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  • Showing only topics in ~health with the tag "personal histories". Back to normal view / Search all groups
    1. I don't feel like a cancer patient

      Last year (June 2022) I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I had surgery (which left me with a permanent stoma) and I had a bit of adjuvant chemo to kill off any remaining cells. I've been...

      Last year (June 2022) I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I had surgery (which left me with a permanent stoma) and I had a bit of adjuvant chemo to kill off any remaining cells. I've been discharged from oncology, and I've started my 5 year surveillance. Staging is complicated but my I was pT3pN2bM0 (tumour was stage three, I had lots of lymph node involvement, but no metastasis).

      Alongside that I've had problems with gall stones, starting in April 2022, and ending this year when my gall bladder was removed.

      When I tell people about the cancer they pull on their serious face and say things like "oh no how awful hope you're okay glad to see you're doing so well now it's good news that you're in remission", and when I tell them about the gall bladder they're kind of baffled and not at all concerned.

      But here's the thing: cancer was not such a big deal. I do have a permanent stoma, but for some reason my brain has disconnected that from being a cancer thing. I had a relatively gentle chemo regimen (short, and it was CAPOX which is less rough than other meds) -- don't get me wrong, chemo SUCKED, and left me with neuropathy in my feet, but I got through it. When I compare that to repeated[1] hospitalisation for cholangitis (a gall stone stuck in a bile duct causes bile to back up and that causes pretty severe problems), well, those repeated hospitalisations were a much bigger deal for me.

      English NHS hospitals tend to have dorm wards. In the ward I was on there were 6 beds to a bay, and 5 bays to the ward, and then a further 6 or 7 single occupancy rooms. Some of the bays were smaller, and had 4 beds. Once the hospital was very full, so I spent a night in a bed (proper bed, not a trolley) but in the ward corridor. I spent over 60 days in hospital for the gall bladder stuff, and just 7 as an inpatient for the cancer. (And Sartre was right, hell is other people ).

      There are lots of health forums online and I always feel deeply uncomfortable in the cancer forums. I feel okay in the ostomy forums[2], but I don't use them because they're all a bit odd.

      I dunno what the point of this post is. Maybe it's "sometimes cancer is treatable and the person isn't particularly bothered by it", or maybe "people with cancer want support, but sometimes that support won't have anything to do with cancer".

      [1] When a stone gets stuck they need to do some emergency work to stabilise you and remove the stone. And if you keep getting stones stuck they want to remove your gall bladder. There's some discussion about when to take the gall bladder out. Hypothetical Bob has a stone stuck - you stabilise him, so do you take the gall bladder out then (when he's still recovering) and then monitor him for a few days and discharge him home to fully recover? Or do you stabilise him, then discharge him home to recover, and call him back for planned surgery to remove the gall bladder? Evidence is inconclusive about which is best, so there's a bit of a lottery depending where you are in England. My local hospital took the later approach. The problem was that i) I had cancer, ii) My gall bladder was very active in kicking stones out and iii) we had several Covid pandemic waves causing huge disruption. These meant that by the time I had recovered enough to have the surgery, and they had a space on their surgical list for me, my gall bladder had kicked out another stone and that reset the whole thing again. They gave up this year and took my gallbladder out.

      [2] Online health forums can have this really weird dynamic. English speaking forums are usually dominated by Americans, and Americans fall into 2 groups: 1) People with bad or no insurance and 2) People with good insurance. When someone says "I'm having this problem" the replies from the first group will all be along the lines of "go the the vet and buy this fish medicine" and the second group will be "here's a huge list of tests and products to use".

      EDIT: I forgot to mention, I am in England, and so I am very fortunate because all treatment is free and a cancer diagnosis opens up quite a lot of support.

      37 votes
    2. I want to give psilocybin a try

      Insight once came to me after I was prepped for a surgical procedure. As my body's weight began to evaporate, a pain I had never recognized, but which must have always been sounding in the...

