Last updated: July 2019
I had decided to face my bout with bladder cancer with grace and humor. I got quite a few laughs from friends, my doctors and nurses. Many people commented on how well I was facing this ordeal. In truth, I was. I used humor to lessen the impact of some of the scariest or humiliating parts. I was wearing diapers. Yeah, yeah, I know… they are officially called “Adult Protective Undergarments.” They were diapers. Here I was, fifty-four years old, lying in bed wearing diapers. My major goals were to walk as far as the door and to make a poo poo. If you can’t find humor in that, have your funny bone checked.
I despised the pole I was wired to. It held monitors, bags of saline, and my catheter bags. I had to drag that thing with me everywhere I went. I remember the joy I felt when the last connection to the thing was severed, and I knew my next excursion would be without it. I fell asleep, comforted in my newly restored independence.
A trip to the bathroom and a funny moment
A few hours later, I awoke for a trip to the bathroom. I was still hoping for that poo poo. I wasn’t allowed to eat until that magic moment arrived, and it had been three days. I was hungry. I grabbed the pole and sleepily stumbled off to the bathroom, hoping to make magic. The base of the pole was too big to fit through the door, so I did the usual pirouette and backed onto the throne. I then started checking to be sure none of the tubes or wires were kinked or twisted. That’s when it dawned on me that I was no longer wired to it. My beautiful wife and I both laughed until we were weak. Mrs. Sharon had been with me through every second of my cancer journey, and I was grateful to share this funny moment.
Unprepared for the rage
Unbeknownst to me, it seems the universe was keeping a ledger of all of these moments of levity. I’d thought they were free. Apparently, it was not so. My first experience of this came as we were heading home. Mrs. Sharon was driving, but I was navigating. I got a call from my son just before we came to our exit. Distracted, I missed it and we soon found ourselves on I-20 headed for Dallas rather than I-49 for Texarkana. I was unprepared for the rage that enveloped me almost instantaneously. Let me be clear, there was never any danger of me physically attacking another person. I’m just not wired that way. But that’s not to say I didn’t hurt people with things I said or the way I acted. Primarily Mrs. Sharon.
Being set off by little things
I’ve been known to throw the occasional hissy fit, so I don’t mean to suggest that nobody has ever seen me angry, but this was different. The speed and intensity of the anger was greater than anything I’d ever felt before. The thing that really made it so different was that I was most likely to be set off by little things. A setback possibly requiring another surgery and I’d make a joke about it. Drop a pencil and I’d turn into Mr. Hyde.
Even the little things required effort
I remember thinking that it might have just been that even the little things required so much effort. I would marshal my energy. Often, I barely had enough strength to complete the simple act I was trying to accomplish. I’d rest until I had just enough energy to walk over to the table, pick up the pencil and come back. I hadn’t factored in, or allowed for, the additional energy to bend down and pick the darn thing up after dropping it.
As time passed, I got better and my need for gallows humor decreased. So did the unexpected flashes of rage. Fortunately for me, my loved ones stood by me and forgave me my ill behavior. They didn’t deserve my treatment of them. I don’t deserve such loving people in my life. But I’m grateful for them.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?