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Archive for November, 2012

Worldviews

First off – thank you everyone for your reading of and commenting on the blog.  I’ve never kept a blog and didn’t realize how much of a positive impact that supportive comments would have on me and my family.  Reading all the generous and kind responses is very uplifting and helps keep everyone a little happier.  So again, thank you.

No major medical updates today.  I had my PET/CT scan Thursday to determine if the tumor has spread to other tissues, but won’t know the results until Monday.  I spent part of yesterday shopping online for new accessories for the house – hand rails for the toilet, a shower chair, and materials for a wheelchair accessible ramp that Jenn’s godparents are graciously building for us – yet another realization that changes are imminent.  Shower chair?  Really? In another gracious example of folks helping where they can,  Jenn’s godparents and their daughter and new husband, Jimmy, an architect, spent the weekend with us so they could help accessorize the house to allow me more mobility following surgery.  Quickly realizing that dignified and civilized body maintenance is soon to be suppressed, I showed Jimmy how I would take a shower, sit on the toilet (smartphone in hand of course), and shave (not on the toilet) so he could assess what would be necessary for one-legged progress in just getting ready for work. Somehow it made the day a little more real.

The amputation will most likely happen on Wednesday.  Jenn and I are meeting with my oncologist on Monday to make the final decision but based on what we know now, it’s already made.  Even if the PET/CT scan comes back with metastasis, amputating the leg will probably happen before chemo rounds.  I think we can all agree that an amputation is one of the more disrupting experiences in life.  It’s troublesome to a family.  Learning to walk again will take a long time.  I wasn’t very good at it to begin with!  And even after a prosthetic is in place, there will be instances when I won’t have it available and crutches or a walker will probably be my alternate mode of transportation.

While the ability to choose to have an amputation rather than waking up unknowingly to one is fortunate, it does add to the surrealism of the whole experience – but in a positive sense.  I have tried to imagine what to expect on the day of surgery.  I’m sure it will be similar to my biopsy surgery.  Arrive and check in, put on the paper papal robes, sit with Jenn, answer my name, birthday and what procedure I’m having done from several medical staff (one of the better inconveniences though; I’d rather repeat myself a few times than wake up with buttock implants….I wonder if Tricare covers those?), be wheeled into the operating room and go to sleep.  Then wake up.  For me, it will be like time travel.  I’ll go to sleep and wake up oblivious to any passage of time.  Of course, unfortunately it won’t be so quick for my family.  If all goes as planned, I’ll wake up missing a significant portion of my body – one that I’ve grown accustomed to over the last 41 years.  And I’ll do a little more research but I’m pretty sure it won’t grow back.

While we all hope that amputation and follow on chemo will eliminate the tumor and will bring some closure, the reality is that the cancer vulture will be ever present in our lives. Metastasis is always looming.  When (if it does) will it rear its ugly head?  5 months, 5 years, never?

I’m sure folks who have been through it either themselves or with loved ones realize that cancer is a one two punch.  You don’t get to just mourn the loss of a limb or organ, which itself is a big deal.  Like a criminal who got away with a crime, you are constantly looking over your shoulder.  I’m losing a leg for crying out loud!  Countless other courageous patients lose major organs or other body parts and that’s not enough sacrifice?  What a bunch of hooey!  How do I get my money back on this whole cancer thing?  I’m quickly learning how this leads to living with it, or rather, embracing it.  While not my choice, it’s now a part of my life.  Even with a clean bill of health, who knows what sinister cells are simmering just waiting to slowly divide and start proliferating.  Prior to the diagnosis, I had deliberately begun to change my mindset of the world.  I was learning to live in the moment and not fear the future or dwell on past mistakes.  Now, after the introduction of cancer to the Lindsey family, what matters is this moment – enjoying the color changes of the leaves, the laughter of my children, my wife drying her hair.  And most everything that was once annoying and inconvenient becomes beautiful and real.  While maintaining the understanding that I’m going to vigilantly fight my cancer with violent aggression, I still have room for a somewhat cliché, but life-changing paradigm shift: can today be my last day and I have no regrets?  It will sometimes be difficult to sustain this worldview, but it’s necessary.

Once we hear the results on Monday, I’ll post an update.  Thanks everyone for reading!

Hunter

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