My uncle Joe & I both grew beards to cover our scars. He got his from saving a fellow soldier on a minefield in WWII. I got mine from going down on some suspicious box decades ago. So I guess you could say we’re both heroes.
Got the word back from the doctor today, no trace of cancer in my lymph nodes. So, maybe that second surgery wasn’t necessary? Oh well. But that’s it. Blog re-birth over. Thanks for reading along. Bye again!
I’m back home, checked myself out from the hospital the day after the surgery. I had the tube removed from my throat the day after that, and am off the painkillers, just need to heal up. I still have stitches in my throat from the neck dissection surgery, which I guess will dissolve at some point. The scar line is actually inside my beard line, so if I want there won’t really be a visible scar. Follow up meeting with the surgeon this wednesday (although I’m trying to push to friday) to make sure I’m healing properly. At some point I should get confirmation that the lymph nodes they pulled are clear (i.e., none burst, there’s no cancer coursing through my body) and everything’s over.
August. It’s always been my least favorite month, but this one set the bar exceptionally low.
So I’m going in tomorrow morning for the gruesomely titled “Neck dissection surgery,” which I understand a bit better now. As the doctor explained it, tumors can leech out trace amounts of cancer cells that get caught in your lymph nodes. Based on the size of the tumor I had removed, it’s more likely than not that this has happened in my body.
That’s fine, as long as you remove those lymph nodes before they overflow/erupt. So, that’s what tomorrow’s surgery is, hopefully the final stage in our long national nightmare. It’s scheduled at 10:15 AM (just got the word), so I’ll be able to drop Dylan off for his first day of kindergarten (yay!) and head over to the hospital after.
There’s a small chance that once they remove the lymph nodes they find that one of them had burst, in which case, bad news & radiation or some other aggressive shit is in my future. But like I said earlier, based on the fact that the PET/CT scan didn’t show anything like that, and none of my lymph nodes feel swollen or anything, this seems highly unlikely. I’ll know for sure 7-10 days from now when they’re done examining the excised tissue.
And then I just have to heal, which will take a few more weeks. Allegedly I’ll be back to normal or very near normal in terms of ability to eat and drink and enjoy life.
Most people with throat cancers don’t find out in time, I guess I was just lucky. it’s an incredibly survivable cancer, slow moving, non-aggressive, but it has an overall 45% mortality rate ’cause most people find out very late in the game. Hell, even in my case it was very near a stage 3 in terms of size.
When my good friend survived a very serious diagnosis of colon cancer, I asked him if they cut out enough of his colon that if I sodomized him I’d be able to see my penis distending his belly with every thrust. I told him that that was all I’d ever wanted, to pretend like I was fucking John Hurt in Alien right before the Alien pops out of his stomach and that my penis was the baby Alien.
So, when people ask “wow, you’re so young to get cancer, and you didn’t smoke or anything, do you feel like it’s unfair?” I think, “no. This seems about right.”
So, I have cancer, or maybe I had it, and it’s been removed, and it looks like I’m gonna live. But, maybe 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have. When Robin gave birth to Emerson, she was too big to come out via the traditional exit, and surgery was required. Robin lived & Emerson lived. Not sure how long ago in the past that wouldn’t have been the case. Three different friends had absurdly touch & go pregnancies all involving a combination of bed-rest, drugs & life-saving ventures to protect the preemies. Everyone lived. All the moms, all the kids.
I can’t imagine what life was like only a couple short centuries ago where an average 44 year old would be surrounded by so much death. That childbirth was often a death sentence for the child or the mother or both, and that minor shit would just sweep in and kill you. No one I know in my age range has died. A few have miscarried, although not terribly far down the path. No one has died of cancer or car accidents or gunplay or anything. I wonder also what it’s gonna be like for Emerson’s grandkids 100 years from now. Will people even still die or will their bodies just wear out piece by piece? Will people choose to die if the option is some horrible run of surgeries to replace multiple parts inside them?
So, the straw panic emergency turned out fine, I re-threaded the entire 25 cm of tube down into my stomach without taking a bypass into my lungs or some crazy shit. I went to the Urgent Care expecting them to do an X-ray or something to veryify position, but it turns out they’re way smarter than I am. They just held a stethoscope to my stomach and pumped a tiny qty of air through the tube and listened to it come out. Apparently it was just fine.
So, I feed myself 4 x a day, each time being 500ML of this horrible gruel called Replete, which is scientifically formulated to be all the everything you need. Enough nutrition, enough hydration, enough energy, enough vitamins, enough calories, enough carbs, etc etc etc. The thing about it is, 1) it’s nice ’cause it doesn’t force me to re-use my surgically destroyed throat muscles, but 2) it’s nice ’cause I don’t have to think about anything. It’s exactly enough and I just have it at the prescribed times and that’s that.
But today I skipped two of the meals. Starting this Thursday when the tube comes out, I’ll skip all of them, but for practice, this morning (Saturday), I just drank a TON of water and at a decadent creme brulee style dessert thing. It was a little TOO much cream/milk/eggs/spices, and I’m pretty sure I ate enough for three people. But at the same time I wanted to make sure I was getting enough energy to replace the Replete. It’s confusing. Then for dinner I skipped the replete again. Just water and I made Ramen (but held out the noodles). It’s a bitch to drink that much water, as every swallow hurts the muscles in my throat.
Apparently after the neck dissection surgery this Thursday I’m gonna wake up 1) hopefully about to find out I’m cancer free, 2) with fucking DRAINAGE TUBES sticking out of my neck for 7 days or something, so again going home like a monster with tubes sticking out of me, and 3) with no more feeding tube, so I’m gonna need to eat every meal and drink every drop by mouth starting Thursday evening. I hope I can swallow easier by then (five days from now). Right now it’s a chore. Feels like I got punched in the throat or something. Muscles are very sore, only partially responsive. Takes 10 minutes (at least) to drink a pint glass of water.