Monday, January 28, 2013
What do you mean terminal? I feel fine, really
Back in late November, my wife and I did our usual Thanksgiving Day campout. Its quiet, the weather is still nice, a sort of end of the fall season camp trip. We had come back and the next morning I woke up at 4 am with an unusual pain in my abdomen. It was different from any other, and I laid there thinking what it was, what it wasn’t and then realized that it felt like a pancreatic attack I had had several years ago. OK, I said, that’s easy, alter the diet a bit, it will work out. So after a few days of going to a bland diet, the pain persisted. I needed to make contact with a new GI doc since my last one had left the plan I was in so I called the guy that the weight loss surgeon had recommended and well, had to wait a month for the first opening. Time goes on; the pain lessens but its still there. I meet the guy on a Monday, he does a blood test, and then the following week they send me in for a CT scan. That afternoon I am called to call the weight loss surgeon, so i do and he tells me they need to do a laparoscopic biopsy. They saw some lumps, bumps and spots I hear him say. So the next Monday I get such test. I awake and find a pain in my shoulder and I see the surgeon. He tells me matter of fact like Larry; I would strongly suggest you think of medical retirement, you have terminal pancreatic cancer. He also told me they placed a port in my shoulder for the chemo I may want to have done. Well I said, that wasn’t the news I was thinking I would hear. I figured they would have said something like worse case, I have colon cancer or some other treatable cancer. But no, the whole enchilada, pancreatic cancer. I had worried about that particular one ever since I had pancreatic attacks in the days when I was heavy. The next week, last week, I see the oncologist, a pancreatic cancer specialist, and he tells me, Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. No cure, just a way to extend my life. Four months without treatment, perhaps 12 with.
So now I and my wife ponder the end days for me. In some ways I guess I am lucky. My dad had a similar fate, a different cancer but the same time end point. He said that he was able to get his affairs in line, make the transition easier for his wife. Tie up all those nasty loose ends that so often require the survivor of the midnight heart attack to clean up alone. So I have started that path. Its not been without some fear. Facing death puts life in perspective. I did so with my daughter death 20 years ago, i guess I will see her again real soon. I will see the real God, and we will have a great time as we laugh at the silliness that people down here call religion. Ever since Ann’s death, me and God are tight. I spent years shaking my fist at him, and he did not strike me down. We reached a quiet understanding. He lives up there; he is for that home, not this one. He will see me at the next arrival as I bid my adieu here. I do not fear death.
I hope to cover the humor in it for I have always had the belief that you must take life with humor since its so serious to be taken any other way.
Hop on board, hang on tight and dont let your perceived sensibilities get in the way. I take no prisoners and there will be no sacred cows here.
This past week as I was thinking of it all, many thoughts are going through my head. That burst of white light people talk about, well, mine is super slo-mo. You all out there have an end point, but yours is like some star in the sky. You dont know how far, when or what. Me, I see mine like a horizon on a long road trip. mits there, just up ahead, just over the next hill. I ride toward it in a car marked pancreatic cancer. The odomoter is going backwards, its on mile 12, and the numbers are falling slowly towards zero.
Three things piss me off by it all however. One, Keith Richards and Willie Nelson, who so abused their bodies are much older than me and still alive. two, I looked forward to retirement, I loved seeing it in 3-1/2 years and lastly, I just bought myself a big boy toy, a large wood lathe. I was going to get to use my early retirement gift to myself for the next 3-1/2 years as I readied for that day. I got it in December. Dam, so little time, so many things to do. So as my super slo-mo life passes in my eyes, I do get to settle things, make the next step for my wife as easy as I can. I often joked how I was always worth more dead than alive. But hell, I didnt mean to let her see how much.