Cancer #3

I am back in my office and nothing has changed. The remnants of the last two panicked weeks are all around me, stray fax cover sheets to request my pathology slides, my food coop disability release form, Instructions for Filing a Claim. It has really only been twelve days or so, and that includes the trip to London. I should clean things up around here.

The day of surgery itself was long, with ordinary waits and strange delays. They book you for two hours of intake that takes fifteen minutes, but I’m good at sitting in a chair, staring at my phone. Nuclear medicine didn’t have my dose, then was confused about my dose, then dosed me incorrectly. Karen came after Oscar was on the bus and then I had company. She was doing crosswords, eating food packed from home, wearing that hat she’s wearing these days. Ordinary.

We asked the nursing assistant why I couldn’t walk from place to place to my various stops around the hospital complex before going under the knife. We never know how a patient will react to a given procedure. My right breast was compressed in a mammogram machine, numbed, a small hollow needle was inserted until it hit the tiny metal clip, a wire was inserted into the needle until it hit the tiny metal clip, the hollow needle was extracted, the compression was released, and the wire was taped down all over my body. I saw stars, saw myself like a person in a cartoon seeing stars. The mammogram tech taped small ice packs all over my body, I couldn’t drink water. Then they did it again on the left.

When they get you on the table you’re like a copy machine or a car brought in for servicing. They let you keep your glasses on until the very last minute.

Since May 29th, my circle of concern has been reduced to the color and quantity of fluid draining out of my right arm through a tube loosely stitched into a hole in my body. Dangling at the end is a compressed rubber bulb meant to produce a soft, slight suction. I empty it in the morning and at night now, at first it was five times a day. This morning, it was at just 15 milliliters. When it gets to 25 for a 24 hour period I’ll have the tube removed from my body and this last surgical hole in my body stitched closed.

Under my clothes it feels like a crater.

How they’ll reassemble me, I will never understand.

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