So, at my follow up appointment for my surgery, my doctor confirmed that I had been harboring renal cell carcinoma in a growth located on top of my left kidney. The solid mass growth was removed surgically and was caught early enough that the cancer had not spread to any of the kidney itself.
It is the best possible outcome for this surgery. The cancer was contained and excised. Yearly scans of the area is the extent of my follow up treatment. The hard part of all this has been recovering from the trauma of being sliced open. Like the truck above, my life has been flipped upside down.
The last time I had major surgery was in 1982 and I was 22 years old and a junior in college. I had my gallbladder removed, at a time when that procedure required a long hospital stay and being gutted like a fish. But after a few days in the hospital, I was ready to go. I jumped on a Greyhound bus for the 8 hour trip home and spent my time celebrating winter break with my friends (and pretending to study for the missed finals that awaited me upon my return to campus.)
Recuperation in my late 50’s has been a little different. I’ve had no appetite and many of my favorite foods made me nauseous. I spent three weeks hobbling between a recliner in the living room and the closest bathroom–never sure if the spigots would be open or closed, if you get my drift. I had to keep track of my sleep schedule too–it’s hard work making sure to get my seemingly requisite 18 hours of sleep a day.
Prior to my surgery, I had put aside several books that I was finally going to have time to read. That was before I realized that reading required several things totally beyond my reduced abilities–like holding the book, turning pages and the mental tenacity to interpret what I was reading. It was so much easier to just fire up M*A*S*H reruns and the endless marathons of the History Channel’s American Pickers on my iPad.
As I’m writing this, it has been a month since my surgery. I am back to work and starting to feel marginally human again. Last night I mowed the jungle that my lawn had become and only required four rest breaks! I’m walking more, but I’m exceedingly slow. I’m trying to build up my stamina so I can participate in an event that I help organize each year–the March for Disability Rights that caps the end of the local celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in late July. I am one of the folks rocking the megaphone and I would hate to be sidelined.
It looks like I will start to feel normal again. I wouldn’t have made it without the patience, help and love of my wife and our three doggies.