I cannot imagine a greater indignity, on top of every other little indignity that is being visited upon me,than to have my teeth turn black! Now how am I going to explain that going around town? "Oh don't mind my black teeth, I haven't actually been eating charcoal, it's just ANOTHER side effect of radiation!" Oh, how I loathe side effects, minions of evil.
Do you get that in addition to the surgery and the cancer itself, I have fungus in my butt and black teeth? I'm a Real Housewife of Ajijic, dammit, not some serf lolling around in the streets of Olde London Towne, about to have a bucket of sewage dropped on my head while I beg for alms. Give me a break.
Oh well, never mind that. I just wanted to vent a little bit. My friend Linda has been leaning on me to let her buy me a wig, and I totally gave in when I realized that the one I liked has little holes where the arms of your eyeglasses go...how cool is that! Jesus, anyone who isn't marketing to the 50 and up is crazy.. that little selling point totally won me over. The reason she wants me to have a wig? Right. Chemo.
Chemo came at me out of literally nowhere. I knew that while I was in surgery having skin taken from my groin to replace the skin that was being taken from arm to replace the skin that our evil foe cancer had chewed up pac-man style from the inside of my mouth, it had been mentioned that if there were cells remaining after Dr. Senor Rockstar cut what he could locate out, well, then there would be chemo. They told us that. But I thought they meant, like, down the road a ways. In a bunch of years. Maybe never.
That's not what they meant. They meant now.
My stepdaughter once apologized to me for not responding to the original news of my cancer diagnosis with suitable gravitas. But she was right! The only person who did respond properly was my sister, who responds to any and all news with gravitas suitable for a car wreck, regardless.
At the time however, when someone finally said "cancer" in relationship to the painful sores that felt like fever blisters on my tongue, I was pleased. I'd been to four different doctors, and they'd all said it would fix itself, but it definitely was not fixing itself. It hurt.
So when Dr. Edgard said cancer, I was relieved. What's the big deal, right? Gee Whiz, who hasn't had cancer? If it's on your tongue, you laser it off, or something, and there you go, good as new. I'm a modern woman, and I did not react as though I had just received serious bad news.
Turns out, I'm a modern woman and kind of an idiot. Because, I had just gotten some really, really bad news.
There was a great deal of emotional terrain to be covered, it turned out. When they start talking about surgery and your tongue, how your life is going to change--I just wrote about that, right? the certain knowledge that you are never going to be "you" again, --on and on,when they're tosssng out words like "malignancy" and "tumor" and money, money, money, money, you start to realize, you've become one of those people that you've always thanked God you're not. I felt blindsided, suckerpunched.
I had surgery on my tongue in November of 13, and it was deemed to be a big success, wide margins, everybody happy. ( see, you know what I'm talking about when I say margins, don't you. We've ALL had experience with this bitch, whether our own, or someone close to us.) My follow up appointments became less grave, more social, less frequent. Annual trip to Virginia? Why not!?
Well,that trip almost killed me, what with it's hillbilly cousins and lyme disease ticks and an abcessing tooth. I was there for two months, and there was some hideous redneck complaint plaguing me every minute of every day, but it wasn't cancer. So I came home.
And found out that I needed radiation. because the abcessing tooth and a variety of other unpredictable factors kept returning unclear results. Bruno and I spent two months in the most abject misery, endlessly driving, getting tests done, waiting forresults, (Does she? Doesn't she?) waiting for an appointment with the Doctor to go over the results, and then finding that we knew nothing. Except that something wasn't good. Another test, more waiting. and then finally, the diagnosis.
I need radiation. No more surgery, the tongue has a finite amount from which to cut, so the choices were radiation and radiation. To find this out when I had been living in the bliss of having put it all behind me? Suckerpunch.
This blog has always been intended to be a tribute,to my friends in Ajijic and how they stepped up to make the impossible possible.. I will tell that story, but to do Pam and the rest of the crew justice, it will have be in an entry of it's own.
After that, tests, and waiting and consulting. And then more tests to compare to the first batch and then...Yes! "The mass" was shrinking, it was softer it was smaller it was going, going, it was going....
And then there was the morning when the coffee leaked out of my neck. That was because suddenly, a tunnel had been created where one didn't belong. Terrifying and mysterious. But, Bruno and I were positive, not cancer. This time we knew I had been cured...I had just been through radiation, which everyone knows makes your skin weak and weird and likely to do weird things.
So it was determined, mostly by the internet and my husband, that we were dealing with a side effect from the radiation, although we never quite got the doctors to sign off on that theory. They didn't reject it exactly, but they wanted a PET scan as soon as they got back from Holy Week. A PET Scan is the top of the line of the tests, and costs about twice as the regular varieties. And we'd kind of had enough of the scan-wait-results loop.
But here's the thing. I could not wait a week to get fixed. And I definitly couldn't wait a week to be in the hands of someone with authority who could give me some information and reassurance on why stuff was leaking out of my head.
So by the time my team of doctors got back from vacation, I was ("Surprise!"), recuperating from an 8 hour surgery performed by a team of surgeons I'd never met before vacation week started, and where they found some cancer causing that nasty tunnel. Suckerpunch.
Before this, I had been starting to feel good. Healthy. In the morning, it had been taking me a minute to remember "Now wait,there's something the matter with me, what is it, what is it.....oh yeah!"
The food that my friends have been blending, first to go through the feeding tube, and now for me to drink as soup and smoothies has been really giving my body what it needs, and my body has been responding. I have been getting better, feeling better, functioning better. I'm cured!
Except I need chemo. Suckerpunch, you motherfucker, suckerpunch.
But honest to God...the black teeth? Give me a break.
Well, I can tell you that her talent doesn’t come from her formal education. She dropped out of that as soon as she could, so she didn’t have many people telling her what she couldn’t do or say, and trying to squeeze her onto some shape she couldn’t fit in, which she wouldn’t have done anyway — but her going her own way saved everyone a lot of hassle. But she was a voracious reader, and a discerning one. And she was always happily juiced up. She would have been outrageous if she weren’t so good natured. That’s what gets her through the tough ones like this. She’s a lot like her mother, come to think of it. As one of my sons said, “I’m not sure I could even be a fraction of that upbeat, but that’s her and I’m me.”