Today's guest post is from a blogger you may not know very well, but we've known each other for, gosh, a billion years. And after our recent shoe shopping excursion, (and also after I found out he's a Freemason. An actual, honest-to-God FREEMASON!) I knew there was no one on the internets I'd rather have take over for my blog-posting duties than my friend, Network Geek.
Ladies and germs, today Network Geek presents The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.
Yes, you read that right, The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.
When Kat asked me to write a guest post for the Canard Collective, this was the first topic that jumped to mind. Well, actually, to be fully honest, my first thoughts were about how much easier it would be to write about the five best things about, well, almost anything. The five best things about being divorced, for instance, or being unemployed or.... Well, you get the idea. But, then, being the contrarian that I am, I thought about this. You know, people always think when you survive a major illness, or, as I like to say, cheat death, that your troubles are over. But, gentle readers, I'm here to tell you that it is not so. Surviving is just the beginning of the problems.
The first thing that sucks about surviving cancer is that you have to go back to work.
I mean, for weeks and months, they've been treating me like a rock star at the hospital. Seriously. I had room service and a constant stream of people coming to check on my every need. I had chicks in sexy nurse uniforms waking me up in the middle of the night. At one point, I'd had so many transfusions that I'm pretty sure none of the blood in my body was my own. It was like Keith Richards for God's sake! I even had a crew of women who wanted to know every time I ate, took a leak, or had a "bowel movement"! And, after that kind of lavish attention, I'm supposed to go back to work and take care of pathetic users who've lost their Word documents? After being pursued by scrub-adorned groupies, I'm supposed to be worried about the mundanities of checking the server backups?
Oh, seriously, spare me!
Then, the next worst thing about surviving cancer is that the doctors and the hospitals all want to get paid now.
So you go through this whole routine with the medical staff about how they're these great humanitarians and they're all about you and "saving" your "life", then they send the bill. Oh, sure, my insurance paid for a lot of it. Most of it, in fact, but, hey, guess what?! There's a deductible! And, here's the cute, little tidbit they don't share with you, the insurance doesn't cover everything. I mean, even beyond the 20%, up to your maximum, that they expect you to pay out of your own pocket, there are things they just don't think are justified in using to keep you alive, no matter how many of those doctors claim you need them. And, I'm not talking about $20 aspirin tablets or anything like that. No, I mean medicine with Latin names even the pharmacist can't pronounce that counteract the radioactive, chemically toxic sludge that they've been poisoning you with for the past God-knows how many days or months which are $300 a pop. This is stuff that five people who claim not to know each other have all independently insisted is essential to your continued survival and that you must have. If you can afford it.
So, you pay it off, $250 or more a month, like a credit card with a high balance and a bad interest rate. You pay it off because all you can think of is that guy at work who was talking about his cousin Manny who got his car repossessed because he wasn't making the payments. Because you lay awake at night trying not to picture that nurse who went to school at the University of Moscow on a KGB scholarship coming in the middle of the night to repossess your health. Because you still have to face those doctors and you're sure they know that you haven't paid all their bills yet and you're afraid they won't keep telling you that the cancer hasn't come back. Or worse, that if it does come back, they'll stop letting you in the door to the clinic.
The third worst thing about surviving cancer is that everyone seems to have a something to tell you about cancer.
Everyone has an opinion about cancer, cancer treatment and the fact that you survived. And, they all want to share that with you. At great length. At very great length. Well, except for the people who you disappointed by beating the cancer. I know I have plenty of those folks who would really have been just as happy if I'd not made it, like my ex-wife and her current victim, er, fourth husband. Or like everybody I've ever screwed out of a promotion at work. I'm sure they'd all be happier if I'd died from it. Oh, and of course, the people who would gladly trade my life for the life of their loved one who died of cancer. Not that I hear from those folks, mostly. But they beat every one else who wants to talk at length with me about cancer.
And if they don't have a story about their favorite uncle, or cousin, or whatever, who had cancer or who has cancer, then they have questions. What am I, the Shell answer man? I have a medical degree that I should know the answer to your questions about cancer? Look for all I know that lump you found in your armpit is an old Milk-dud you lost in a drunken stupor last weekend. That cough could just be a cough. And I have no idea what your chances of survival are for some obscure form of pancreatic cancer that's migrated to your left big toe. Honest. And if I did, I'd charge you to tell you about it because, well, see my second point. If I were an expert, I'd be getting paid, G-Money.
Besides, all I know about is the kind of cancer I got, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. And, honestly, I know just what I couldn't forget in spite of trying to forget the hours of doctors droning on and on about all the crazy things that I can't do anymore, or at least while taking chemotherapy, because they're "bad" for me. Riddle me this, Riddler, how can fresh fruit be bad for me when my Second Grade Teacher harped on how we needed to eat fruits and vegetables four times a day by order of the government food pyramid police?
Look, I care about cancer the same way I'm a dog lover. Mainly, I care about and love my dog. Apply that to any way your body has betrayed you. Thanks.
The fourth worst thing about surviving cancer is that your friends are always checking on you and your health.
Just because they stayed with you that first night you got chemotherapy and were afraid you were going to choke to death on your own vomit like a rock star, now all your friends think they can monitor your diet and exercise and tell you what to do. Every time I cough more than two days in a row, they're suggesting I need to see a doctor. Every time I have a third slice of apple pie, because, you know, it might "be my last", they're all getting up in my business. Look, when I was on chemo and dropping weight like a bad habit, my doctors wanted me to eat anything that wasn't nailed down. They thought it was a great idea for me to eat sticks of butter like Popsicles. Now, it's a little hard to just stop that kind of consumption cold turkey. And, it's not made any easier when your oncologist's nurse flirts with you by saying that she's always liked her men with a little something to grab onto. And, besides, it's not like most of the people I know who are getting all critical about my health habits couldn't stand to make a few changes themselves, you know? Sure, I could stand to hit the gym a little more, or at least walk around the block a couple times a week. I'll grant you that. And I'll start doing that just as soon as the people telling me that I need to "eat healthy" and "get more exercise" start leaving work on time, stop hitting the buffet line at the local men's club and take up jogging. Promise.
And, so help me, if one more person suggests that I need to get a juice machine or follow some ancient Icelandic, anti-aging, cancer preventative diet, I'm going to see if the urban legend that no cannibal has ever been diagnosed with cancer is actually true.
Finally, the absolute worst thing about surviving cancer is that it's not ever over.
Officially, my lymphoma is in remission. Full remission. But, I'm still going to get poked and prodded and scanned once a year for the rest of my life because it might come back. Every day I have to deal with the idea that my body could be quietly growing another monster tumor that will send me through all this again. Because, until it comes back, or I finally die, it's not over.
It's never, ever over.
So, you can see, having cancer might not be any damn fun, but surviving hasn't exactly been a picnic, either.