Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cancer Cardboard

More blood tests.

Every three months, for a year, I've got a date with a needle.  Last time was more drama than I thought I could handle.  But, the results were well worth it.

Last Monday, I saw my surgeon again.  When I had my first surgery, my surgeon (different dude) followed up with me one time to make sure my incision was healing well then passed my care over to an endocrinologist; I never saw him again.  My current surgeon does not operate--(heh heh, BOOM!)--this way.  I saw him a couple weeks after surgery so he could admire his handy work (he graciously cleaned up and straightened out my scar a bit), then he said he wanted to see me again in three months because he wants to be accountable for the work he's done.   

Accountability?  What?  Could you repeat that into my good ear? 

So, he gazed at me for about 45 seconds, palpated my scar and my neck, and asked how I was feeling on my new hormone dosage.  I told him I was feeling well, minus the intermittent pain I am experiencing on the right side of my neck.  He said it was normal to feel some pain and discomfort within the first year as the scar tissue settles and resettles.  I was relieved because some of the pains knock my logic straight into Sweet Jesus, I'm Dying! territory.  Pain is never a welcome thing, even less so when all I want to hear for the next 9 months is "your blood tests are normal" and "your scans are clean".  Settling scar tissue I can handle; a third recurrence and I will wreck some shit.

All in all, he was pleased with my progress and noted that January was my last round of blood tests.  Ugh, I knew what was coming.  I took his orders to the lab downstairs and winced as the lab tech stuck me with as much finesse as a drunken second grader.  OUCH!

Then, a week of waiting.

These waiting weeks always make me feel a bit off.  I feel like a child wearing a costume made of a large cardboard box, like a robot.  Remember those?  It's not a heavy feeling, but a hollow lightness that fits awkwardly.  I feel like I'm rattling and bumbling about, and I have to pause and pivot my whole body before starting in a different direction.  I feel like I lose the fluidity of motion, of thought.  I feel like I'm running after the much cooler kids in much cooler costumes yelling, "Wait up, guys!  I'll be there just as soon as I figure out how to maneuver this!"

Maneuver worry.

Maneuver cancer.

Maneuver life.

Aren't we all trying to figure that one out?

Thank the 8-pound baby Jesus, the results did come back in a week.  Thyroglobulin is still undetectable and my TSH level is down where we need it to be.  All good news, kids.  Wahoo!

So, my shoulders are straighter, my steps a bit more fluid, and the cancer cardboard box has been put away for another three months.  My birthday is next Monday, and I am once again excited and grateful that I have earned the year.  As Oriah, the author of The Invitation, says, "I don't want to know how old you are.  Your age tells me how long you have lasted but not what you have made of the precious time you have been given.  Lasting, enduring, is not enough."

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