After over 5 days in the hospital and a complicated 4 hour surgery, I am now cancer-free but at a price I hadn’t counted on. Aside from the huge section of my thigh being removed, I have some empty spaces, muscles moved around, and ham-string repositioned which feels really weird. I can bend my knee in 10 days, and will be at full operating capacity in 6 months. I will, however, always have a bit of a funky walk, and may need a cane for the rest of my life. Hoping this will close my Summer of Suck for good.

I had no idea the stress and complicated nature of this surgery going in. I don’t think I have ever screamed or cried for 2 days straight like I did last Friday and Saturday. I remember 4 or 5 people standing over me at one point asking, “why is she screaming so much? This shouldn’t be making her scream like this.” It also took 2 days for nurses to realize my pain pump meds were what was making me throw-up and want to never eat again. They don’t mess around at Cleveland Clinic, they made me sit up and try to walk the next day — which made me faint. They also showed me the end result of what my leg looks like now — I fainted again. Thankfully I could watch HGTV and Bravo to rot my brain and laugh at what everyone perceived to be drama or a problem in their lives. Rachel Zoe freaking out because it was raining on the day of the Golden Globes — oh my goodness — her problems are huge. Which $435,000 condo will the couple choose on an episode of “House Hunters International”? The suspense! I tell ‘ya, morphine makes these shows even better.

My recovery would have gone better if it weren’t for the fact that sleep is something one never actually gets in a hospital. In my case, it was more so because of my awful roommates. Not only did the 1st one need the thermostat set to 85 at all times, had a need to eat crackers constantly, called for help because the helicopters landing outside “scared her”, and talked non-stop about her medical history, but she called on nurses for EVERYTHING literally every 10 minutes. This is on top of them waking you ever hour for vitals, and breakfast being served at 6am. Despite the signs posted everywhere to not get out of bed alone, she went and fell in the bathroom after her knee surgery; broken toe and head trauma obtained. She still got released before me. My second roomie was no better, in fact, worse. My husband was ready to smother her with a pillow. We thought she was 85 but turned out to be only 62 — proof you can be old in mind and body. She called nurses every 5 minutes and always needed an audience — especially when discussing football (kill me). “Are there always 2-7 people in your room like this? Every time I come here it is chaotic”, said my doctor. The staff in turn, loved me, because I was probably the most easy going patient on the floor, (okay except the incident where I accidentally pee’d on the floor but whatever) enough so that they gave me flowers and always wanted to just chat (and how they do their job without throwing a fit is beyond me, very admirable). There were fears of blood clots in my leg due to the fact my heart rate had never gone down since surgery; after tests and assessments of my hospital room and roommates, it was determined my heart rate never went down because I never got a second alone or more than 10 minutes of sleep at a time for 5 fucking days!

So I’m finally home and able to sleep. I’m doing well enough that I don’t need at-home care or physical therapy, or so I was told . My husband however, has had his hands full. I have a walker, but can’t do most things by myself and am stuck in bed. He has to change my bandages, drain my blood, give me injections, measure fluids, time my medications, and all while the cats are sick and shitting blood. That he has newly discovered nursing and cooking skills are a plus. In the meantime I will be reading lots, and showing work in a few shows this fall in DC and Cleveland; nothing new will be created for the foreseeable future until I can walk again.

8 thoughts on “Cancer-free”

  1. Oh Bella. While I didn’t have to go thru what you did, I understand completely about how significantly your life is altered and the ordeal of our healthcare system with my recent cardiac affair. I am glad that we’re both on the other side of those experiences. Can’t wait for our kick 2010 in the junk party 😉

    1. Well, your personality is in tact.

      I know what you mean about not resting in hospital and roommates from hell. It should be legal to shoot people that annoy you while you’re ill.

      I’m glad you’re now on the road to recovery, don’t look back.

  2. I am sorry to hear that you’ve had to go through this ordeal – but a big yippeeeeee for being cancer-free.

    Huge virtual hugs going your way. Get better soon.

  3. Second on the personality intact. Which is the most important thing to keep. Everything else is just the vehicle for the actual you.

    I perversely feel like getting you a Keep on Truckin t-shirt. I promise to not.

  4. Thanks y’all! Right now I’m just looking forward to the day I can actually bend my knee to walk, or at least use the shower on my own. Having cancer was the easy part, oddly. This part sucks donkey.

    I’m so looking forward to the F-YOU 2010 party, this summer was especially lame too. I’d like a Misfits t-shirt, but not the actual band, the cartoon one from Jem and the Holograms.

    Lately I’ve been calling my husband Claus von Bulow; he had me endorse a check while he gave me an injection then yelled, “now the fortune is mine!” even though it is a joint account.

  5. SoSoSo glad the little shit’s been exorcised but the sass wasn’t.

    Recovery’s a pain … IF your insurance covers it, those physical therapists really are amazing. Seriously, they really know their shit and are a big help. As well as able to address concerns about ‘is this (pain/gait/whatever) normal?’ or in your case how to avoid the limp or walk in heels. I mean, once you’ve finished healing.

    Just a thought.

    And I can’t WAIT to see what evolves in your art in response to this awfulness.

    Rest and take care of yourself and give your hubby a big hug for being cool about the nursing. That’s a real man!

  6. Just wanted to let you know that I so love your blog and that I can relate to you. As of Jan 2010 I have been cancer free myself. It is great to find all these strong wonderful creative women speaking about their experiences at the same time continuing to create with their blogs etc. Cheers to you life! Keep rocking!

    If you like you can visit my blog at

    Chayo Mata

    1. Thanks so much Chayo! Hoping mine never comes back, I’m a little freaked out still that possibly not everything was gotten and my treatment will be ongoing here and there, but at least the main mass was taken. Congrats on having a year without!

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