Every time I write a column about one personal health problem or the other, I read it back and sound like I’m whining.
A colleague once told me, after I had asked about a mutual friend, “Don’t ask him how he’s doing unless you really want to know and you’d best not be in a hurry because the answer is going to take a while.” Sometimes I, too, feel like I’m overdoing it when I try to tell folks what condition my condition is in.
Of course the flip side of complaining about what ails you is finding out that a friend or neighbor just recently died of cancer, heart disease or some other terminal illness and you didn’t even know they’d been sick. In my particular case, there’s not much likelihood that anybody will fail to know that I have serious health issues. I usually make it a matter of public record. On the other hand, I am saddled with so many afflictions that there’s no telling which one will finally do me in.
At least, so far, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and the residual effects of three strokes have only left me crippled up and among the walking wounded. My way of dealing with this stuff has been to poke fun and rely on a rather morbid sense of humor to cope. When I can’t actually laugh about it, I find that a grin is still better than no medicine at all. For example, I tell folks that I am doing my part to make sure that a bunch of medical practitioners don’t have to sign up for unemployment insurance.
Fortunately, all four of these chronic conditions have not been so painful that one medication or another will not fail to render bearable relief. For several years, Uncle Arthur was the only one that sometimes kept me up at night. When I couldn’t sleep, I could usually read a good novel and get my mind off the pain.
However, I have recently come up against something for which I can find no trace of humor. If there is anything funny about bladder cancer, I have yet to find it, but two extremely painful surgical biopsies have confirmed that yet another invasion into my plumbing will be necessary to clean up the two tumors that have already been removed. The first two felt like monkey wrenches had been forced into places they were far too small to fit. Three weeks later, it still doesn’t feel much better.
The doctor is already trying to get me psyched up for chemotherapy in case he fails to get all the cancer cells removed. I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I have been assured that, unlike the first procedures, this next round will keep me in a hospital bed for two or three days and that morphine will be readily available. I have no idea why they suggested outpatient surgery the first two times, nor why I fell for it the second time around. I only know that the aftermath caused me the most and worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. It made copperhead bites, a ruptured appendix, a broken kneecap and about anything else I’ve experienced, feel not much worse than wasp stings, by comparison.
Anyway, if you have time on your hands, please know that your prayers will be appreciated. I’m not scheduled for the surgery until Friday, March 13, at 5:30 in the morning. Loretta is already shopping for the closest motel room that we can find close to Lexington’s Baptist Health’s Cancer Center on Nicholasville Road because she would rather not have leave Paint Lick at 3 a.m. I suspect we’ll both have good books to read.
In the meantime, I’ll try not to whine about this until it’s over. At least you won’t be among the folks who didn’t know anything about it, not to suggest that you may have felt like you needed to.