You have to try, when you're a girl and you're fighting cancer. It's hard, and believe me I'm not talking about blowing my hair dry and putting on mascara before I wake up my husband in the morning. I'm talking about taking my hair out of it's ponytail and putting on clothes once in a while. Still, you gotta make an effort. It's hard when all the things that have happened have happened to your face, when it's all scarred and crooked, and your lips are just busted up, but you gotta.
It's six weeks since I limped home from the hospital, feeding tube up my nose, IV pole permanantly attached, cast that weighed as much as a kettlebell dragging my arm down, and a drain draining....something, I don't know or care what, from my neck.
|I'm having lunch. The bandage on my neck is|
holding a drain in place
I always have napkins and paper towels and bits of rag and washcloths stuffed around. Since the radiation I've had problems with extra saliva (but that's only when I'm not suffering from excessive dry mouth. Listen, I am the list of side effects on the drug commercial) In fact my poor exercise class had developed a special etiquette to cope with the fact that it had become pretty common for me to slobber like a St. Bernard every time I did a move that required bending over. They pretended not to notice and in the next move I would hop over to stand right on the spot where I had drooled on their floor. God, I love that class, I miss them so much.
Then I had the effing fistula to worry about. That required me to really amp up on the paper products because if I ate or drank anything with a consistency more liquid than a cinderblock, I was going to have to mop up my neck and chest, goddam evil disease.
|Dr. Hector, Vascular Surgeon who gave|
me good news and made me cry. You can see
that the scar starts at my lip and travels down to that
drapey part under my neck. You can also see
my bra strap, because I'm a professional model
So when I reached for a hanky to dab at my misty eyes in the Doctor's office, I came up with a vile and over-used paper napkin, ripped and wrung out and dotted with mustard colored tumeric stains. A girl had forgotten to make an effort. Oops.
But why was I crying, and leaving tumeric trails on my cheek?
Because I'd gotten a break, that's why.
For some reason, I am often complimented on my courage and positive attitude. I feel guilty for the deception I've managed to perpetrate, because believe me when I tell you that I spend most of my day shaking my fist at God, and wondering why I'm going through this, or swimming around in the murk of a depression so deep and muddy that continuing on to the next event ( chemo! yay!) just seems like a waste of effort. I've done everything already, and I keep having to do more shit. I'm sad, a lot. I'll never be the me I got to know again, and I never said good-bye.
So when Dr Hector explained that I had gotten a break, it was a powerful relief in a pretty bleak landscape.
I didn't even know that I'd dodged a bullet, because nobody had seen any benefit to advising me of the utter unlikelihood of this operation working. But now it's been six weeks, and ....oh God, I'm scared to even talk about it. Here is what my husband wrote the day of the appointment.
Today actually the surgeon revealed how complex the operation had been, and until now we didn't know that the risk of failure had been very high. he recounted most of what transpired during the eight hours, how the lead surgeon had stopped everything half-way through, advising the team he needed to remove a three-inch diameter area next to the tongue, which was subsequently grafted. the graft was at high risk of failing, but is now safe and we all breathed a lot easier.
Dr. Delgado had excised all of the tumor that was visible, including scraping and cleaning the jaw. Not to get too technical, it was a major operation, and the team now is saying that we have a very good chance the cancer was removed. What happens next is evaluation by the team whether to move forward with chemo as preventative measure, which is likely. We will know more after the appointment at Centro next week.
At some point in the future, Dr. Orozco will perform surgery for the stretching and lumpish appearance, because they decided to leave in all the healthy tissue that they could. The procedure will be done as an office surgery under local, and is purely for cosmetic purposes. After everything he'd heard today, Bruno said "I could care less what she looks like after all of this miraculous work you've done!" No leaks, the grafting is secure, we are truly grateful.