In truth, after close to three years into my current illness — a rather tenacious sarcoma around the area of my left collarbone — I try not to invest too much importance in the casual words of others, mostly to let them off the hook. With the exception of the wildly unprofessional X-ray technician in 1988 who, spying my radiation-strafed lungs (a result of the primitive treatment for my first bout of cancer, and the likely cause of my present sarcoma), asked how long I’d had AIDS, caregivers seem trained to keep their language and voices neutral, for just this reason: it’s an unfair burden on them when so many of us who are sick are looking for signs or unstated reasons to hope during the waiting.
And there will always be waiting. It begins immediately. Unless your presenting problem is a headache and you show up at the hospital with a knife sticking out of your skull, tests will always have to be done and then results will have to be delivered. Biopsies must be frozen, sliced, dyed and analyzed. If a culture has to be grown, then you have to bide your time while cell division takes its course. Disparate hospital departments, if not entirely disparate hospitals, cities or states will have to find and speak to one another, leaving you with nothing but a lump, inexplicable bruising, months of unexplained fatigue, your own imagination or, heaven forbid, the Internet to occupy your mind. Those weeks before diagnosis can be among the most torturous times. There is a reason you’re called a patient once the plastic bracelet goes on.
Calamity might be central to their creation, but the fact that I settled on the graphite eggs only proves that there are no accidents. These wounded soldiers are really the only logical things I could be making right now. In the last year-and-a-half, I have been in surgery four times, with more likely still to come. What choice do I have, really, than to mend, resurface and buff these marred specimens back to some sort of life, and to hope to see in their patched and valiant surfaces something like beauty?
After the tragic loss of writer and friend David Rakoff, we revisit some of our favourite moments from his WireTap performances over the years: Irwin the ice cream man, Ian the belligerent drunk, and his unforgettable Dr Seuss.
« Older The PBS Idea Channel takes a look at how Minecraft... | A Post-Mortem on India's Black... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt