Tag Archives: Health

Returning to the Donut….MMMMMMM….Donuts.

11 Aug

About a year ago, I posted the news of my impending, and what now seems to have become an annual, Petscan. Well, it’s time for another one.  A text to my oncologist in late  June began the process.  Three weeks later, when I hadn’t even received a notice from my insurance company delaying the procedure (a common occurence),  I texted my oncologist again and learned that either he or the folks at the lab slightly misspelled my name.  So some guy named Eric Greenburg, or Erich Greenberg, or Erick Greenburgh got a referral for my scan.  So we began again.  This time, success!  A week after my text, the insurance company sent me an e-mail delaying my procedure by 45 days while they research the need for the test.  Then a week later, the referal arrived. Earlier this week I called the scan place,  spoke to the same guy I spoke to last year (which was kind of comforting), and made my appointment.  Thursday, August 18th, first thing in the morning. 

And so the process begins.  On Wednesday morning I start a 24 hour carb fast.  Not even a piece of fruit until I am done with the scan on the 18th.  On the 18th I am given radioactive sugar, and then placed into what looks like a large donut as they test the size and metabolic activity of my tumor (a structure that one of my friends assures me is my ancestors seeking to live close to my heart–I love that idea).   Then scantasia begins, my family’s celebratory embrace of all the carbs I couldn’t eat the day before.  A flavored coffee and muffin in the morning, Italian food at night.  Then we wait a week for the results, which I am always nervous about no matter how certain I am of thier positive outcome, and, God willing, have Scantasia part 2, the celebration of good news.

As you may recall, last year in an effort to drag all of you into my life and my concerns, I called on all of you to make the day before my scan a carb-filled wonderland for you and yours.  You may not think that stuff like that matters, but  I certainly can’t argue with the results of the scan.  So I am calling on all of you to return to this evolving tradition.  On Wednesday, August 17th, I call on all of my family and friends to double down on their carb intake.  Have some pizza, some pasta, a hoagie (or sub, or grinder). If you are a hipster, please curate a selection of locally brewed, artisinal IPAs and the drink every last one of them.  Or, if you’re like me, have a whole mess of cookies.  When you do, I will feel your good wishes, and that helps my state of mind a lot.  Maybe this year you could take some pictures of your carbs and share them on Facebook?  It might seem like a cruel taunt at my carbless existence, but I think I would dig it. 

Whatever you choose to do or not do, just know that I appreicate your interst, kindness, and support. Naturally I will share the results of the scan as soon as I get them.

As Always….Stay Tuned.

 

Back to Blogging

22 Jun

For the Blog

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post that explained my three week absence from blogging.  At that time a friend of mine asked on Facebook, “Am I expected to read a blog about why you didn’t write a blog?”  Good question, and I suppose he didn’t have to read my blog, but as a good friend, he did.  So I apologize to that friend in advance, because, once again, I write this blog to explain why I haven’t blogged.

 It’s been a long time since I last wrote and posted a blog….a very long time.  By my count it’s been about 10 months, when I announced the result of September’s Petscan. A lot has happened since then. In personal news, my daughter travelled to Israel, where she lived and studied for nine months.  Amy and I learned to live in an empty nest without too much trouble.  The New York Giants had an awful season, revealing their complete lack of an NFL caliber defense.  And I have spent much of the past academic year teaching California history at a local university part time, which is fun, but also very time consuming and frustrating.  In the broader world….well, you all know what’s gone on in the broader world—a dismaying election cycle that seems to signal the rise of the demagogue as a legitimate type of candidate in American politics, a growing divide between rich and poor that makes our current age seem very much like the late nineteenth century’s gilded age, and never ending violence and terrorism at home and abroad, just to name a few.  And all of this Emma’s trip, the changes to our household, the teaching, the election, all of it, has kept me from blogging for the past ten months. Let me explain.

First, I have found it difficult to blog for personal reasons. Like I said, a lot has happened over the past ten months, but not all of it happened to me.  My daughter has learned a number of important lessons about life and living on her own. My wife spent much of the Fall getting back on her feet after her terrible bout with pancreatitis and the other issues that arose from that horrible illness.  And Amy and I both spent nine months without a child around figuring out what married life is like when parenting is no longer the prime directive. All of these experiences are filled with stories—some painful, some funny, some depressing, others uplifting—but most of these stories are not mine to tell.  They happened to someone else, or they are personal moments that I shared with others, and so to tell those stories feels wrong, like I would be violating someone’s privacy.  That was never the intention of this blog.  Over the past few years the point of this blog has been to share my thoughts, my concerns, my fears, and my happiness and to see how that public sharing is received and how it helps me learn and grow.

