|image from rehabstudents.com|
With reluctance, I’ve become rather expert in being a surgical patient. Although I consider myself the picture of health (hello, I’m a triathlete!), in the past 10 months I’ve “gone under the knife” on three occasions – and not a single operation was cosmetic. Allow me to share some information I’ve gleaned from my experiences.
A is for Anaesthesia - I don’t know how you feel or respond to pharmaceutical medicines, but they just don’t agree with me. I generally get incredibly nauseous, usually vomit and take hours to recover my faculties after being put under with general anaesthesia. Each time I encounter a well intentioned anaesthesiologist, I indulge them as they describe their remarkable ability to “give me something for that” when I explain my body’s aversion to narcotics. During my surgical adventures in these past months, I’ve learned that advocating for myself using the words “local anaesthesia, please” works wonders, and I have dramatically decreased my discomfort level following a surgical procedure. It may not work for everyone, but I am huge fan of less being more when it comes to (pharmaceutical) drugs.
B is for Benign - This is absolutely the news you want to hear when you receive the results of your biopsy. While only (only? really?) 2 of my 3 surgeries this year involved having tissue removed from my body and being tested to determine cellular composition, I am very pleased to share that last week’s neck dissection resulted, for the first time ever, with a benign finding. I honestly believe that the third time was the charm and my “necklace” of scars is now complete.
C is for Cancer - Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is frightening. Actually it is incredibly frightening – who am I kidding? I have a dear friend who was unable to even use the word cancer when I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer about 10 years ago, insisting instead on calling it the “C word.” Ok, we all know what the “C word” really is, and I always felt that whispering cancer instead of speaking about it in a normal tone, gave far too much power to some renegade (potentially Palin-esque) cells. No, thanks, I’d prefer a discussion to denial any day of the week. C can also be for conversation. The worst thing by far, in my experience, is the discomfort friends and acquaintances have demonstrated with regards to talking about my health challenges. I understand that everyone is unique in the way they experience trials, but I much prefer dialogue to dismissal. Which I suppose would be letter D, but since I’m officially (says me) done with cancer, let’s just finish with the fact C is also for conclusion and cease and culmination and closure and completion and …..