Interesting Times: The Other Half
I’m feeling better every day physically.
That’s actually kind of the problem.
My friends and family have been more thoughtful and caring and loving than I even expected; from what I know, my surgery went well and my recovery has been textbook; I am so lucky and blessed and grateful. But it sucks, and I’m so angry and upset and scared.
Let me be clear. I don’t see those as opposing thoughts. I’ve tried to focus on the good – on how fortunate I am – but the whole story includes the rotten part, and it feels like a lie to talk like it isn’t there.
A lot of me felt numb after the surgery and is feeling bruised as it reawakens. My body knew that too much at once would be too much, so it’s doling it out. It’s like that mentally also, except that I have to do that consciously.
When I first noticed the lump in February, the goal was to get this figured out. Then once the surgery was scheduled, the goal was to get through the waiting. Then it was about feeling better each day. But I’m reawakening. I have the luxurious curse of thinking again, and it’s overwhelming.
Here’s cancer surgery. Here’s a face-changing, pain-inducing drop out of reality to slap you with the understanding that you had something inside you that wanted to kill you. And hey, technically, it still could – it could still be there, or it could come back. Sure, it’s unlikely. But so was cancer. We’ve moved to Unlikely. Population: a whole lot of people, plus now me and a ten percent chance of this again someday. This again – or worse, because this was nothing compared to how some people hurt.
Remember how what was maybe undiagnosed hypothyroid in the first place was making work and all of life so hard, even before you knew you had cancer? Now add this. And coming off a surgery with seven hours of anesthesia, and a week of Percocet, all still working its way through you. And being as now you’re one organ short, you’re definitely hypothyroid until you can get a doctor to help get you on the right dosage of hormone where maybe you can start to feel and think like yourself. Until you have to, you know, swallow radiation. To kill any cancer left in you. Let’s not ask too many questions about what that will be like.
And yeah, how you don’t recognize yourself. A lot of that’s in your head, you look the same to most people, but so different to yourself. A lifetime of crippling self-consciousness is not being helped by the swelling and scar and lopsidedness and weight and the pickled brains.
So: killer inside you, surgery, pain, brains a pickled cocktail of chemicals – and you’re so freaked out by all that’s happened that just letting yourself focus on the feeling of your neck will bring you to tears whenever you stop actively avoiding thinking about it. That’s life now.
Ready to hop back up, better than before, rah rah rah?
I need the sleep to keep happening, and the downers to wash out, and the nerve endings to sort themselves out, and the thyroid to get right, and tomorrow’s post-op to say that surgery wasn’t so long for any bad reasons, and the hot hard lumps and bumps in my neck are normal, and the pathology doesn’t show anything unexpected, and the scar won’t be too scary, and my voice will come back eventually, and things are healing up properly, and we can get the radiation over with soon. That’s all I can handle being terrified of. That’s all I’ve got, with anything left over going into not letting myself think about everything else. Most days, it will work, and I’ll feel positive and cheerful. But I do have to be honest and admit it:
While I’m feeling better every day physically, I’m not sure the sum total has improved.
First post – diagnosis
Update 1 – the plan / fear
Update 2 – giving blood
Update 3 – post-surgery