(Coolio reference)

I saw the cardiopulmonologist (and he deserves his degree if he can spell that word twice in a row without making a mistake) a few days ago. The cardiopulmonologist is purported to be the best in the land (my land), and he struck me as being a gentle man as well as a thoughtful one. I prefer both of those qualities in people who are going to slice me, extract a small part of my lung, and, then, perhaps, go back for an entire lobe.

Understandably so, I hope you would agree.

The alternative is some guy on a street corner demanding my wallet and my watch and he is probably not as dexterous with the knife, nor as conscious of my future well-being. And I haven’t begun to mention the nice drugs that the former offers versus the latter, the sanitary conditions, the pints of blood available if required, the clean sheets and the oh, so kind nursing staff, the potential lawsuits for failure, and did I mention the drugs?

It is a no-brainer, but they are both knife fights that I am going to lose, in a sense, and I, for one, am never going to let anyone convince me differently.

It’s tough stuff. I am still trying to figure out how I got through the last one, back in 2005, without worrying about it. Maybe I have blocked it out; I don’t know. But I really don’t remember worrying about it. I think, sometimes, that I have learned from that and so I am worried now, but then I am contradicted by new facts.

Today, my new doc said there was “of course” a 1 in 100 chance that I would not make it through this surgery. I thought really quickly about that, and good at math back in the day, considered that a 1% chance of dying during this surgery was not offering great odds.

I don’t like that 1%. But as I was about to protest this, both my wife and the doc stepped over me, vocally, and my wife said, ‘Joe, your chances of surviving that last surgery were not anywhere near this good!’

Wow! That was my face. Even if it took 15 hours, it was my face and neck. (Okay, a slab of arm, a slice of leg, but still!) This is my lung! Why does that mean so much more to me?

More importantly, perhaps, why did I not care then, why did I not know then, why did I not want to know then?

I think I like that. I think I like not knowing. Wheel me in, dope me up, cut me up, sew me up, and wake me up.

Most importantly, eventually wake me up (when the pain goes away). With all of my most critical parts pretty much intact. Let me rephrase that: they may be small, but they had better be there!

Next Thursday, right before the Super Bowl, I will be getting into a knife fight where I am unconscious. Figure the odds. I’m not going to win that thing in the short run.

And those who are pretending that I will be enjoying the Super Bowl on Sunday are probably better suited to the law or politics.

As I understand it, the doc will be taking out a wedge. The spot is on the fringe, literally…I’ve seen the pictures…and I would probably use my putter, but he is a professional, so he will reach into the bag and pull out his pitching wedge, if you will, and get it done with one shot.

He says that while it was a problem for the needle people, he sees no problem for himself. I imagine he will get under it, get a little loft, coax it out with a bit of finesse, and watch it roll into the hole, to extend the analogy.

Everybody shout with me: “Doctor, you the man!” Thank you.

They will take the wedge and get it biopsied while I am still in etherland. While I wait, they will try to determine whether the little thing that has been concerning them so darned much is benign or malignant.

No, it’s true, they do not even know that yet.

They will then try to determine whether it is the squamous small cell cancer familiar to my head and neck, or something new.

If it is benign, I am a free man, less a small wedge of lung. If it is malignant, I must hope that it is new cancer.

Again, cancer makes for some interesting choices.

If it is a new cancer, and they aren’t sure they will be able to tell, they will do a lobectomy. There are three lobes in the right lung and only two in the left. I did not know this before now. I am not sure that it matters.

If the old cancer has become a pioneer and moved into new territory, we are headed back to that June analysis, I think, and maybe using the word ‘palliative’ again.

We shall see.

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