Two years ago today, I couldn't have been more enthusiastic about getting a CT scan. It wasn't a normal thing to get excited about, but these weren't normal days. The only thing that stood between me and finally an answer on what had been plaguing me for the last weeks (and months, really) would be this scan. I knew that the results would tell the story. I knew that the results would solve the mystery. And I felt like the results would bring me much closer to getting out of the hospital and returning to my regularly-scheduled life.
After much of the morning had passed, the resident on call came to my hospital room. He was fairly surprised to hear that I hadn't gotten my scan yet, and he dutifully checked my chart to confirm that it had been ordered yesterday. I assumed that residents were fairly surprised about a lot of things and refused to be annoyed at the delay and my perception that only Dr. Ramos actually got stuff done efficiently. Even though he wasn't Ramos, I liked this young guy. He was smart, articulate, and confident that I was going to be alright.
"It seems fairly clear to me that you don't actually need this scan. I bet it's food poisoning compounded by an ileus. But hey, we'll make the other doctors feel better and get it done."
I loved his enthusiasm and I quickly adopted his "let's just do this to appease the others" approach.
Soon, though, as I was resting in the CT scan machine cocoon, I let my mind consider the possibilities. What if this was a bowel perforation? What if it was worse?
The answer came quickly and just as sure as my next breath.
Nobody has a stronger will to live than you. Nobody will work harder to get well -- and survive -- more than you will. Just relax and take it as it comes.
I listened to that inner voice and resolved to never forget what I had just told myself. I knew that I would handle whatever challenge came my way. And in that moment, I felt abiding peace and overwhelming confidence in the fact that I would live, and that my life would continue to be incredible. It was a relief. Almost on cue, I released my held breath just as the automated CT scan woman's voice instructed.
Dr. Ramos entered my hospital room only about an hour after I finished my scan. He was not smiling.
"Well, we have an answer. You have an intestinal blockage. We're going to need to do a sigmoidoscopy."
Did we know what was the culprit for this blockage? No. Could it have been food or some strange poop? Possibly. Could it be a tumor? Possibly. Could the tumor actually be cancer? Maybe. We wouldn't know until the sigmoidoscopy (a procedure almost identical to a colonoscopy), which was going to take place in a couple of hours. Things were finally moving fast.
The sigmoidoscopy moved fast, too. After I was wheeled into the procedure room, the ever-so-sweet nurse reassured me that everything would be fine as she pushed the fentanyl and versed through my IV and into my bloodstream. She wasn't kidding. I knocked out immediately, feeling not entirely asleep but as relaxed and dreamlike in my perceptions as a human being could. I saw my colon on the big screen and marveled at it before closing my eyes again. And then, it was over. The doctor who had performed the procedure -- Dr. Sial -- was now holding my hand and saying something to me that I could not remember even as he said it. The nice tech who wheeled me back to my room took my hand earnestly and said "God bless you" before he left the room.
I raised my eyebrows as he left, realizing that "God bless you" meant something way, way more than just "God bless you."
I looked at my mom, dad, and Will. They were standing side by side, at the foot of my bed.
My mom, always my champion and an everlasting source of strength and support, was the one to speak.
"They found a tumor, and it's probably cancer."
I smiled. Immediately.
"Well, that just seals my political career. Who votes against a cancer survivor?! A real son of a bitch, that's who!"
We laughed. And for the first time, but certainly not the last, I laughed in the face of cancer. Surgery would soon follow, but I was ready.
Two years ago today, I found a wellspring of courage within myself that was just waiting to be tapped. Two years ago today, I knew that I had cancer but had no idea about the staging or the prognosis. Two years ago today, I was relieved that we finally had some answers and were working on a master plan. Two years ago today, I was calm, confident, and ready to triumph.
Two years ago today, I took a big, big step in my path of becoming WunderGlo.
Tune in tomorrow for more. I'll be writing "Two Years Ago Today" until my cancer anniversary, a day that I was not expected to live to see, September 19th, 2012.