I’m usually emotionally solid as a rock. Sometimes it has come across as being cold and emotionless, but I’ve always felt I have an over-abundance of emotion that I keep in a complimentary mix. In the vast universes in my mind, I can feel the deepest sadness, but I have an arsenal of happy thoughts, memories and hope to keep me afloat. As if the sadness holds everything but my nose underwater, and just the fact that I still have that bit of air keeps me from depression. A delicate balance. For me it’s managed through flexible perspectives, meaning I don’t stick to one frame of mind, I search for alternate views that people in different circumstances would feel. I cry often when I’m happy, but rarely when I’m sad.
I have been crying nearly non-stop for the last 24 hours. I feel despair, I feel pity, and I can’t find my perspective. I know it’s there, I can find the words: I’m not blind, I can still walk and talk and use my hands. It could be so much worse. These things reach only as far as my logical mind, but they can’t reign the emotions back to stability. A colostomy bag on my stomach means horrible smells. It means at some point it will break or leak or fall off and I’ll get shit all over me. It means constantly irritated skin from the glues. Sometimes the hole in my gut will make weird sounds. If there was an end in site I wouldn’t be so devastated, but this is the rest of my life and I can’t seem to cry enough.
I’m in mourning for something I haven’t even lost yet.
I called my oncologist’s office today because I don’t understand why they aren’t testing me for cancer before the surgery. From what I understand, there is no test that detects the earliest stages of cancer, they only have a blood test that detects cancer if it’s developed considerably. So my cancer could be gone or it could have just shrunk up to a point where it’s undetectable only to grow back again. There’s no way to know. Removing the area is the safest thing, they keep telling me.
I searched for info on rectal transplants. (Yes, you can laugh. I did.) It’s not a thing, no one does it. I searched for clinical trials and alternate surgeries, too. There’s a clinical trial surgery called APPEAR that is meant to spare the rectum, but it’s still in the early stages and reported morbidity and only success in about half the cases so far (if I was reading the reports right). There have been a few people my age that had surgeons that wanted to try to spare them the bag because of their age. These people reported being treated for depression because they had no enjoyment in life. They have random stomach pains and they have bowel movements between 30 and 50 times a day. They pooped themselves often enough that they decide to just sit on the toilet most of the day to avoid the hassle and embarrassment. Leaving the house is not an option for them.
At this point, I’m gaining some comfort from the fact that I’ve educated myself and exhausted all my options (Stage: Denial). I’m still going to speak directly to my oncologist to make sure I completely understand the risks if I were to opt out of surgery. I need to hear it’s dangerous so I know I’m making the right decision gluing a poo holder to my stomach. Usually when I’m told something has to be a certain way, I fight it kicking and screaming just for the sake of challenging whether or not it’s true. All to often the status quo is just what people settled on because it felt safe. But usually the things I fight don’t involve a risk of death. Cancer is such a bitch.