I am almost thirty-nine years old. I live a blessed life. Most of the time I feel like I've totally "won" a 7th-grade game of M*A*S*H--
Youuu willlllll....live in a house, marry a surfer, live in California, have six kids, and drive a purple SUV.
|"Green? No, WAIT, I want a do-over."
Then again, the Fortune Teller in the Sky threw me this--
You will discover that you have been living with a weird cancer syndrome from the moment you were conceived.
You'll also turn out to have bipolar disorder.
Your unflappable and largely-agnostic husband will find himself praying his @ss off for nothing but the restoration of your health.
It's something called MEN1--Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia--Type 1. Neuroendocrine Cancer. It's an inherited (autosomal dominant) kind, meaning there was a 50/50 chance of my having had it passed down from my particular family. A somewhat rare (but not that rare), often slow-growing suite of tumors. Mostly pancreas, parathyroid, and pituitary, but sometimes involving other neuroendocrine tissues--for instance, parts of the lungs. I used to think I had all three of the classic tumors, but my more recent scans have shown that I just have the pancreas and parathyroid stuff.
"Cancer" and "tumor" are always scary words. But it's really not that bad.
I found out about the MEN1 in 2010, but there were weird signs before then, starting in my teens. But the random manic episode, culminating in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder last summer, was completely out of left field.
MEN1 can be a "good" cancer to have, in case you are ever in the business of choosing one. It’s cancer in slow motion. Lots of mostly-uneventful scans and bloodwork. Weird hormones, but not terribly so. Three parathyroidectomies, but the last one was a rousing success. I am not nearly as chronically exhausted as I used to be because now I don't have hyperparathyroidism anymore. I am hypoparathyroid, but although I have to take a lot of calcium orally, this is a hell of a lot better than the "moans, stones, groans, and bones" accoutrements of having too much calcium in the blood.
There is a big-@ss scar on my neck. Sometimes children stare at it. Sometimes I think I should make up a cool shark attack story or some equally-implausible superhero origin story about it. But in any case, I think it's pretty badass that someone slit my throat three times--in a controlled and consensual manner, nevertheless—and I lived to tell the tale. And it reminds me every day that I've survived a little bit of sh*t.
I am also stable on psychiatric medication now.
|Not this kind of "medication", but maybe something like it would have helped.
I am surviving this stupid bipolar sh*t, too, and am so very, very lucky.
I'm watching the paper Cootie Catcher start to unfold for my teenagers and hoping the big game of M*A*S*H smiles kindly upon them, in turn.