Posted by: donrhymer | September 24, 2012

With Six You Get Eggroll

I moved around a lot as a kid.

Something like twenty-one times before I graduated high school, and no, my father was not in the witness protection program. At least, I don’t think he was? Though that would explain a great deal. Anyway, the point is I was always the new kid. Every year a new town, a new school, new names to be called, a new set of wedgies to be endured.

It was not fun, which I guess is why as an adult I tend to cling to the familiar. Sure I like to visit new places, try new restaurants, buy new clothes… I just don’t do it very often. I find myself drawn to the “known.” I eat at the local steak house about once a week. I find comfort in knowing that the bartender knows my drink, the hostess knows my favorite booth, the waiters and waitresses ask if I’m having the “usual.” In my defense, for a kid who grew up year after year having to navigate yet another elementary school lunchroom full of strangers… having a “usual” is a big deal.

I just never thought that “usual” would extend to my life as a cancer patient. Having walked this road for over three plus years now, I am a regular in the halls of USC’s Cancer Community. No longer an outsider, my longevity has made me one of the lucky ones, the cool kids. Yes, it’s a little different. Instead of my favorite cocktail down at SC they know I am partial to red jello over green, my right arm for blood draw not my left and I prefer to keep my pants ON… thank you very much.

On Friday I went in to the surgical wing for my pre-op physical and it was like I was back at high school for Homecoming.  “Ah, Mr. Rhymer, welcome back.” “Hey, Mr. Rhymer, weren’t you just here a few months ago?” “Oh, Mr. Rhymer, where’s your wife? Didn’t she bring cookies last time?” A repeat customer, one of the local “regulars” with six surgeries in three years under my belt, apparently I am now only four surgeries away from getting a free oil change and colonoscopy. Something to look forward to, I guess.

It’s strange the situations you can find yourself getting used to. The foreign becomes old hat, the nerve-wracking becomes business as usual, the truly scary becomes the familiar.

So tomorrow we go in for surgery number six. My wife will be at my side, never leaving until they force her back downstairs to the waiting room. Happy and smiling, pretending to be calm and unafraid.  They will take my pants, they will give me purple socks, and just before I go under… my wife will reach out her hand and take my wedding ring, which she will put on a chain around her neck and keep for me until we meet up later in the hospital room.

Sorry for being so overly dramatic. The surgery is not that intense, it’s really not. In fact it’s basically the “usual.”

And a lot less scary than trying to find a seat in any elementary school lunchroom I’ve ever eaten in.



  1. Good luck! Try the green jello this time.

  2. The free colonoscopt isn’t all it is cracked up to be. But when it comes time to choose your colon prep, you know I’ve got some good brand recommendations for you.

    Prayers for you, Kate, the rest of the family, and your nipple.

  3. Don…I love you and Kate and have prayed fervently for you. That’s the usual for me and I will keep it up.

  4. You are a tribute to the aphorism “when life gives you lemons, be thankful you have a great wife… and then have a bunch of surgeries to get rid of the damage all those lemons caused.”
    They can take your literal pants, but never your emotional pants.

  5. Don, as always, Vickie and I are praying for you. Moved 21 times before graduation from high school? I’ve known you for about 37 years, yet did not know that factoid. Or maybe, my age is catching up with me and I simply forgot.

  6. The fun part of surgery is the anesthesia. Well at least that’s what my husband says. You will wake up new and fresh. Be well and sending you lots of positive energy.

  7. At this point, they really should let you hover in anaesthetized consciousness. Maybe give you and Kate the room for a bit…

  8. We’re praying for you, Don. Also for Kate. This weekend is our second annual “Open House.” And probably you will use this latest surgery as an excuse not to come! 🙂 Damascus Road is singing — so it will be a lot of fun and bring back some great musical memories. Hard to think of them all as grandparents since they are still “my kids” — just like you. Where did the years go?! Be watching for the pictures we hope to get posted next week. In His Healing Love…JL

  9. You may not have always been the ‘cool’ kid yet I can’t imagine that you have not always been a competitive kid – keeping your head in the game and sacrificing your body until the game is over and you can play again. This game is far from over and it sounds as if you stacked the team in your favor! Go Dodgers………………..

  10. Hope all went well for you today…. and healing will be quick.. praying for you and you family….. you have made my days alot easier just by seeing you go thru what you have…. makes mine seem so minor…. God is with us all….He is with us all and we are all his children…Blessings to your whole family…..


  11. We are Kelly Swift’s parents and so admire your frame of mind with all you have been thru and still taking it on . Attitude is everything and you certaintly got the message . We are praying for you and wish you and your wife the best possible out come .Keep up the fight

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