Two weeks ago, it was simply a sore elbow which I assumed came from all the hard training I've been doing. Two days ago I was at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore having a gruesome tangerine sized tumor removed from my right elbow. Otherwise known as pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS).
It took 5 visits to physicians and orthopedists to figure out that the large black mass under my right bicep was a benign tumor; a tumor that had apparently been there for quite a few years.
As it turns out, it's been there long enough to eat a nice big hole in my humerus bone as well. Not good. I was also informed that my elbow had more arthritis in it than all the Golden Girls combined...
When the specialist, Dr. A, at Sinai told me that surgery was really my only option, I was disheartened to say the least. I have never had surgery, had a broken bone, or even been in a hospital bed.
Fortunately, we found it before it grew even larger and severely and permanently restricted the use of my elbow.
After a 3 hour wait pre-surgery, I was carted away to the OR. One oxygen mask and three breaths later I was out cold.
The surgery was a success and although there is almost a 100% chance that the PVNS will return, it's gone for now. And after coming back down off the anesthesia Tuesday evening, it's been a whirlwind of various pains, fevers, uncontrollable shakes and not much sleep.
But I shouldn't complain. I like to, but I shouldn't. And over the past two and a half days of lying around in a semi-conscious state, I've done some thinking. I've thought about my life and how lucky I am to be where I am and have what I have.
Among my thoughts, here are 5 things I learned about myself:
1) I'm very afraid of dying.
The thought of dying itself doesn't scare me as much as the thought of leaving my daughters without a father and knowing how it would affect them. I want nothing more than to watch them grow up and when I'm made to sign a waiver that states there is a chance of death, I was a bit freaked out. Fortunately, I had my girlfriend by my side who was the voice of reason and calmed me down.
2) I am not invincible.
This one hurt. Honestly. It sounds ridiculous but I always sort of considered myself to be like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. I have managed to escape all forms of injury and illness for most of my life and being told I needed surgery to remove a nasty tumor made me realize I am human.
From my clients, family members, and Facebook friends, I received a ton of wishes and prayers and I am very thankful for all of them. I didn't really give much thought to the impact this had on those closest to me, but it was just as scary for them as it was for me.
4) I am incredibly grateful that I have the support of a great woman.
My girlfriend, Shenan, has been my rock throughout all of this (and since we first started dating) and hasn't left my side. After I was divorced, I never imagined I would find someone who would care so deeply for me and it's just an amazing feeling.
5) I'm lucky it wasn't worse.
The doc told me straight away that if the tumor had been malignant, I would have already been dead. Reassuring. I was operated on in the cancer unit of Sinai Hospital and the fact that I only had to have elbow surgery puts me in a far better position than many of the others in there. Dr. A could just as easily told me I had cancer and that would be that. But I don't and other than being incredibly sore, I'm just fine.
The good news is that I was told that I only needed to stop exercising for a few weeks. That seems highly unlikely however given the pain, but we shall see.
I hope to be back at it as soon as possible and will then have to deal with my other injury....