Some things I've learned today accumulate into what I guess is a new reality, a new baseline by which I will set my expectations for days in the future.
Blood clots take a very, very long time to dissipate safely and successfully. It won't be a matter of hours, days, or even weeks. It will be a matter of months for the blood-clot-induced swelling of my left leg to dissipate. This means some major changes for me, including a walker to move everywhere until I can manage to get back to just a cane or just my own two legs. It may mean a home wheel chair as well as additional equipment and process changes at home to manage my home care. One thing it definitely means is daily or twice daily home care visits to inject me with anti-coagulants for the rest of my life. Blood clots and bleeding will be a major focus from now on.
Cancer might not be the thing that gets me. It could be a heart attack or pulmonary embolii that choke me to death. This realization lends an added worry and urgency to my medical care and the way my wife and I will deal with subsequent medical crises. No more will I delay trips to the emergency ward.
I can and will get my chemotherapy administered directly in my hospital bed this coming Friday and then be discharged by the end of the day to go home. It's important to recommence chemotherapy if I want to sustain any hope for holding MCRC at bay. There are a lot of monsters out there, but I'm getting good at using my incredible newly patented monster shrinking spray can on them. As long as I can keep them coming at me one-at-a-time, this seems like a reasonable strategy.
Framily continue to provide the spiritual nutrition I need. Phone calls (when the hospital believes I've actually paid my phone bills), email, Facebook comments, notes, inbox items, even Christmas ornaments remind me of the love that's out there waiting to be received. And unanticipated visits from colleagues and one of the hospital's spiritual counsellors rejuvenate me, just as the expected ones from my wife and sons energize me. Even when I think I'm physically in too rough shape to tell people to visit, when they arrive on the doorstep, I manage sufficiently well to enjoy the gesture and the company.
I may not need the comforts of religious language, but I can certainly appreciate how such language provides others with a means of sharing their love and concern directly and succintly. Communication is by nature a messy and problematic way of conveying and receiving messages, especially when we are talking about emotional realities. I think I'm getting better at the receiving end, finding the essence in what is conveyed to me in language which I can no longer use with integrity but which still provides a bedrock and structure for those ministering to me.
Finally, oncology is a huge medical reality. Over the past couple days I've met other oncology patients, nurses, and doctors, overheard stories of cancer diagnoses, and become attuned to what others are suffering or ways in which they have chosen oncology to help other people. Each person has a story. We cannot tell other people's stories effectively, but we can incorporate them into our own journey, sharing the comedy and tragedy as appropriately as possible.