Through the looking glass

Since September, I’ve been like Alice in Wonderland: “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written for children but there’s plenty to keep adults engaged and entertained. In one chapter, Alice shrinks and grows; however, no matter if she’s giant or miniature, she’s vulnerable. I can relate.

An instance of smallness:
Getting sideswiped by a bus in 2017 is about physics. The size, weight, and speed differential between bus and bike rider meant that I was the puny object launched. The bus driver didn’t even realize she had hit me, until looking in her mirror and seeing me sprawled across Independence Avenue. How did I manage to not get hit by other vehicles? How did I escape without head trauma, facial injuries, or broken teeth? Bilateral arm breaks and surgeries are not trivial and my functioning was limited, but it could have been worse.

Goliath faces off against David: 
According to scan measurements, the tumor is only about the size of a penny. How can something that small create such a big problem? Like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to plug the pancreatic duct. The growth sat like a cap across the opening and finally reached a critical mass. I was oblivious to “before” until “after” occurred. The mass was silently gestating, and then a starting pistol fired on September 5th at 11PM, launching me into a race I didn’t even realize I was scheduled for. It’s my race to run, no matter what the outcome. The way ahead and treatment path would be clearer if the tumor had stayed in one place. Instead, it’s been greedily using ductwork as an EZ-pass to visit other parts of the digestive system.

Labyrinth at Walter Reed

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

The timeline:
“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Both surgical and medical oncologists gave the same timeframe: Without surgery, probably less than a year… Knowing how long doesn’t give a sense for how good the time might be. The ticking clock sounds loud and creates a sense of urgency: Who matters most? What matters most? Having more pain, itching, and nausea, leads to interrupted sleep and means less energy. At the same time, my dance card is full of appointments, labs, scans, procedures, and soon chemo. Diagnosis has brought more information to absorb and more decisions to make.

Big and small. Then and now. Before and after. Curiouser and curiouser. Adventures in Wonderland is nonsense, not unlike some of the ridiculousness I’ve encountered on my medical odyssey. If I don’t laugh and write, I’ll scream. And, writing is less likely to scare small children and pets, plus it provides a record and helps me make sense of this adventure into the unknown. While you can’t accompany me down the rabbit hole, I appreciate all of the thoughts, prayers, and good wishes, knowing that you’re supporting me and my family when we need it.

© Joan S Grey, 11 October 2021 ∞
IndexCardCure™: “And the moral of that is—Oh, ‘tis love, ‘tis love, that makes the world go round.”

10 thoughts on “Through the looking glass

  1. 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 As “misty” as our lives are, we bless one another in love, friendship, and relationship. I am richly blessed with you as my friend. God bless you and keep you.


  2. Dear Joan- sorry for your health challenges, I too have been dealing with an ovarian cancer diagnosis since 2018 with all the appointments, labs, scans, surgeries, chemo, side effects. It is exhausting. Feels like I am trapped in the rabbit hole sometimes. I pray for your strength to endure this


    • Hi Jeri, Thanks for your note. Sorry for what you’ve been going through. And that I didn’t know about your diagnosis. Hope that David and Heaven are well. take care, Joan


  3. Joan, so sorry that you have to embark on this journey that two of our English Morris family have already. Have been praying for you since I heard the news, am planning a trip to Knock where our Mother Mary appeared on August 21, 1879 and will enrol you in the daily Mass there.


  4. Hi Joan, thanks for sharing. I feel that I’ve known you for years, through your brother, Smitty. You have been in my prayers well before I’ve read your post. Wishing you strength, endurance, and loving support.


Leave a Reply to Donna Campbell Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s