Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some people live under the gun, i live under the knife

There's a problem that runs in my family. People have a tendency to like to be sick, or a need to go into surgery, or something like that. I read up on this a while back ago... about how a lot of people feel the need for surgery as a way of getting attention, sympathy, etc. I didn't even tell most of my friends i was getting surgery. The story goes, my parents came home while i was in the hospital and my roommate didn't even know why they were there... this is why you should read e-mails from your friends... on occasion they have important information... I also hate sympathy, doctors treat me a lot like I'm glass... I hate being hugged. I mean arbitrary hugs... hugs where people just walk through the motions... or worse expect me to. There's very few people i hug with meaning... saying goodbye, or to maybe someone i love I'll hug tightly out of fear it'll be the last chance I'll have to do so. Basically the point is i don't like the attention... Nor am i particular fan to pain... and I really don't like painkillers... most don't work for me... vicadin makes me puke... codeine has no effect... I'm not doing it for the high.

So why all the fuss about "another surgery"? Didn't I say recently that I got my first clean bill of health? (if i didn't, i apologize... i did get a clean bill of health for the first time in 4 years)... no, now I'm trying to fix all the things that got broken. December 10th will be my 4th surgery. This time around it is to fix my tear duct... or to be more precise, my tear drain. I have watery eyes. Not just a little watery... but rather the kind of watery where I'll be doing absolutely nothing and a tear will just slide down my face. Its mainly my right eye... though the left wells up in the cold from time to time. It started in Feb. 2006. I got it checked out... they said it was from wearing my contacts too much and it was just a case of dry eye. Yes, dry watery eyes. The way the explained it was that certain glands dried up from my contacts and they had enzymes that moisten the eye, so the eye thought it was dry no matter how wet it got. so they had me microwave a sock full of rice and put it on my eyes for 10 minutes twice a day. I wish I were joking.

The annoying issues came first. Constantly being in a state of tears is a little overwhelming. And oh the people who try to hug you, ask if everything is ok... But nothing is wrong... of course after a while you can use it to hide when you might actually be tearing up. For me the hard part is the fact that I'm a law student. I stand up and i talk, and argue, and do things in front of people all the time. When i get nervous, you better believe the tears well up. Nothing is worse being mid competition or a job interview with tears running down your face.

And they aren't real tears. I've done my fair share of crying over the past few years, and I've found that when i really cry, my tears are saltier. This is just water coming out with only a hint of salt.

The second issue, the far more serious issue, are the physical effects. In the past year the tears got to the point of not just being a moist eye but being full blown tears that roll down your cheeks all the time. You are always touching your eyes. They get minor infections. Eyes get crusty at night, sort of mucousy for a week... i can't tell you how many times i went to the doctor thinking i had pink eye. And then my contacts started getting blurry, and fall out a lot... which is annoying and a health issue. So i decided something needed done.

By this point I had heard that a lot of people who get I-131 treatment have problems w/ their tear ducts. And my doctor recommended me to someone deals with this kind of case regularly.

I got poked and prodded. They actually stuck needles in my eyes (like that rhyme... cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye-- I'm so using this on my kids... and tell them i lied once and got 3 needles in the eyes)... ok so they weren't exactly needles... they were syringe needles... and it wasn't exactly my eye... but the little tear ducts in the corners... they stuck the needle in the hole in tried to inject them with water. this is easily the most weird feeling on the planet... and even worse when you feel the liquid go in, get blocked, and spurt out again... that's just weird.

And so now... yet another surgery. heh... and another scar. They'll make an incision under my eye and stick in a new drainage tube between my tear duct and nose... which they'll have to break some bone to do. i can only hope that this works... I feel a lot like I'm working on picking up the pieces left over from being sick, and trying to stick them all back in place again... stopping the tears would be surprisingly big.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What would you Do????

Today I jumped onto Craigs List to peruse the missed connections ads... one caught my eye... "what would you do???" It was about a 23 year old kid diagnosed with cancer (no big details like which kind or anything) but it boiled down to he only had 8-12 months left to live, too late for treatment, just wanted to know top 5 things people would recommend to do.

Christ, even with "just" thyroid cancer we've all gone through our own lists... whether its because we have a stereotypical new view on life to live it to its fullest... or because we really think we might not have more time...

When I was first diagnosed I was sure I wouldn't live to see my 23rd birthday. (I was diagnosed just towards the end of being 21, first surgery just before 22... I'm sure eventually I'll get through the whole story... just not yet) What I will tell you is that I've hit every branch on the things that go wrong tree, except the two big ones.... the ones no one talks about... 1) what if it spreads to my lungs and bones? 2) what if the radiation was too much, or my body couldn't take it... and i end up with leukemia? (yes, that's why they limit how much radiation you can get) and so its a lot of what ifing. And a lot of time questioning if you ought to have died... if you cheat death... Questioning what would happen if you stopped taking your pills? How long could you live? Is taking the pills in essence living on borrowed time? Its all pretty morbid... and I'm pretty sure it probably takes its toll. A lot of worry, a lot of planning... etc... Anyway, this here was my response to the kid:

As great as it is to ask for top 5 lists, you really have to figure out the one thing that makes you happiest, which really isn't anything anyone can tell you. I got diagnosed w/ the cancer at 21, two recurrences, I'm 25 now... Unlike you, I've had an excessively stupid amount of time to think about all of this... but from the "what if" perspective. This is what I've come up with...

For me, personally, traveling is my favorite thing to do, i would leave, I've got my route already mapped out, i would sell everything i have and leave, I'd let people know dates I was going to be for most of the trip if they wanted to see me, and i would push it till i couldn't push it any further... and i would dive... I'm a scuba diver... its my passion.... and keep a blog about all of it for everyone else

After my second diagnosis i jumped out of a plane... i do recommend that... its the only time being sick where the feeling of helplessness is exciting

and, as morbid as it sounds, take one day, and preplan what you want done. For me it was to create a slide show and music for my funeral, stuck in an envelope put somewhere where it can be found... its not worth dwelling over more than one day.

And here in Pittsburgh, i would take all my friends for a round of bar golf on the south side, w/ the hopes of ending up at the west end overlook to scale the railing and sit out on the rocks w/ a bottle of wine and sunrise.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I have no feeling on the left side under my chin... going down from there i feel only tingles into my upper chest and shoulder....

I wish i could say that the only numbness i felt was physical... but I have stopped feeling a lot of things. When I was first diagnosed, my surgeon (*note not doctor) was worried that I didn't cry. She thought I probably needed a drink and to watch the saddest movie I could think of. It's unnatural to not cry over cancer... surgery... and radiation... particularly the first round...

4 years later and my indifference towards things has only expanded into my non health life... be it my indifference to school... or even love... the last few weeks had been crap... then last week was awesome... lots of great stuff happened... and i had no reaction... null... i even got back the results that said it looks like no more cancer... instead of happiness... i felt cautious.... caution with everything... I have a problem: I don't think that I can really feel happy about anything... b/c it never seems to last... hard to explain... but you know... 4 years... keep being told its ok... but then not... it has its effects