Clean out your mouth this is not what it’s for
There’s still a bloodstain from the spill of the war
Pick up your sorrow this is not who we are
I won’t cry uncle having come so far
It’s alright, it’s alright
It’s just blood under the bridge
I’m too tired to fight
The affliction will be fixed
It’s alright, it’s alright
It’s just blood under the bridge
Put down the knife
And watch the blood under the bridge go by
So tie your ragged fuck ups in a neat little knot
And put it on the shelf behind the picture we bought
I’ve found a way to make the best of a flaw
And realize it’s not the end it’s an uncomfortable pause
Frightened Rabbit, “Blood Under the Bridge”
I have always been a morning person. I used to be one of those kids who was out of bed with the first alarm’s bell and into the shower. Nothing beats a morning shower. To wash all of the grime, dirt, and other tiny disasters that inevitably “muddied up” the day before. Mornings meant a restart. There was always a restart. It was either the next day, or the next school year, or the next move and cleansing of my identity. Another chance to be the new kid. There was always, always a fresh start of some kind. Until one day there wasn’t. One day I woke up and there was no escape.
I wrote before that I am becoming less bitter. About senior citizens complaining about ailments. About people with solvable problems who refuse to solve them; instead passively relying on the seeming foreverness of their future lives to come pull them out of their hole of self-created misery.
Oh yes, my friends, I am less bitter. But I am still far, far away from sweet.
I see so many people who are blatantly obese, ordering terrible things, living unhealthy lifestyles. And here I am- dying of fucking colon cancer. Because I didn’t eat enough vegetables as a kid? Because we picked up fast food too often as a family because it was convenient? I hear the bell and the chant, “SHAME. SHAME. SHAME.” I, and apparently tens of millions of other busy, middle aged working moms who aren’t dying of colon cancer right now deserve this.
There is no way to wash this off in the morning. It stays there now forever like a scarlet letter for the remainder of the time I have left.
I was always a morning person. And then I got cancer. And then I stopped working. Now I can’t seem to even get myself out of bed.
Surgery is one of those things that promises itself to you as a new start. If so, it is the most barbaric pathway to a new start I can think of. I am grateful for surgery, I WANT surgery because it relieves me from that ticking time clock that is the rapidly growing tumor in my abdomen. It relieves me, in the long term, from the consistent pain in my abdomen that has been growing for months.
But first, my friends, it must tear up and wreak havoc on everything helplessly surrounding the problem. If my torso is a metro map keeping my system healthy and running, I can tell you that right now it is full of warning signs in primary colors.
The signs warn of gridlock and construction everywhere. And the worst part is that the chief engineer isn’t even 100% sure yet that he actually gutted all of the bad stuff. Meanwhile, the hormone highway just put up a “closed forever” sign, leaving several stranded, confused, and angry travelers shouting and firing off in all directions.
For housekeeping purposes, here is my latest update: I am now 10 days post-surgery. They believe that they took out all of the mass, along with my right ovary. They pulled that all out and say that “it’s possible” that my left ovary came out with it, but probably not. They didn’t pursue further because my blood pressure kept dropping to the point that they had to give me two units of blood during surgery, and three additional units over the next 3 days post-surgery. So they sewed me up and stopped. I got to wake up with a breathing and NG tube and a set of wrist restraints to prevent me from pulling them out. If a person gaining consciousness’s first instinct is to yank them out, I will let your imagination decide for yourself what these felt like.
I will throw this experience in on growing pile in the corner of moments that I am collecting with this disease that literally have made me feel sub-human. I was not only not able to speak, but told that my attempts to write were interfering with a line in my right arm and told to stop. I did get at least the breathing tube out later that morning and then after 5-6 days in the hospital I made it home. A part of my incision wound broke open the day after dismissal and now requires my husband to pack and bandage it daily with hope that it will heal. Because of course it did.
I used to love mornings. I don’t love mornings any more. Sometime in the evening before, I will have sweated through my clothing and woken up wet. Sometime in the evening, my sheets got wet. Sometime in the evening I curled up into a cold, defensive sleep position that put all of the pressure on my hip and now my hip hurts. Sometime in the evening, my on-again, off again peripheral nueropothy woke up after my cold, clammy, hand emerges from being wrapped up in a wet, sweaty hoody all night. Or maybe the open wound that my husband is still packing after surgery came open and there is blood all over my underwear? Or maybe the supports for my wound shifted accidentally and put pressure on my ostomy bag causing that to break open as well?
I used to love mornings. I don’t love mornings any more. When I wake up in the morning now, my first thought is usually about pain or discomfort of some sort. My second thoughts are usually about cancer, and all that it, and multiple operations, have wrecked upon my body to keep it alive.
So maybe I don’t love mornings. Mornings are now the mud puddle that I must slosh through before deciding whether to step up and re-enter life. Even if it doesn’t get to be the perfect clean that it used to be. Even if I don’t get there until the afternoon. Something different has emerged. It is the haggard sort of clean that finally comes to a warrior after battle, who has somehow made it through and now boldly decides to enter into another day.
I will never again be as clean as I used to, but I am here. I will never be as young or free of pain, but things still get better, until of course again some day they won’t. The wounds from surgery will heal and the associqted pains from surgery will go down.
They will scan my body and then tell me again (hopefully) that I am better off now than before I went under. I will start to feel better and get back to chemo and hope, hope, hope that it is still working for me because I’m not ready to fade away and die just yet. I’m not yet ready to stop getting out of bed. Even if I feel older now than I think that I ever have before.