The election has kept me from blogging too.  To be clear I have discussed politics regularly—especially on Facebook—but I have not found the experience beneficial. I have spent the past ten years or so of my life trying to keep my discourse and engagement reasonable and respectful, but these days American politics knows no reason nor respect. This is true for the politicians and the public, and for the right and the left.  Naturally Donald Trump and his supporters are the most severe examples of this new political tone, but one cannot ignore the vitriol hurled at Hillary Clinton from the left nor the frustrated jibes from Clintonites (like me) aimed at Sanders and the Sanderistas. Since the New York primary many of us believe that Bernie’s campaign and the actions and outbursts of the so called Bernie Bros have been driven by destructive hubris rather than productive care and concern, and our language has reflected that frustration.  I have gotten into a number of discussions and debates this election year, and each time I do I feel angry, frustrated, hopeless, and even a little dirty.  I am not naïve enough to believe that American politics are historically decent and noble, but these days the rules of political engagement seem to have changed considerably. People are angrier, meaner, less respectful, and when I find myself in the midst of these debates I feel angrier, meaner, and less respectful too.  I surely have no desire to spend my time blogging angry and feeling awful, and so politics have been off the table as well.

Even if I could find an appropriate topic for blogging, I have had very little time to dedicate to such an enterprise.  As I mentioned above, I have been teaching this year, this in addition to my full time job at the museum.  I have taught three back to back quarters of California history, which has been great fun, but my preparation, grading, and the demands of my students have taken up a lot of my free time.  As Amy can attest, I have spent most Monday evenings grading quizzes and most of the rest of the week grading papers or reading the week’s assigned readings.  Sure I have read this material in the past….numerous times, but I am also 51 and my memory is less photographic than I would like, so every week I read the homework assignments along with my students—well along with those students who actually take the time to read…there seem to be fewer and fewer of those students every year.

Throughout it all, Emma’s trip, the election, the teaching, and everything else that has happened this year, I have wanted to blog.  Blogging connects me to my broad network of friends (particularly those who live a great distance from me). Writing in a format lengthier than the average Facebook post helps me think things through, and as always, there is a lot to think about.  And of course, blogging has been a way for me to share the never ending saga of the lemon sized tumor in my chest and my, now, annual requirement to have my body scanned to see if anything has changed.  One of my greatest concerns about my failure to blog is that my little corner of the virtual universe will become merely a place for me to share test results. Indeed, sometime this week I will reach out to my oncologist to arrange my next Petscan (the first one in ten months). 

But I want this blog to be more than that.  I want to return to my earlier focus on writing, on the ability to communicate well, to be more vulnerable and honest, and to share my thoughts and thinking.   Recently one of my yoga teachers (yes I take yoga now, and I love it) described the practice as an investigation into two essential questions—what is my purpose? and what makes me happy? (I probably got that wrong, but I think I captured the essence of her statement).  Prior to her comments, I had always thought of yoga as bound up in other questions like, “Why does that hurt so much?” or “Will I ever be able to bend that deeply?” and other such inquiries.  But my teacher’s point resonated with me. Whatever its outward rewards, when I am at my most relaxed and engaged, yoga helps me to focus and think more clearly, and in my most successful moments of yoga I have had some initial thoughts about purpose and happiness.  I think our purpose in this world is to be as fully present and fully engaged with the moment and the world around us as possible.  Too often our ability to appreciate life and each other is obstructed by our inability (or at least my inability) to think about the here and now.  Too much of life, mine and the lives of other people I know, is bound up in endless worry about things that have happened or may happen in the future.  I think we are at our happiest when we can appreciate the moment, any moment, more fully.

Yoga helps develop the focus and calm necessary to being fully present and engaged (to say nothing of how great it’s been for relieving the many aches and pains that come with aging and being overweight), but blogging helps, too.  Sure, very often my blogs are obsessed with the unfixable past and the unknowable future, but the process still keeps me deeply engaged with my thoughts and the process of thinking. And coming to really know and understand my thinking has a beneficial effect on me. Writing a blog is a days-long enterprise.  I take an idea and I work it out on the page.  The more I write, reread, and edit my work, the more in tune I become with my thoughts, the clearer my focus becomes, and I am able to articulate my ideas more clearly and fully.  Overtime, I begin to understand things about myself that I did not know, and the comments from friends and other readers reminds me just how lucky I am to know so many wonderful, thoughtful people. It’s a kind of meditation, one that I have missed.  For the past ten months I haven’t had that experience in my life, and I really would like to regain it.  For now, I suspect, my blog will once again focus on my upcoming Petscan, but I am going to do my best to get back into the process of thinking and writing.  I apologize in advance for those of you who feel obliged to read my work.  I appreciate your patience and willingness to spend a few minutes reading my latest rant, and I thank you for your time and your friendship.

