Friends, Fears, and My Favorite Communist

A month or so ago, I saw that Billy Bragg, one of my favorite musicians, was going to be playing near Cleveland. Knowing I couldn't actually afford to go, I jokingly posted about the show on Facebook, saying that if anyone wanted to get a late birthday gift for Ryan and I... Who would have expected that someone would actually jump on that?!  Well, our good friend, Dan, did just that.  (Thanks, Dan!!!)  Dan is one of the good ones.  Literally and figuratively.  Friends that are so special to us, we basically adopt them as family.  I am extremely lucky.  I have an abundance of friends I can truly say are family to me.  People I know have my back no matter what, and whose backs I've got as well.  And there are so many things happening in my life right now that make the importance of this so much clearer.  But the obvious one is, of course...

...tomorrow's biopsy surgery.  

I think a lot of people missed this little wrinkle in my post-cancer life.  I know probably fewer people check the blog these days.  I don't blame you... I write way less frequently.  The drama and excitement of cancer treatment has long gone by.  But the truth is, this is my life.  Forever.  Cancer changed everything for me and for Ryan, too.  (Lucky Ryan... Totally asleep right now.  He has the magical issue of falling asleep when he is overwhelmed.  Me? I'll be lucky if I sleep at all tonight.). Because I had cancer, I'm always going to have problems associated with the treatment and I'm always going to be at risk for recurrences.

Cancer has LITERALLY infected my life.  I likely have Radiation Cystitis, a fairly rare side effect of pelvic radiation therapy.  It is basically a miserable inflammation of the bladder lining.  After having a cystoscopy a couple weeks ago (a procedure wherein a urologist looks around in your bladder with a tiny camera at the end of a cable inserted through the urethra) it was determined that I most likely have this rare side effect (of course I do - I am the queen of getting ALL the side effects), but "just to rule anything else out" they have to biopsy the affected area of my bladder.  Joy.

This procedure needs to be done under anesthesia, so that technically makes it a "surgery".  Which is scheduled for 1pm tomorrow, Monday, September 30th.  Today, I guess, as it is 1am as I write this.  Just the fact that I am awake at 1am should give you a little idea of how I am doing with the whole thing.  Nervous.  Anxious.  Scared.  Upset.  Sad.  Angry.  And probably about a dozen other emotions I can't even place right now.  

Thank heavens for Dan and the Billy Bragg tickets.  It was truly a remarkable show and proved to be a very positive distraction.  I don't care what kind of music you like, you need to check out Tooth & Nail, his most recent record.  Just stunning.  I mean, everything he has done over the 30+ years he's been performing is truly stunning.  But I really loved this record from first listen when KEXP (my favorite radio station out of Seattle that I still listen to online) was streaming it early this year.  So. Good.

But even the best distractions do not last forever, and now I am back home, sitting in bed with the iPad, Ryan completely comatose next to me, dying of thirst and not allowed to drink anything, and I can't sleep.  And what's worse is I can't even really sort out why EXACTLY this is so bad...

I know that on some level(s), it is because it feels so invasive.  Not just the "surgery" but the condition itself.  I am basically in pain, like, all the time.  Pretty significant pain most days.  Difficult to describe pain.  It's a new pain for me, different than previous more familiar pains I've had in that general area.  And while the pain is basically constant, it is grotesquely amplified AFTER I empty my bladder each time I "go".  And I have to go a lot more than usual.  So, to say the past several weeks have been difficult is putting it mildly.  And because we were so taken by surprise by the news of the biopsy, we didn't really manage to ask the right questions... Namely, while you're in there getting biopsy bits, are you going to "fix" the pain thing, or will I have to wait even longer for that??

So yeah.  I'm having surgery in just under 12 hours, and I have no idea if it's going to involve the step that will make me finally feel better.  I hate waiting.  I hate not being able to sleep.  Or drink water.  

Well, whatever.  I should try to.  I'll update tomorrow if and when I can.  In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts?  And be good friends to the good friends you have.  And if you ever get the chance to buy someone Billy Bragg tickets (take that literally or metaphorically as needed)... Do it.

Love love love,
Phoebe

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