Saturday, January 21, 2006
In the months following my cancer surgery, I woke up -- very slowly -- to the fact that my tedious drama had come to an end. The credits had rolled and the screen was now dark. I was a newborn bird emerging from its shell, a baby plant uncurling through the dirt towards the sun. Looking back now, I think that the week we spent convinced that my cancer had spread burned the armor off me. The anxiety, the intensity ... The armor had turned to cinders. Once it crumbled away, my entire system finally really was free to arrange itself in the way that it had always craved. My life -- my life as myself -- was finally able to begin.And now, five years later, there are no signs of its recurrence. Surely a cause for celebration!
He also writes about the surgery he underwent, and his recollection of anaesthesia connected with my own anxiety on the subject:
You go under, and then you surface. What becomes of you in between those two events? Going under isn't like going to sleep, and coming out isn't like waking up. With sleep, you're unconscious but aware of yourself. When you awaken, you know that time has passed; you've been unconscious, but you've never lost track of yourself. Under anaesthesia, it's different. It's like your life skips a track. Something goes missing. A section of time has been removed. What became of you during that absence? What does it mean that time, and that "you," can be chemically erased?Our own five year old's life (and therefore ours too) may soon skip a track: she's been diagnosed with fluid behind the ears resulting in significant hearing loss. We're doing a course of antibiotics in a last-ditch effort (the success rate is less than 5%) to make ear-tube surgery unnecessary. Even though I know that this type of surgery is very safe, parental anxiety about putting one's child under looms. Having this much distress associated with such a routine medical complaint, I can well believe that a life-threatening crisis has the capacity to burn armor.
When my son went thru this a couple of decades ago, they used a broad-spectrum antibiotic and wiped out the friendly bacteria in his gut. The result was major digestive problems. I expect that they are using something subtler now, but ask the doctor about the adviseability of active-culture yoghurt to avoid such an issue.
Best wishes for a positive outcome.
Thanks for the advice. We will be vigilant.
I don't know whether it's just wishful thinking but it seems to us her hearing has improved already.
For what it's worth, I was born with a cleft palate and lip; subsequent reconstructive surgery destroyed my eustachian tubes, leading to chronic ear infections. Long story short, I had appx 15 sets of tubes in my childhood, I remember the last 4-5 procedures, and it wasn't a big deal. I bet the kiddo does great, but will pray regardless.