 

As always…stay tuned.

I Live to Scan Another Day!

18 Jun

Erik Hat

 

For those of you who may have missed my last post, I announced that I was due for a PET scan and would receive the results this week.  Well, the results are in, and there is no surgery in my immediate future.  As my oncologist said, depending upon the angle that you look at it, my mass may have grown a millimeter.  And the only time he would recommend surgery is if I am not feeling well, or if the growth is significant (say, 7mm in 6 months).  I feel fine.  There is limited growth–so limited that my Dr. tells me there is no change in my mass at all–and so we do this all over again in 6 months.  Tonight, Scantasia, an evolving tradition in my family where we celebrate good scan results with a meal out and  the heaving of yet another heavy sigh of relief.  In all likelihood this will be followed by a brief, personal moment of panic and a tortured consideration of my own mortality, which seems to follow every one of these events (perhaps a mild form of ptsd).  I’ll write about it, and other less creepy stuff, too.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for your continued good wishes, and thanks for your presence in my life.

 

As Always, stay tuned.

 

E

Charting a New Course

21 May

 

Charting

Last week I had the great good fortune to spend an hour or so hanging out with some really big time historians…two major dudes, well connected in the field with impressive careers and equally impressive positions. The type of historians you dream of becoming…that is, if you actually dream of becoming an historian.   Just a few years back I used to do this all the time as part of my doctoral training, but since my hooding two years ago, I spend a lot more time managing staff, planning budgets, and helping to write grant proposals than I do studying the past or chatting with renowned historians.  As the conversation went on, one of the pair, a longtime friend and colleague, observed that my blog is a far better reflection of my personality than is my academic writing.  “You really found your voice in your blog,” he said.  “By contrast, your academic style was something that seemed imposed on you.”   I smiled and said something about the demands of academia, but as the conversation went on two thoughts came to mind.  The first was that my friend was right.  I think anyone that knows me even a little can “hear” my voice in this blog.  I tell stories.  I make jokes.  I whine and complain.  I’m not a particularly private person, and I really don’t know when to shut up.  This is how I talk in the real world, and this is how I choose to write in my blog.  My other thought was, “Well that’s just great!  I’ve spent the better part of a decade learning to write a work of history in a voice that is utterly alien to me.  What the hell am I supposed to do now?” I think the answer is to really hone my blog voice and to try it on new topics and in new forums.  I think that the first step in that process will be to expand the scope of my blog.

In some sense, I have expanded the scope of this blog on several occasions already.  Last October, when I began this project, I was focused on one persistent, terrifying thought—that I have lymphoma.  Those of you who have suffered through a dangerous and/or chronic disease know how all-consuming this kind of knowledge can be.  No matter what you’re doing or thinking, somewhere in the back of your mind is the ever-present thought “I have cancer.” In an effort to deal with that very scary idea and to, perhaps somewhat selfishly, ask all of you to share my burden and ease my fears, I set off to write this blog.  My early postings were ALL about cancer—fears about cancer, friends with cancer, cancer treatment, even cancer jokes!  Then, as I learned that I did not have cancer, I started to explore a broader range of topics that might reasonably fall under the heading of health and wellness. One more misdiagnosis and the blog moved from health and wellness to fear and suffering, and on, and on, and on. 

Point is, despite my initial reasons for creating this blog, over time I have found it to be a really wonderful opportunity to think about things that are stuck in my head and to try and let them out of there before somebody gets hurt.  And while health, wellness, and the lemon-sized tumor inside my chest are ever-present in my psyche, so too are other thoughts. For example, while this may seem silly to some, I have begun to feel ambivalent about my love of football, which was once a great passion but now, with the continuing revelations about athletes who have suffered brain damage, proves harder to watch (and yet I still love the game!).  I think quite a bit about the ways in which Americans and American Jews understand and relate to history. I am deeply troubled about the nature of political discourse in our society. I fret about my daughter’s inevitable departure from our home.  And I am concerned that my newfound love of craft beer may signal a troubling low in my continuing decline into insufferableness. 

