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[cancer] Trying to put things into perspective - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-12-04 13:54
Subject: [cancer] Trying to put things into perspective
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, health, personal
Well, let's see. My mental acuity has returned sufficiently for me to track complex conversations over extended time periods, specifically between one medication cycle and the next. Just today I've begun experimenting with extending (slightly) the time between medication intake, which is the first step in weaning myself off the opiates. I'm starting to be pretty seriously bored, also a good sign. My walking range is beginning to extend now, walking a mile in 25 minutes this morning without ever stopping to breathe. And I can play Sudoku again, which has long been a sort of mental marker for my state of stress and ability to focus.

On the down side, I still can't read worth a damn. Even tracking a decently long article on the Web is tough. I continue to have no interest in picking up books. This is only my second attempt at a blog post since leaving the hospital last Sunday, as even that much narrative awareness is only available to me in fits and starts.

Over the next week or three I'll try to document my hospital experience. We're definitely in the anticlimax right now, that trough between surgery and the pathology report. Next Monday morning, calendula_witch and I go in to see the thoracic surgery team, then the oncologist. We'll have the last stitches on the drain port taken out, followed by a discussion of the chemo path. shelly_rae will be in town Monday midday, and the three of us will spend some time sorting through what it all means.

Right now, I don't know. And I won't even have a glimpse until then. All the grief and terror is still out there. It's just waiting for another turn of the wheel, for the business of the moment to come spilling out like blood on sand.

This has been a tough road, in all the obvious ways and in more than a few non obvious ones as well. I don't suppose it will get any easier, though eventually losing the 'busted ribs' sensation from the chest incision will be helpful. Details to come, as I understand or can recall them. For now, suffice to say my hospital experience was good to excellent, the food wasn't bad, and friends and family really came through.

I swear I'm getting back on this horse. One stirrup at a time. There's just a freaky lot of stirrups here.

I'll leave you with a thought. Not so long ago, the single overriding sensory impression of hospitals, at least in my experience, was the smell. Nothing has an odor quite like the damp, disinfected, bandage reek of a hospital. Lately, though, the quality of the cleansers has improved. Or perhaps my nose has been stunned with age. Because now my single overriding sensory impression of hospitals is the beeping. Literally two or three dozen different alarms which beep in the nurses' stations in the halls outside the rooms. Different volumes, keys, pitches, tempii. It's a symphony for one-note sonics, written large across my waking dreams and sleeping thoughts.

That noise will follow me all my life, I suspect. When the time comes, please don't wire my coffin for it, ok?

Meanwhile, I leave you with this cheerful image of me eating in the hospital.

IMG_0668

© 2009 Shannon Page

Creative Commons License

This work by Shannon Page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

So far I've come...

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selfavowedgeek
User: selfavowedgeek
Date: 2009-12-04 22:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Bit by bit on the mend. You're a tenacious fellow, Jay Lake.
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ygolonac
User: ygolonac
Date: 2009-12-04 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah opiates, how I love your ability to make the extremely painful merely boring.

Glad to see you are doing better.
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Katrina
User: kmarier
Date: 2009-12-04 22:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am just grateful you are still with us!
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Eric T. Reynolds
User: ericreynolds
Date: 2009-12-04 22:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dude, I know how difficult it is to read in these circumstances. Mine circumstances were different, but still. It's like, if I would try to lose myself in reading then my mind wouldn't be focusing on my condition and there was some kind of defense mechanism in there that said, No, you can't relax, you have to remain alert because your body is trying to heal, and you can't get distracted. And so, in my case, there was no relaxing of thoughts, because some stupid primitive area in my mind thought it had to be alert and on the defensive, otherwise what was ailing me would get the upper hand.

But your ability and love for reading WILL return. And so will everything else.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2009-12-04 23:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another hug.
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Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2009-12-04 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Try reading young adult fantasy novels. When I've had something painful or traumatic done to me and can't read, I've found I can read those.
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-12-04 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
On the down side, I still can't read worth a damn. Even tracking a decently long article on the Web is tough.


But that's me on a good day!

Seriously though, I've actually been pleasantly surprised at the speed of your post-operative recovery thus far. I know it's a long road, but still. Let's hope that it continues like this!

Edited at 2009-12-04 11:35 pm (UTC)
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User: cypherindigo
Date: 2009-12-04 23:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Great Shirt!
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Allison Lonsdale: tea
User: caprine
Date: 2009-12-05 01:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:tea
I send you hugs and good wishes.
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Twilight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2009-12-05 02:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
hmmm - there's a story for you in that beeping methinks (one you might even put on paper at some point ;>)
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User: quantuminsanity
Date: 2009-12-05 05:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you're riding some sort of weird four dimensional horse, because you do seem to have an unusual number of stirrups.
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shelly_rae: Big leaf Maple
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-12-05 05:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Big leaf Maple
Do you remember the one that sounded like a thrush calling in the night? We talked about birdsong as the sun rose far to the east over mt. Hood.
I kept turning off the beeps & sending night nurses away when you were sleeping. We had long talk--I wonder what you will remember? Well besides the ninja incident?
Anon
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-05 13:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Memory of those days is like a shattered window, stained glass shards spread everywhere. I can see the colors and the complexity, but the overall pattern is elusive.
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2009-12-05 06:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm so glad you got to wear your hawaiian hospital gown in some capacity. I can only imagine that's a good way to hold onto your sense of self and humanity in the sterile, numbers-on-wristbands world of the hospital. The fact that it's like a cape makes it all the more awesome.
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2009-12-05 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>my single overriding sensory impression of hospitals is the beeping. Literally two or three dozen different alarms which beep in the nurses' stations in the halls outside the rooms. Different volumes, keys, pitches, tempii. It's a symphony for one-note sonics, written large across my waking dreams and sleeping thoughts.<<

Y'know, considering the range of folks who read your LJ, I'm wondering if there may be a composer out there who could turn hospital beeps into a full-blown composition? I can hear it in my head. (I realize, though, that this may not exactly be what you want to hear in your head right this moment.)
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Leah Cutter: Watercolors
User: lrcutter
Date: 2009-12-05 17:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Watercolors
please don't wire my coffin for it, ok?

That would be a very effective torture scene. Not for you, but for a character sometime. . .

Take care Jay, and keep fighting. You're in my thoughts.

::more hugs::
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