By Mike Jackson
Daily Herald Outdoors Writer
Contact information ( * required )
It appears I will miss this year's caribou hunt. The same can be said about following the waterfowl migration starting in northern Alberta.
And yes, I will be on the sidelines when friends start their fall ritual of flinging huge slabs of lumber or plastic in hopes of creating some interest in the musky department.
I will miss all of that -- and probably even other marginally strenuous outings as well.
You see, I have been relegated to the couch. In her effort to be accurate, one of my daughters says I am exiled to the den for the next two or three months.
All of the prior warm-up is in reference to my healing process.
I spent some time on the operating table Aug. 26. A couple of surgeons carefully picked their way through muscle, nerves and bones to remove the scourge of mankind from my chest. I was diagnosed with lung cancer in July.
Before the actual surgery, I sequestered myself in my basement office and spent countless hours trying to sort out who was going to be the recipient of my fishing and hunting gear.
When I arrived at the oncologist's office for the initial consultation, I couldn't help but notice several men wearing fishing t-shirts and hats. Could this be a support group in the offing?
Even though the original oncologist told me the cancer was just a small node (not a tumor), I was convinced that my desire to have my ashes spread over Lake Minnetonka near Minneapolis was closer than I had originally anticipated. I asked this doctor to please save my life. He replied that it was going to be relatively easy to accomplish.
And yes, I was a smoker, and had listened to the reformed, the anti-smoking evangelists and others who hated the filthy habit. I heard their words of caution, and of course I ignored everything.
My doctors caught this cancer early. In fact, I had been in the hospital for another issue when one doctor suggested I undergo a body scan. And just like that, the screen lit up, pointing to that little subversive sneak attached to my lung.
So, because I tend to go into my little-boy mode at times, I became depressed and scared. I later learned from cancer survivors that depression and fear are common elements patients encounter in the beginning stages of the journey.
Before the surgery I became even more terrified of the process. I do not handle pain very well, and I already knew the surgery and the post-op program was going to be a real doozy, pain-wise.
And so I went to sleep in an operating room that seemed more like a commercial walk-in freezer than a sterile environment.
When I awoke some hours later, I realized I had survived the invasion of the body snatchers, and all I had to do was start swallowing every pain pill handed to me.
I spent considerable time in intensive care and was then transferred to some cave-like place that seemed like an update on a Native American medicinal sweat lodge, where the healers do their magic by chanting and burning incense. At least that's how it felt to me.
I was told I would be attended to by the staff for about four days. I never ate a morsel of food, which was good in one regard.
I found myself, at times, doing the backstroke while floating on a sea of white, puffy clouds. One nurse suggested I was whacked out from the constant morphine IV drip. Who am I to argue?
So here's the bottom line. The surgeons removed the malignant node from my lung. And they removed a jumbo section of the lung as well. They then told me they didn't believe I needed radiation treatment or chemotherapy. How lucky can a guy get?
Now, if I could only heal a lot faster, I could still make the migration hunt.
• Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.