I am officially home after post-surgery recovery, and am again surrounded by the warm embraces of my bride and my poodle. So far the news is excellent. Almost two weeks ago, as the mask went over my face and the lights went out, my surgeon had anticipated removing all of my stomach in an effort to eradicate the cancer that was growing right at the connection between my esophagus and stomach. But once he perforated me across 270° of my total circumference (apparently with a Craftsman jigsaw) and started stomping around in my abdomen (apparently in cleats), it seems my chemotherapy had done more to stop the cancer in its tracks than he'd first thought. The result was that he was able to leave me with a decent sized stomach (actually larger than what I had after lap band surgery last year!), and remove 3 inches or so from my esophagus. He took a fistful o' lymph nodes out, just for laughs, and the preliminary pathology report is that there was just one microscopic sliver of cancer in one lymph node, and that is the extent of the spread.
To translate, that's the greatest news ever, and similar in tenor to the whizzing of a bullet sailing past my hairless head.
Oddly, I still have a rubber hose with a small valve growing out of my belly that, shirtless, makes me appear to be a cherubic hot water heater, and clothed, a shoplifter. The best explanation I can get is that it's for "emergencies." I am apparently stuck with this odd accessory for the next two months. Otherwise, my collection of scars look like a human interactive map of Peru's Nazca lines, with tiny scrapes and cuts in enough random spots all over to convince me that someone overturned a drawer of silverware on me by accident.
Recovery has been pockmarked with dazzling piles of narcotics and some truly startling hallucinations. At various times, I have been convinced I was in San Francisco, Seattle or San Diego, proving that drugs largely remain a West Coast fascination. And if it's all the same to everybody, I'd just as soon not have any more surgery again, like, ever. I still sleep more than I am awake, so I'm not being anti-social—just dancing the Oxycontin Merengue. But to give you some idea, this morning I felt just as fresh and prone to writhing in torment as I did the day after surgery, and I'm told to expect 5 to 6 more weeks of this before I feel like doing complex activities like changing from SyFy to the Weather Channel. On a pain scale of one to ten, with one being a baby unicorn gamboling in a field of buttercups, I am closer to the ten end, which is the equivalent of being hurled into the Stygian Pit at the end of a largish toasting fork, while being serenaded by the entire annoying cast of Glee with a selection of Neil Sedaka tunes. I'm at least slowly regaining my ability to form compound sentences. And, I am sufficiently emboldened by each days' progress to think that by the month's end I can tell friend, brother and attorney Michael Halleran that there's no need to sue anyone, after all.
Again, Alice and I are both hugely appreciative of everyone's cards, letters, emails, prayers and good wishes, and I thank all of you. Please bear with me for the next few weeks if I seem unresponsive to messages or fail to answer the phone. I'm probably on a magic carpet ride to Seattle.