Friday, February 24, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0092 - Stuck in Neutral

My friend wrote today suggesting that I was stuck in neutral right now as I await surgery and post-surgical chemotherapy.

I think he's right. It's something like the waiting I had to do before the definitive diagnosis. In mid-December, I had already done a lot of research and had a pretty good grasp of what my medical scenario would be...but we had to wait for the medical board to meet and confirm the treatment protocol. My mind was racing, but the surgical oncologist's executive assistant was recommending that I put my brain in neutral.

Now, it's just a description of where I am. The only evidence of progress is the daily incremental improvement in my overall fatigue. I can look forward to each new day being better than the day before.

Evidence of that improvement is being able to go back to on-site work at Pano Cap. Yesterday, I was able to put in about 4 hours, today about 5 hours. Starting Monday, I hope to be on-site 8 hours a day.

Even so, there are moments when I realize how tough things will be. Financially, although I have decent weekly indemnity, I confirmed that my income will be substantially reduced - 66% of my regular pay. Unfortunately, there is also a ceiling in the plan for weekly indemnity which is quite a bit less than the 66% figure. Yes, I can use sick days and vacation days to top the WI off. Then, when I feel ready to do some part-time work, the maximum will be 85% of my regular salary. The weekly indemnity will be reduced by the same number of hours I am able to do off-site work from my home or even on-site work.

All of this makes sense, but it struck home today. Sure, I won't be spending much money while recovering from surgery. And yes, we'll do alright financially, but I won't be contributing much to the bottom line for our family. I'll be a physical burden and a modest financial contributor.

I know, I know. It's cancer man! In fact, one person who was answering questions about the group benefits plan asked our HR person if I had any idea just how hard the surgery and subsequent treatment will be on me. I've read the stories, but never having experienced major surgery before, it still seems abstract.

It's a balancing act. One person who linked to my post on Cancer Casualties actually helped me find that balance today. Robert wrote, "What is hope without sadness that gives it legs to run wild through your soul?" The context then was sadness for my aunt's loss and hope for myself. Today, it is an appreciation for the seriousness of the struggles my family will face coupled with a confirmation of all the resources I bring to the surgical table.

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