So far, so good. I have managed to steer clear of any stray corona viruses, touch wood with fingers crossed while standing up and turning round counter-clockwise seven times then throwing a pinch of salt over my left shoulder. No covid, regardless of number, has found its way across my threshold.
A couple of months ago, I let my guard down. Mind you, back in those distant days, the guards weren’t up very high. Self-isolating wasn’t a word yet. It still isn’t, really. It’s two words temporarily joined at the hyphen. Two months ago, when we were all that much younger, they weren’t even an item. Now they are.
While I was distracted by the viral thunderclouds gathering on the horizon, a nasty little tumour snuck through my defenses and hid itself somewhere in my internal waste disposal system. I didn’t see it coming, and I didn’t feel it land.
I noticed that my urine was changing. There was a time when it fairly consistently resembled either apple juice or lemon juice. Then, in early February, I stood at the toilet bowl and watched the stream turn to a darker shade of amber. Tea-toned pee, you might say. That doesn’t look right, I thought. Then, while shaving one morning, I noticed that the whites of my eyes were yellowish. So was the skin on my shoulders and upper body. That doesn’t look right, I thought.
I called my doctor, and she gave me a ticket to the lab where I peed into a bottle and bled into half a dozen little vials. She called me in for an appointment a few days later and told me my cholesterol was amazing. Other results, she said, pointed to an unhappy liver. She sent me downtown to the Gastro-Intestinal Clinic to find out what it would take to cheer it up. One CT scan and an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography later, the problem came into focus. A neuroendocrine tumour was knocking on the front door of my pancreas.
Another CT scan showed it to be an unpleasantly aggressive little bastard. I’ve never been comfortable with aggression, but the tumour doesn’t care. It’s a carcinoma and it’s growing. At least now we know the extent of the problem. As luck would have it, I found a couple of oncologists in Kitchener who know of a solution. Chemotherapy is on its way.
I never thought I’d turn into the person who says, “Chemo isn’t fearful, it’s cheerful.” But here I am, saying it, even though I still haven’t sipped from this particular chalice.
I’m becoming increasingly resentful of COVID-19. The virus is like the large cement barriers placed down the centre of a highway. The ones used to stop us from crossing the line. It’s blocking access to our health care system, making us think twice before going for help.
COVID-19 isn’t stopping anything, but it’s slowing everything down. Wherever you look, there it is. It’s big, and it’s opportunistic. Whenever people drop their guard, let their attention lapse, another droplet of spittle slips through and another nurse goes into self-isolation.
Even in a pandemic, people need health care. Women still give birth; near-blind people need cataract surgery; people fall over and have their bones set; people with cancer lie down for a slow chemo drip. None of them have a straight path to treatment these days. It’s a long and winding road now, and we travel it at a reduced speed limit.
So there you have it. I shall make an effort to rejuvenate this web site. I don’t intend to live my illness out on Facebook, but I will drop a link to my blog whenever I update it. I will try to write my way through this stage of my journey. I promise to wash my hands after posting it. All I ask of you is that you wash your hands after reading it.
I fully expect this adventure to end well. Let’s sit back and see if it does.