What’s Next?

This is from an email sent out originally on May 15, 2012.

Hi, all.

Lots to talk about today.

First of all, I and/or my writing have been accused of being inspirational.  No.  This guy is.  Take five minutes and watch the video.

So, yesterday was my last day of regularly scheduled chemotherapy!  As you’ll remember from last update, because I’m not so important anymore in terms of priority, I had to patiently wait my turn.  And, sure enough, after two hours of sitting around, I finally got into the treatment room.  I think I slept through most of the treatment because the time seemed to fly.

But, all was not lost.  Apparently, yesterday was a special day in the chemo ward and there were hairdressers and manicurists offering free haircuts and manicures to patients and those who were accompanying them.  When the volunteer finally stopped by Tammy and me to ask us if we’d like free haircuts or manicures, I declined (both), but only after making the requisite jokes about getting a manicure.  Tammy, however, was suckered into the free manicure which involved a cursory filing of her nails with a questionably clean file (Hey, it’s a hospital, not a nail salon!), and a quick coat of “alarmingly-shocking-glow-in-the-dark-pink” which I personally like a lot better than the dark morbid nail polish that is apparently more fashionable these days.  What do I know.  (I think the polish has already been removed.  Tammy’s out now, but I’ll check as soon as she gets back.)

And, in yet another Jerusalem-is-the-center-of-the-universe story, Tammy had gone to pick up some food at a cafe attached to the hospital and who does she bump in to?  None other than Rabbi and Mrs. Tully Besser who were in town leading a tour of students from the Yeshiva of Flatbush.  The students come every year to visit children who are in the hospital.  I think Tammy tried to negotiate for the group to come visit me.  Alas, no such luck…

Earlier in the week we had a real treat: we got to go see the greatest surgeon in the world, Ronit Grinbaum, who, you will remember, we first met back in October 2011.  The purpose of this visit was to discuss the next steps in closing up the ileostomy which, as you know, has been a tremendous blessing, allowing me to work and travel (one in the same!) since January.  The discussion centered around the possible need for a rather aggressive treatment called HIPEC.  (The link is to an animation that describes what HIPEC is.)  The bottom line is that we need to determine if the procedure is necessary.  So, next stop will be a meeting with the expert here in Israel to help determine if it’s worth having the procedure.  After that, another stop at the oncologist and then, I think, we schedule surgery.  Timing will be some point this summer, I guess.  My personal goal is to wrap this all up this summer so – this year – I can enjoy the High Holy Days, eating when I want, fasting when I should and praying at the appropriate intervals.

So, at my appointment with Dr. Grinbaum, we waited for about 90 minutes to be seen.  No problem.  I’d wait twice that to be seen by her.  And, anyway, surgeons keep their own time and emergencies come up.  (Thank God I’m not an emergency.  Did that twice and I’ll be happy never to, again…)  So, the vast majority of other patients waiting to be seen were all gastric bypass patients, there for follow ups.  We were called third and, as usual, the good doctor took her time to thoroughly review all paperwork and patiently explain to us the various options of next steps.  All questions were answered.  The downside (for others, not us) was that we were in the exam room for close to 30 minutes.  Bear in mind, Israel’s healthcare system is socialized.  Thirty minutes with the doctor is virtually unheard of.  Needless to say, when we finally left, I kept my head down and quickly got the heck out of there.  Tammy, on the other hand, deigned to make eye contact with others who were waiting.  Apparently, she was on the receiving end of gratuitous glares, deathly daggers and moronic mumblings.  Granted, these people, I’m sure, assumed we were being seen for something like gastric bypass follow-up. (What a success story I must look like to them!)  But I wonder, would any of them like to trade places with me?

Until now, I’ve been pretty good about sending out updates every two weeks – right after chemotherapy.  Now that chemo is done, the question is raised what schedule will I follow?  Well, I’m not sure.  How about we agree that updates will be issued “as events warrant?”

(Oh, before I forget, special note to Helen – parking wasn’t so challenging this time around!)

As always, thanks for reading.


About Alan

F---ing Cancer since 2011.
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