Damn it, I might as well have smoked those cigarettes I was told would cause cancer. I can still hear my mom exclaiming in Español, “Look at that dummy sucking on the devil’s tail!” All my teenage mind could think about was how much I wish it was me. Now I know I missed out on the nicotine highs and still ended up with the big “C” spread throughout my lungs. Welcome to stage 4 of metastatic colon cancer.
After having a camera shoved down my throat a week ago today and a chunks of my lungs fished and carved out of yours truly, I finally got the results of the biopsy. More on that later. The procedure itself involved GPS tracking through my chest, a team of three young doctors, a giant Willie Wonka digital clock that only told you military time, four humorous assistants, and a clueless 39 yr old woman with a major wedgie (that would be me). Who would have thought that annoying Garmin lady that talks back to you in the car would be guiding doctors through my lungs? I can hear her now: “At heart, turn left.” I won’t doubt doctors ended up in the South Pole due to bad directions like all the rest of the GPS systems tend to do, or is that just my luck? I had been wondering why my hemorrhoids seemed to have flared up that evening. Maybe a wrong turn down the old pike (wink)?
So the staff themselves at Balboa Hospital (officially called Naval Medical Center San Diego) knew their stuff. One girl put the monitoring stickies all over my chest (thanks Jen). Another guy got my I.V. going (I still have the sink hole). One other was there for observation or possibly freak entertainment. And my nurse, Michelle (Dr. Feel-good), was the one to administer the good stuff…sedation (aka the Michael Jackson Sleeping Potion). So before I turned into a beaner version of sleeping beauty, minus the beauty, all three of my male doctors walked up to where I was laying. Dr. Powers was the Josh Hartnett look a like (you know, the actor from the film “Pearl Harbor” who is in the love triangle opposite Ben Affleck). Then there was Dr. Escobar, the Latino GPS navigator (who looked more like a musician in a Cuban rumba band). And finally the tan angel that floated down from some Scandinavian star, Dr. Tripp, who tended to be the spokesman. I could tell, he was going to be the captain and I was going to be his vessel. OH how I wished!
Dr. Tripp with tan: So, Ms. Taylor, can you describe the procedure we will be performing on you today in your own words?
Patient with wedgie: UH, you’re gona stick a camera down my lungs to carve out some junk with a spoon then send it to the lab to test, right?
Dr. Tripp with smile and tan: That’s, pretty good. The procedure we will be performing is a Bronchoscopy …blah blah blah
At that point, as I listened to the doctor explain in medical terms what they were going to do to me, I began to think, “How come I can’t have a man like this in my life damn it?” and “How did this blonde guy get such a killer tan in late OCTOBER?” If I was to croak that day on the operating table, at least I would be happy to have this doctor with the beautiful complexion try to CPR my ass back to life.
Dr. Tripp with killer tan: Any questions for us before we start?
Patient with killer wedgie: Yeh, can I drink after I get home this evening?
Dr. Tripp with tan: It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.
Patient with wedgie: So you are saying I can’t drink a beer later tonight even if I know I won’t be driving?
Dr. Tripp (with laughter erupting from background): It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.
And after that, I was pretty much out like chalk erased off a blackboard. OH how I miss you Dr. Tripp and your stories to staff about your fishing trips to Baja California to work on that perfect skin tone. Please pardon all the snoring I did during the procedure. Maybe we shall cross paths on another operating table in the distant ill future. That or some outside cantina on a beach down in Los Cabos.
Fast forward a week later, I meet with Dr. Powers (aka, “Pearl Harbor” movie star) for the scoop on what they found from several cell samples they took off my bronchial tubes. Its official, I hit the cancer lottery…but thankfully not the Super Lotto. Stage 4, spread throughout my lungs and in a mass taking up about a fourth of my liver. Metastatic colon ca…ca..cancer. They are devil cells left behind from the tumor that was removed from my colon in 2011. No cure (according to Mr. Movie Star). Chemo next which will just keep the cancer cells isolated to lungs and liver and hopefully not spread. When I heard the words “no cure”, I turned to my best friend who was looking at me as though I was a ghost and said, “What! So its like AIDS? I will have it for life?” I couldn’t process it into my mind. The words tried to soak into my head like a pigeon turd that had just been dropped from above. My friend who was kind enough to drive me to the appointment sat speechless. She was the one that would usually crack jokes about everything. This time, I had to be the one to crack them, “Well, at least I can still have sex”.
So, as I wait for the oncologist to call me this week to schedule my chemo orientation, I sit and think about all the things I love the most: my son, my family, my wacky ideas, friends, stupid Chappelle Show episodes, kissing, pickles, Jay-Z songs, beautiful men, Yosemite, my son’s face, champagne, the sky, jogging, art museums, Thai food, my mom, Andrea Boccelli, sex with beautiful men, poetry, my new nephew, French stuff, dancing, a Neiman Marcus catalog, laughing…there is no end to the list. But, NEVER EVER do I think of OBAMACARE!
It’s just a reminder, no matter what state your health is in, no matter how hard your life gets rocked, one needs to do what Neil Young did in the 80′s when record companies tried to crap over all his genius : KEEP ON ROCKING IN A FREE WORLD!
OH, and yes, I finally picked that wedgie.