This has probably been the most difficult week since my operation. And that is saying plenty. Remember the wagging fingers letting me know in no uncertain terms that I had a major operation. Time heals all, and memories fade, specially memories of things that are hard to comprehend or come to terms with.

The first few months have crated all sorts of emotions, most of which you are all terribly familiar with by now. The constant expectation to wake up in the morning and find that this was a dream, a case of parallel universes, sliding doors, is always there. The thought that this was a wonderful joke, we all laughed, can we get back to reality now? is pervasive.

Life goes on.

This week was focused on getting my white blood cell counts up. I still have no idea, nor can anyone tell me, why your white blood cell count fluctuates so amazingly. From .8 to 6.7 back to .8.  The Neulasta shot was supposed to make ne feel like a new man. Not so fast. A new man I am not. I sleep every afternoon for a couple of hours in order to stay up at night and spend some time with Janet. I still end up going to bed around 9PM.

We attribute the exhaustion to the low white blood cell count. This conversation has really dominated the week.

I had lunch with my friend Yama yesterday. We met in a food court in the business district. I walked from Janet;s building where we get to park the car for free, to the business district. All underground. Much warmer that way. Temperatures in Toronto are now showing tendencies toward winter. Minus 5 to 10 Celsius. With the wind bearing down on you, it gets much colder. So underground it is. Hard to imagine what it is like if you live in a warm climate.  But there major paths built underground that allow you to go from one place to another without seeing the light of day. Welcome to the cold white north.

The walk was interesting. I don’t go out much where I am not in control of my surroundings. I go to the market mostly during the week when there are fewer people around. Less chance of having someone sneeze on me. Everything we do is geared to minimizing exposure. Here I am walking through the underground at lunch hour. Painfully aware of the multitudes running helter-skelter from one place to another. Some in an awful hurry, hardly paying attention to the people around them. I found myself walking along the walls, stopping often to let some yahoo breeze past me. It was just a bit scary. Not a lot scary, just a bit, as you come to realize how incredibly exposed you are.

Lisa Merdjanian was always complaining about taking the subway and putting up with the wheezing and sneezing multitudes. I am sure she is still complaining, except I am not there to listen. I suddenly found myself in the same predicament, looking out for people showing the slightest inclination to sneezing, or coughing.

The lunch was fun. Good to be out and talking about almost anything but what I am going through. I had to make a concerted effort to not talk about my chronic condition. Steer the conversation away. Talk about something else. Technology is good. I am trying to keep up with the trends, which are nothing short of amazing. Life is also good. I talked about our new fridge and dishwasher. Not very exciting, but it is cool. Trying to get back to some sense of normal. There is always the soft voice to remind yo of reality, but never mind that. Keep talking. Make jokes. Whine about things. All good normal conversations.

The walk home was more perilous. There were fewer people out, but I was very tired. Walked with one hand grazing the wall as a point of reference.  Still managed to go to the market and buy some fruits. We are out of bananas and that just won’t do. I buy fair trade bananas at the market which taste really good. Some pomegranates, pears, apples, blueberries.  The usual.

Small things that make a difference. You have all read about my bag coming off in my sleep. It happened again a couple of weeks ago when my hand got caught in there somewhere. I heard it snap off. It took a very short time in my sleepy haze to realize what had just happened. What a mess. Janet woke up and we changed the sheets. How do you keep that bag on? Some genius suggested  we look into this spandex girdle thing that pregnant wear over their pants. Turns out a lot of pregnant women keep wearing their regular clothes, except they can no longer do up their pants. Someone has come up with this spandex thing that looks like a tube top that women wear over their pants. It covers thar pants all the way up their bellies. Simple. We bought one, and Fetneh just sent me one which came today in the mail.

Instant relief is what this is. It covers the bag completely. No way for the bag to come off. I wear one every time I get into bed. It might also help solve some other issues. More on that in the future.

Some of our close friends are coming for dinner tonight. They are bringing dinner with them from Riz, a Pan Asian Cuisine restaurant. This takes a whole amount of pressure off Janet and Devin. All we have to do is vacuum the house and neat it up. I have to take a nap to make sure I have the energy to survive a major part of the evening.

Tomorrow is another day.

4 Responses to “The Week That Was – Ended December 12, 2009”

  1. Hello Farokh,

    I’m so glad I found your blog.

    Friday, November 20th, was one of the worst days of my life. I was told that I have rectal cancer. Last winter or spring, I can’t remember, I had noticed some blood in my poop. After procrastinating for months, I took my head out of the sand and scheduled a colonoscopy appointment. I was sitting in the recovery room after the procedure when a nurse came by and informed me that the doctor wanted to talk to me. Dr. Abrams, who was chatty and joking as I was prepped for his Roto-Rooter, was now solemnly telling me that he had found an 8cm tumour in my rectum. I remember going numb at the news. Jane, my wife, began to cry. How could this be? Just 14 months before I had my cancerous prostate removed and now I have this festering lump that could not be more than an inch or two from where my prostate used to be. A little later, I went to my local watering hole and quaffed 3 pints before ordering ribs and wings. Jane joined me there after attending to some work matters. We cried a little more as we ate our lunch. This was all now starting to crash down on me. How serious is this? How will I tell my family?

    In the days that followed, I met my surgeon, the wonderful and always reassuring Dr. Marcus Burnstein, at St. Mikes. I am to have pre-adjuvant chemo/radiation followed by surgery, I was told, and I was to meet with him again in a few days to review the results of my scans. I hardly slept the night before and I was a wreck when we went into the second consult. The scans showed no metastasis to distant sites but one or two nodes were suspect. Basically, I have borderline Stage III and the good doctor, ever the optimist, said it was “curable”. I am relieved somewhat but have been going through the whole gamut of emotions and uncertainty. My journey has just begun. I know that the next few months will not be a joy ride.

    My wife, Jane Bongers, is an old friend and coworker of Janet’s in the ad business. This is how I came upon your wonderful blog. I have to thank you very much, and I am sure I am not alone. I spent most of yesterday reading every post from the beginning. I’m amazed that you can muster up the energy to write all this and so well. It is informative, touching, sometimes funny and, most importantly, cathartic. I look forward to reading more entries and hopefully meeting you one day as well. We all need as much inspiration as we can find.


    John Sleeman

  2. Apropos other things spandex and stretchy as the diaspora can be, this is an interesting site I just chanced upon…might be old hat to you though?!!
    Sending you love as per normal

  3. It was so good to spend the evening at your place. The place looked spectacular. You call that “cleaning up a bit”? Lovely. And of course the company was exceptional. Thanks again for helping restore the internet today. Lily and I would have been in the fetal position within another hour or two. Addicts. Pure and simple. Hope your back is feeling much better when tomorrow comes. xo

  4. it’s always good to hear what is going on for you. thanks for the updates Farokh. sending warm wishes, love, and a non-germ hug as the holiday season gears up…

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