Thirteen Cents of Dog Meat

My dad had a volleyball-sized tumor removed from his stomach, intestine, spleen, and pancreas this week. He was under the knife for six hours. The surgeon, who deserves a major award, got all of it, along with portions of my dad’s organs claimed by the cancer.

When I saw him less than 24 hours after surgery, he told me he felt like “thirteen cents of dog meat.” When my dad wheels out the obscure old-timey phrases, it means he’s at the threshold of “getting back to normal” and “still pretty shizzy.”

He described the meds he was taking and mentioned Tylenol.

“Tylenol?” I asked, incredulous. “You’ve had the most invasive surgery of anyone on this floor and they’re going with Tylenol?” Because, you see, I am an ibuprofen snob, who sees Tylenol merely as a poor substitute for the good stuff.

He looked at me, annoyed. “At this point, I’d eat turkey turds and rainwater if I thought it would help even a little.”

Me and my mom: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

He’s feeling better, alright. But only when the narcotics (and Tylenol) are doing their thing enough to let him not think about pain and start thinking of pithy grandpa comebacks.

Less than a week later, he’s at home, sitting in his recliner, watching Bloomberg and eating soup. Everything still hurts, he is way too skinny, and there are the spots in his liver to contend with. But it feels basically like a miracle and we are hopeful.

My nephew Raleigh walked up to my dad and said, “Grandpa, too-muhs aw sticky an I don’t wanna see dem.”

Tumors ARE sticky and stupid and unwelcome parasite jerks who need to go away.

Me, to tumors everywhere: “Nobody likes you. You are unwelcome parasite jerks. Pack your sticky, ugly tumor bags and hop on shank’s pony. You heard me. Git!”

I can do “pithy grandpa” talk, too.

I learned from the best.


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