I’m having major surgery tomorrow. The past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind of planning and travel and cleaning and logistics and not just a few conflicting emotions. August 21st felt a lightyear away; there was plenty of time to prepare–mentally, physically, logistically. But now it’s here and I am wholly unprepared. I keep thinking of things I have left undone, the millions of errands I should have done, the paperwork I should have taken care of, the friends I should have seen. I know tomorrow isn’t the end of anything (semicolon, not full stop, remember?), but I can’t help but feel like now or never.
But really, I mostly just feel hungry. Remember how I was supposed to spend the summer gaining weight? I faced that challenge head on, eating all my favorite foods at all my favorite restaurants. I succeeded to a degree, gaining about 5 pounds. This past week was supposed to be my crowning achievement, a week planned entirely around food. I had each day planned in my head, taking into account my bowel prep and colonoscopy on Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Tuesday went as planned–yummy lunches out with friends and a kick-ass dinner of pre-theatre fish tacos. Friday night’s shabbat dinner was going to be glorious–matzah ball soup, turkey meatloaf, and roasted potatoes. Saturday breakfast at Stack’s, Saturday night eating gourmet salmon at a friend’s wedding. Food! All the food!
What was it about the best laid plans? They always go perfectly? Oh, right. They often go awry…
Wednesday’s bowel prep did not go well. I had had a failed bowel prep the week before (I’ll spare you the details), so my appointment was rescheduled. I was prescribed a slightly different prep, but those of you who have had the pleasure of prepping for a colonoscopy will understand that 64 ounces of any liquid in two hours is simply not pleasant. I went to my colonoscopy on Thursday in pain, nauseated beyond belief, and purely miserable. The procedure was aborted much like the first one in March–the doctor could not navigate the camera around the tumor, and because the prep was not completely successful, she thought she may have perforated my bowel. I was sent down to the ER to receive a CT scan. Several torturous hours later, the scan revealed no perforation but a partial obstruction caused by the all the liquid. It had backed up into my small intestine and my stomach, causing vomiting and pain.
Now, it is no secret that I have a severe phobia of vomit, called emetophobia, which makes this cancer of the guts all the more poetically cruel. Thursday night was the first time I had seriously vomited since 5th grade. College, three pregnancies, six rounds of chemo–nothing. One obstructed bowel–there goes my record. Suffice it to say, Thursday night was perhaps the most miserable on record. And because it would be impossible for me to complete another bowel prep for the surgery, I was instructed to remain on a clear liquid diet through Monday.
Which brings us to today. Sunday. I have not eaten since my post-theatre Snickers bar on Tuesday night. I never would have thunk that going five days without food would be possible, but here I sit, mostly conscious and entirely grumpy. Shabbat dinner and the wedding were the 8th and 9th circles of hell–food, food, FOOD EVERYWHERE!! No, I’ll just have a glass of apple juice, please. Sure, you can put that gigantic basket of delicious, fragrant olive bread right in my face, no biggie. Is that mashed potatoes with the salmon? Excuse me while I knee you right in the nuts. (See, even my genitalia euphemisms are referencing food. How rude.)
Perhaps it’s a silver lining that my pre-op anxiety has been overtaken by hunger. I am certainly not dwelling on what’s going to happen on Tuesday after the sedative wears off. I’ve gone whole hours without thinking about the recovery, the ostomy bag, and the pain. Hell, I’ve gone whole days without thinking about restarting chemo and what will happen if the cancer is stubborn and aggressive. So congrats, clear liquid diet. You are officially worse than cancer.
I will do my best to keep y’all updated as I am able. I would love to hear from people, either here, via text, or on Facebook. Also, please consider donating to the Colon Cancer Alliance on my Blue Star Tribute page. They’re doing some kick-ass work.