Author: Dennis Ritchie

Chapter 10 – Mastectomy

When the alarm went off the next morning, it didn’t ring so much as it tolled. This was the day. We had feared this day since Suzie’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. We worried about it when her two aunts had been given the same diagnosis. It was in the back of our minds as we whispered about whether Mom would live to see her granddaughters grow up. Then later it was unspoken as we wondered whether she would live to see the birth of her grandson. She didn’t. In our minds, this day had always been the worst thing that could happen. Put in the proper perspective, however, the alternative was worse. There was no choice this morning. There was no doubt about the outcome of this day. There was no point in thinking about it. With only a deep breath’s worth of hesitation, we rolled out of bed. We began the now familiar preparations. The motions were the same but the meaning was different. In a way, for me, it was easier. I wasn’t torturing myself with denial. I had a purpose. Sandra was there to take care of the kids and hug Suzie goodbye. Decisions were made. Options were gone. It was beyond our control. Life was in larger hands. The roller coaster began to leave the platform. We were pulled forward by gravity toward...

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Chapter 9: Roller Coaster

Once the decision was made it was like getting on a roller coaster. Up until that point, while we waited in line, I could imagine the possibility of turning around, fighting the crowd and walking away. But now we stepped up and found our seats. The safety bar swung down and locked firmly into place. The doctor gave us the warning to keep our hands and feet inside the car at all times. And slowly, soundlessly we began to move. Whatever subconscious reasons I had to keep this private were now gone. Denial was revealed as the fantasy it was. Time allowed for no more games. I picked up the phone, took one last stalling breath, and called my parents. Suzie called her sister Sandra who booked a medical emergency airfare for the following day. Then Suzie called the church and asked to be put on the prayer list. It was a remarkably short to-do list when the insignificant was deleted. All that was left was the blood work. Suzie had a full pre-op blood work-up the week before and we assumed that would be enough. Nope. It turns out to be the simplest way for a surgeon to check on your general physical condition. A way to find any complications that might have popped up without doing a full physical exam. It’s only significant for two reasons. First,...

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Wrestling With The Weekend Read

I mentioned before that the plan to write a book in full view might have some bumps in the road. I thought I might even have to go back and re-write some things. Tonight, I am wrestling with a difficult section where Suzie and I have diverging recollections. General anesthesia has also been described as “general amnesia” by anesthesiologists and they admit science is still mystified by how it works and even what consciousness is. This means Suzie’s memory has gaps of days at a time. So, when she specifically remembers the details of an event differently than I do, I tend to trust that it was a recollection determined to be remembered. My goal is to be accurate, truthful but not meandering and that means rewriting. I’d love to make this a smooth, seamless experience for you but occasionally I’m going to hit my limitations. The last two weeks have been full of bumps and redirection about how we’re going to proceed here. But thankfully the question is not IF we’re going to proceed here. In fact, we’ve arranged our priorities so that this year should work out better than ever for the book and the blog. It’s a matter of focus. They say the only way to find your limitations is to run into them. They forgot to mention that I’d run into them so soon. But, the longer I explain...

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Chapter 8: Waking The Dragon

It was on the way home from the hospital that I first met my nemesis, the evil beast that would forever change my life. It stretched out like a dragon across the road, hiding in plain sight, the disguise universally favored by the most heinous of things. Suzie was in a blessed fog from the anesthesia, her eyes closing and her head nodding. I was talking and filling in the gaps she left in the conversation to provide what I hoped was a distracting monologue to keep our minds off of the most obvious topic. My goal was to get her home, safe, snuggled and as comfortable as possible when my nemesis attacked. I had no warning before the tires struck the railroad crossing and Suzie gasped in pain. It was the most horrible breast of a crossing, beaten into a car-rattling canyon by the dump trucks and semis that frequented the industrial park. Tears welled in Suzie’s eyes as she wrapped her arms around herself in reflex, which brought more pain. I reacted by hitting the brakes and sending her into the seat belt across her chest. More pain. I responded by ranting at invisible politicians and city employees who weren’t doing their jobs, which was not the least bit comforting to Suzie in her drugged state. “Just get me home,” was all she managed to say. The...

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The Dangerous Truth

If you write anything it should be the truth. And if you’re ever going to tell the truth, it should be on your own website. But there’s a problem with the truth. It is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who you are. The truth divides. Even Jesus, who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, said it like this: Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. ~ Luke 12:51 That’s how the truth works. When truth hits anything untrue it doesn’t give way. Truth doesn’t change or bend...

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