First, let me say that I am drugged so the quality of this writing will be abysmal. Second, let me say that I am drugged so....wait....duuuuude....I am so stoned....what is that alarm? (true story, an alarm went off right there lol).
I write this because it is really very taxing to give the same answers over and over to concerned individuals. I love you guys but talking bout this stuff is getting old. I know they care, but one can only speak of their own mortality so many times before depression, or desperation, kicks in.
Here are the real questions everyone wants to ask:
Are you dying?
Do you know when?
Did they get it all?
What is the treatment plan?
Are the effects of the treatment worth the extra time?
Only, they won't come right out and ask you if you are dying. Instead, they try to rephrase which only makes things WORSE! lol I mean, think about it; how many times would you want to answer those questions even from the most well intentioned?
The answer, in my case, to the big question is: maybe, but not tomorrow. This thing may get me, but I get to fight it first. We think. Hopefully. Cancer is a tricky beast. I now know that there is no cure and that remission is a good thing. I also know that whatever time I have will be broken up into segments of testing. Take a test, wait for results, treat what's new (if anything), live until the next test. That won't be me, though. I will take the tests and do whatever is needed, but I am not going to get hung up waiting for results instead of living.
The fact is that they do not know if they got it all. The scans are clean so far but there is a good chance that cells are floating about because the spine is a super-highway for malignancy. The blessing is that it COULD have been worse and this was the best news I could get at this point when reality is factored in.
There will not be any treatment for another three weeks or so because the wound from the surgery needs to heal first. When treatment is available, I will take the most aggressive route possible.
As for the spine surgery itself, I am doing great. The artificial vertebra is doing its' job. The screws are holding. The spinal cord is suffering no more damage than it already did. The pain is less than before the surgery. I am looking at a long recovery and will never be 100% again, but I have a real shot of living a decent life with little need for walkers.
Right now, my walking is close to that of an enthusiastic twelve month old with flapping feet constantly teetering on the edge of disaster. I have quite a bit of numbness and loss of motor control, BUT I have control of all of the important things AND total sensation where it is needed.
I told you there were blessing in all of this.
The pathology report will be in this week. Let us hope that it does not invalidate these best guesses from the current experts working on my case.
I wish I could throw in some humor here...and I could because I thought about it and have a couple knee slappers...but I have been admonished that my humor could be disrespectful to others going through something similar. I have even been told that joking about my situation may upset people that know me. Okay, fair enough. Just understand that I won't be able to hold my tongue forever.
I would be REMISS beyond forgiveness if I did not acknowledge the caregivers who have treated me thus far. I will write more about this later but some of the highlights (names changed):
Family Doc and Team: Kept thinking of worst case scenarios...and one came true. If they had blown me off, I would be paralyzed at best (I think).
Dr. Oh: You scared me to death, but your decision to admit me right then saved my legs. Maybe more. You were the first to give me some hope that I could be treated. I knew you were bluffing and only using the most strict definition of “treatable”, but I needed your reassurance.
The ER Doc at FMH: You made the call for the chopper. Who knows what would have happened in the ambulance during rush hour traffic.
Chopper People: Thanks for the view. Thanks for explaining everything in detail. You guys were too cool.
Dr. S: Like I told your kids, you are a hero. Your call to do the procedure before I lost any more feeling or motor control was the right one. Thank you for coming in at 3AM and for your gifted hands. You are the one who has given me the most hope just by being realistic and truthful. All the feeling I have left is due to you. It ain't bragging if you can back it up.
Dr. S's Staff: You guys are the bomb. I will see you at 5:30AM...again.
Dexter and Company at the NCCU: Thank you for understanding and sharing my goofy sense of humor in those dark hours. Thank you for understanding that when I say “loveable serial killer,” I mean it in the best possible way.
The Staff in the “Normal” Rooms: Thank you for putting up with all of my questions. And for understanding more than my charts. And for catering to my clean freak-ee-ness. And preserving what dignity I had left. I have no idea how you people do what you do.
If I have time, and I mean that in the most basic way these days, I am going to write a book about my experience with cancer but the focus is going to be on the professionals, and the miracles, I encountered along the way. As anyone could tell from that truncated list above, my case could have gone south with one unfortunate decision or with one person doing less than their level best. Something tells me that I am supposed to be paralyzed right now, yet here I sit typing this while making small circles in the air with my toes. Someday soon, I will feel every inch of those toes again, thanks to those around me.
I know I owe a bunch of phone calls and I will make them. Thank you all for caring! I am humbled yet again. Just please understand that it takes a lot out of me to talk about this stuff with each individual so I hope this article helps disseminate the information.
If you have a few seconds, send thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Splitter. No matter what lies she tries to tell me, I can tell that she is exhausted. Worry and sleep do not mix. She is also taking care of 100% of the house, keeping up with her job, and fixing herself up each time before she shows up in my doorway. She is amazing but even the most amazing among us have limitations.
Her lot in life is about to get even harder because I found out that the plan is to release me tomorrow. Everyone agrees it is the right move and this is greatly encouraging to me because seeing the outside of a hospital is one of my short term goals. I have help to call upon, but you all know who will get the burden. Please, send prayers to Mrs. Splitter.
More later maybe after the move. This is not going to become a cancer blog but reality is what it is and it is going to come up now and again.
WHAT ABOUT LORENA?
I HAVE written a bit today and yesterday. It helps. I feel the time crunch in a very real way now so...it's coming and thanks for your patience.