Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Hell of an Imposition.

"This is a hell of an imposition," Rick said as he got out of bed this morning. "Cancer is a hell of an imposition."
I could not agree more.
We are in the pre-op area of Swedish, waiting, waiting, waiting. Rick's blood has been taken, and his EKG has been faxed over from our clinic on the Island. Now we wait.
When I took my netbook out, the nurse who was doing the intake on Rick asked, "Is that a computer?" Well, yeah, it is, sorta. A teeny, tiny limited use computer. The only computer I have at the moment.
It keeps flicking from this blog page to the desktop for some reason. "Dammit," I say.
"That's the kind of computer talk I'm familiar with," Rick says.
He is all decked out in hospital garb - jammy bottoms, open back gown, and then a robe to to it off. All in all quite decent, the height of hospital haute couture.
Nearby a small child is crying and screaming. Children have not learned how to "be brave" and be quiet and stoic while their bodies are being intruded upon.
It reminds Rick of getting shots before going overseas when his dad was in the military. Children were running down the hall screaming; the medical techs would slap you and tell you to shut up.
Gosh, sometimes I don't get nostalgic at all for the 1950s. He says it was much nicer when they went off base to a family doctor. Not the hysterical mob scene.
Ten after two. Surgery is scheduled for three. we wait. I'll add more later.

Later that same evening: The Dead Tumor Sketch
Greetings from room 218 SW, at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. I'll spare you the drama: the surgery went very well. Dr. Lilly, the urologist, said he got all of the tumor, and managed to do it without perforating the wall of the bladder, which would have been bad. He also took some biopsies of other parts of the bladder to see if anything else is hiding out there. He's coming by in the morning to see Rick, and if all is well Rick may go home tomorrow. No word at this time on malignancy or not. Stay tuned.
All we know is that the tumor is gone, dead, perished, gone to join the heavenly choir eternal. It is an un-tumor. It is no more. It is bleeding deceased
Rick is joyfully eating fish and chips, a salad, a Pepsi, and coffee. Joyfully because it's the first food he's had for 24 hours. I am having trail mix I purchased on the way in to the hospital.
It has been a long day. We're going to kick back and watch "Bones" on the hospital TV now. All is as well with Rick as it could be, he's having dinner and he's on pain meds. Life is good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Tabletop Diary

The tabletop diary's last two entries are terse:
“April 28, '09, Tuesday (2)
Fed the dog.”
“April 29, '09, Wednesday (1)
Fed the dog.”

These are Rick's notations of what is absolutely necessary: the date, the information that I don't need to feed the dog because he already did, and the number of days until he goes to the hospital.
The diary is an artist's sketchbook that we keep on the kitchen table in order to communicate with one another and note items of interest, such as whether the dog has been fed or how many days until surgery. We've filled up several sketchbooks over the years, and I put them away in a filing cabinet. There they sit, records of our everyday ephemera, and sometimes the not so ephemeral, like surgery.
When I am out of town, Rick writes much longer entries, detailing the weather, his work, and his thoughts.
I was going to quote something he wrote, but then I thought I should ask him how he feels about something he wrote going onto a blog. As I may have said already, I'm hoping to get him to contribute to this blog, because my writing about him only tells my version of his story, and you and I would prefer to hear from him.
Last night we had a call from Michael Shapiro, who had bladder cancer in 2001. His call gave Rick some information and the benefit of Mike's experience, and was encouraging to both of us. Thanks, Mike. He is a talented photographer, by the way. You can view his work at:
He is Michael A. Shapiro, by the way.
So, today Rick's at work, natch. It's a bright overcast spring day. I'm thinking of taking some things to the dump and to Granny's. Visiting my cousin Nancy's house, which is staged to sell, was inspiring. Everywhere you look, clean, clear surfaces. Of course if you're living in a house, not selling it, you don't have to go to those extremes, but I'm on a downsizing-decluttering toot, not that you could notice if you walked in here for the first time.
So that's today's report. So far.
PS: several of you have responded and I've been reading your emails to Rick. Thank you! He is so happy to hear from you.
We're enjoying other theories of what the bladder tumor is. My favorite so far is John McClure's suggestion that maybe it's part of Jimmy Hoffa.
Rick is off work for the day and is eating as much as possible because he won't be able to eat anything before the surgery tomorrow.
Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The First Entry

It's Tuesday, the 28th of April, 2009.
On Thursday my husband Rick will go in to Swedish Hospital - well, I'll drive him in - and there Dr. Lilly the urologist will perform a trans urethral resection to remove a tumor in Rick's bladder.
We're all pretty sure it's cancer; perhaps it is not. No one has actually seen it yet in person. We've only seen a thumb-sized lump attached to the interior of his bladder on an ultrasound. Perhaps it is a thumb, the single vestige of Rick's undeveloped twin.
Sorry. I've been watching too many episodes of "House."
Whatever it is, its days are numbered. On Thursday it will be removed and inspected, and after that perhaps we'll learn where we stand. There may be, the doc says, "a bigger problem." There may be chemo and radiation.
If Rick loses his hair it will be the first time I've ever seen him without a mustache, of which he says: "I always wanted to grow one, so I did. And then I didn't want to shave it off, so I didn't."
We are hoping that it doesn't come to chemo - we're hoping that surgery does the trick.
Anyway, I thought I'd start this small blog and only tell a few people who might be interested in Rick's progress.
His spirits are as good as they might be under the circumstances, and mostly he feels ok physically. Mostly.
It's pretty presumptuous for me to write about Rick's experience; I sure won't be experiencing it the way he does, and I hope to get his input for this blog.
Stay tuned.