Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not dead yet...

My apologies for being away. I've got some shit going on and it's been distracting me more than I want. i just want it known that i haven't given up on this blog and I'll try to catch up with the missing posts. i think i got a decent excuse though.

For those who don't/didn't know...

A little more than 15 years ago, I came home from a nice leisurely bike ride from the near the Lake outside of Del Rio. As I threw my leg off the bike to dismount, I felt a sudden painful tear in the hip of the leg that was supporting my weight. The worst part wasn't the pain, but the sound. I heard the muscle rip. I collapsed to the ground and pulled the bike down on top of me. I floundered under the weight of the bicycle for a few minutes before I was able to crawl out from beneath it and attempt to stand up. I'm sure it wasn't nearly as dramatic as I make it out to be, but I pretty much felt like the only person on earth at that moment.

I limped inside and called my mommy. There was a doctor. There was an XRay. Diagnosis: A torn muscle, the result of strenuous exercise. I was told that it would heal in a short time and that I shouldn't worry too much about it. My limp would recede as the leg got better.

More than a year and a half later, I still had the limp. What's worse was that the tears continued. Never as drastic as the first one, they happened anytime that I experienced any unexpected weight shift that I wasn't braced for. Even something as seemingly harmless as not realizing that there was one more step left on the stairs was enough to pull muscle. Of course, I didn't realize what was happening at the time. I knew I was broken but, initially, lack of health insurance kept me in the dark about my condition. Eventually, you just learn to live with pain and discomfort. It was never severe enough to worry me. I just had a slight pimp limp. That suited me just fine. During Thanksgiving, my Grandfather commented that even HE didn't limp that badly and he was over 70. I laughed.

The final straw came on a Saturday in late '94. I went bowling for the first time. You can already see where this is going. It's basic physics, really. Tork. Redistribution of weight. A weak stress point. Another loud tear. First frame. First ball. Down I went again. I soldiered on in spite of the pain and managed to lead for the first five frames and even managed a couple of awkwardly rolled strikes. I went home, mindful that I had the following day off to rest my leg. By the following Monday, I still had great difficulty putting weight on my leg. I bit the bullet and went to the emergency room.

I was there for hours. Since I wasn't leaking any fluids, I wasn't high on the triage list. (As an aside, I do have to say that the people at South Austin Hospital run a decent ship. I would return there in 2000 for what would turn out to be emergency gall bladder removal. A nice man stuck his finger in my anal cavity while I was there. they run a decent ship.) Eventually I was admitted and X-Rayed. Reviewing the photo, the doctor used words like tumor and bone loss. I don't recall if he ever used the "C" word, but he may as well have. He did, however, admit that it was all beyond his expertise and said he would call for a consultation. He left me alone with my paranoia and made some calls. He returned in minutes and said that I needed to go immediately to the medical mall located across the street. There was a specialist there that needed to see me right away. He handed me the X-Ray, gave me a pair of crutches and told me I had to go see the specialist NOW.

This was the moment that stayed with me. This was when I knew I had Cancer and that I was going to die. I had the entire duration of the walk across the parking lot and the drive next door to contemplate my finite mortality and I came to the conclusion that I had lived a good life. I'd made some mistakes and failed to live up to certain expectations that I'd had for myself, but otherwise, I was happy. I could accept whatever came next.

I worry too much.

The reason the time rush was much simpler than a terminal diagnosis. As soon as I arrived, they rushed me to an exam room and told me to wait. The doctor came in almost immediately and apologized for the rush. He was actually in town from San Marcos and was late getting back. He agreed to see me on no notice because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to see him for another week. that was the good news. The bad news was that even he didn't really have a grasp on what the hell was wrong with me. He knew I had a tumor. But he didn't know what flavor. There's actually a variety. Time for another specialist.

This one was in San Antonio. Dr. Ronald Williams at the UTSA medical center. I've since been informed that if you have to get a tumor removed by anyone in Texas, he's the one to do it. Lucky me. I was diagnosed with a giant cell tumor. Not as scary as it sounds, but a pain in the ass nonetheless.

January 10th 1995 I was admitted into the UTSA medical center. 24 hours later, I had a 20 inch scar and a metal plate in my leg. They initially underestimated the area believed to be affected by the tumor. The projected incision of 10 inches was revised once the surgery was underway and they realized that the tumor was bigger than they thought. They hollowed out the femur, hence the metal plate.

I was off my feet for a month and used a crutch or cane for another two months. It was a fairly dark period. There was much brooding and introspection. Mostly, I just stayed on the couch and watched life pass me by. And eventually, I healed.

Late last year, I began feeling a slight discomfort in the hip socket of the same leg that was affected by the tumor. I was given a fistful of vicodin and a referal to a new specialist. A new set of X-rays showed slight abnormality that was possibly related with post operative healing, but without a set of interim X-rays to compare, it was near impossible to determine if the abnormality was recent or not. I was told to give it a week or two and if it got worse, then we would go from there. The discomfort has now meandered into the realm of pain and I'm back to using a cane for now. I look cool.

Because of the metal plate, I was told that I could have an MRI (not true according to the good people at Austin radiological), so I had a CTScan this past Tuesday. Horrible little procedure that involves the injection of contact dye into the blood stream. Stings like hell and burns your throat when it flows by there. As I walked around the exam area in my hospital pants, with an IV hanging from my arm, I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu. Kind of like when Jack Torrance arrives at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

I have a follow up on Tuesday and I suppose I find out one way or another what is to become of me.

This isn't a confessional post or even a biograpical post, really. I just wanted to explain my absence and provide some back story for when someone sees me with a cane and asks, "What'd you do to your leg?", like it's somehow my fault.

What can I say? It's complicated.

Anyway, I gotta go write about some Zombies.

Missy Elliott - Bring The Pain


JPM said...

well shit.

s i n c l a i r said...

aw honey. and i thought you were just a dead sexy pimp with that cane. keep us posted.