To be clear, health, well-being, and my ongoing engagement with the healthcare system will still play a large role in my blogging.  To my knowledge I still have a large, benign tumor in my chest (only next month’s scan can tell for sure, but c’mon, do we really think it’s disappeared?).  I still have sarcoidosis.  I’m fast approaching 50, and I’m still overweight.  I now have just as many doctors interested in me as I did when I was writing my dissertation—four to be exact.  Back then, of course, the four were PhDs and now there are four MDs on team Erik—five if you include my thoracic surgeon.  For these reasons, and for others, I intend to keep the blog’s current title, Limbo—strictly defined as a place between heaven and hell, but which I have also taken to mean a place or state between health and illness, happiness and sadness, youth and old age, being and becoming, and other structural opposites.  I’m still in Limbo and I still plan to write about that.

While thinking about this new direction in my blog, I actually went back and reread my first post from October and found that, in some sense, the point of this project has always been vague and subject to change.  At the close of the first piece I wrote that, “Perhaps I am just talking to myself, here, to be comforted by my continued ability to communicate clearly in the written form, and to use that as some kind of gauge for my health and happiness.  I simply don’t know.  I just know that right now I want to write and to do so publicly.  To share my stories and see if they resonate and what they generate.”  And so the process continues. I still want to write, to share my stories and see if and how they affect people.  It’s just that now, I want to expand the range of potential stories.  I hope that some of you will continue to follow me on this journey.  I have found your comments and support to be invaluable, and I look forward to seeing how you may or may not respond to my efforts in the future. 

As always, stay tuned.

All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun

28 Mar

 

Hat and Shades

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  Friday October 4th, the first Shabbes in October.  The day before (Thursday), my doctor had called me and told me that my spiral ct test indicated that the big thing in my chest was a cyst, nothing to worry about.  Still, there were these enlarged lymph nodes she wanted to test for, probably nothing.  So I took a blood test that Friday morning, got on with my day and looked forward to a joyous and peaceful Shabbat.  I went to the grocery store to get a challah, some wine, and some juice, and as I did I began to sing to myself God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.  “V’shamru, v’nei Yisroel et ha Shabbat…”  I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I felt….giddy, ecstatic, carefree. 

I was still humming the tune as I walked out into the parking lot.  Suddenly my phone rang.  It was my doctor.  My blood tests didn’t provide the answers she wanted.  Now she wanted me to see an oncologist.  My heart sank and all the giddiness drained out of my body.  I don’t really think I’ve been giddy since and certainly not carefree.  To be clear, I’ve had some really nice times…good times…meaningful times… times filled with love, but I’m not sure I’ve had fun.  In truth, I’m not sure I’ve had fun for a very long time.  You know, the kind of fun I had when my world was young.  When Emma’s laugh could keep Amy and me beaming and chuckling for hours.  The kind of fun that comes when all is right with your world.  Your parents are healthy.  Your pets are spry.  Your friends still have all their hair and teeth.  Perhaps you’ve got a bit of money in the bank, perhaps not.  But things around you are good, and so you can let go and have fun.  I can’t really remember the last time I felt that way, except for that moment in the grocery store when I thought my future was devoid of oncologists and surgeons, misdiagnoses and uncertainty, and stuff like that.  That time in the grocery store was really fun, and it hasn’t come back.

Truth is, I’ve never been a fun guy.  People have told me I am funny, but that’s not the same thing.  Indeed, my lack of fun led one former girlfriend to occasionally call me “grandma.”  She would do this when I turned down the music in my car to hear myself think, or when I sat in the corner at a party filled with her friends (but none of mine), or when I just couldn’t bring myself to have fun, which was often. Back in the 90s I auditioned to be in the music video for Sheryl Crow’s hit “All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun.”  I didn’t get it.  They said I wasn’t fat enough (I never knew how to respond to that note), but I suspect I wasn’t fun enough either.  After all, I’m plenty fat.  I am known for many things—talking too much, arguing, a fair bit of pomposity, my love of cookies, etc.—but not for fun.  No one who knows me has ever told a story in which “Greenberg showed up, and the next thing we know we’re in Tijuana passed out drunk on the beach.”  I’m not that guy.  I’m not fun.

