Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My First--and I Hope Last--Surgery of the Year

Tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. I report to Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital, to have "a large intramuscular lipoma (7 x 6 x 6 cm)" removed from my right shoulder. My latest orthopedist (#3) described it as a "big-ass tumor," though apparently benign. I was all for leaving it there a while longer, but he told me the awful things that could happen (muscular atrophy, nerve damage, etc.) and said it had to come out ASAP.

My osteopath concurred with the orthopod: "When you can see a tumor from across the street, it has to come out." Actually, you can only see mine from across the room--and only if I'm wearing a clingy T-shirt. But still. Then my shrink told me about a friend of hers who had a large lipoma in his calf for years, and it turned cancerous. OK, sold.

I thought the bulge on the back of my shoulder was because it had rotated forward from my arm being in a sling for so many months last year, and I'd get pissed off (again!) at orthopods #1 & 2 for not having treated my broken arm correctly. Every time I saw my rounded shoulder in the mirror, I stood straighter and tried to roll it back, to no avail. Now I know why.

People groan when I tell them that I'm having yet more surgery--this is #3 since August, #7 since my equestrian fiasco in May 2006 (including the stitches in the ER). I've been doing my fair share of groaning too...and crying...and obsessing...and overeating...and undereating.

"But," I tell people (and myself), "at least I don't have cancer!"

One of my Literary Ladies Luncheon buddies in Virginia is undergoing another round of chemo, after discovering that she has Stage 4 of a very rare and pernicious cancer. And today I learned that author Patry Francis, with whom I had dinner during BEA last year, has been in the hospital with liver cancer since early December, and has had two surgeries for it.

So, I have to keep telling myself, I'm lucky. Very, very lucky...so far.

I just hope that by tomorrow at this time, the morphine drip will dull the pain without making me itch too much. As for now, I'm savoring the use of both arms.

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