Monday, July 12, 2010

Slow-Motion Flow Of The Unnamed & Invisible Stuff Of Life

My long, slow, lesson in patience seems to ooze rather than flow. I have the sense that if I could view my life in fast-forward, I would see that the ooze is truly a slow-motion flow and that I am moving in the right direction. I have never experienced such a prolonged and slowed down tempo. Along with this (unwanted) lesson comes the development of a new perceptual field with a rate and rhythm approaching glacial creep.

My right hand is healing, but extremely slowly. I am regaining strength after the surgery, and some sensation, but I still have 1 1/2 buzzing fingers and a limited ability to hold things like pens and silverware. I am quite adept at lifting mugs again. Putting my hands on people in a meaningful way feels like a lifetime away. It will be many months before I really know the fate of my hands.

I have a sense that cancer is receding into the background. I have to rely on an internal sense of things because what I have is so hard to monitor and measure. To really see it, we would need to do another CAT scan, and I have had way too much radiation exposure from the CAT scans I had in the beginning of this ordeal. My curiosity does not warrant more radiation. An MRI might show the shrinkage of my breast and bone tumors, but I need an MRI with contrast, which requires an injection, which is hard on the kidneys. None of my doctors think it's worth the potentially bad effects of these test when it seems like I'm doing better.

By "doing better" I mean I have less pain and the visible lumps in my sternum and clavicle are much smaller. 7 (yes, count them - 7) doctors could not feel the breast masses when they were at their largest, so I can't rely on my physical palpatory skills to feel them either. I can only tell you that I "sense" that all the tumors are shrinking. I also have 2 tumor markers that are measurable with a simple blood test. These were nearly down to normal (after being 3-4 times normal) on my last blood test. I'm due for another check of those next month.

Paracelsus (1493-1541) seemed to be speaking of this phase of my life and education as both a patient and a physician when he wrote,
“The physician should speak of that which is invisible. What is visible should belong to his knowledge, and he should recognize illnesses, just as anyone who is not a physician can recognize them from their symptoms. But this is far from making him a physician; he becomes a physician only when he knows that which is unnamed, invisible, and immaterial, yet has its effect."
Through this ordeal, I am becoming something or someone new. I am learning to perceive the unnamed, invisible, and immaterial stuff of life in excruciatingly slow motion. It is a revelation.