Why this meditation on my poor fun reflex?  Yesterday was my first day back at the gym since my surgery.  It felt great.  The ability to move my body, to breathe deeply, to come out of there with fewer of the aches and pains that have plagued me since I first met my rather dour, though well-meaning, surgeon really got me jazzed. I wasn’t giddy, but I was getting there.  And as I drove away I found myself thinking about the old Sheryl Crow song, “All I wanna do is have some fun.”  And I meant it.  I wanted, so badly, to feel giddy and carefree.  To have fun.  I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore.  At the very least, I know that fun, these days, will feel different than fun when I was younger.  But I want to give it a try.  I probably won’t make it until the “sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard,” but I can probably make it until 8:30 or so on Ventura in Sherman Oaks.

As always, stay tuned.

Because It’s All About Me: Adjusting the Focus of My Blogging

22 Mar

 

People who know me know that I talk a lot.  Sometimes I talk about interesting stuff, sometimes important stuff, sometimes nonsense, but the bottom line is that I find it hard to keep my mouth shut in the company of others.  Also, I tend to talk a lot about me!  This is not intentional, really.  Often, though, I seem to speak in stories…not like the way that Jesus spoke in parables, of course, more like the way a Borscht-Belt comedian seems to have a story for every situation.  When I want people to understand that I’ve heard and understand, or sympathize, or empathize with what they’ve told me, I often respond by telling a personal story that I think will resonate with the topic of conversation.  I suspect that at times this trait is annoying, and I thank so many of my family and friends for their indulgence.

This trait in me, this habit of speaking about myself, is significantly magnified in this blog.  Truth is, I’ve looked around at personal health blogging a bit, and it tends to be a pretty “me-centered” project.  I don’t think any of us who blog in this way are unaware of or insensitive to the people around us.  It’s just that, let’s face it, when you blog about illness, or recovery, or some combination of the two, you really only have your thoughts and stories to work with.  I can’t, for example, meld minds with my daughter and learn in any textured sense what she’s feeling these days (although, Emma’s talented English teacher has her students doing weekly blogs, and Emma’s is quite good…check it out if you’d like).  And even if I could reproduce with perfect fidelity the thoughts and feelings of my family and friends, those thoughts belong to them, as do their trials and anxieties, and it would be a violation of their privacy for me to share those experiences in a public way.

Events over the past few weeks, and particularly the past few days, have made clear the tremendous psychic toll the past six months have taken on my immediate family.  To be clear, Amy and Emma are ok, but it is quite clear to me that they have suffered greatly through the process of diagnoses, misdiagnoses, conflicting opinions, and the general worry that comes with a bizarre structure located in the center of my chest.  The same is undoubtedly true of my mother and sisters, each in their own way.  At times my heart breaks for them, and as much as I crave a more definitive future for me, I yearn for their lives to be filled with joy, contentment, and ease.

Lately, I’ve been pretty down, and I am sure my blog reflects that.  My surgeon, who told me the other day that he sees it as his responsibility to resolve my “problem,” has a way of speaking that just seems to worry me more than it should.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good guy, I just wish he were a little more…chipper, I guess.  The truth is, though, that I am no worse off than I was almost six months ago.  Indeed, I am better.  I am blessed with an extraordinary support structure.  I have doctors insisting that they look at me every few weeks.  I have a remarkable wife, whose sense of calm helps get me through a lot, and an extraordinary daughter, who has had to suffer through a lot of my nonsense for the past six months.  I want them, and all of you, to know that, today, I see things differently than I did even a few days earlier.  There are lots of tomorrows ahead of us.  They will be full of pleasure and promise, and so I would like all of us to worry a little less during our todays—and that begins with me!

Finally, let me apologize for my selfishness.  Too often when I have asked for the prayers and good thoughts of this extraordinary electronic community, I have asked for such support in my name.  That’s wrong.  Should you ever think of or pray for me, please do so for my family as well (who needs and deserves such help) and while we’re all at it, let’s direct those good wishes to a world of people who suffer far greater anxieties, indignities, and illnesses than I ever have.  I know that you’re all good eggs and have been doing that anyway.  I just wanted to add my prayers to yours.

As always, stay tuned.

Sisyphus and the 8 cm Tumor

20 Mar

Sisyphus

 

I don’t want to bury the lead, so….final pathology, sarcoid tissue, nothing else.  I have sarcoidosis, the type that typically presents in people of Northern European descent (it can be a very different disease in African-Americans).  I will likely have to be watched the rest of my days to make sure that I don’t exhibit any symptoms and to be sure the disease doesn’t spread to my organs… so, that’s good, I guess.  Still, this post is not entirely about my diagnosis.  Maddeningly, it is also about the large, bizarre, and to my knowledge, benign tumor sitting in my chest, as well.  And so this is also a post about frustration.

