Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 33

in the hospital for another day, or
another month? Would my dog-
who a lso had ca ncer-be ok ay
without me? How could I get what
I needed from home? Was I going
to live? Was I going to die? What
was I supposed to do if I only had
a few months left?
The tears from back at the ER came
back for an encore.
"Ignorant. Stupid. What a complete
and clueless failure."
The next day at the hospital was
short-lived. A new CT scan confirmed that this was almost certainly
cancer. My left kidney would have to
go. A basketball team's worth of doctors told me that surgery would-if
my case stuck to the textbooks-get
rid of my cancer.
The 15 worst-case scenarios playing
on repeat in my brain popped in an
instant. This cancer could be removed
in a single procedure. I hit the cancer
jackpot.
I forgot to tell Constance goodbye
before I left the hospital that afternoon, but I don't think she minded.
"Don't get cocky. You don't know me.
I'm still HERE."
My mind became a still pool of
water after I returned home on that
Monday night. Nothing I used to
ruminate over all day before mattered anymore. Doing the dishes, a
bothersome and time-consuming
chore, became a brief and soothing
meditation. Scrubbing each plate was
proof that I was still here leading a
comfortingly mundane life.
The world looked a different shade
than I'd ever seen it before. All the
life surrounding me exuded a fragrance I finally noticed. An unseen

"Vlad liked to slide offhand comments into my thoughts
during all waking hours. A casual "You've wasted your
life" here, or a sly "You're right, I am your fault" there.
Knowing a kind of devil's spawn is filtering your blood
makes it a tad bit hard to concentrate."
professional organizer did work on
my mind pro bono.
"It's me. Hello? Let's be friends."
Within a few days of that ill-fated
yet miraculous hospital stay, I named
my cancer Vlad. I even drew a portrait of him. Putting a name and a
face to the demon inside me gave me
power over it.
But still...
Did giving a name to my monster
make me its master, or did that give
it a form, freeing it to run wild?
"Nice name. Thank you. Thank you."
"I won't let you own me," I told my
cancer. Vlad liked to slide offhand
comments into my thoughts during
all waking hours. A casual "You've
wasted your life" here, or a sly "You're
right, I am your fault" there. Knowing a kind of devil's spawn is filtering
your blood makes it a tad bit hard to
concentrate.
My mind always wandered back
toward Vlad.
I scoured my house, cleaning every cranny and most of the nooks.
I refused to let a messy house welcome me back after surgery. Vlad
flinched in irritation if I scrubbed
hard enough. I snubbed the needy
vampire on my kidney by grasping
at the mundanity of everyday life. He
sulked inside me for weeks and poked
at my consciousness to make sure I

never forgot him. As the months grew
colder, he grew bigger millimeter by
millimeter. Vlad knew I was plotting
against him.
The lack of rest before my nephrectomy didn't matter. A long, medically
induced nap was on the forecast for
January 3rd,
The surgery building of the hospital
campus buzzed with fluorescent light
and bustled with patients pacing at
5:20 a.m. I arrived short of breath
after driving myself to the hospital
and running through the parking
garage. While I simmered with irritation over my ride not showing up that
morning, Vlad did not say a peep. No
"Late as always" or "You deserve it."
His nonexistent lips remained sealed.
I sat around in a second-floor waiting room for longer than expected
among groups of people louder than
expected. The mumble pervading the
room became too boisterous to pass
as normal conversation. No one was
willing to bow down to the morbid
surroundings and let out the dark
thoughts creeping in their minds.
I had no interest in entertaining
Vlad as I leaned on his side of my
torso in an uncomfortable chair.
Precisely nothing came through my
mind, and this indifference stifled
Vlad's chattiness. My little demon
was having an existential crisis.
ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
JUNE 2020

33


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Elephants And Tea - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - June 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 3
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 4
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 5
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 6
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Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover3
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