I took J to the emergency room yesterday. It was only the second time in at least ten years that I felt very strongly that he needed to go. He was having pretty intense abdominal pain after the surgery he had a month ago to reverse his colostomy.
It started out as kind of a disaster. The first emergency room we went to was the one at UTSW where his surgery was performed. We waited for three hours and they still couldn’t tell us when we’d be seen. We hadn’t even seen them call anyone back from the waiting room in that time, either, so we decided to leave and go to the emergency room closest to our house, where fortunately they could see him pretty quickly.
First things first: he has something like an internal abscess at the surgical site which has been causing all the pain.
Then, on to the second thing: it appears that his cancer is back already. The report of his CT scan said it looks probable that it’s in his lymph nodes around his colon.
The report also said that there may be cancer in several lymph nodes around his heart, in his omentum (a layer of fatty tissue that wraps around the intestines), and in his lung.
So that now makes two for two on emergency visits I’ve insisted he make that resulted in finding out he has cancer.
I burst into tears when I read the radiology reports because I understood what they meant. And while I told my husband I was likely to write a blog post full of despair, now I find that I’m mostly just in shock.
Yet I shouldn’t be shocked because deep down, I kinda knew this was coming. Sometimes my intuition is remarkably strong. (For example, I always just knew that once we redid our front bathroom in our old house in Michigan, we’d end up moving within a year. Sure enough, that’s how it happened.)
I also just knew that when my husband got his colostomy reversed, he’d find out he had cancer again. I had similar feelings about getting a job and finding out his cancer returned. I still don’t know if that means I shouldn’t take the job just because I don’t want to take away from our family time that much.
But it’s one of those weird kind of things where it feels like I’m on a runaway train and I can’t change the outcome, no matter what I do. I don’t honestly believe that if I don’t get a job, he won’t die. Or if he didn’t get the colostomy reversal, he wouldn’t die.
Rather, somewhere deep within, I know he’s going to die either way. And that brings me to tears and leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach.
It ended up being a good thing that he got the colostomy reversal and had complications from it because otherwise we wouldn’t have known about the return of the cancer. In fact, prior to this knowledge, he was planning to tell his oncologist he preferred to take a “wait and see” approach rather than starting up on chemo again right away.
But getting this advanced knowledge by way of surgical complications doesn’t make me feel any better at all. Sure, he could technically still beat the incredibly grim odds for his diagnosis, and I’ll never give up that hope.
But this is also a really heartbreaking reminder that he probably won’t beat the odds. And I have no idea how to face that because I simply don’t want to. He’s too good of a man, too good of a husband. It should be me that dies instead if there’s any justice in the world.