Posts Tagged ‘liver cancer’

I could never go through what you’re going through…”

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I’ve heard this comment from friends and family and even strangers for five years now and it always makes me uncomfortable. Something’s off with it; somehow the sentiment just doesn’t ring true.

Thanks to Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain – I’m carrying out my vow to re-read this magnificent and complicated book – I’m learning why the remark causes such unease. I think I understand how the words do not say what they are meant to say.

It’s meant to be a kindness, even a salute. “I don’t know how you do it! I couldn’t,” someone will say to those of us fighting chronic illness or life-or-death health battles. Our treatments, our pain, the unending doctor visits and hospitalizations – they seem unendurable, impossible to someone looking at it all from the healthy “outside”. (more…)

Three years and counting… count.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Today I sat in the courtyard by the Nurses’ building at UCSF talking to someone whose partner lay in a room above us on Nine Long, the liver transplant floor of Moffitt Hospital, waiting, suffering, hoping for a new liver that might save his life. The man I was talking to was distraught, grasping at hope as loved ones and caregivers do coping with such suffering. I offered what I could, listening and answering his questions. 

He asked a lot of questions. As his partner in that hospital room had said a few minutes earlier, meeting someone who has actually been through the craziness of a transplant is more helpful than reading medical abstracts. (I felt an immediate bond when he said that: one wonk can always recognize another.)

As I answered questions about my experiences I realized it wasn’t approximately three years ago when I learned about the cancer in my liver and my own quest for a transplant began: it was exactly three years. To the day. 

After we parted I walked to my car, secreted in a relatively unrestricted area near Golden Gate Park about 10 minutes away. I kept walking, right into the park and all the way to the AIDS Memorial Grove. I wasn’t planning to go there. The grove is a quiet area in a small glen filled with beautiful plants. It has been there long enough that the young redwoods can now be called trees.  

I took some pictures – my own solace and serenity these days – then returned to my car and came home.

I’ve been fretting about the economy and my diminishing place in it the last few days. Who isn’t? Listening to that troubled man… meeting his stuggling partner in the uncomfortable bed on Nine Long… in a hospital room I’ve been in myself… remembering that telling phone call three exact years ago…

Three years count so much more than numbers on a financial spreadsheet.

A funeral, and Dr. Cassandra makes the call(or: The beginning of my own annus horribilus.)

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Last night I went to my own funeral but just couldn’t hack it. I tried to be a good corpse – really, I did! – but the whole death-funeral-honor-thy-memory thing gives me the creeps so I snuck out of my coffin and bailed through the mortuary window. I did hesitate before bolting; I was worried I’d disappoint people. You know, wreck the last rites, ruin the opportunity to speak nice of the dead (God knows my friends and family have been waiting for the opportunity), wasting all that money on flowers and somber men in black suits, et cetera ad nauseum. But I just had to bolt.

I flashed one of those phony “So sorry!” grins to those who happened to see my escape, but the dearly beloved gathered didn’t look all that concerned. A lot of acted like they actually expected it. My rep, I guess. Nothing I do re: living and dying seems to surprise anyone anymore. So out the window I went and it was a relief. I never could abide a funeral. Want to do something nice for somebody? Do it while they’re alive. Otherwise, don’t bother me. I’m dead.

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Today is the anniversary of my latest death sentence, the third in a series. One year ago (more…)