Monday, June 10, 2013

Looming Questions

Last week I asked a few questions.
So what am I thinking about?
Where is my mind these days?
What is my biggest concern?
What would you like to know?
I wasn't asking for the sake of argument, but rather to spark a conversation. I know that many people find it difficult to talk about their fears and concerns. They can talk around the moon about their little worries and niggling thoughts, but when it comes to brass tacks they shy away from the sharp edges.

So let's talk broken glass.

Let's talk about why I am having yet another surgery.
Let's talk about why my right eye droops ever so slightly.
Let's talk about my family.
Let's talk about why I am so scared.
Let's talk about what happens next.

I have been called courageous. Courageous = brave, not afraid of pain.
That isn't me. I am terrified of pain. I have spent the bulk of my adult life in various levels of very bad pain. Ironically, I am in less pain right now than I was a year ago. I guess courageous in this context is supposed to mean that I am brave enough to face the pain again? Perhaps. But what other choice is there?

So why am I having surgery? This is the surgery to fix all the mistakes that were made the first time around. This is the surgery to end all surgeries. What is the plan? The plan is to "take down" the colostomy, reconnect the large intestine to what remains of the rectum, and then repair the hernia. Two pretty big surgeries all in one fell swoop. There is a chance my surgeon may be able to do this surgery laparoscopically,  but he wont know until he gets in there and sees what he can see. If he doesn't have a clear view of the junction, then I will be opened up down the midline, same as before.

Let's talk about healing:   If he is able to do the surgery laparoscopically, then the healing could be considerably faster. His projection is 4 days in the hospital, and probably a month of rest. If he has to open me up completely, I am planning on being in the hospital a week, then home (and no driving) for 2 months. This is all predicated on the surgery going off without a hitch.

Why does my right eye droop slightly? Apparently that is a product of the extensive sedation and trauma my body went through during the coma. Normally folks don't live through this sort of experience, so a little droop in one eye seems a small price.

So what happens next?
Well, next Saturday I begin the "cleanout" procedure. Other than saying I will be on fluids only for 2 days, and then JUST clear liquids for the final day.... I will leave the rest to your imagination. It ain't pretty.
After that, I show up in Rochester, help the nurses find a nice vein to jab my IV into, and do my best not to sink into a panic attack. Right now I am optimistic that they will let me dose myself with Xanax before I leave  for Rochester.

After that, we shall see. So now let's talk about what comes next!


  1. I think they should let you take multiple Xanax before your trip to Rochester rather than just one. I can only imagine how scary this must be for you and your family and I am struggling with even how to respond. Unfortunately the best response that I can come up with is that I am hopeful that this will resolve your issues and that I will be thinking about you. Hugs my friend.

    1. Thanks Rob. It certainly will be interesting seeing what changes after this surgery. I would love to think that once I am healed it will allow me to push my photography business into high gear. My big fear is that the costs of this surgery will instead push me into a mind-sucking job just to pay the bills again. We'll see.

  2. you have the courage to face this head on. I my friend know how you feel.. its much harder than most people think to face surgeries after you have been through so much.. what a courageous man you are.. I know what its like to be afraid of something you have faced before.. if you weren't I couldn't understand that.. you are braver than you think you are because you are facing those fears.. facing fears and we all have to do that from time to time in our lives is not an easy thing to do. but that makes you one of the bravest people I know.. only the strong can face the fears and conquer them.. and through the years of watching you face them puts a smile on my face.. you like I face our fears through pictures.. but you also show how much love you have through your pictures.. your pictures tell the story..

  3. If there's anything we can do, including but not limited to moral support, food, driving (you or others while you're not driving), let us know.

    I look forward to cranking up the Big Green Egg for a wickedly evil and massively gratuitous dinner of some sort when you're ready for it.

    1. I love the idea of gratuitous dinner comprised of foods seared in the Egg! Absolutely! And you offer of help will not go un-used. I am sure that between the three of us, we will accept your offer again and again until I am back on the road.

  4. Replies
    1. As soon as I know, Dennis, I will let you know. It will be a long recovery, so I expect that I will have ample opportunities for folks to help out. Thank YOU!

  5. Alex, I think of you as a son, believe it or not. I, too have fears and concerns and I do not think of myself as courageous, I do one day at a time and enjoy just being alive. One thing I've learned in 76 years is that you can't change what is , or what was. You know that Granny & I are always there for you, and that we will do whatever we can for you. You and Bean are loved very much, and having you both as family is one of the best things which have happened in our lives. Gramps

    1. Thank you Gramps. I am honored you feel as you do. Brings a smile to my face. Knowing that you and Sandy are so supportive makes a huge difference facing this challenge. That is partly why I am anxious to be on the other side of this mess. I am ready to push on with the rest of life... leave this old stuff in the past.

  6. All I can do for you from here is keep you close in my thoughts.
    I know you are ready and yet not ready.
    Who would be looking forward to this after what you have gone through.
    BUT- you did come out of it and you are here.
    I know you have good friends, a great wife, a great family and one wonderful child.
    I would have reservations, but- but--- knowing that this has to be done in order to gain more quality to your life, it just has to be.
    I wish you a magic, perfect surgery, a quick recover and all the best that is coming after.
    Hugs to you all- you know I will be there in spirit.

    1. Thank you Meredith. I know you'll be there. And as soon as I am able, after surgery, I will try to let folks know how things are going. It may be a while, but my guess is that a couple days after surgery I should be coherent enough to try to email folks. You are at the top of the list. THANK YOU, as always, thank you!

    2. You are welcome.
      I can wait- top on list is family, of course,.... but... I will be doing a heart-filled dance for your recovery.

  7. Hey Alex,
    You know that I know a little something about serious surgery and the anxiety that surrounds the "cure". Half the people in my transplant cohort are dead, the rest, except for me, have struggled with serious side effects. I credit my recovery with (among other things) doing serious psychotherapy. Things in our past often work against our ability to heal and recover. I hope and pray you are getting some serious help. Meditation is also very effective. You are in my thoughts and prayers Alex. I envision you as a whole, strong, healthy, and happy man. So much love to you.

    1. At this point I have been in therapy for nearly three years... couples therapy as well. Heck, we stack up our appointments with our various therapists to the point where the only days we dont see a therapist are Mon and Friday. It is just part of our daily life.

      I wish meditation helped. So far it hasn't been as effective as acupuncture. Unfortunately, thanks to the bankruptcy and disability and massive medical costs, I haven't been able to afford acupuncture for over three and a half years.

      Thank you for thinking of me! It is much appreciated.