Rent (Jonathan Larson) :: Life Support

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Songs
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Rent (Jonathan Larson) :: Life Support
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

Though this is probably the shortest song I’ll post, it’s one of the most significant in terms of impact in my life. The title of the song is so relevant, with so many layers of meaning.

Look I find some of what you teach, suspect
Because I’m used to relying on intellect
But I try to open up to what I don’t know
Because reason says I should’ve died
Three years ago

Almost exactly three years before I first heard this song, my doctor found an “unidentified mass” in my midsection. I thought I was just putting on weight. She checked just in case, called another doctor in to check, then sent me immediately to get a (rather unpleasant) CT scan. When the results came back, she called me and my parents into her office. I just looked up my old blog post from that day:

“Get your parents out of work, get someone to drive you over here. If you have to pull them out of work, tell them they won’t be coming back for the day.”

Which of course, scared me shitless. During the appointment, she revealed that there was a rather large tumor wrapped around my aorta. What kind, they couldn’t tell but it was big enough it was pushing my other organs around and could involve months of treatment. While she didn’t want to assume the worst, words like sarcoma were tossed around, which meant… cancer.

I remember the ride down the elevator with my parents. I remember being proud of my relative clarity, and wondered why my mom seemed near tears. My doctor wanted my parents there to remember the details of the discussion since she presumed I would be in shock but more of the opposite actually happened. The eventual biopsy (involving a great needle I was both fascinated with and frightened of) came back “inconclusive.” They ruled out lymphoma but weren’t exactly sure what it was. Surgery was the only option. I was scheduled immediately. From discovery up to this point had taken 3 weeks.

The procedure itself lasted 8 hours. Before that, they did a 4 hour angiogram and embolization combo (which I was mostly awake for despite assurances to the contrary). The tumor had hijacked and created its own blood supply so they had to isolate and cut off as many blood vessels they could so I wouldn’t bleed out during surgery. As it was, I inherited 4-5 units once it was done. Much thanks to whoever donated. It was complicated, it was messy. They impacted and couldn’t repair a blood vessel to the kidney. It’s atrophied significantly since then. I think I even woke up while they were stapling me shut but that could have been a drug-induced dream. The point is, I woke up. That is all I cared about when I went in. I remember telling my anesthesiologist, “I don’t care what they do to me in there, just make sure I wake up.”

In my last post, I mentioned that at the time, I thought this would be it. Hence, when I first heard this song,my ears pricked up. It had been almost three years since that surgery. And here were these people… who were living on borrowed time. For those who haven’t seen it (GO. NOW.), Rent is essentially about a collection of friends, most of whom have AIDS, and the year that changed their lives.

There’s only us, there’s only this
Forget regret or life is yours to miss

There were no room for regret. I was alive. I’d been given a second chance. I couldn’t waste it. The entire soundtrack was a revelation, one that I rapidly clung to. Despite where I was, despite the despair and the frustration and the loss of hope, despite the huge scar cutting through my midsection, despite the complications that had me in the hospital almost two weeks, I was alive.

No other road, no other way
No day but today.

The tumor was eventually deemed benign. Further finally testing penned a diagnosis- Hemangiopericytoma (HPC). It’s rare. There’s not much information about it. It was aggressive, and it had a high rate of recurrence. It’s already come back once, resulting in another surgery. Since then though, so far. I’m still free and kicking.


Originally posted here.


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