These are sobering times for my loved ones and me these days. Tomorrow I leave Chattanooga to go to Knoxville. Early Tuesday morning, my father is undergoing a frightening and terrible surgery at UT Hospital there. I moved to Tennessee from a nice little island I was living on several years ago, primarily to be here as a support for my father, who’d come down with cancer. He had to have three operations, the last one of which was open heart surgery, but he recovered and survived and aside from side effects from the radiation, etc., he’s been doing pretty well — until recently. About six weeks ago, a regular checkup showed that cancer has returned to him. This time it’s esophageal cancer, a nasty little one that can wreak havoc. Tuesday he’s having surgery to remove a couple of nodules from his neck. That might not sound so bad, but the cancer is right at his car-toroid artery, necessitating multiple surgeons — three — and a good chance he could lose his voice box in this surgery. Indeed, we’re hoping he’ll actually live through this. It’s that brutal. My elderly parents seem to be holding up as well as people can under these circumstances, but it’s truly rough. I was on an operating room table less than two weeks ago, and I know how rough it is to lie there — even with family and friends there to support you — and feel so completely and totally alone in the universe before they put you out, and it’s a horrible and terrifying feeling. Hell, I hate the damn lengthy stays in the hospital alone! I was hospitalized in May for five days, and I felt so lonely and so alone and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. I know he’ll be afraid, no matter what, when he’s about to face the knife and I want to do something more than just sit there waiting for him. I know this sounds pretty lame, perhaps, but I’d exchange places with him in a heartbeat. He doesn’t deserve to have to go through this crap again. I want to hear his voice in my ear until the day one of us dies. I’d gladly be willing to risk it if I could. But I can’t. I can’t do a damn thing except be there for him, offer him any and all support I can, do anything possible to ease his pain and discomfort after the surgery. I guess I can also pray, which I’ll probably be doing a lot of Tuesday morning.
Two additional people I feel for are my elderly mother who has to endure this bravely, and my girlfriend, who just moved here not too long ago and doesn’t know many people and will be lonely this week without me here. She’ll have our two cats, but that’s little comfort, I know, and dammit, I’ll miss her too. Very much. Call me co-dependent, but I’ll be lonely, myself. I hate this, I hate this week, I hate all of it.
I’m hoping to return to Chattanooga on Thursday. I don’t know how long Dad will need to remain in Knoxville recovering. Next week — next Tuesday — I have a consultation with a new surgeon of my own. Yep, I’m facing the probability of a very nasty surgery of my own, which will go undefined for the present. I want to talk about how much I don’t want to go through with this, but I don’t want to talk about what it is. Under a best case scenario, we’re talking about at least four days in the hospital for me, probably longer. Under the knife. Nice. Normally, I’m not one for denial because I think that’s weak shit for people who can’t — or won’t — deal. In this case, I’m tempted to embrace denial because I just don’t want to think about the details about what Dad will be facing Tuesday and what I’ll likely be facing shortly after. I don’t want this shit to happen. Not much choice though. And there it is — no point in denial because you just have to face up to it, like it or not. I know when it’s my turn, even with a wonderful, loving girlfriend and two wonderful, supportive parents, I will feel so completely helpless and alone before they put me out that it’ll be a damned nightmare, not counting what they’ll even be doing to me or what could happen as a result. Holy crap, I hate this!
I guess there’s more I could write about. I could comment on how my UT Vols lost their game with LSU yesterday, or how my Steelers squeaked by Jacksonville a couple of hours ago. I could talk about the new Bukowski I’m reading or the book by Kevin Mitnick that I just finished. I could tell you I’m listening to The Cars as I type this. But really, all of these things are truly unimportant in the scheme of things, and so these are indeed sobering times for me and my loved ones. Pity. May God help us all….