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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life is short...

A month ago I was diagnosed as being diabetic. I was concerned, but I don’t need medication, just diet and exercise would keep it under control. However, it was clear that my feeling tired and ill now had an explanation.

At about the same time I discovered a lump in my neck. I ignored it thinking it was just the result of having been sleeping with the fan on full force all through the night. I have a tendency to get a sore throat and cold-like issues when I leave the fan on. I thought the lump was just the sign of an infection that would go away in a few days.

During one of my phone calls to Carrot, I mentioned the almond growing under my jawbone. I made light of it, but Carrot was angry. She made me promise to go to the doctor’s immediately. I thought she was over-reacting, but I know better than to try to argue with her. She seldom gets angry with me – but this time was different.

Last week I went to see my primary care physician – actually I see his physician’s assistant, Erica. I had never been examined by the doctor, but have always felt that Erica did an excellent job of taking care of my medical needs. Things were different with this appointment. Erica shuffled me off to the lab to give them some blood. Then I was asked to wait in the little waiting area until the results were in. Then Erica asked me to join her and the doctor in the examining room.

The doctor re-examined my almond. He put his hands in my mouth and asked me to stick my tongue out and then in and then out. He asked me a few questions and then told Erica to schedule an aspiration. The doctor then left the room.

Erica told me that it looked as though I may have a growth on my lymph node. I knew she was talking about lymphoma. I asked her if she thought it could be anything else. She said there are very few illnesses that present in that manner. Also, looking at my recent complaints of feeling tired and general malaise, all fit in with that condition. Besides, the fact that the almond was hard and not really painful was a real cause for concern. She told me she wanted to be prepared for the worse and expect the best.

I left the office in a bit of a daze. I could be dying. I could be dead before Riley. That would be the ultimate slap in the face. I didn’t know if I should tell Alea or wait for the final verdict. I just kind of wandered around. I called Carrot and gave her the news. She told me originally her mother had been diagnosed with Lymphoma before she got the lung cancer that killed her. She broke down. She said I MUST tell Alea.

I consulted Dr. Google and found that the type of Lymphoma that I most likely had would usually mean a 70% chance of living more than 5 years. That’s not bad – I thought. I can do a lot in 5 years. I’m 62 and that would mean I have an expiration date at 67 years old.

The following Saturday, Alea came out and we went over the money. I told her where it would come from and how I wanted it dispersed. We talked about her taking care of Riley and how to handle that situation.  I told her I had a 5-year plan for what I wanted to accomplish and I needed to start right away.

On Wednesday I had a CT scan and got the results the same day. I am “cancer-free”. The lump is a severe infection of the submandibular gland – in short I have an infected spit gland. It is treated with antibiotics, rest and drinking lots of water. I was ecstatically happy. I was alone in the car while I made the 2 hour drive towards home. I had a lot of time to think.

How ironic it would be to have Riley outlive me. One more thing Riley could hold up to the world – “see I told you I would live longer than you – and you didn’t drink!” My goal of keeping Riley from living with Alea would have been for nothing because the decision would no longer be under my control. It became very clear to me what I must do.

I must get the diabetes under control and get myself as healthy as I can be. And making the five-year plan was really not a bad idea. I could still keep it in action. Reviewing the money and other issues was a good thing for Alea and I to do. She now knows exactly where I stand on who gets what.

Most importantly, I will not take for granted anything that life has to offer. I will see all of my family as often as I can. I will appreciate every second. I think I have gotten off track since my very first post when I enjoyed every sunrise. I’ve been missing them lately.

When our lives are consumed with caretaking the alcoholic, we lose sight of what is important to us as individuals. We must be vigilant in remembering that there is life outside that insane alcoholic circle and living every bit of that life is not just that would be nice, but something that is essential.

If we don’t live our life to the fullest we allow alcohol to win. Knowing alcohol is a loser -- I plan to win!

11 comments:

jo said...

im so glad it turned out ok!!! i always figure mine will live to be at least 200...guiness book of records...but i try hard to not let that happen. if i lived like mine does, i would be dead in a week. he thrives. physically, not mentally.

hugs!

Anonymous said...

i always figured damage would show physically...all info says this. mine shows mentally...my A. i dont get it. never will.

Anonymous said...

So glad all was fine .

You know - even if you did die before the immortal alcoholic ... You would still have lived more

Enjoy your new perspective on life x

Dixie Redfearn said...

First of all, I have been enjoying your blog since finding it a couple months ago. You are a fabulous writer and I hope you are writing a book of all this. My profession is journalism so that is high praise from me.
Secondly, OMG, how scary to find that lump! I think your idea to stick to your 5 year plan is a good one. You just seem like such an intelligent, honest, caring person -- I wish I could lean against your fence and have a conversation with you.
Lastly, what if you knew you only had a year to live? Would you be doing what you're currently doing? And if not, examine why.

Karen E. said...

Oh my...I read half of your post and had to take a call..my thoughts were all over the place..My husband is a 6 yr survivor of Burketts Lymphoma (hurrah)..he went to hell and back during treatment..I did not want you going thru that..and selfishly..I thought who will listen and understand and give me knowledge now!! SO GLAD it is all okay..do as the drs say..take all meds, rest, drink water! and most importantly ENJOY LIFE in some way or fashion..another piece of advice I will try to follow! Hope you feel better, stronger, happier REAL soon.

poet said...

I am so glad to know that it was not cancer. a 5 yr plan is a great idea. i admire you for all that you are dealing with, and am always interested in what you have to say. take special care of YOU~ *gentle hugs* poet.

Syd said...

I am glad that it was benign. I know that we only have a limited time to live. I don't want to waste any of it.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Oh Linda - reading the first few paragraphs made me intensely sad - so glad it turned out to be something innocent!

Kind regards

Anna :o]

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Phew! Thank God you were given the all-clear. I did wonder if it were a saliva gland calcification. I agree, it would be ironic if you went before Riley.... he would milk it for the rest of his life! At least now you can re-assess your life and eat healthily and exercise yourself fit.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Ditto most of what Dixie said. And wouldn't it be a strange irony to have Riley outlive you? But why not? It is totally possible. He is immortal, after all.

I'm planning my mom's funeral right now - and am in a 'death' frame of mind. So glad to hear you will be around and continue to post your wonderful insights into alcoholism.

Michele Rosen said...

I'm glad it wasn't serious. Hope you're feeling better soon.