Friday, April 18, 2008

This Morning's Ultrasound

This morning my surgeon performed the ultrasound. I'm amazed by the anticipation I experienced on Thursday and then, especially, this morning on the way into the hospital. Part of it is that I'm a bit tired of being doped up for these procedures. The other part is the thought of the pain that always seems to follow. Granted its for my own benefit, but I still don't enjoy it.

I remember being sedated this morning before I was wheeled into the operating room. The nurse asked me if I wanted something to calm my nerves - he could tell I was a bit anxious. I thought it was a good idea. Well, I got about two paragraphs into an article in Field & Stream Magazine and then the next thing I knew, I "came to" and I was in the operating room babbling to someone about who knows what. I remember I saw Dr. Cagir, my surgeon, and said hello and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room nodding off every few minutes and feeling a little nauseous. Not a lot of fun.

I came home and went in and out of sleep all day. When I woke up, I took a quick look at my email and saw a message from a friend. He mentioned that I always have a positive attitude and asked if I ever get mad or sad or feel helpless. I fell back asleep and woke up to the sound of my family talking. I found myself really annoyed with them, although I kept it to myself. Then I thought about my friends email and realized that I was pretty mad.

I felt angry about having to go through this morning's procedure with all the resulting pain and drowsiness & nausea I feel from the anesthesia. I was angry about having to go through surgery this August, once the chemo & radio therapy are over. I was angry about having to be cut open and have parts of my body, specifically some large intestine, removed from my body for good. To tell you the truth, I have always been fascinated by surgery and wondered what it would be like to go through it. Well, now that I have had some very minor procedures, I don't find it so interesting. My experience of it has been to wake up from the procedure with a clouded mind, wobbly legs and soreness where the procedure was done. Its not exactly what I call fun.

In Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, there's a part in the book where Dan sees a friend intensely crying because his house burned down. Then the man stopped crying, stood up and greeted Dan. Dan asked him how he could go from one extreme to another and his friend explained that he expressed everything that was there for him and then went on his way. I found that to be very powerful and over time I took it on myself.

So, this evening as I spoke to Daniela about how angry I felt, I realized the anger was a mask for my fear. Fear of what could be. So, I do have anger and I do have fear, but I don't let them have me. This evening I got scared of the possibility of the cancer returning. I shared how I was feeling with Daniela - shed a few tears when I noticed they were welling up - and then I was peaceful again. I find if I look in the eyes of whatever has me, I express the emotions that show up and then its gone and I'm free. Other times it takes a little longer, but overall, its the same process. I don't always mention it in my entries because they are often just fleeting moments and they are common enough that I almost don't even notice them. However, I will do a better job of sharing my entire experience with you. I don't want to appear like I feel empowered all the time. I feel empowered most of the time, but not all of the time.

I almost forgot about the reults of the exam. Dr. Cagir said the tumor has grown a little since he last saw it. In fact, it has grown through the muscle and some fat tissue and a tiny bit into a nearby lymph node. When I heard lymph node, I freaked. But Dr. Cagir reassured us that the growth into the lymph node was not a big deal. I will admit I had to hear this a few times, but he made it clear that the amount of cellular growth is so minute that the chemotherapy will kill those very small cancer cells before they grow any further. Then it dawned on me that the lymph node is going to be removed in August anyway.

If you are still thinking about the lymph node - like I was when I first heard it - you should also know that Dr. Cagir has never sugar-coated anything regarding the status of the cancer in my body. He is a colo-rectal physician. This is his specialty and he assured us that we need not be concerned about the cancer presence in the lymph node. If he were concerned about it, he would say exactly that and he did not. So, what did I do? I got a little scared, shared it with Daniela and then put my trust in Dr. Cagir. Trust, I might add, that he has earned.

Oh, one more thing. As far feeling helpless goes [Remember the email my friend sent?], I only feel helpless when I think about not being able be with the children as they grow up. And, I believe that whatever the outcome, this cancer diagnosis is a gift. Each breath that I take is a gift and therefore so is all that follows - cancer included - whether I understand it or not. And my hope is that I have also received the gift of a long, long life.

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