Dealing With the Diagnosis - March 31-April 2

The drive home from the doctor's office took over an hour, and I had plenty of time to think. Mostly I thought about NOT thinking about it. But like any American male, there was a strong urge to DO SOMETHING. If nothing constructive could be done, it didn't really matter, because SOMETHING must be done. It's a matter of principle. So I devoted some the time to thinking about that. I'm not one to drink as a response to stress, so there needed to be something else to do. It had been a while since lunch, so there's something to be done after all!

When I got home I took an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's vanilla, half a quart or more of whole milk, and some Hershey's SPECIAL DARK chocolate syrup and dumped it in a blender. Drank the resulting milkshake right out of the blender bucket. It may be the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. It's something I never do, and it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for putting things in perspective, plus a general feeling of well being. Afterwards, life seemed a lot better. So I cracked open a bottle of good Cabernet and slowly drank the whole thing as I watched TV through the evening. That was probably a bad idea, as I woke up at 1:30 AM with a hangover and could not sleep.

In one of my several phone calls, I vetted the Urologist's process, diagnosis, recommendations, and probabilities with Dr. Chuck. He took the news well, having dealt with much worse multiple times daily in his career. Though he specializes in the other end of things down there, I trust him. He says that Dr. Hopkins is spot on.

My personality type (Myers-Briggs ISTJ) will react to change with extremes and foolishness, so my brain is a whirlwind, and it's not slowing down. My mind has been racing, day and night, on random topics. Wills, living trusts, selling/buying vehicles, canceling travel plans, refusing to make travel plans for June/July, writing my memoirs, doing every deferred home maintenance project, doing a parachute jump, writing a book (not my memoirs), etc. Most of it's insane, some isn't. I have to churn through a lot of BS to come up with things that practically should (or not) be done now (or later). Despite trying to rationalize and man-up, I was pretty freaked out when I found out that it's cancer. Focusing on anything - work or TV or whatever seems to help. Writing out the story helps a lot, too.

So how do I describe to you how I am feeling and taking all this? As for BIG QUESTIONS like mortality, etc. I am pretty sanguine. I have done many fun and good things in my lifetime, thanks in large part to the generosity of friends. There are still some things I would like to do (like a parachute jump and motorcycling around New Zealand), but nothing major that I would say is a missing element. And of course my religious views come under test, and they are holding fast. I feel like I know what will come - more than some sort of blind hope. Your Obamas and Hillarys believe that religion is the opiate of the masses, blind faith for the uninformed and ignorant - something to cling onto to fill the void of knowledge and science. I don't believe that I fit that mold at all.

I was scheduled to travel on the Sunday after surgery (Wednesday) to teach a process improvement class. Doc says no big deal to go, but after sleeping on it followed by some thought and analysis, I decided against taking on unnecessary risk and canceled. I learned quickly that it really freaks people out in a MAJOR way when you call them and drop the "C Word Bomb." I'm ashamed to confess that I may have enjoyed it a couple of times. You also learn that you are not alone. There are a LOT of cancer survivors out there, and they usually will share that they can relate to your situation. My cancer had not been staged at this time, so death in a few months is still possible, albeit with low probability. So even though we've all conditioned ourselves that cancer is a death sentence, it's simply not so. All of the survivors will tell you that your life will change. Believe it.

One change is that I have to stop taking allopurinol immediately to prep for surgery. Stopping or starting this medication puts you at high risk for a gout attack, which is quite painful. And I can't take the pain medicine or anti-inflammatory if I do have an attack. So keeping super-hydrated is even more important. And the worst part is that I know in a few days I will be violated in a sensitive area by medical instruments, but I'm trying not to think about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm 4 days away from my first TURBT procedure. I know exactly what you're talking about. I've been putting on a brave face for my family, especially my wife. But I'm pretty freaked out inside. Thanks for writing about your experiences. It is really helping me prepare.