being discharged from the hospital with no more knowledge than what I went in
with – other than I didn’t have the flu (and, yes, of course, I had gotten my
flu shot before) – I went home and tried to start recuperating from whatever
this was that was so afflicting me. My
plans for convalescence were regrettably quite premature.
night I barely slept a wink. In fact, I
was so uncomfortable that I did not even bother to try. Lying down was completely infeasible as I
could not breathe and coughed even more and although as a dad I am generally
quite adept at falling asleep in any form of armchair – particularly with the
television on – even that home formula for Ambien failed me. It was one of those nights where you wish it
were already day – despite how unbelievably tired you are – because at least
then you can give up the charade of trying to sleep. And you can also complain to others about how
little sleep you got.
last we left our most unwilling protagonist – me – we were preparing for a trip
to the emergency room due to my high fever and myriad other symptoms. Although this may strike many as completely
nonsensical, I have a steadfast belief that the last place one wants to
be when ill is at the hospital. After
all, there are all manner of sick people there.
This is even more troubling for someone like me who, as we know, has the
immune system which at this stage could most charitably be described as non-existent.
we were really not left with any other options.
Because this was Sunday – as these types of emergencies only occur outside
of normal business hours – my only choices were the ER or an urgent care. Melissa and I briefly contemplated the
latter, but we felt fairly confident that as soon as they heard I had cancer
then they would wash their hands of the matter (the matter being me) and send
me off to the ER anyway. So we decided
to cut out the middleman – and the extra co-payment – and go straight to the
many of my devout readers are undoubtedly aware, there has been an overwhelming
silence emanating from me and this blog for the past couple of weeks. And, as these same followers also are
certainly aware, I always have something to say about pretty much everything so
such a silence is quite atypical for me.
So, pray tell, what caused this lack of pontification from me? To put it simply, I thought I was on death’s
doorstep for several days. It turns out
that I was actually, however, suffering from what is probably best classified as
a cold (and which still has me feeling quite suboptimal). But I think it is a fair question of you, the
reader, to wonder how something as admittedly annoying but as non-lethal as the
common cold could cause one to think that Charon’s canoe was being docked in my
starters, I think it is only appropriate for me to state that I am not a
hypochondriac. I am related to a number
of such people, and I know I am not like that.
Plus, the vernacular usage of the term implies an irrational obsession
with illness and maladies in general.
Applying that understanding of the term, I am pretty sure that it is
impossible to be simultaneously a hypochondriac and one with cancer. I assert this because, rather unfortunately,
there is no illness, ache, pain, sniffle or cough that one living with cancer
could readily dismiss as unimportant or even simply uninteresting. Particularly when one has a chronic (i.e.,
incurable) form of cancer, constant vigilance regarding one’s health is not
only prudent but often mandatory. In
fact, a better term for those of us with cancer would be hyperchondriac
because no matter how much attention we pay to our health, we cannot be as
knowledgeable about our badly-behaving bodies as would be ideal. (I note that Merriam-Webster does not
recognize hyperchondriac as a term, but Urban Dictionary does. Let’s get into the 21st century,
With the holiday season bearing down on us too soon yet again, those of us fighting cancer face the unenviable proposition of having countless uncomfortable discussions with well-meaning, but often completely tone-deaf, friends and, worse still, relatives about our health – or lack thereof. In light of these dreaded encounters, the following list of basics about my cancer is mandatory reading for anyone who may be breaking a wishbone with me or thinking of offering me anything with pumpkin in it.
1. Appearances are deceiving.
Cancer is not a disease most readily identified by cursory inspection. Particularly cancers such as mine, which is primarily hanging out in my blood, are not apparent unless I accidentally cut myself while carving the bird (a distinct possibility) and someone nearby happens to have an electron microscope at the ready. (Given some people I know, this is also a distinct possibility.) But just because absent an impaling I look quite healthy does not mean that I am. To quote my oncologist prior to commencing chemo, “You had no idea how sick you were.”
2. No second guessing.
Few things are more frustrating after living with — and worrying about — my cancer for over six years than to have someone suggest that I had been going about it all wrong. Besides the fact that this information would have been more timely if given to me prior to deciding upon treatments, the reality that such a view is coming out because “a friend of a friend knows a doctor” tends to carry little weight with me.