Franklin Roosevelt is often grouped in as one of the top three presidents ever, along with Washington and Lincoln, he ran the country from a wheelchair, and was played by Robin Williams in two movies. Barring the issue of the St. Louis, I would agree with his greatness. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address (remember, he was elected to four terms as president) (isn’t that thought scary as hell right now?), an address of 1883 words, contained in part:
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself
and that became his 10 most famous words. The problem is fake news. Lack of context*. I argue that those words are completely out of context* so how do we know what they mean? Here is the the context, as I remember it from primary school:
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And this fucking tumor up my ass. And surgery. And a stoma. And surgery by a computerized robot named after a guy who has been dead for 500 years (as of next May 2).
I know I will have a stoma, a hole in my belly where the contents of my small intestine will exit my body instead of continuing through my large intestine and out my butt. This type of stoma is, quiet frankly, a bit gross. They are pinkish red since basically the lining of the intestine, the lumen, is similar to the inside of one’s mouth. It would not be so bad if it was flat along my skin, but no, it typically sticks out. Seeing that the surgery may cause erectile function issues, this may be the only thing sticking out from my body, albeit not nearly as far. I find those pictures difficult to look at but it will soon be my view and I will be dealing quite a bit with the stoma. As of today, I really don’t want to see it. How I wish I had big boobs.
It is fascinating to me that medical people say what to them is a minor thing, or a quick piece of information, without specifically discussing that topic and it can make a huge difference, both positive at times and negative at times to the patient. For instance, the surgeon mentioned that I would have an MRI before surgery. When I said “oh?” he said, as an aside, “to see if the cancer is elsewhere and if surgery is still warranted.” That simple sentence made me anxious for over two months. Seriously. (No, this paragraph was not a non-sequitur.)
The other day I was speaking with a random woman, well, not so random, as I have known her for 47 years. Anyway, I was talking with her, not that she knows much about this topic other than the fact that she has been a nurse for 40 of those years years, and a wound and ostomy care clinical specialist. She works in a big city university teaching hospital and happens to live walking distance from me. We had not had a discussion of stomas, mine nor anyone else’s. She absolutely did not know of my concerns or feelings about it. And she happened to write:
Remember that right after surgery your stoma will be swollen as will be your abdomen a little bit. Because of this, think that you could have a stoma that has a base of between one and 1/2 and one and 3/4 inches initially. Protruding is good though. That really helps keep the perfect seal since the stool bypasses your skin and goes right into the pouch.
That last sentence, the advantage of a stoma that sticks out, and the reason for it, has totally changed my attitude and feeling about it. No, I still don’t want to see it, and if it is the size of whatever I have now that sometimes sticks out I will never find a bag to fit, but simply understanding the reasons and advantages, I really feel much better about it. I did text her that …
I may wear one of those dog cone collars so I can’t see it …
Which is always a possibility I guess.
I am not really fearful of the surgery itself. I have full confidence I will wake up afterwards; I have had surgery without problems in the past. I am not fearful of what the surgeon will see or find, between the CT, MRI, and flex sig I think we have a pretty good picture of what is in there. Although I am not fearful of the recovery, I really prefer it be pain free. Somehow I think that ain’t happening.
Sometimes it is hard to understand one’s feelings. During the chemo-radiation I never really knew if I had to poop, pee, or what. All the physical feelings in my pelvis were mixed up; thankfully that has gone back to normal. Similarly, right now I don’t know what my primary stressors are. What am I afraid of? Why do I feel stressed? Is it this fucking waiting? Is it that every ache and pain I have is now thought to be a rouge tumor? Do I have a touch of diarrhea because of my being nervous or that street peddler’s sushi last night? Or am I simply being a wuss?