Friday, January 23, 2009

An update on me

I certainly hoped, when I started this blog, to write something more than once a week. However, the past week has been busy in all sorts of ways. It's the beginning of the semester and at the last minute I took on an additional online course as an overload. I didn't take it because I wanted the overload pay, which is not very much at all, but because there was a real need for someone who understood the online software SUNY is using to teach it online. The version of the course I got from the person previously teaching it has required lots and lots of fixes. I finally have the first two chapters fixed which means I'm two weeks ahead of my students and hope to stay that way. That's all I have to say about that, as Forrest Gump would say.

Then there was the Presidential inauguration. I spent a lot of time reading, watching news about it and, of course, watching the event itself. I watched it at work in the coffee bar next to our library. Students were not back yet but it was still such an emotional moment for everyone watching. I know I teared up, though I wasn't expecting to. I am just so grateful we have such a truly inspirational leader in our new president as we deal with all the repercussions of the previous administration's lack of responsibility in dealing with the hard problems we face. And I am so grateful he is not white - that we finally have someone in that high a position who was able to overcome the racism that still exists in our country. And I am so grateful for all the people, of all races, famous and not, who worked and marched for civil rights, and set the stage for this to happen.

A little after the inauguration I had an appointment with my ENT, Dr. S. The first outcome of that appointment is that I'm scheduled for another esophageal dilatation next week. I need it-I can tell my throat is narrowing when I swallow--but I'm not looking forward to it and I'm a little worried about what would happen if the worst complication--a perforated esophagus--happened when I am having it here in Ithaca. When that worst case happened at Brigham and Women's they put a stent in. I don't think they can do that here. On the other hand, I do not want to have to trek to Boston for this procedure every 2 or 3 months when I need it. So I am hoping for the best. I do trust Dr. S. to do the best he can for me but I really should ask him what would happen if there is a perforation. I was scared to ask. I'm a little too good at not asking about what scares me and he is a little too good at not telling me about what might scare me.

And, speaking of scared, he also saw something in my cheek that concerned him a little until it started coming off as he was poking at it with the tongue depressor. He said that is not what a tumor would do. Still, he snipped it off (and made my mouth bleed) and sent it to pathology just to be safe. He said I would hear next week but what he thinks it is is a "granuloma" which is basically a lump caused by inflammation. It was right next to where they cut into my cheek for the cornoidectomy I had last summer. But the fact that he isn't positive it's not cancer still scares me

So I came home from that having entirely lost my inauguration high and instead feeling scared and self-absorbed by it. I wish mentally I was better at not letting that sort of thing totally pre-empt whatever else life is offering me. I also wish I was not so good at using repression as a way to deal with the fear. Since then, I have been working hard prepping classes and helping advisees and that has helped because I forget about that pathology report I'm waiting to hear about. But that's not so good either because I need to remember to call them Monday and ask about it if I don't hear from them and I'm afraid I'll be working so hard to forget about it I'll also forget to call (until 3 in the morning when I will lie awake worrying about it).

Anyway, I soon as I hear for sure the good news that this tiny lump in my cheek is not cancer, I will post about it here. Maybe that will help me remember to call. I am going to post this as an update, then post something else related to something I read recently.


  1. Enjoying reading your blog, Nelie. I can relate that it's hard to find time to blog (or do anything else reflective and fun) with an academic schedule. I will be thinking of you next week around the surgery.

  2. Hi Cornelia. I can understand your concern. Good luck with the surgery. I'll be hoping to get the news that the lump in your cheek was benign.

  3. Hi Nelie - I welcomed your visit over to my blog and came over to say hello. We share some history as you know - both cancer survivors for one, thoughtful writers for another. I'm about 14 months out of treatment myself and still assimilating what happened to me. Cancer can be very frightening - and it leaves its marks seen or unseen. I go thru what you do with every doctor visit since I'm on a very close "watch list" for the next year or so. I know that my life can change in an instant with just a few words from my oncologist at our next followup. What I don't do is let that fear make all my decisions. The fear is real and I don't know that we'll ever be done with it. But there are far too many things to enjoy to let it spoil our todays and tomorrows.
    I hope to visit more often - I think that there's a clarity to be gained from these stories we tell. And certainly the comfort of a fellow fighter! :)
    - Jeff