      Insight once came to me after I was prepped for a surgical procedure. As my body's weight began to evaporate, a pain I had never recognized, but which must have always been sounding in the background noise of my being, vanished. The superadhesive worry--which sometimes frightened others as much as myself, that in order to socialize, I had learned to sometimes twist into a temporary shape resembling charm--came unstuck and peeled away. Then followed a great thought, a mandate for how I should spend the remainder of my life. Also, I needed to poop. But more than that, I needed to get out of this semi-public hospital bed and to a private space immediately, so I could allow this cosmic insight a moment to fully bloom. Time was against me. Anesthetized, I knew I was slipping toward, maybe even over, the falls past which I would forget everything of this experience until a groggy post-procedure awakening brought dull daylight and its senseless aches back to me. I had to somehow save the thought. I searched, but the bathroom gave up no markers, no specimen cup labels to write on. I wondered about tearing toilet paper into little letters, hiding them above the cabinet. But would I remember to return to read the message? With an increasingly calm desperation, I dug my nails into the flesh of my hand and repeated again and again the life-saving insight delivered during communion with the world that lay beyond pain. Please remember, please remember this thought.

      When I regained consciousness, it was waiting for me like a friend who had lost patience, and now seemed much less attractive. What I had somehow stolen from the gods, secreted in my closed palm through a swim across the river Lethe, was this message: “Do Drugs.”

      I had realized that analysis, working on the problem of myself both mentally and verbally, had won me no appreciable gains. Insight, I had. But relief, happiness, an improved outlook? Nothing I had done had really helped me feel better. Anesthesia instantly had. These aren’t the words of an addict coming on-line. I was a reluctant user of any substance. However, in the years following I forced myself to again undertake drug trials with my psychiatrists. Methodically, I worked through every class, waltzed backward through the eras of drugs, danced off-label with each oddball wallflower, ingested every twisted molecule to ever win over the FDA with a promise of psychiatric benefit and maybe some that merely had intrigued one of my more historically-curious doctors. When Eddie Haskell, MD wanted to resurrect a drug of the bad old days just to see what it’d do to a person, I was the patient with his hand out.

      I overslept and didn’t sleep. I gained and lost a third of my body weight. My head felt like a styrofoam block, then like the slate of a blackboard being scraped with tableware. I was more or less charged, sweaty, sensitive to light, and shaky. Some drugs make you feel like Benjamin Braddock in his birthday diving suit. Others make you feel like an amnesiac idiot in Benjamin Braddock’s birthday diving suit. A common theme emerges. These substances could help me feel slower, distant from the world, claustrophobic, clammy, sensorily distorted. Sometimes, they dulled my anxiety, or dried my hair-trigger tear ducts, but they accomplished this through impairment, and very clumsily. I have never been drunk, but I think it’s like a drunk traffic cop: success in psych meds comes about by the stopping of certain avenues, slowing up of traffic, blocking lawful turns. And it’s sometimes noted in the overall impact that fewer crashes have occurred. To me this is not success. Impairment so far hasn't been healing for me. I want my turn at quoting the line, "I feel like myself again."

      And so, my heart sinks at every day's new headline about psychedelics. If you follow health news at all, you know they are a hot topic, showing a ridiculous amount of promise. Despite fitting the diagnostic profile, my former home was far from anywhere with signups for studies. I reached out to several "clinics" offering psychedelic-assisted therapy. They struck me as resembling many legal weed shops--loads of young bros polishing their presentation and sanitizing an extortionate drug deal in hopes of financing a Tesla. With fees starting at 8x the plane ticket to administer and contextualize a drug that costs less than $20 a dose, I wouldn't credit their soft patter as containing much idealism.

      And here I am--for other reasons besides. Yes, a part of me thought living here would put legal psychedelics within my reach, but I'm not seeing any opportunities. Now I'm kicking myself for never having tried to cultivate mushroom spores, never having ventured to ask acquaintances for a hand. I'm marooned here and psilocybin is about blow up in the States.

      20 votes