My wife, Polly, has had a rough spell health-wise over the past eighteen months. AFib. Surgery to fix a bleeding problem. Surgery to fix a deviated septum. A week in the hospital that resulted in an ulcerative colitis diagnosis. In recent months, Polly has been dealing with a painful bladder problem. Last week, she had a cystoscopy at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. The urologist found two problems: a fistula between the colon and bladder, and bladder cancer. Polly has also been fighting a serious bacterial infection, the result of fecal matter entering the bladder. This means taking antibiotics, which, of course, aggravates her ulcerative colitis.
The cancer was unexpected — as in at age sixty hearing the doctor say, congratulations, you’re pregnant! On Thursday, Polly will have surgery to remove the cancer and close off the bladder side of the fistula. Next week, she will have major colorectal surgery to fix the colon side of the fistula. This will likely result in the surgeon removing some of her bowel. He warned us in January that this was a possibility. That “possibility” has now become a reality.
Polly will be off work for several weeks. This will truly test my ability to, as Polly says, “pull money out of my ass.” We’ll endure, and hopefully, Polly will be on the mend and back to “normal” — whatever THAT means — soon. Polly does have short-term disability insurance. There’s a waiting period, and then it pays fifty percent of her base wage for up to six months.
As for me personally, watching Polly suffer has been difficult. So much of our focus over the past twenty years has been on my health problems. Now, Polly’s health struggles are added to our already full plate. At times, I am tempted to ask, “why me,” but I remind myself of what Christopher Hitchens said when asked that question, “why not me?” We are not special or exempt from the struggles that are common to humankind. Polly breezed through life with very few health problems. Ninety-nine percent of our medical expenditures were mine, not hers. That all changed eighteen months ago. All we know to do is to get up each day and face what comes our way. By the grace of Loki, we will persevere to the end. Why? Because that’s just what we do. We don’t know how to live any other way than by putting one foot in front of the other and stumbling forward.
The one good thing that’s happened in all of this is that Polly has lost almost forty pounds! The bad news is that I EAT when I’m stressed, so I know where some of her weight went. Polly hopes to maintain the weight loss, and I hope to get back to not feeling like I need to eat a whole box of Cap’n Crunch.
Your thoughts and well wishes are appreciated. Polly’s surgeries and hospital stays will likely affect my writing schedule. Thank you for your understanding.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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