How. Do. You. Feel.

(commence Geek Flag)

Remember that scene in, oh, Star Trek MCMVLXII or something, where Spock's come back from the dead on the Genesis planet, and he's doing this sort of rehabby thing on the Enterprise, and his mom slips a ringer into the computerized questions that are supposed to be judging his fitness?

And the computer says, flatly, "How. Do. You. Feel."

Spock looks quizzical and says the Vulcan equivalent of "Whut?" And the computer repeats "How. Do. You. Feel."

(end Geek Flag)

That's a hell of a question. Everybody's asking it, and it's so difficult to answer. Some people ask how I am both mentally and physically, and that's a little easier, but it's still tricky. Catch me during a good hour and I'm all "Dood, fine, nothing to see here, move along." Catch me fifteen minutes later and I might be a hysterically weeping wreck.

Which is all fine and normal, but it's really exhausting and inconvenient and it's pissing me off.

Physically? Simple: my throat hurts, the side of my face hurts sometimes, and I'm vaguely nauseated all the time, just from stress. The op site is healing well, and the stitches still feel like I've got a hair on the back of my tongue, especially when I drink something cold and they stiffen up. I sleep okay.

Emotionally? Like I said before, it depends on the moment.

I woke up this morning feeling incredibly peaceful and happy and grateful for everybody in the meat world and on the Innerwebs. Went to the doctor, had a good meeting with him, got the appointment with Dr. C, the oral surgeon at Consolidated Research and Education (operating at Sunnydale, thank God) all set up, got my scrips for MRI and CT and yadda yadda and the path report and everything. Shook his hand, told him I'd let him know how things go, and bopped out of the parking lot to Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Got back to Littleton and ran some errands. Managed not to get annoyed by the slowness of the grocery store clerk, got to Home Despot, picked up a big bucket for Max to drink out of, and bopped out of the parking lot to some indie song I'd not heard before.

And, totally without warning, at a stop light, started quiet tears at the thought of how lonely all of this is going to be. I cried the rest of the way home, had lunch, and took a nap. And now I'm fine. Not hungry, not particularly interested in eating, though I know I have to because I need Lortab.

I'll be all "Research ALL the things!" and get all ready, typing fingers poised, and then....I can't. I want somebody else to do this for me, to digest whether radiation is a good idea or not in the absence of cervical lymph node involvement. I want somebody else to crunch numbers on survival rates. I want somebody else to do all this for me and present me with a set of decisions that I can trust.

I get very excited over something simple, like laying out the rock-and-sand extension to the porch, and then this wave of exhaustion just rolls over me.

This is all normal. I know that, intellectually, but it's still hard to handle. The last three days have felt like sixteen years--sixteen *long* years--and I don't see that anything is going to smooth out any time soon.

Which is going to be important to remember in the future. I mean, yeah, I have cancer (and Imma flush its head six or eight or twenty-nine times in a junior high toilet, as I told Beloved Sis), but I'm not facing things like horrible bodily disfigurement or the loss of a secondary sex characteristic. In a lot of ways, because I *look* fine and mostly *feel* fine, other people are seeing this as a pain in the ass.

Which it is. It's also veers wildly between horrible terrifying monster and minor concern.

Imagine how much worse people with, say, laryngeal cancer must feel. Imagine how hard it would be to articulate your fears when you have no voice left. Imagine being the woman in a shaky marriage, or the man who's freshly divorced, who finds out she or he has breast, or prostate, or advanced cervical cancer: something that affects not only your body, but also your sense of yourself as a sexual, physical being and how you function.

I always wondered why people just coming out of surgery were so damn stable emotionally. I think now it's because you see the surgery as the worst thing that's going to happen to you: after they're done cutting on your ass, you can move along with scars and without the fear of the surgery itself. Even if that's not true, it's still a huge hurdle you've overcome, right?

We learn all this in school. Then we learn it again when we start dealing with patients. *Then*, if we're a statistic--and somebody's gotta be a statistic--we learn it a third time, first hand, and have to remember it for later.

How do you feel?

Hell of a question. Give me six or eight days of total oblivion and I'll try to answer that for you, okay?