... indistinguishable from magic
effing the ineffable since 1977


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I don't know what I expected, but it turns out recovering from surgery isn't actually much fun. This is the first time I've had the motivation to post a blog entry, let alone attempt any of my other list of goals for my recovery time.

The good news is that the surgery went as well as could be expected - the tumor was self-contained and my CAT scan and blood tests came back negative, which indicates a high likelihood that the cancer hasn't spread. There's still a very slight possibility that it isn't cancer at all, but that's remote at this point. I'll find out when the pathology tests come back, some time in the first half of next week.

Stay tuned...


The most important thank you of all

In my previous entry I thanked people who've offered thoughts and sympathy online, and general thanks to everyone I know in person (because there are too many and I'd forget someone if I tried to enumerate them). But I neglected to mention the most important thank you of all.

It takes a great deal of courage to put on a brave face for someone when that's the very last thing you want to do.

It takes a great deal of strength to put aside your own fears and pain to make life easier for someone else.

And it takes a great deal of love to be not just willing, but eager to make those sacrifices.

So the most important thank you I have to offer is to Janene, who has sacrificed her own pain and put aside her own feelings to offer me support in the way I need it right now, despite the fact that her own way of dealing with the situation would be entirely different.

I love you.


Taking advantage

Thanks to everyone who's emailed or commented supportively. Jeff in particular, thank you for a much needed laugh, and I too hope that what I actually have is Nullable<Cancer>. Also Jeroen and Mark for the thoughtful emails, Jim for the comment on his own blog, and everyone at work and everyone I know in person for their thoughts and prayers (I may not believe in prayer personally, but I appreciate the thought from people who do).

I arrived at work this morning to find that lots of people were sick with colds, headaches, etc - and that's not including the people who were out sick. The conversation went something like...

Coworker 1: "We're all a bunch of invalids today..."
Me: "Well, I have cancer -- I win!"
Coworker 2: "My husband's sick and he's also having a colonoscopy"
Me: "I have cancer -- I still win!"
Coworker 2: "Fair enough"

Normally when I or members of the family are sick I'll struggle through and work from home, or sometimes feel guilty and leave Janene to suffer while I go into the office because there's stuff that simply needs me to do it. But right now even when I'm in the office I can't really focus, and besides, if there's anything in life that entitles you to take advantage and take a little bit of a break to recuperate, it's having cancer.

So for the rest of this week I've pledged that I'm not going to feel obligated to get any work done. That's not to say I won't do anything that will benefit my work, but I'll focus on stuff I want to do with long-term benefits, rather than the never-ending stream of kludgy customer-specific fixes that drive my stress levels through the roof at the best of times.

(By the way, this means among other things that I won't be receiving any email - if you want to reach me, use the gmail address at the bottom of every page of my site)

So here's a list of projects, work-related and not, that I intend to attempt over the next few days:
  • Get japitools handling some JDK5.0 features. I've started this already - I have a version of japicompat that can theoretically cope with a lot of the "interim" japi file spec version 0.9.7 that supports some, but not all, of the 5.0 features. Unfortunately I don't have any way of creating japi files in that format: Jeroen, if you're reading this, do you have any tips on how to get the necessary metadata out of the class files?
  • Get nrdo integrated into the new Visual Studio 2005 beta in the cleanest possible way. This means using List<T> everywhere, nullable types everywhere (an act of faith that these will be adequate by final release) and somehow hooking it into the build system in such a way that, hopefully, we don't require two separate extra project files and to rebuild the whole thing twice just to pick up the generated code.
  • Produce a release of NRobot to include the new security code, and announce it in enough places that perhaps some people will try producing robot implementations...
  • Watch all three LotR extended editions, especially RotK which I've never seen even the standard edition of.
  • Continue to push the nullable type issue with Microsoft any way I can find.
  • Learn as much as possible about Visual Studio 2005 and how the migration will impact cmScribe. I think that actually doing a migration will take longer than the few days I have, but hopefully I can at least figure out what the biggest issues will be.
  • Catch up on DVR'd TV shows that I haven't watched yet.
  • Oh yeah, recover from the surgery...


