I called my oncologist last week, a busted, broken and spiritually wasted man. I had not planned for it but I broke down on the phone. I was truly done. I asked if he thought it wise if I go to the hospital?
He said, “yes and I am worried about you, you have lost a dangerous amount of weight in a short amount of time. Let’s get you in the hospital where we can get you some help.”
I said, “Well, okay, I’ll go in the morning.”
Kind of comical now.
By that time I was so beaten I could barely see reality. I think I had fallen into the cycle of pain and despair and it was kind of “comfortable” at that point. The hospital seemed far away.
Anyways I just got out of the clink yesterday, having spent 9 days on the inside. A great move in hindsight. I think I was nearing a dangerous state of hopeless resignation that this could be the big one, Alice. That’s not a good place to be. Fueled by starvation for weeks, I have never been so “dark” in my life. Only an atom sized particle faith and the boys and Sarah kept me going, barely.
It began, in hindsight, last spring. I started having trouble digesting food. I thought I knew what it was (which is usually a bad sign for me, self-sufficiency or assurance are not always a friend when you have to also be a part time medical detective). The food, especially dinner, went nowhere but back from whence it came. I started blowing chunks- big vom dot com, liquidating my assets, channeling Uncle Ralph.
I was convinced I had gastroparesis- “frozen stomach” or a state where there is likely nerve damage that has impeded or interrupted the normal signaling that occurs from muscles to activate and move food through the small and large intestines. I had tested positive for this two years ago and it was suspected that the different meds were the culprit. I was presenting what appeared to contain all the usual symptomatic suspects. Things would be “manageable” by eating differently at night and taking a few prescriptions (there are not many, gastroparesis is a little scary in that it is notoriously difficult to treat).
The problem is, as with most things in life, it is often not that simple or as clear. My condition got progressively worse and worse. As of @ 2 months ago I could hold no solids down and was not having great luck with liquids. I basically was heading down a course of slow starvation.
So began the knife fight in a phone booth. A fistfight in a broom closet. A gunfight in a wheelbarrow. Toss some starving dogs and a couple of grouchy pit vipers in the barrow with me too. And I was armed with plastic butter knife and a three inch spork.
However you want to frame it, I got to experience an epic stabbing, shooting, fisticuff ass whipping. Lost 40 lbs in @ six weeks. Couldn’t hold anything down, constantly nauseous, so tired and worn out I could barely crawl out of bed to work or watch the boys play hockey. No exercise. Joy gone. Argh. I recommend this particular diet plan only to your worst enemies but not would not wish it on anyone.
Anyways, admission to the hospital proved a good choice. They got me comfortable. I didn’t have to worry about such things as letting Elsa out, using the squeegee after a shower (I know rough but it was amazing how the simplest things like brushing my teeth became monumental) or walking 10 feet to the toilet. In fact they even provided a urinal next to the side of the bed. That’s living man. No need to get out of bed when you can roll over and make the bladder gladder. I should have brought this marvelous invention home with me! Hello Amazon Prime. Maybe I can get one for the couch and the office too.
Although there was drama around this too. I was so out of it one night I didn’t realize the 32oz bottle was dangerously full when evacuation began. There is nothing like splashing warm pee all over your body at 3 am in a hospital bed. Its not a great bath. Needless to say the nurses and techs were super cool about my body temperature warm problem and the accompanying mess. They weren’t, at least on the surface, peeved or pissed or even pee-od. Derp.
There was plenty of drama of the more intense variety as well. The reading of the endoscopy (upper scope of stomach) was that a large tumor in my stomach was causing stenosis (closing) of the stomach to the small intestine at the pyloris muscle (responsible moving food through). There was a pinprick size hole between the two. The stomach was “angry” according to the doctor’s fancy medical jargon. Needless to say I could relate to my poor stomach’s feelings. We were both pretty angry.
But the good news? After biopsy and further analysis – no tumor! No cancer! The conclusion? I guess every organ can have on “itis” which is basically inflammation. Colitis. Hepatitis. Pancreatitis. You get it. I had an extreme case of gastritis, likely fueled by the immune therapies which had prompted by body to attack my stomach, causing massive anger management problems and serious complications.
So, lots of steroids later I find myself home and listening to Set III of the 7/20/2019 Camp Bisco show. Righteous. I have what I feel like is a modicum of mojo back. I am ready to go here. Put your fucking dukes up.
It’s strange too. My eyesight changed over the last 2 weeks. Or maybe it didn’t. All I know is that the world seems fuzzier and yet there are things that are clear. There’s a metaphor in there, in my reduced vision, probably not too carefully buried, but I think I will take my time on the excavation.
I believe I know some of the things I will find in there under the dirt. My love for my boys and Sarah. Family. Elsa. Friends. Work. Kicking ass or at least trying to in the face of total collapse of my resources and spirit. On my own I am nothing the Father does the work (even if it seems to take longer almost always than I would like).
While I sift through the debris and take some timid steps back to the land of soup and salads, the eye doctor will be waiting for me and my insurance card on Wednesday. 0-;
Here’s my favorite Halloween song and one the greats from the 80s. It happens to be a pretty good depiction as well of what the doctors meant by “angry” in the stomach. Crank it. Bop-Bop.