I happened to be working in the control room when we had a “disruption.” The department I worked in was being held responsible for shutting down the plant. Pressures had swung, valves closed, equipment shut down, a whole section of the plant was silent. The loss would end up being calculated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ once it was all over.
During the fallout from the “disruption,” my supervisor’s boss walked into the control room and bellowed, “Can anyone tell me what happened here?”
Fools Rush In
Rather than be still, I was foolish enough to volunteer.
What I had witnessed and what happened did not fit the narrative he was seeking to create. I was dismissed out of hand.
A few minutes later, I invited this man to view more evidence that my theory was correct. He listened for about thirty seconds, then puffed out his chest and shouted, “This is not my first rodeo!”
Surprised by his response, I started to speak again. Turning from my computer screen to address the man, I caught my supervisor slowly shaking his head in a cautionary way. It was my cue to be still and let the cowboy ride.
“This is not my first rodeo.” That afternoon the phrase was used to communicate dominance in a relationship. I was to understand this man’s superiority and my insignificance and inferiority. He was in control. All that was required of me was to sit there and be quiet. He wanted everyone in that room to know he had seen this all before, he had all the answers, and he was in control.
I have found myself laughing about that phrase over the past few days. In a strange kind of way, it has brought me comfort.
Last Wednesday, I had my routine scans to check the cancer in my liver. I have been off treatment for about eight months due to the debacle with my pump.
Nancy does not like it when I use the word debacle to describe situations. Still, she has permitted me to use it to explain what happened with the pump. Apparently, when something almost kills you, it rises to the standard of a debacle in her mind.
A Disruption of Another Kind
Thursday afternoon, I got a phone call from my oncologist’s office. Hello Dan, you are not scheduled to meet with Dr. Saroha for another week, but he thought you might want to meet earlier to discuss your scan results. How does tomorrow at eight am sound?
Well, I may not be a rocket scientist [another of Nancy’s less favorite phrases], but I have gained some skills in reading between the lines of cryptic oncologist phone calls. After all, this is not my first rodeo.
We met Friday morning, and sure enough, my tumor was growing, and there were also signs of new tumors on the liver. While disappointing, none of this is unexpected.
I did not get a full course of treatment last time due to the whole pump debacle.
Plans for Moving Forward
For twenty minutes Dr. Saroha and I talked through options. He listened too much of what I had to say. Nancy laughs because he has a gentle way of merely moving beyond some of my less than helpful thoughts. He will smile, nod in an understanding kind of way, and say, “we might have to consider that in the future.”
Friday, October 16th, I am having surgery to remove the hepatic artery infusion pump. We will never use it again. It did lasting damage to my liver, and the risk is too high.
Monday, October 23rd, I will start my fourth round of systemic chemotherapy. This is not my first rodeo.
Talking my Way Through the Fog
If I am honest, the news of another round of treatment messed with my mind and spirit for a few days.
I became despondent and found it hard to see a future filled with anything but treatment and continually getting sicker and sicker. I felt defeated.
Then I began to talk. Talking with people close to me. People who help me process what it means to the best me I can be. Men and women not afraid to challenge my thinking and to call me to something better. Friends helping me move through this world, living and moving as a “captive set free.”
There were phone calls and zoom conversations. Nancy and I spent hours talking about what the next six to ten months hold for us.
Not My First RodeoIn the end, I realized this is not my first rodeo.
When I speak those words, I do so filled with humility and gratefulness. I am humbled by the way God has met me in my times of weakness. Grateful for how I have grown over the past four years while learning how to live with cancer. I am humbled by those around me who chose to share their journey with me. What an honor to travel together.
I shared some of these ideas during my Tuesday Evening Reflections group that meets via Zoom each week. One of the people gathered electronically shared that while listening to me speak he reflected on his own life and thought, “this is not my last rodeo.” He was speaking about his own life; boy did it help me with mine.
This is not my last rodeo! There is life to be lived, relationships built, work to be accomplished. The rodeo continues.
God is GOOD ALL the TIME, All the TIME GOD is GOOD.
If you are interested in joining my Tuesday Evening Reflections group you can get more information here.