Triskaidekaphobia—13 Days Left


In a mere thirteen days, someone will slice into my slightly soft middle-aged abdomen and attempt to extract the part of my body that’s trying to kill me.

Actually the actual part isn’t the real culprit. Over the years, it’s largely done its job just fine. The cancer cells inhabiting it are the culprits. And they are seriously pissing me off.

Nine years ago, we detected and fought back their first assault. The key weapon in that battle was a flesh-searing relativistic particle cannon that fired gamma rays into me at over 99% of the speed of light. Three tattooed dots on my midsection aligned the laser sights of the weapon to direct it to the intended target. Every day for eight weeks, I laid in a lead-lined room behind a three-foot thick door. A technician schooled in the arcane usage of the LINAC cannon retreated to her control booth and delivered the onslaught. Ironically, in the understated world of medical parlance, we called this radioactive violence ‘therapy’.

Photons in the X-ray and Gamma spectrum carry enough energy to ionize atoms and disrupt molecular bonds. In the human body, these treatments damage healthy tissue as well. That’s why x-ray technicians wear a dosimeter badge that helps them avoid excessive exposure to harmful radiation. They don’t give those badges to cancer patients, for obvious reasons. You don’t really want to know anyway. This risk is well understood and in the fight of your life it’s typically an acceptable trade-off. Some scar tissue is a small price to pay for being not dead. With crossed fingers, we watched the tests and five years later, quietly breathed, “Cured.”

Except that a few of those cancer cells survived that conflict, and have been surreptitiously gathering force for another onslaught against me. We’ve detected their insidious presence, and we are now taking the fight to them. In person, and with a knife. There are only about three places in the country that are qualified to do this procedure. You see, it’s a tricky one. I’ve never had surgery before, but I’m about to now.

Those battle scars I mentioned earlier pose some problems that make this a tricky procedure. Delicate techniques and tools are essential to surgical success and quality of life afterwards. I know that my surgeon is eminently qualified to do this work. He has extensive experience, and is a pioneer in his field. I believe I could not be in better hands, and I’m grateful for his gifts and hard work achieving those skills.

But I’m still scared. Scarred and scared—both physically and emotionally. In my shoes, I think any sane person would be afraid. Sometimes, I wonder if there is a little demon in our brain that conjures up ‘what-if’ scenarios. It has a dark and sinister imagination. He can be defeated with the twin tools of reason and information. And most of the time, that works fine, but the little bastard works nights. Usually he shows up at my place during the 1:00AM to 4:00AM shift, when Reason and Logic are trying to get some shut-eye. Stupid demon.

So for thirteen days (and nights) I’ll press on, and rally my troops for the battle to come. The one that will win the war.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” Thanks, Eleanor. This is a valuable sentiment and I like it, but it’s a wee bit wordy.

Internet, what else you got?
John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

Yippee-ki-yay.


Dearest readers, many thanks for your attention, indulgence, and support on my journey. Let’s do this.

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