Friday, September 12, 2008

Call Me 25¢

Now I have 5 holes in my stomach. One from my feeding tube––it's out, but the skin is still pushed in––and four from the emergency gallbladder surgery I had September 2nd. And since I have a big rectangle of skin showing on my chest and stomach from the shaving they gave me before surgery, the holes show very nicely. (I could sell ad space on my chest and stomach. Hey, Virgin is using bald guys to display tattoos of their logo. And takers out there?).

I was talking to a friend who said, "you can tell all kinds of wild stories with those marks." Which reminded me of 50 Cent, who was shot 9 times and has the scars to prove it. Scars are cool for men. Makes us macho. Makes us tough. Makes me remember how I got them all. And none of them are incidents I wish to relive.

The most damaging scars are mental ones. The scars from a bad relationship. From a terrible job or workplace. From loved ones. And don't think mental scars don't leave a mark. You can see them when you're trying to start a romantic relationship––why won't he/she trust me, what does this person REALLY want, he's after wham, bam thank you ma'am––if you really look. You can see them when you're trying to coach or teach someone something new––c'mon you've seen that look of "oh crap, here we go again. I don't know if I can do this!"

I can see the scars from my battles when I look into the faces of my family and friends when I talk about all the crap I've been through the last 13 months. I really saw it this Tuesday when I walked into a production meeting at work. They were extremely glad to see me. They wanted to know what the hell was I doing back at work so quickly. They also looked at me like "oh my God. He doesn't look so good." And I didn't. But the fact that I was able to stand before them and talk to them was good for me. I also believe it was good for them, too.

My gallbladder Doctor told me," you are a great patient. Having cancer makes people more accepting of what we do as Doctors. They know we're human, just like them. They know nothing is guaranteed. And because of what you've been through, only you know what's really good for you." He's right.

And I have the scars to prove it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pain Is A Four Letter Word

I saw the fear turn to anger on her face. She had had enough. Here she was––again––in the ER of Reston Hospital and she wanted some answers. She wanted to know why. Why was her Husband––me––just lying on a too small gurney with his twig and berries hanging out and another IV line in his arm and no one was DOING ANYTHING.

I'm in pain. Teresa is ready to kick some ass. And rightfully so. This was the fifth time in four weeks she was at the hospital. Three with me, two with Travis. And she was tired of waiting for the Doctor, after she was told to "go to the hospital and have the Doctor paged." So we went. We had him paged. Did I tell you I was in pain? Oh, and scared shitless. What the hell is going here? Why am I back in the ER? Miss the food? The atmosphere? Being woke-up every two hours? Pissing in a water jug?

Teresa was tired of seeing her Husband like this. No pain medication––"we can't give him anything until we know what's wrong and the Doctor sees him"––no food, no word about when the Doctor would be, no, nothing, zilch. And I watched her face the whole time. All 6 hours. I was worrying about her worrying about me. Funny, huh? I watched the pain and anger trade places in her forehead. I watched her try to be strong and try to be in charge. I watched her stare down every person that walked by the curtain in the ER. I watched her.

I can deal with my pain. I would say that after all I've been through the last 13 months––two bouts of cancer, 8 surgeries, 10 months of a feeding tube in my stomach, 12 chemo treatments, 35 radiation treatments and losing 35-40 pounds––I can deal with a lot of pain. Bring it, baby. But I have a real hard time when I can feel and see the pain in Teresa. To know that my illnesses have caused her tremendous emotional, spiritual and mental anguish. That's a pain I can't control for her. I can't make it disappear. I can't give her something to take to make it go away. I can't rub it away. It's the worst kind of pain.

The four letter kind.