Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 21 Night - A Relapse Dream, Freedom and a Questionable High Five

Sorry for three days of silence. Everything has been fine. Even better than fine with some actual good news. Sometimes I feel burdened by the words. There is so much I wish to express, so much of my experience and the cavalcade of thoughts and feelings, and I become lost like a virgin shopper in a cavernous department store, wondering which aisle to wander down next and where might the exit be. I will do my best to be easier on myself, more gentle and loving, and not so damaging and foolish amid this whirlwind of expectation and fear.

Okay, so I just woke up from the worse relapse dream I have had in years, and it was all about smoking cocaine and crack out of glass pipes, scraping the residue and scouring a wooden floor like a rabid maid for a dropped piece. In a most pathetic battle, I was fighting over the next hit with a friend turned devilish competitor. How disgusting and truly awful it was, and how grateful I am for the freedom of my sobriety. I was a slave. Let's not mince words, and I mean no disrespect to the historical legacy of slavery or the actual victims of the present day. But I was a slave to my addiction and it turned me into a monstrous creature, and I am so grateful to be free of those chains. Yes, this health crisis is a challenge, but it is a challenge that I face with the dignity and the grace and the fear and the wonder of my own authenticity. Not some grubby and pathetic crackhead willing to sacrifice anything for the next hit, but John in the seat of his own actuality, present for each challenge and ready to face whatever difficulties are to come. Sobriety and the gift of recovery has given me the blessing of being the captain of my own ship. Yes, this ocean is the provenance of God and I know who ultimately is in charge of the tide, but I take a deep breath, ready and willing to face the next wave with a smile.

With Big Waves Rolling In, The Confidence of Being Your Own Captain
Mind you, the next wave that was rolling in with the easy vengeance of a Tsunami when I fall into my drama queen mode were the CAT Scan results of my right kidney and the identity of the 1.7 cm by 2 cm lesion that the Ultrasound found lingering like an unwanted visitor. Most likely it was just an angiomyolipoma, the most common benign tumor of the kidney that is composed of blood vessels, smooth muscle cells and fat cells, but there was an outside chance that it could be kidney cancer.

When I told the doctor at the clinical trials about the angiomyolipoma, he said we had to wait for the results of the CAT scan before they could admit me into the trials. However, he commented that if it was a cancerous tumor, it was a total slam dunk and I was truly lucky that they had found it at such an early stage when it could easily be extracted without the loss of my kidney. He quite literally offered me a high-five. In response, I shook my head and told him there was no way I was going to give him a high-five to celebrate the possible existence of a cancerous tumor in my right kidney, no matter how lucky that discovery might be in medical terms. This was a questionable high-five at best and clearly shows why the man became a research doctor and not a priest or a teacher or a shrink. I mean, dude, no matter what, I am never going to high-five anyone in regards to cancer.

Agreed: High Fives Reserved for Epic Moments of Wonder
Now the good news, not high fiveable (love inventing words that just seem to be needed at certain times), but quite a relief. Over the weekend, I received a letter from my Kaiser doctor, informing me that the lesion found in my kidney was indeed a benign angiomyolipoma and in need of no further treatment. If it grows out of control and continues to get bigger, that's a whole different story, but for now, it is fine and quite common and living a happy life in the suburbs of my body.

More importantly, let's deal with one major organ at a time, focusing on my liver and getting rid of the Hepatitis C. Now I can move forward with the clinical trials, although it's going to take a few weeks to get off the ground. Convincing two hospitals to communicate with each other (Kaiser and Olympia) is kinda like beholding negotiations between rhinoceros and a hippopotamus. The Rhino jostles its horn, the Hippo opens a gaping mouth and not all that much actually gets accomplished. Ultimately, everything will get done and I will continue to move forward with the provess.

Not the Easiest of Negotiations Between Hospitals - C'est La Vie!
Please forgive the multitude of pictures, but it's hard to pass up a good shot that illustrates a point I am trying to make and brings a smile to my face. This is a beautiful life, my friends, and it's sad that it often takes crisis to make us realize what we have been missing and what we truly should be grateful for. When I use the collective "we" I actually am referring to myself, but I enjoy universalizing my sentiments in a belief that they are reflective of us all. And why would anyone not want to be included in such a sentiment and in the quiet realization that beyond a society that constantly barrages us with a plague of unnecessary wants, we have everything we actually need in the palm of our souls.

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