As of Friday afternoon, I am a cancer survivor. It seems a bit odd to be saying that, at 32 years old and feeling pretty darn good, all things considered, but it’s true.
I went to the hospital in nearby Paris Friday morning. The surgery was scheduled for noon, but I had to be there early to get ready and generally entertain the hospital staff with my off-color humor. My wife and I were led into a recovery room and I was told to take my clothes off by a young nurse that obviously did not know what she was getting into. After a few jokes about liking forceful women, she left and I changed into my hospital gown, almost tied in the back. I then threatened to start flashing people on the walkway outside before another nurse gave me the disappointing news that passersby could not see inside.
A few more nurses came into check my blood pressure and such, while another came in to “prep the area for surgery”. This involved shaving the hair off of nearly half my body for a five-inch long incision. I think she enjoyed it.
I waited. My wife and my mother sat nearby discussing restaurants, knowing that I had eaten nothing since before midnight. I read for a bit, then was about to take a nap when nurses came into move me to the holding area. I had to give up my glasses for this, leaving me virtually blind, but that did not stop me from making hand signals every time they turned my hospital bed.
In holding, they brought another guy in next to me who was there for a colonoscopy. He sounded considerably more anxious about his procedure than I did mine. After a short while, both the nurse anesthetist and my urologist came in and briefed me. The urologist held up a pen and said he was going to make me a marked man. I told him he was a bit late for that.
I was then wheeled into the operating room, a squarish place full of cabinets and instruments and, in the center, a small table over which hung two massive light discs that resembled, to me lying beneath them, UFO’s. My view didn’t last long, however, as the mask was soon placed over my nose and mouth, the instruction to breathe deeply was spoken into my ear, and I bid goodbye to a part of me.
As I lay mostly unconscious back in the recovery room, the urologist told my wife that he was mostly sure that I had a seminoma, a very uncommon, but highly treatable form of testicular cancer. The surgery had gone well and, thanks to our coming to him so quickly, he believes he caught it in stage 1, not giving it time to spread elsewhere. Sometime after this, my wife and I had several conversations, none of which I remember, and she has since grown frustrated over having to repeat things she has already told me several times before. I learned that, sometimes, it’s better to not ask.
When I fully awoke, I felt surprisingly good. The nurses told me that I would have to use the restroom before I would be allowed to leave, so I got up and shuffled to the toilet. During that shuffle, that good feeling abandoned me and nausea rushed into replace it. My mother has always reacted poorly to anesthesia and, apparently, so do I. I retched the few sips of Coke I had managed to swallow and a fair bit of stomach acid before being helped back to bed by the nurse and my wife. My face, apparently, had gone quite green and the nurse rushed to give me something that would settle my stomach.
I slept again. This time, when I woke, I sat up slowly to see if the nausea would return. When it didn’t, I realized that I was alone in the room. My wife, tired of watching me sleep, had gone to see our next-door neighbor who had given birth that very morning in a fair example of irony considering why I was there. When she returned, I felt well enough to be wheeled out of the hospital, stopping by to see my new neighbor on the way.
Since returning home, I have felt moderately good. I went to church yesterday, surprising most by the speed of my getting up and about, but pressed a bit too much climbing the steps to Sunday school. Still, for the most part, I have relied very little on the pain medication and can now move about with little to no discomfort, so long as I go very slowly and take care in rising or sitting.
I go back to the urologist for a follow-up on Friday and will get the lab results from the surgery then. Hopefully, I can return to work on Saturday and not use up any more of my paid time off. I will also find out Friday if I’ll need to do radiation, another good reason to save my sick days and remaining vacation.
In the meantime, I’m reading a lot and, hopefully, can return to writing as early as tonight. Hopefully, that will help take my mind of things when the bills start rolling in.