Saturday, October 29, 2011

Feeling Cared For

On Friday morning at 5:30am, Mike & I arrived at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The woman at the desk asked for my name and date of birth as they always do. Then she asked what I was here for. I didn't want to answer. I didn't want to have to say it, to give it life. And, what else was there to do. I told her, "I'm here for a liver resect and the installation of a pump." She nodded agreement, gave me a bracelet and directed me to the waiting room. Every patient in the building is here for one diagnosis: Cancer. The Emperor of All Maladies. Tears started to well up in my eyes. And moments later I was brought in to be prepped for surgery. Standard procedure. On the bed was the gown, the hair net, the anti-slip not-socks and a couple extra blankets. Another feeling of sadness showed up. This again. I'm kind of tired of changing into the surgery clothes. Well, I got changed, joked around shootin' the breeze with Mike, and within 45-minutes, an epidural was implanted in my spine and I was ready to rock-n-roll.

I was in and out of consciousness all afternoon and evening on Friday, nodding in and out of game seven of the World Series. This morning when I woke up (on the 16th floor - exciting for  small town guy like me), I felt the tightness & soreness within my abdomen & chest and I thought to myself, "I really did have liver surgery yesterday. Liver surgery. Damn." I looked at the incisions and felt the hockey puck-size pump

almost exactly parallel to my stoma. No, I would not have guessed I would ever have returned for another cancer surgery. And here I am.

After being awake for an hour or so, I couldn't take more than a shallow breath without having serious pain. It was definitely a bit scary. The only thing keeping me from getting truly scared was that the staff were so calm and cool about it. They changed my medications and soon I could take a descent size breath.

Mike was here with me Thursday and Friday. And my folks arrived on Friday and will stay through Sunday morning. Having loving friends and family available to spend time with me is such a privilege. I get a bit anxious now and again, but for the most part, I feel completely cared for.

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Love Bert

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