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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-04-18 07:43
Subject: [cancer|personal] I wish I could believe the universe was out to get me
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, family, health, personal, shellyrae, work, writing
I sometimes observe that both my rounds of cancer were essentially caught by accident. The initial colon cancer presented at age 43. If I'd gone in asking for a colonoscopy to screen for it, they would have refused me. Far too young, not medically necessary. The only reason it was detected was because the tumor ulcerated, and I was admitted to the ER with rectal bleeding. Cancer was literally number six on their list of top five theories about what was wrong with me when I was wheeled in for the colonoscopy that found the tumor.

After that surgery, I asked for a full body scan. I was told it wasn't medically necessary, that the doctor didn't want to prescribe it and insurance wouldn't cover it.

Fast forward to my one-year followup. The abdominal scan done to check my colon overscanned a bit upward and caught part of my lungs. To everyone's surprised, there was a spot on my left lung that eventually turned out to be the metastatic tumor that was surgically removed last November. If the scan tech hadn't been sloppy with the CT scan, we wouldn't have found it. If we'd had the full body scan I'd requested the year before, we would have had a baseline for evaluating the spot on my lung, which in turn would have cut out a great deal of the medical screwing around that went on from May to October of last year.

Without the ulceration, my initial colon cancer would have grown to a point somewhere between catastrophic and fatal before detection. Without a scan tech's overshooting the scan orders, my lung metastasis would have grown to a point somewhere between catastrophic and fatal before detection.

If I were feeling a bit paranoid, it might be understandable. Now, of course, we scan everything. I don't expect a third 'surprise', though I may well have a third round of cancer. It will be detected on purpose, not by accident. And yes, one can spin this either way, as weirdly bad luck or weirdly good luck. In both cases, accidental detection led to early intervention and treatment.

But if I were a superstitious man, I'd be screaming about this.

On chemo these days, my life runs in two-week cycles. Infusion Friday leads to a weekend of quiescent stupor and general ill-being. Monday following I'm pretty worthless, coming back to myself mentally sometime on Tuesday. Then there's Shedding Day(s), when my stomach lining gives up and heads for the exits, somewhere between Tuesday and Friday.

It's not til the off weekend that I really can come back to myself. So I schedule anything that needs to be done beyond my basic, very constrained daily routines, to those weekends. Taxes, for example. Or needful things around the house. My family tries to schedule family events such as tillyjane's (cancelled) birthday party of yesterday for the off weekends, when I can make them. Also, that's my time window to get ahead on writing projects, since in the absence of Day Jobbery I can use my morning energy for fiction.

Three off weekends ago, I was laid low with a viral cold that in normal health would have been a three-day annoyance, but on chemo was severely debilitating.

Two off weekends ago, Mother of the Child went into the hospital, where she remained for six days. Also that weekend, shelly_rae tore the ligaments in her foot and laid herself up badly.

This off weekend, tillyjane a/k/a my Mom had a cardiac event for which she still in the hospital.

Excuse me, but WTF? I'm supposed to be taking it easy, having a low stress life right now, and easing my way through chemo, but the people around me are dropping like flies. I've already warned calendula_witch to spend my next off weekend at the WitchNest, wrapped in a blanket and moving as little as possible lest she trip on the carpet and break her nose or something.

And yes, I know it's not all about me. And yes, I know the universe is not out to get me. But in some ways I'd rest a lot easier if I had someone to blame. The sequence and timing of events has become so improbable that if I wrote it into a novel, casacorona would make me take it right back out again.

One is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. Except I don't have any enemies.

Thank Ghu I'm such a bloody-minded empiricist, because otherwise I would be a raving paranoid by now. But really, if the universe is listening, enough already, ok?

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User: etcet
Date: 2010-04-18 15:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There seems to be an inordinate amount of this going around. In my circle of friends, within the last month:

- Two friends' mothers have died
- One friend's wife has had a stroke (and he has been slated for liver replacement ASAP, not due to lifestyle abuse of said organ)
- My girlfriend needed extensive dental work - crowns and root canals (and doesn't have insurance)

That's just off the top of my head, and I feel like I'm leaving stuff out. 2010 is working hard to catch up to how much 2009 sucked in a lot of ways.
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User: ex_catherin85
Date: 2010-04-18 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If sending good thoughts for things turning around for you and yours in the very, very immediate future is of any help, I'm sending them on.
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The NewroticGirl
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2010-04-18 16:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I went in to complain about menstrual migraines and ended up having a football-sized fibroid disentangled from my guts. I was expecting a prescription for hormones, not a zipper in my stomach! At the moment, I'm glad my health took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

I'm also very very very glad your stuff got caught -- accidentally though it was. I like having you around.
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User: threeoutside
Date: 2010-04-18 19:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sounds to me like you need Jeezuss in your life.

*ducks and runs*
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-19 11:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:: smites ::
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User: fledgist
Date: 2010-04-18 20:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Statistics are marvellous things. They tell such wondrous tales. The universe is not our friend, after all, and does not care what happens to us.
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LynnF: White Road Cover
User: otterdance
Date: 2010-04-18 21:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:White Road Cover
I swear these things run in cycles. My step-dad has spent the winter having operations on his colon, a spot on his lung, and needs some kind of radiation on his thyroid, all this discovered when he went to schedule a knee replacement.

Sorry you're in such a vortex. It can't last forever. Hope you are well and whole soon.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-04-19 11:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Most certainly enough. I can be superstitious, and I am sitting here sending you 'may things improve' thoughts.
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User: theturbonerd
Date: 2010-04-20 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All I can offer is my heartfelt support and a quote from BABYLON 5 that got me through some rough "why won't the universe quit crapping on me" times:

“Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us, come because actually deserve them? So now I take comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe”
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