spending time with the boys or just doing nothing.

I have come to realize that transitioning to my now new life that I have already made some significant changes to how I live, how I want to live and all that jazz.  If cancer were to be a part of my life, the only thing that I would do differently would be to have more fun now, rather than plan and parse out stuff the way I have been doing.  But, really, no significant changes to any part of my life.

And, most interestingly, not having cancer has moved me to that one different thing, which is to not miss a single moment of fun experiences.  Also, I had to dip into the money I got from my ex in order to pay for a truly stunning and breathtaking amount of medical expenses, and I have decided that I am going to use more of that money instead of being unsuitably frugal.  I am not going to be a crazy person or anything, but I am going to have more experiences with my daughter and all the boys.

On the day between the cardiac stress test (I got the nuclear one) and my big surgery I went to the little gym down the street and signed up for a membership.  I still have to wait until I stop bleeding/spotting before I go and exercise there, but hopefully that will be only another week or so.

Oh, when I saw my internist on Monday to follow up on the surgery and all of the test results, the changes I have made in my diet and activities over the past three months resulted in a freaky improvement in all the stuff that the tests were for.  I now have a decrease in two of my regular meds.

One more thing is that the cardiac stress test showed that I have a brilliant and strong heart, but I do have coronary heart disease.  I am certain as I am of anything that that little issue is mostly due to the stresses from that other life.  And, I am doing so well that the only change I have to make in my meds is to keep taking massive doses of vitamin D and B and a little orange-flavored aspirin every day.  Which I will do as soon as I remember to take it. 

Change does not come easy to me.

I am blessed with this now new life, I am doing good work, feel healthier than I have in, gosh, probably fifteen years and whatever comes my way, much worse things have happened to me. 


  1. J, I didn't realise you have had surgery. Even though you wouldn't have worried I am please that cancer wasn't found. Enjoy those boys!

  2. Bloody hell! So happy you don't have cancer, that would really farking suck! Be well matey xx

  3. I am well, and thanks to both of you.