Apparently, I can handle stage IV cancer, multiple back to back surgeries, bizarre drug interactions, and wondering, day by day, if I’m coming or going in this life. Yes, I am a hero, and a rock star, and an example to all.
Unless . . . someone cuts in front of me in line.
Here’s the story:
I finished my final round of Provenge on Thursday with my white blood cells now safely ensconced back in my body. Huge sigh of relief. Mission accomplished with no casualties.
Three weeks of not showering, not sweating, and being “bubble boy” were over. God’s grace and your kind prayers had carried me through. The catheter remained uninfected. I was full of gratitude.
Of course, there was still one thing left to do. To quote my doctor, “Get that damn thing out of you!”
Doing just that became the reason for my existence. I was a man on a mission. Being told that I would die a quick and messy death if I tried to do the extraction myself, I threw myself on the mercy of the medical community for the removal.
Then, a snag. My surgeon (the new one who saved me; not the previous one who put the infected catheter in me – God rest his soul), apparently doesn’t do this procedure except in the hospital operating room under general anesthesia.
Have I told you I don’t like hospitals – or operations – or pretty much anything medical anymore?
Intense negotiations ensued. While the details can’t be shared, I walked away becoming an “exception” to the rule. I am the son of a car salesman. That may have helped.
If I would agree to liquor up and “bite the bullet,” as the saying goes (so as to not scare the people in the waiting room with my screaming), my surgeon agreed to remove my heart catheter in his office, God love him.
One of the dear women at the front desk (who seemed quite shocked that this was going to happen) even promised to supply me with the liquor, so I was set!
Yesterday, I used the catheter for a final time, infusing some anti-cancer drug (whose name escapes me now) into me. Afterwards, I was to go across the hall to my surgeon’s office for the extraction (and the whiskey and bullet). Neat and tidy, huh?
By this point, you should know I had worked myself up into a frenzy of anticipation. I already had my line, “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God I am free at last!” Apologies to MLK.
But, unexpectedly, I was handed a note by Haley, who is half my height and runs my life as well as the cancer center. As she rushed off, she shouted, “Don’t kill me. I’m only the messenger!” A dark cloud replaced my brain and its ability to process life events.
I had been rescheduled. Someone required emergency surgery – for a life-threatening condition (OBS – look it up). My surgeon was bumping me to tend to him – without even asking my permission.
My extraction was now set for next Wednesday afternoon – a million days away. The cancer would kill me for sure by then. I would die with this thing in my chest. The crematorium would be the ones to remove it. How ignoble.
Understand, before me was the opportunity to put another human being and his needs in front of myself with love, understanding, and sacrifice. I could be like Jesus – let this man live even if I must die!
How did I do?
Not so well. To the point, I lost it. It wasn’t pretty. I scared people. People with cancer.
God said, “Really? Is that all you got?” It was.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick. – Proverbs 13:12
Apparently, it also makes my heart pissed (perhaps this is the same thing in Hebrew – I can’t remember). It was all about me. How unfair my life was. How everything goes down hard for me. How I can never catch a break. I collapsed in on myself in an ugly little pile.
“Why me?” unsurprisingly, was the theme of my grousing and the centerpiece of my pity party.
My mind then helpfully went to the worst case scenario. If I didn’t die first, while waiting for the extraction, the catheter would surely infect. I would be hospitalized, need emergency surgery to not die yet again, and we would all be singing, “second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.” I looked around for the stairs leading to the roof.
Afterwords, I had scared so many cancer patients (something about threatening to burn down the building – it’s hard to get out fast when you’re attached to a chemo pole), that I asked everyone to come forward so I could do the “Men in Black” amnesia thing on them. I really did.
They laughed nervously and kept looking at the exit that I was blocking. I went over to the surgeon’s office next, like Sherman marching through Georgia. The office manager ran into the back room when she saw me. She really did. Someone had called in a warning.
When I left, there were quiet whispers about hiring a security guard for the building – or arming the nurses.
Later, to let more people know how difficult my life is, I put up a pity post (cleverly disguised with some spirituality) on Facebook in a bid for sympathy. Some wise soul replied by writing me this:
“I know you’re disappointed,
but aren’t you glad it’s not YOU having emergency surgery today?”
Everything got suddenly quiet in my soul.
Hear my heart beat quiet.
You mean there are other people with needs in the world, also?
I am such a narcissist.
Ok, people. Nothing to see here.
It’s the little things for me.
The damn little things.
Thankful that God loves me and has mercy on my soul.
P.S. Some of you wonder why I trust in Christ alone for my eternal salvation. Now you know. Only the death of the Son of God could save me.