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My Year of Not Dying-1

I just passed the one year anniversary of my liver transplant. The short report: both donor and recipient are well. That is, the operation was a success.

Many ask me if my new liver has regrown to its full size. Yes. In fact, I’m told that 90% of the regrowth happened in the first 3 to 6 weeks. Livers are very serious about doing their jobs, if not excessively abused.

Some have encouraged me to write up my experiences. Ha! That means I get to say, “You asked for it.”

Chapter Outline:
Many of the good ones have already been used:
The Cancer Ward (Solzhenitsyn).
Illness As Metaphor (Sontag).
The Emperor of All Maladies (Mukherjee).

Chapter thoughts:
“On the Cancer Ward: the Literal Poison Path”
“Reveries on the Crab and other Metaphors”
“Alternatives, and/or Quackery”
“Shame/New Age/You Deserved It”
“Galen/Black Bile/Melancholia”
“The Occult Significance of Malignancy”
“We All Pay”

Yuk.

Reich thought that cancer was due to repressed passion: stagnated life energy turned against itself.

Many early physicians and cancer researchers thought there was a “cancer personality,” usually a person somewhat listless, without a great deal of vivacity or joy. Well, duh! Susan Sontag quotes Karl Meninger: “Illness is in part what the world has done to a victim, but in a larger part it is what the victim has done with his world, and with himself. . .” We could call this chapter, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” And then the cure, or survival, is often imagined as a matter of will, as the generals of the Wehrmacht believed when they insisted on continuing their winter drive on Moscow.

And it’s not that such insights are not, in some way, true. Just that they are not the
whole story.

(The whole story, for those interested, is that there was a gifted but flawed magician/sorcerer, in a small kingdom of pre-sand Egypt, who had captured the Imp of Malignancy in a bottle. The Imp challenged the Magician to a game of chess, betting his freedom against revealing to the Magician the secrets of material growth—something like compound interest. The Magician, being greedy as well as vain, accepted the challenge and lost the game. But before releasing the Imp, in a highly unsportsman-like act, the Magician blinded the Imp. And that is why ….)

Once, in the Seventies, when Shunryu Suzuki came up in a conversation, a friend stated: “He couldn’t have been enlightened, he got cancer!”

Yes, and for those of us who ARE enlightened, that is, who know we are smarter than others, smart enough not to eat [… fill in …] , and who are HEALTHY and YOUNG, we are . . . well, immortal. Ha ha.

“Like a cancer on the land . . . “
“Like a cancer within the body politic . . . “
“Like a cancer within the fabric of spacetime . . . “
(beginning of a science fiction story) or
(an imaginative description of when anti-gravitons go bad).

Even if you live, you then are saddled with “Cancer Survivor.”

Military metaphors abound:
“war on cancer”
“lost her battle with cancer”
“has been fighting cancer for two years”

When I first regained consciousness, in the ICU, there were a dozen doctors in scrubs, myriad tubes, clipboards, beepings.
“I’m outta here.”
Then I woke up.  There was a doctor beside me, laughing. “You are very funny,” he said, “you are a very funny man.”

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5 comments

  1. Steve Brant writes:

    Hi Dale!
    Congratulations and great 1 year anniversary essay!
    I like how the doctor said “You are very funny” when you woke up.
    Since Norman Cousins once wrote about the power of humor to help people get well, it sounds like you were on the path to recovery right from the start!

    March 21st, 2016 at 6:10 pm

  2. Gyrus writes:

    Fantastic news Dale, and thanks for the observations and insights. Keep up the not dying! :)

    March 22nd, 2016 at 2:32 am

  3. Kiarna writes:

    Yay! So very glad to hear this. Wishing you and your liver a happy life together.

    March 22nd, 2016 at 2:39 am

  4. Kian de la Cour writes:

    I had no idea. So glad you are still with us. Sending love to you & your donor liver xxx

    March 23rd, 2016 at 11:48 am

  5. ROBIN writes:

    you ARE a very funny man. That’s good your doctor ‘gets you’.
    so good we get to have you around…above…afoot~~alight
    for as long as the ~~ rivers flow.
    and happy birthday~~enjoying the journey.
    Forever Young!

    April 13th, 2016 at 11:02 pm

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