You could hear a giant sucking sound coming from deep inside my body. It was a loud and obnoxious sound. To make it required no effort whatsoever on my part. It was instinctual. It just came out. In the early 1990s, it may have been fellow Texan Ross Perot who first said it, but I was the one living it, and back then, I learned that this life of mine is like a vacuum. It knows how to suck!
Those early days in the 90s included a visit to the dentist to discover a little pre-cancerous growth on my tongue. I began making regular visits to the oncologist to keep an eye on the spot. For years I had painful biopsies and the constant threat of cancer looming over me until one day, one of those biopsies came back as malignant. That was in 1999.
Since then, I've had so many surgeries that I've lost count. I've had malignancies all over the left side of my mouth. I've had my neck dissected, and operations on my tongue, floor of my mouth, jaw, cheek, gums, tonsils, and I've had numerous teeth removed. Once, I waited two and a half years before I needed another surgery, but most of the time, the surgeries are anywhere from every six months to year and a half. Yes, it sucks! Last July another malignancy was found on my tongue. This past January, a new malignancy was found. Today, I am recovering from another surgery I had the end of May to remove two more tumors and an expanse of pre-cancerous growth.
I'm in the oncology operating room so often that I've asked for my own personal platinum rewards card. In May, I put in a request for the surgical time at my convenience and the anesthesiologist of my choosing. Let's face it, ya gotta take advantage of every perk you can get.
If you think you've heard a giant sucking sound by now, you haven't. You've only heard the little starter vacuum cleaner I got as a wedding gift. Now let me tell you about what happened when I brought out the big guns-the top of the line vacuum cleaner and what it sucked up.
Aside from the cancer, I have a little bladder disease. One day, I found myself admitted to my local hospital to get treatment for a flair up with my bladder disease. I was actually rushing them along to discharge me as soon as possible because two days later, I had to be at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for another malignancy. Crazy right? Well someone flipped the switch on the vacuum cleaner to full power that day when my 87-year-old mother-in-law came to visit me in the hospital. While we were having a nice visit, she up and had a stroke on me. Yep, right there in my hospital room while waiting for surgery at a different hospital. Ya can't make this stuff up!
Maybe I should change my mind. Maybe instead of my life being like a vacuum and knowing how to suck, my life should be like a soap opera. Maybe instead of calling it "As The World Turns," we could call it "As My Stomach Churns."
Wait, were you in a hurry? Did you think that was all? Of course not. Through all this sickness, I had to go out of work and onto disability. When? Well right around the time of the 2008 Mortgage Crisis. Long story short, by 2011 the medical bills ate us alive.
Mom came out of the stroke severely impaired, but she did get three more years of a reasonably good life and got to see her first two great-grandchildren before she died.
I didn't survive all of this. I thrived. In the end, I no longer pay a mortgage -- something I did for almost 30 years without ever missing a payment until my vacuum cleaner came along and sucked it up. I no longer have a car payment. My husband and I share one car. I have no credit card debt. I actually have no debt. I live in less than 1,000 square feet of space, and I don't even miss any of the old life. I don't do the regular manicure, the maid service, or the designer clothing. I don't miss them. I will continue to have cancer recurrences. They suck, but they remind me about what's important in life and I'm the lucky one because I have it all!