Monday, July 11, 2011

A Mid-Season Loss for the Good Guys

Early Thursday morning I went into Scott & White for my all-too familiar routine... one that I've grown very accustomed to over the years. This ERCP scope would function in several capacities: To add a stent to the bile duct that did not already have one, to scrape cells to check for cancer, and to rule out a possible tumor pressing against the bile duct in question.

As a veteran to this landscape, I was pleased to greet faces old and new as my team assembled to start the procedure. I suppose after so many of these I no longer have the anxiety that I did early on. I now finding that I can meet this scary monster on my own terms, as old foes who eventually find a mutual respect and common ground after many years hard fought together. Or, in conversational terms, "Surgery... my old friend. So we meet again. Before we get started, remember who you're fucking with. I'm the Zen master of this realm. Save your cheap parlor tricks for the beginners; you should know by now that we're way past all that."

Anyway, after coming out my opiate-derivative haze, I remember hearing Amanda and my doc gravely discussing the outcome of the procedure. Apparently things did not work out as planned. The one bile duct is completely closed off, shut down, and impenetrable by conventional endoscopy methods. Amanda asked if this would move me up the transplant list, only to be told "This may complicate things", whatever that means. What we do know is that hopefully soon they will meet will my Baylor Medical transplant team, come up with a new strategy, and possibly come at the Bile Duct from a different angle, possibly having to cut in to do so. Rats.

I can certainly tell things are progressing. Last month, a small bump to my shin above the ankle caused my entire leg to bruise swell for almost four weeks, becoming so serious that I was unable to walk on it for almost a week without crutches. I'm told this is to be expected now, dues to a low Albumin level and low clotting factor, both no longer regulated by the failing liver.

So, dear friends, where does that leave us? Weaker, but more determined and focused than ever. As my body falls apart, my soul feels cleaner and more purified as needless concerns and pursuits fall away like layers of winter clothes. I really like the person I am right now, which is much more than I could say about myself five or six years ago. I feel I've come full circle in again becoming the kid I was at eighteen... caring, creative, determined, positive, a leader, and hopefully an inspiration.

A half a year after losing my father, I'm not sure if I've even really had the time to fully process the loss with all the other shit going on, and now I'm noticing more that he's gone when I really need him the most. Saturday night I lay awake, anxious and engulfed in every factor I could think of to worry about with my health, our finances, our long-term future. Out of self-preservation and for Amanda's sake, it's rare that I let myself entertain this level of negative thought. But as you all know, once you get started down that path it's hard to stop. And to be true, this month has been more overwhelming than most, which, by most standards, is saying a lot.

I lay awake and did the only thing I could do until I finally fell asleep around 8am... I prayed to God, Jesus, Mary, whatever, and I prayed to my dad to help me. I prayed to my dad to show me some answers and guide me. I needed him to show me how to be a man right now, and I figured God owed me enough to let dad reach out to me from wherever his soul may be and give me a little help.

I awoke feeling a little better, a little lighter. I resolved to get up and out of the house and go have some fun with Amanda during the day. We made a project out of going through tons of old books and cleaning them up to take up to Half-Price Books and sell them for a little change. Lo and behold, in a stack of old hardbacks that had not been touched in twenty years was a tiny black and brown book, titled "From Father to Son." Inside was a very personal message from my dad to me, dated from 1993. I don't think I thought much of it when I was 23, but the words leapt off the page now as if he were speaking directly to me, right at this very moment. In a very real way, dad threw my a lifeline from beyond the grave, in the form of this instruction manual that I can continue to reference whenever I need to. A real and tangible gift of words from my dad that I could hold and feel in my hands; I'll cherish it like it were made of gold. I know I'll need it in the weeks and months that lie ahead. Thanks Dad, and thanks to you, my dear friends who are reading this, for all the continued support and love you've been so generous in sharing with me. I hope you all know how much of a difference it makes.

Until next time, stay tuned for another exciting episode as I go back under the knife and win the next round! Contact me to pre-order event t-shirts, foam #1 hands, and koozies.