Kevin's Dead Cat

After surgery sliced off an entire tumor and 1/3 of my tongue, plus six weeks of radiation therapy, I've been re-learning how to eat, drink, and talk with my newly re-constructed tongue and coping with side effects. But the cancer came back and I don't know what's going to happen next.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Not so OK after all

My powers of denial only took me so far today.

I was at my parents' home watching TV, hanging with my brother when some of my mother's friends came by with a tray full of steamed crab. I love crab. But just the thought of putting anything near my sore tongue makes me go fetal. I know my brother said no as well only to keep me company in my misery.

When my mom asked if I was coming to the table, I said no because my mouth was hurting. Which was fine. But after they were done eating, my dad asked me if I wanted some corn soup. I told him no because my mouth was still hurting. Still feeling OK, but I could sense the edge was near.

So I was at the computer reading the news, when my dad asked me if it was cold enough. I asked him what he was talking about? He had placed a bowl of soup behind me, and was waiting for me to eat something. That's when I kinda lost it.

This has been an issue between my father and me ever since surgery. My dad cooks. That's how he takes care of us, shows he cares, pretty much communicates. And he's good at it. Because of this, the idea that some people lose weight when they're stressed out or depressed has always been the most alien concept. I grew up believing ALL food was comfort food. So I know how frustrating it's been for him that he hasn't been able to comfort me by cooking for me.

At any rate, I said for what seemed the millionth time that my mouth hurts and I can't eat, which itself was excruciating because my mouth was so dry. I brought the soup to the kitchen and nearly ran to my old bedroom before I started screaming in front of my parents' friends. I started sobbing, which was also painful because of my dry throat. What I really wanted to do was smash every piece of furniture in the room.

I wanted to scream, for all the turkey I couldn't eat, the mashed potatoes and gravy I couldn't taste, the wine I couldn't drink, the pecan pie I couldn't even look at the day before, and all the Codeine I have to take just to finish a can of SlimFast. Instead, I left.

My brother called me on my cellphone a few minutes later to check up on me. And he said the magic words, "Screw it. Let's go to Fry's tomorrow." I love my brother.

Since then I've been going back and forth between being angry at my dad and feeling guilty for being angry at him. This is why I stayed at James' instead of my parents' after the surgery. I didn't want to spend each day frustrating my father and myself by not being able to eat what he cooked for me. Each conversation would literally be, "What do you want for breakfast/lunch/dinner?", "Nothing I can't eat solid food.", "Okay... so what do you want me to cook?"

But it's been three months, and my dad still can't get his head around the fact that I can't be comforted by eating food anymore. Watching it on TV, reading about it in glossy recipe magazines and restaurant reviews, sure. But not eating it. It was actually my sister who pointed out the porn analogy: since I can't have food/sex I watch it on TV or read about it. I'd explain it to my dad that way, but that would just be embarrassing for both of us.

I don't know what I'm going to do.


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