When we last spoke, I was about to head into the hospital for laparoscopic surgery on my right kidney. It was a modern day update of the old nursery rhyme:
Because she was trying to fit into smaller jeans, Poppy did hundreds of crunches.I went into the hospital last Thursday at 11:00 in the morning, and went into the operating room at 12:30, floating on a white cloud of twilight sleep, with nary a care in the world. After two days, (the first of which was rather uncomfortable, the second much less so) I left the hospital. My insurance would have covered a third day, and if it hadn't been for my surgeon's dire warnings to escape the hospital's germiness as quickly as possible, I'd have hung out longer, basking in the attentions of the nursing staff and a seemingly limitless supply of red Jell-O.
Because of the hundreds of crunches, she developed lower abdominal pain.
Because of the pain, she got a CT scan.
Because of the CT scan, they discovered a mass.
Because of the mass, she had surgery.
Because of the surgery, she kicked cancer's ass.
I mean, what wasn't to like? I had had a perfectly lovely time with twilight sleep and general anesthesia. I remembered my nurses' names and everything everyone told me to do. I had two new audiobooks on my iPhone.
I also had two completely delightful new hardcovers to dive into: Jen Lancaster's latest novel, Here I Go Again, and Simon Doonan's Gay Men Don't Get Fat. My bed was comfortable, and I could adjust it to suit me and my incisions. The room was small, but exquisitely clean and decked with masses of flowers.
Most importantly (and this is key) nobody's emotional well-being or self-esteem would be affected by anything I'd say or do. The nurses and doctors and orderlies didn't mind that I was there; it didn't hurt them at their hearts to see me stretched out on a hospital bed. I didn't have to be brave for them or console them or act all siff-upper-lippy. Really, it was lovely. All I had to do was lie in bed, eat and drink, read my books, and fill up my Foley bag. (Catheter, to the uninitiated.) And I was up to the task.
But I went home a day early. To a much less tidy room and a dearth of red Jell-O.
Currently, I'm spending a lot of time propped up in bed so as to adequately communicate the message that I'm not, at present, the go-to person for clean blue jeans or hairdo assistance or homework help or really, much of anything at all.
Here's the thing. I have limited theatrical experience, but I realize with teenagers and husbands, it is all about the staging. If this means that I move around normally after everyone leaves, and only start reclining in bed when my children and husband reappear on the scene, so be it. If it means that I continue to wear pajamas and bathrobes long after I can get back into my clothes, so be it. I have to communicate the message that this is the time to be kind to one's mother or the wife of one's bosom.
So yeah, I'm acting a little drama queeny. Let this be our little secret, internet.
OK, then. Now for my surgeon's report. They removed a 2 cm tumor from my right kidney. Apparently, my surgery was a model of deft, elegant minimalism. The tumor was removed in its entirety, with a nice clean margin all around it, indicating that They Got It All.
When art historians start blathering about "negative space," is this what they mean? (Don't answer that--my pain meds are starting to kick in. If you couldn't tell.)
Anyway, the survival rate for very small, encapsulated tumors like mine is about 99 percent. My surgeon tells me that there's a pretty good chance that I'll live for another 50 years. (OK, I think he was flattering me, or maybe my colorist is doing an even better job than I thought. I don't really think it's reasonable to suppose that I'll still be here when I'm 106 years old. I'm thinking of sticking around for another 40, and even that's pushing it.)
In the meantime, I'm starting to think of myself as Poppy Buxom, Cancer Survivor! With all the kick-assery that that entails.