Happy Anniversary.

A year ago, I was here.

This morning, Dr. Elf put the new Bug in my mouth (thanks, Der Alter Jo, for that name!) with some tracing material, a nasty-tasting greenish-black mix of wax and diatomaceous earth, on it, in my mouth.

My speech was normal.

My tongue hit the back of my front upper teeth the way it did before this whole obturator thing started. I sounded funny to myself, like I had a lisp. It's gonna mean learning to talk normally all over again.

I wish Maudie, who was there at my first appointment, had been there for this one. She was off helping another patient, though. Still, she'll be there when I get the wax tracing and all that stuff.

On the third of next month, I'll spend five hours doing. . .something, I don't know what, with the Bug in place, with a firmer tracing wax atop it. That's to get a mold of the inside of my mouth in action, as it were. After that, the molded form will be cast in acrylic and then I'll have a permanent speech bulb and obturator. Permanent as in "I won't have to have it re-fitted every few weeks," not permanent as in not-taking-it-out. Once I get it, we'll have a Photographic Retrospective, right here on this very blog, of the Evolution of Bug.

At the end of November I'll have a CT scan and an MRI, then an appointment with Dr. Crane to see how things are going. I don't expect any new tumor or weirdness. Still, I'm a little nervous.

I can't read over the past year's entries without bursting into tears. What they don't tell you about surgery and cancer and treatment and all that shit is that the physical memory remains even after you think you've gotten over the psychological stuff. Reading what I wrote about my lymph node biopsy makes my neck hurt. Reading the stuff I wrote about downer days makes me cry harder. It was so lonely-feeling and bleak at some points, you guys.

But I'm here. I am *here*. I didn't die, I didn't have to be irradiated, or have more huge chunks removed from my head, and I've done okay. Tonight's dinner is cheese enchilada and Scotch; I might make myself something special tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day--even though I didn't know it then--that I was free of cancer. In a way, this whole year has been vamp-till-ready.

Thank you for sticking with me through it.

If there were a word that combined the feeling of watching the first snowflakes fall in a place where snow is uncommon, taking your first shower at home after a long trip away, the feeling of the pillow when it's smushed just right under your head, seeing your dog chasing a squirrel you know he's never going to catch, the cat on your lap falling asleep, and waking up with your back pleasantly cold on the first day of Fall, I would use it to describe how you all made me feel during this past year of weird unpleasantness.

All I have is "thanks."