Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I'll Take Two (Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomies)!

I’m still here!

Today I set myself a research project: to gain familiarity with the oeuvre of the band Anthrax, one of the “Big Four” of American metal, until today completely unheard by me. After I receive Megadeth’s latest, released yesterday, I’ll have every one of their studio albums, and I have every one of Metallica’s studio albums. (You might like to know that Metallica has nine studio albums; Anthrax, 10; Slayer, 11; and Megadeth—the winner!—has 13.) Odd that I had managed to so completely miss Anthrax.

It turns out that Anthrax is fantastic! I’m almost thinking they will end up being my favorite band of the group. Judging from their cover art, they don’t take themselves particularly seriously, and, of the four, they sound most like a hair band. I hear a little Rob Zombie, too, or perhaps it’s vice versa.

I’ve also been listening to Apple, Mother Love Bone’s one and only album, which came out just after lead singer Andy Wood had died of a drug overdose, and also to the album then made by his friends in tribute, Temple of the Dog.

Various things that have happened since June 15: A visit or two to Carol Joy in Novato; several lunches at Mehfil with my co-worker and now friend, Venkata; Tuesday night meditating with Howie and Sunday night meditating with Eugene Cash; five trillion visits to the dentist/endodontist/oral surgeon; a move to a new floor at work.

Oh, here’s a highlight: On July 21, I saw Soundgarden! They were here at the Civic Center auditorium. The sound wasn’t great, and I thought the place was almost alarmingly understaffed, but I was in the very same room as Chris Cornell—the only person on this earth who really understands my problems, meaning that everything he touches is beautiful, that he was at times endearingly dorky when he spoke from the stage, that he clearly knows all about sorrow and loss. When I feel sad, I often listen to his music, either his solo CDs or Audioslave. It doesn’t cheer me up, but it reminds me I’m not alone.

On a splendid warm night in July, Tom’s mother, Ann, treated us to a lovely party in Sacramento celebrating several birthdays. Tom and I and his girlfriend drove from San Francisco together in a CarShare car.

After having taken a break from hospice volunteering while my own mother was ill, I have started again, now visiting a nice man who used to be a teacher.

At work, the particular piece of software I work with is being retired, and the retirement is moving ahead quickly.

We were advised that “when the music stops, there won’t be chairs for everyone.” My boss may as well have said, “Linda, after 13 years in which the world has changed completely, you will lose your job in the next months or year. You will not have health insurance. You will never get another job. You will end up starving to death on the streets.”

My company is also changing its “approach” to health care coverage so that it will cost employees much, much more starting next year.

I considered a health situation whose symptoms themselves didn’t really bother me (but which others might not enjoy reading about), the management of which required an endless stream of office visits, ultrasounds, biopsies, and three surgeries prior to this year.  I pictured myself either unemployed and shopping for my own coverage with this expensive (due to the amount of intervention required) pre-existing condition, or, perhaps, still employed, but spending way, way more on tests and procedures starting in January, and I decided it might be prudent to have the troublesome organ, the uterus, plucked from my abdomen and relocated to a medical compost bin during the current calendar year.

I hated making such a decision even partly for financial reasons, though it is a reasonable consideration, and there was a good deal of agonizing for several weeks. I called my doctor/surgeon early on and said I had decided not to go ahead. She said, “That’s fine—you’re not committed until you’re actually on the operating room table. But I’ll leave it on the calendar just in case.”

I checked into the specifics of the cost and was kind of astonished to find that, if I’d had two uteruses, I could have had them both removed for the cost of one root canal, or, then again, the cost of one dental crown, both of which I paid for out of pocket for this year (not to mention the dental implant, a completely separate matter, still in progress).

In the end, my mind wasn’t really at ease until I arrived at the hospital on surgery day, after a thoroughly unenjoyable day beforehand where a colonoscopy-style bowel prep was required. One mistake I made was changing my diet to include a lot more protein, in the form of eggs and tofu, per the advice of the Internet. This made me generally feel less well, and was hard to digest, complicating the required emptying of the intestines.

During that lousy day, the phone rang and I thought, “Ah, perhaps a well-wisher calling to say she or he hopes surgery goes well.” In fact, it was the mammogram people calling to say they’d seen something that needed follow-up in both breasts. I was quite disheartened for an hour or so there, fearing that just as one medical hassle finally was ending, another was to start. I pictured my sisters at my funeral and had a good cry; I may have listened to a little Chris Cornell.

But then I remembered that cancer is found in only four out of a thousand such rechecks, and my doctor/surgeon, while offering me the option to postpone surgery in favor of having the mammogram recheck right away, pointed out that, while she couldn’t assure me of this, it could be a case of magnifying a digital image enough to see something that is not a problem and has always been there, just never seen before. My mood returned abruptly to just bowel prep mood, rather than bowel prep plus dying of cancer mood, and the day went on unpleasantly enough.

The next day, which was last Thursday, I took a cab to the hospital at noon and soon I was lying on a bed in the “Come & Go” department, with a nurse struggling to start an IV in the back of my hand. It came over me then that, unless I was in the mood to make a semi-dramatic last-minute decision, I no longer had to think about whether I was going to have this surgery or not, which was a relief.
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