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Column: Indeterminate Sentence

And no, that’s not another made-up phrase by yours truly describing my occasionally cluttered/run-on prose with which many of you extremely patient regular readers are all too familiar. No, it has to do with how I perceive my future now that I’m post-hospital and sleeping in my own bed.

Instead of nurses, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, doctors and miscellaneous other hospital staff too numerous to list, I have one wife and five cats to do my bidding. And though they’re not nearly as attentive as the hospital staff, I know that they all have my best interests at heart.

Not that I thought I was going to die during this most recently-written-about hospital stay; still, the experience was unsettling and reminded me of how fragile and maybe even precarious my situation might be. As much as I try to ignore certain stage IV, terminal-type facts/prognosis, a four-day stay in S.I.C.U. sort of brings the reality into sharper focus, despite my best – and continuing – efforts to delude myself otherwise.

As I sit here at home, comfortably and relatively normally (I know, “normally” is a relative term), I am betwixt and between emotionally. I can’t decide if this hospital stay has given me direction or misdirection. Do I now have a truer, more honest sense of my own insecurity (mortality) or have I just created a false sense of security in its place – having survived the ordeal so unexpectedly well?

I realize I’m not bullet-proof; but if there ever were a hollow point-type metaphorical bullet, stage IV non-small cell lung cancer would likely be it; it’s a killer, usually. However, I can’t help but feel empowered somehow, more confident even, in my body’s ability to withstand the rigors an incurable disease can impose. I’m sure there’s a toll to be paid, but so far, I’m living proof that statistics are not exactly about everybody, if you know what I mean. I know that wishing and hoping don’t necessarily make it so, but after yet another experience where I far exceeded my doctor’s rather modest expectations, I can’t help but feel more positive about my prospects (there’s my delusional naïveté rearing its illogical head).

In February, 2009, I was “prognosed” to live “13 months to two years” according to my oncologist. Yet, here I still am, four-and-a-half years later, released from the hospital, better than when I went in. Anything is possible: I think I’ve proven that. And I don’t intend to stop now.