A Doctor’s Musings on His Terminal Illness

Just want to share this NYTimes article, How Long Have I Got Left?, because it is so beautifully written and insightful. My favorite quote is:

“I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

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Come Blog About Death

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/03/26/175383540/why-more-patients-should-blog-about-illness-and-death?ft=1&f=1001

I kind of want to say “Duh” to this article, but I know that there are a lot of people out there who have terminal illnesses who probably don’t think at all about writing. And that makes sense… because having a terminal illness gives you way more important stuff to think about.

But, for me, writing is and always has been therapeutic, so it’s awesome to see it validated by NPR, even if it’s just anecdotal for now (get on it, researchers).

Speaking of writing, my weekly happy for this week was going through old school papers in my bedroom at my parents’ house. They recently painted so all of my things were in boxes and I had to decide what to keep and what to throw away. I wrote many stories in high school and college, but I haven’t written regularly in a while. Reading old stories made me surprised at how eloquent I was and inspired to write more.

Last week, I sat in a cafe and churned out a couple paragraphs of creative writing. It felt awesome and I realized how much I missed it. Unfortunately, I also realized how bad I was at plot. I can do expository ’til the cows come home but putting together a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end is really hard for me. Something to work on in my spare time, which I have a lot of now that I’m unemployed.

I leave you with the first paragraph of the story I wrote last week, inspired by a guy I saw out the window of a bus:

Karl bashed a cigarette butt against the stone sidewalk of 16th Street with the heel of his worn sneaker. Crowds of tourists wandered past, lost on their quest for the White House. Though Karl knew the damned thing was just two blocks away, he didn’t dare speak to these cheerful families lest they try to start up a conversation about the beauty of the capital in springtime.

Survival of the Nipplest

I just got home from a follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon. Last Tuesday, she grafted my left nipple into place and today, after dramatically removing the dressings that have been on the whole week, she said, “It’s pink!” and that she was optimistic that the graft would take, though she can’t say for certain just yet that it will. I am feeling good – after all the devastation after my mastectomy with my skin that wasn’t surviving, it’s nice to have some hope that my chest will have a beautiful future. Also, my port is OUT and the scar from its insertion has been cleaned up and looks fantastic. Low-cut shirts, here I come!

Coincidentally, I also received a note from my insurance company today that they will not cover the hyperbaric oxygen treatments I received back when we were trying to save that dying skin. I guess it’s true what they say, just in reverse: when one door opens, another door closes.

In other, extremely exciting news, MY HAIR IS GROWING BACK! You can see a bit of fuzz in this picture, but this was about two weeks ago and now there is quite a bit more hair on my head. I have a defined hairline, and it’s getting darker and longer almost daily (at least that’s what everyone tells me). Eyebrows are pretty much kaput, though, but I’ll take what I can get. More pictures will be forthcoming (as soon as I can locate the USB cord for my camera).

Finally, I wanted to share yet another article inspired by the movie 50/50 – have you seen it yet? It’s about comedy and cancer, and while it jumps around quite a bit (I had a hard time following it, but that might be because I had one of my fave TV shows Hoarders on in the background) it’s a worthwhile read.