To Begin Again

In a few days I’ll be back in the city visiting the dermatologist who biopsied my skin in May and June and located five skin cancer sites. I’m going to begin the next round of the searching and, if found, surgical removal of basal carcinoma, squamous carcinoma, or malignant melanoma. I wasn’t nervous at all in May … I was just following up on a long-standing recommendation from the nurses in Bethesda, who saw suspicious sites and wanted them removed.I had never, in my sixty-two years, had surgical sutures.  I had never had to have them removed. I had never had open wounds from surgery that were closed a few days afterwards when pathology reports came back with ‘clear margins.’

But during the months that followed those biopsies, I had eight surgeries requiring many sutures that left their mark in the way of scars: some as short as two inches and others as long as more than eight inches. Those surgeries were done carefully and competently by the skin surgeon, and the sutures were removed as adeptly by the surgical assistant three weeks after each closing. These visits, and the home wound care between them, consumed the entire summer ~ which isn’t a season I would have otherwise enjoyed. It did make the months pass quickly. And now it is fall, and time to return to the seeker and look for more suspicious sites. The dermatologist has a very good eye – he did not biopsy every suspicious site; some he chose to treat with cryosurgery, freezing the site with a stinging spray that healed gradually over a few weeks. There were seven of those sites, and all but one are totally erased without scarring. I’ll have him look at the one that remains. The five sites he did biopsy all came back positive for one type of cancer or another.

I’m not really nervous about seeing him this time, either. I’ve been through eight surgeries, and seven freezings, and more than scores of sutures and their removals. What more can happen? My lymph nodes have not yet been involved, which is a very positive thing in skin surgery. I have no reason to believe that they will be this time around, either, as there is no outward evidence, no obvious lumps or tender areas.  If he finds more, they will be removed, and that removal may consume weeks of fall weather. And then, come winter, we will begin it all again. And in the spring, yet again.

And the MS and Depression? Life is like my CD player, the one that I have in the parlor that holds three CDs at a time, and rotates between them to play the one chosen. Sometimes it skips, and jumps ahead to play one not chosen. Sometimes Melanoma plays. Sometimes Depression plays. Sometimes MS plays. But  unlike the CD player, which plays only one CD at a time, sometimes these three collectively show themselves, together. Even two of these together can wreak havoc on energy, confidence and competence. But sometimes, they all stay dormant, placated by the right medications, healthy food and necessary vitamins. Those times are the good times.

Today is a good day. Today is a day that deserves appreciation. ‘Live in the present’ is good advice ~ not always easy to follow, but good, just the same. There’s another saying: The past looks back with regret, the future looks ahead with worry, but the present looks around with contentment. And another: the past is gone, the future may never be, but the present is a gift … that’s why it’s called ‘present.’   I’m sure there are more.

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6 Comments

  1. “Sometimes Melanoma plays. Sometimes Depression plays. Sometimes MS plays. But unlike the CD player, which plays only one CD at a time, sometimes these three collectively show themselves, together. Even two of these together can wreak havoc on energy, confidence and competence. But sometimes, they all stay dormant, placated by the right medications, healthy food and necessary vitamins. Those times are the good times.”

    I believe that only someone who has struggled with multiple life threatening illnesses can truly comprehend the depth and breadth of such a statement. What it means to live a life juggling diseases and their symptoms while balancing on the tight rope of life. It’s something I don’t think I could even put into words. The vastness of it always hits me when someone asks, “How are you feeling?” and then after your somewhat brief answer of something like, “Oh, not so good”, they follow with, “What’s the matter?” or “What hurts?”. It is those moments that I am completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of it all. And I have to admit that more often than not, I simply do not answer truthfully so that I can avoid that feeling.

    I am so sorry that life has heaped one thing upon another for you. It’s good to do all the seeking…but it’s also good to just be present in the moment, like you said. We fear letting go, we feel like were not “fighting the good fight”, but in all honesty, letting go and being present in this moment actually puts all the other moments of chaos into perspective and thereby alleviating some of our suffering. It’s a good thing.

    As for those good days you spoke of…they are few and far between. Like lining up planets. But when they come…wow. We don’t take one second for granted.

    Peace,

    Theresa

    • Hello, Theresa, and welcome back to the blog. Reading your comments always leaves me feeling warmer and in good company. Wishing you a good day, too.

  2. Christine

    Much love Terry! Xoxoxo

    • Thanks for stopping by, Christine, and please give my best to all at DMS, and hugs to your little one!

  3. Sorry, I haven’t been by sooner.

    I hope the sites remain clear. You’ve had a heck of a lot different sites treated recently. That’s a heck of a way to spend a summer. If you are ever down in the D.C. area and want to meet up, let me know. Either I can meet up with you for a bite, or you are welcome to come by our house.

    If I wasn’t having an MS moment, I’d give you the Latin phrase I’ve thought of so often lately which roughly translates to “Now, let us begin again with more knowledge.” It seems funny to me , it being in my head all week and then reading your post about the circular nature of disease and symptom progression. Good luck. You’re in my thoughts frequently, especially as my blog gets read by some at my old school where I was always the mental lightweight. I think and wonder how often I make English teachers cringe.

    Hope the good days continue.

    • The good days do continue ~ just a few spots on my face squirted and frozen today, and nothing to biopsy. The dermatologist also said today that for someone he’s only known for a few months, he’s found a lot that needed biopsy and surgery. All three types of cancer, and then the pre-sites that are frozen. We’ve made an appointment to meet again in January for the next quarterly check-up. And Geof, your posts never make me cringe … they are always a delight to read. I have begun to realize that only intelligent people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis of any sort!

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