"You probably have cancer, but you'll be fine"

Well, the subject says it all really. Apparently it's obvious enough that there's some kind of tumor there that they don't actually need to do a biopsy at all. I'm scheduled for surgery next Wednesday, and before that I need to get some blood work and cat scans (although when I asked the cats, they just said meow).

The doctor said it's "very probable" that I have testicular cancer, but without pausing for breath he added that this kind of cancer is practically 100% curable. Apparently after the ball-removal surgery they can find out what kind of tumor is in there, and then they'll know what other treatment, if any, is required.

There seem to be two separate reactions going on in my head at the same time, unrelated to each other. One part of my brain is hysterical and panicking, while another part is calmly (if slightly overexaggeratedly) making stupid jokes about cat scans in a blog post and plotting the next steps in my campaign to save nullable types.

I'm not sure which side is healthier, but I prefer to focus on the side that's inappropriately calm and collected and pretending that there's no problem here. Panicking might be more natural, but I prefer focusing on things I can control. Seeing as there's nothing at all I can do except follow the doctor's instructions, what good will come of panicking except to stress me out more and make my life (and my family's) even more miserable?

So that's that. At least I know and it's not all wild guessing.


"Possible tumor"

Well, yesterday I went for an ultrasound. While it was being taken, the person taking it told me that the results would be sent to my doctor "by late tomorrow". So when the radiologist told me that they'd been sent before I even left the office, I had a strong suspicion that something serious was wrong.

So I called the doctor's office as soon as I got home and the conversation went a little bit like this:

"Hi, I just had an ultrasound and I was told they'd sent you the results."

"You just had it today?"


"Well, they don't usually send in the results that soon."

"I know that, but they told me they'd sent them in."

I think she got the hint from my tone of voice with that last comment and went to look. Then the remainder of the conversation went a little bit like this:

"Yes, your results came back ABnormal, which means it could be an infection, or it could be a tumor or a mass. They'll need to do a biopsy. You'll need to come and see the doctor tomorrow. What time is good for you?"

"Is 7pm okay?"

"Okay, and this is very important, so don't miss that appointment."


Thanks for the wealth of detail, bitch.

Soo... at 7pm today I'll go and find out what happens next. Since I wasn't given any instructions not to eat or anything, I doubt they're doing the biopsy today, which means that all they're going to do today is probably to talk to me about what they're going to some other time. Which leaves me wondering... why waste time having me go in today at all? Why couldn't they just tell me whatever they're going to tell me over the phone, so that we can get on with the actual business of getting the biopsy done and finding out whether I'm going to die or not?

My coping strategy in stressful situations like this is to focus on something comparatively inconsequential and enjoyable. On previous occasions I've been known to throw myself into reading books (this has limited success because I finish a typical book in about 3-4 hours) or programming. Yesterday I should probably have thrown myself into working, but somehow I didn't have the motivation for that (I wonder why?). Instead I threw myself into my mini-campaign to get nullable types fixed in C# 2.0, posting that mammoth blog posting (which I'd already written the bulk of, but needed some reformatting and lookup of links) and making sure that I linked to it[1] from everywhere I could think of - especially Cyrus's "please give me feedback" blog posting, since he'd already promised to forward my concerns to the language design team. Actually, if it ends up making a difference, the time spent doing this will result long term in my company avoiding way more in lost productivity due to bugs than the few hours I spent doing it.

Today I'm going to be back in work. I'm already running an hour late getting there in the first place (I'm writing this post on the train), and I need to leave early tonight to make sure I make that appointment. And I have no idea how productive I'm going to be while I am there. I'll do my best, and hopefully they'll understand why I may be a little distracted.

[1] Actually I managed to screw up the link and link to an internal-only URL all over the place. Fortunately I got at least one link right and someone at microsoft corrected all the rest for me. Needless to say, "D'oh!".

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