But I've got this thing in my heart I must give you today/ It only lives when you Give it away.... from Bruce Cockburn's When You Give It Away
your eyes and right hand pause as you read the list of symptoms. You draw a circle and wait to meet your new doctor, and for the script. It is four weeks before Easter.
The day after Easter, you wake to experience the symptom for the first time in months. you go to work where you leave early. you meet the specialist. He tells you that you are young then mentions finding cancer in a 28 year old. He is not going to reassure. He is going to test. You tell everyone it is hard to feel Easter Joy. You tell three people about the circle you drew.
You sleep well, you pray, you garden, you create art, you are present with those around you. But there are those passing thoughts, "is the time during which I ignored the symptom going to haunt me..."
For three days you enter the realm of a low residue diet, a diet you left years ago. You tell three more friends.
You cheat on the fasting day, well just a bit of solid food (bread) and a drop or two of red liquid (wine). You return to your seat and pray as you do every Sunday. "Renew me, Heal me." You skip the donuts.
You distract yourself all day... a DVD, playing at your Flickr site (where at one point, prompted by your wife, you do a search for colonoscopy), you cut out the pieces of a stained glass that will spell HOPE, you blog about preparing for a craft show.
two minutes before you are to intake 14 days of laxative in 90 minutes, the phone rings. Your sister in California asks if it is a bad time. You tell her the truth.
You are between the 7th and final dosage, when the laxative kicks in.
You have heard the stories... the prep is the worst, and it is far from the best. But at 2:30 when the prep wakes you, and the worries hit home; now you are at the worst. Imagining a doctor telling you that you have cancer is not good for sleep. You remember a short story you wrote 14 years ago. The main character is terminally ill. He walks into wilderness to die. You realize how you are no longer that character. You fall back to sleep.
stopped by a train as you try to leave town, you choose a CD from 3 handed to you. You listen to Bruce Cockburn sing.. When You Give it away.
You wait.. 30 minutes in the waiting room where you read favored Buechner quotes.. Then 30 minutes where you first lie down, 30 minutes in the hallway, and 30 minutes in the operating room. For most of it you close your eyes and breathe deeply and chant to yourself... "I am here Lord." It is the greatest truth. You hope someone is telling your wife that it has just been a long wait. Your doctor arrives after eating a bagel.
Your hand goes numb.
You wake up outside of the OR and the nurse, who struggled to find a vein in your hand, smiles at you. You ask, "Did they find any polyps?"
She says, "no."
A Sister of Mercy wheels you to the door. Your wife gets you to a diner for blueberry pancakes.
You are told to avoid driving, alcohol, heavy work, and making important decisions. But you are told to feel free to pass the gas out of your intestines. You say, "I already started."
You wonder if you should finally blog about this.
You find a link so others can listen to Bruce... listen to Bruce