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[cancer] The Door That Never Opens Twice - [cancer] The Door That Never Opens Twice - Lakeshore Page 3 — LiveJournal
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-05-08 05:01
Subject: [cancer] The Door That Never Opens Twice
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:afraid and pretending not to b
Music:morning sounds
Tags:cancer, child, personal, portland
Well, I'm on clears today. Last night was my last normal meal for, oh, quite a while. So I organized a family dinner at De Nicola's.

lasirenadolce was back in Tacoma for some much-needed R&R, and kenscholes couldn't make it, but pretty much all the rest of the Portland family loop were there — the_child and her mother, Mom and Dad, tillyjane and her retrostepson S— (yes, we're a Southern family, why do you ask?), lillypond and her friend C—. as well as the Niece, my aunt M—, karindira and Youngest Daughter. We were a mob in the back room, the dinner culminating with a dramatically architectural cake baked by the_child. I believe there are photos somewhere, but I no got them.

Amazingly I am still sleeping well, though tonight will be the killer. I am waking up quite early, and as I said yesterday, my world feels very narrowed.

Anent the Big Fear, I'm down to two right now. There's the one which crosses over into rational fear, about playing an endless, downhill game of whack-a-mole with a metastatizing cancer. While's that's possible, to all clinical indications it seems unlikely. It still dogs me.

The other is my unreasoning fear of general anaesthetic. I'm not even too crazy about sedation. I have my pre-op anaesthesiology consult today, and I will be rational, thoughtful and attentive, but by tomorrow morning the snakes in my gut will be the size of a sewer pipe coming out of my rib cage. I felt this way before I had my septum fixed back in 1999, and was fine. Like I said, unreasoning fear. Big Fear.

Still, the true terror for me is not dying. Oddly, I seem to be able to accept that possibility, slight as it is, with an almost eerie calm. The true terror is dying without waking up first, and being unable to say good-bye. So to manage that part of the Big Fear, I am writing some sealed letters today, which I will make a ceremony of shredding, or possibly burning, when this is all over. Just so my voice can be heard by my daughter, my parents, everyone else whom I love, one last time should I somehow manage to pass through the Door That Never Opens Twice.

I am brave today. Tomorrow immediately before the surgery I shall almost certainly be a gibbering craven. The day after that I will still be alive, and I will have won. Someday soon we shall all laugh together.
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aries_jordan: Tower
User: aries_jordan
Date: 2008-05-08 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good luck, and come out fighting. You'll be fine.
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Chris McKitterick: just Chris
User: mckitterick
Date: 2008-05-08 16:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:just Chris
Those are completely understandable fears. For a writer, sharing them like this is the perfect way to deflate them.

I'll be thinking of you.

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Leah Cutter: Battle lines
User: lrcutter
Date: 2008-05-08 17:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Battle lines
I'll be thinking about you, Jay, keeping you in my thoughts. I hope that your letter burning/shredding day comes soon. Take care and be gentle with yourself.
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User: irismoonlight
Date: 2008-05-08 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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Deborah Layne
User: deborahlive
Date: 2008-05-08 17:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Guess you'll be using a semicolon after tomorrow.

Did someone already make that joke? Surely with all the writers and editors...

Thinking of you.
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miki garrison: bridge troll
User: mikigarrison
Date: 2008-05-08 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bridge troll
Sometimes the only reasonable option is to be a gibbering craven and brave, all at the same time. I know it's not easy, though -- there's a reason I've said "no" to so many surgeries the docs have suggested (and it's the anaesthesia). But when the only choice is to plow through, well, that's what we do.

For what it's worth, my two remedies for helping my body recover from the anaesthesia as quickly as possible after the surgery are:

1) Really deep breaths, in and out, as soon as you're even vaguely coherent after the surgery (this usually takes having someone with you to prompt you). For me, at least, my breathing tends to be on the shallow side for awhile after general anaesthesia, and the deep breaths do wonders. One doctor told me to shoot for doing this a few times an hour, when awake, for the day or two after surgery.

2) Once you're allowed to have real liquids again, fresh lemon juice (I usually took mine in hot tea). I'm not entirely sure why this makes a difference, but I've had several nurses suggest it, and I really think it helped.

Oh, and I'm sure this is probably a no-brainer, but bring an MP3 player and headphones -- they can help hugely with tuning out hospital noise.

All that said, I'm looking forward to Saturday, and the being alive, and the winning. :D
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User: kmarier
Date: 2008-05-08 17:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Best of luck, zen hugs and good wishes and hopes that all goes well.

And don't forget, if you are not comfortable with the anaesthesiologist at all you can (and should!) request someone you are sympatico with. When I had to have hip surgery, my mom told me very firmly that I absolutely had that right and to ask as many questions as possible so I understood what was going on and if I didn't like it I was to speak up and shout. Planet Jay IS the center of the universe (at least in this matter) Good luck!
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scottedelman: Astro Boy
User: scottedelman
Date: 2008-05-08 17:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Astro Boy
I, too, have a fear of general anesthesia that is far greater than the fear I felt for any of the operations I've ever undergone. Each time I faced it, I asked my doctor whether he would consider doing the operation while I was awake. He laughed.

But ... I got through it. And so will you.

You'll be in my thoughts.
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User: davidbain
Date: 2008-05-08 17:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Best thoughts, wishes, karma and energy.
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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2008-05-08 18:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A lot of us will be waiting, nearly as nerve-wracked as you are, for the outcome. Again, thank you for not hiding this.

Edit: I should explain that just a little. My father, when he had a cancer scare, did not tell me until much later because he and my mother decided they "didn't want to worry me." Although I'm sure you know, this is possibly the worst way to handle something like that. So again - thank you.

Edited at 2008-05-08 06:10 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-05-08 18:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"We didn't want to worry you" is one of the most profoundly stupid statements in the English language. As my mother once said to my grandmother, "Now I'll never be able to trust you when you say you're fine."

I am not fine. I will be, though.
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User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-05-08 18:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just had surgery on Monday --- and while it doesn't even compare on the scope of things --- the exact same fear of anesthesia is what kept me up the night before surgery (all night long).
After they put the O2 tube in and the mask over I remember saying a couple minutes later, "Wow, I can feel the effects of the anesthesia kicking in now..."

...and then I woke up in post-op observation.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-05-08 18:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good luck on your recovery, sir. And while my anaesthesia fear is quite real and strong, I suspect I'm also displacing some of the cancer fear into it.

Ah, the wonders of the human mind.
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frabjouslinz: twokitties
User: frabjouslinz
Date: 2008-05-08 19:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd be a complete mess, so I think you're handling it as well as could be expected. I'll keep thinking of you, and can't wait to hear your stories of everything once you're recovered and looking to verbosify once again. Hugs your way...
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User: kmp_zxcv
Date: 2008-05-08 19:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hope all goes well. Take care!
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jeffsoesbe: yeff yahoo avatar
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2008-05-08 19:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:yeff yahoo avatar
Jay --

I hope everything goes perfectly, from surgery to recovery to getting back in action.

Sending great thoughts and wishes over the aether!

- yeff
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User: dsgood
Date: 2008-05-08 19:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sending industrial-strength good thoughts.

"...the true terror for me is not dying." I first interpreted that not as "Dying is not the true terror for me" but as "Living is the true terror for me." (Not a writing problem; I'd only had one cup of tea so wasn't fully awake, and the rest of the paragraph dispelled that misinterpretation.) Which leads me to wonder how people with suicidal tendencies feel under such circumstances.
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