Midday on Tuesday I called my doctor’s office to check in on a few things.  My protective bandages had begun to give way a week earlier than I expected.  I wanted to see if I could return to aspirin and fish oil, both of which I stopped taking a week before surgery.  And, of course, I wanted to see if the final pathology had come in.  About 6:30 that night I got a call from my surgeon’s office.  Apparently the loss of the bandages indicates, and I quote, “young oily skin as opposed to old dry skin”… (sexy).  I can get back to aspirin and fish oil whenever I want.  And the pathology came back as sarcoid tissue, nothing else.  Whew, what a relief!  But then I was told that my surgeon would present my case to the thoracic tumor board on Wednesday (which is not, in fact, a board composed of tumors, but rather a board of doctors who specialize in disciplines that frequently see and treat tumors)..  “What?! I thought I was done.” I thought it was time to move on to a rheumatologist or some other specialist to begin my new adventures in Sarcoidosis-land (Sarcoidosis-ville?  Burg?  Thoughts?).  “Why does he feel the need to discuss my case even further?  What is the point?”

“Well,” my surgeon’s wife said, “everyone just wants to make sure they’re not missing something.  You’re a young guy with kids.  We want to be careful and make sure we’ve considered every possibility,” or words to that affect. 

“What else could they be looking for?” I asked. 

“I don’t know,” she said. “Don’t think about this as a bad thing.  Think about this as a group of doctors who are really looking out for you.”Easy for her to say! I’ve been at this for 5 ½ months.  I want some closure, some sense that this chapter in my life is over and a new and better one has begun. 

Interestingly enough, one of my rabbi friends (like I said in my last post, I seem to know a lot of rabbis) predicted that something like this might happen.  I was talking to him just before my surgery.  I was lamenting how meeting my surgeon and being told, again, that I may have cancer had unmoored me.  I was stunned at how fragile I was.  “All of that work, I did, the eating better, the meditating, the Tai Chi, that was all bullshit,” I said.  After all, one stressful visit to a doctor and I had ceased to engage in most of those activities (See my previous post, Getting Back Up on the Horse).

 My rabbi friend reminded me that it was natural for me to feel beat up at that moment.  “Besides,” he said, “you don’t do all that work (the Tai Chi, the meditating, etc.) to keep from being knocked down.  You do it so that you have an easier time getting back up.  You do it for your wife and daughter.  You do it to deal with the next doctor’s report.”

“Wait! What do you mean the next doctor’s report?” I asked.

“Look, Erik, the way this thing has been going for you, I just don’t imagine that any report will be simple or straightforward.  They’ll probably be some new thing for you to deal with.” 

I guess he was right about that.  I mean, even if the tumor board said gey gezunt, which as you will see they did not, I will likely spend the rest of my life watching and being watched.  Doctors will watch my tumor, my new condition, my weight and cholesterol (which they would have watched anyway), my blood pressure, my blood sugar, and on, and on, and on.  In July I turn 50, and apparently 50 is the colonoscopy birthday…so there’s that.  And so I do the work, the re-formation of my life and lifestyle, to cope with all of these things and maybe live a better life than the one I lived before this whole mess started.

This morning the surgeon and I sat down to discuss the deliberations of the tumor board.  I’ll keep it simple.  They have no idea what the tumor is or its essential nature (benign or malignant).  They have no idea if it will grow or shrink, and so they recommend I have it surgically removed…probably.  Oy!  Where does that leave me? Basically where I was in November, which is to say I will get a scan in June.  If the tumor grows, we get it.  If it shrinks, we finally have an answer about its nature (benign).  If it stays the same, then I am forced to decide whether or not I have surgery. 

My sense of limbo continues, or perhaps not.  After all, limbo is a state between heaven and hell, and while I don’t really feel damned, there is a certain sense of Sisyphean condemnation in the way I am asked to expose my tumor to testing again and again, and when I come to the doctors to understand what the Oracle of the Pet Scan or the Mediastinoscopy has to say, I am basically told the same things they told me before the last procedure. I’m at the bottom of the hill….again…just me and my tumor…and all of you, of course.  The truth is that without your support this experience would be unimaginably more difficult.

So this is where things stand.  I live to scan another day and to try and live a better life with my brief reprieve from medical experimentation.  I cannot thank all of you enough for your prayers and good wishes.  I continue to need them.  Perhaps I have always needed them and will need them forever.

Stay tuned.