One week ago today I was driven to the hospital by the tall, strong John accompanied by the Kind, Hopeful Paula. They park and walk in with me, sit with me while we wait the few minutes to be taken back to the prep area. I change into this plastic-coated paper gown and am greeted by a number of professionals that ask me the same questions – name, birthdate, surgery type, etc. I am given bracelets and soon they hook up a heater to my paper/plastic gown. It blows warm air into the gown and it’s a nice thing. Soon I am sweaty.
The surgical nurse tells me that Dr. P rarely has a full incision-type surgery; nearly all of his surgeries are robotic. I breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that maybe my recuperation won’t be so rough after all. Surely I’m not THAT unique in this cancer thing. I’m mundane, I hope.
Soon I’m given a mask of something that takes mere moments for me to lose grip on this world. J & P have been with me, helping me laugh and make some fun out of it. I remember just a few moments in recovery before I’m wheeled into my room, where they rejoin me, bringing gifts. A small stuffed bee, the legendary reminder of the tale that won’t die. 🙂 A journal to write about the new life ahead, and news of how the doctor thinks he got all the cancer.
HE GOT ALL THE CANCER.
At least he thinks so. Now, a week post surgery, I’m still nearly a week from knowing if this is true. But Dr. P. isn’t one to play optimistically. He’s quite the realist, and I find in a phone call the day after surgery that he does indeed feel that there is nothing of the murderous stuff left in me.
While I selfishly breathe deeply with this thought, I have the continued storm of emotions. Why would God give me this gift? How am I worthy of this miracle when others are not? Why must K continue to live in his discomfort after so many of us beseeched Him for a miracle? What is the value in extending my life? It’s not like I’m some strong, beautiful woman with a message for other strong women out there. I’m just me, in all my doubts and massive fears, trying to breathe after this heart-wrenching adventure.
I really don’t know how to breathe yet. Having K here for the first few days was so helpful. He asked good questions and supported me in answering them. He is strong enough to be independent of me and still hold my hand when I need it. Now, K is here and she is as delightful as spring in the flesh. She asks good questions too and I’m not sure I will want to ever live the rest of the life I have without having her close. For the first time, I can see myself living near the He K also. Although, the one thing I hate about this adventure is seeing how I will end up being in their care before my life is over. I hate feeling like a burden, which is what I will be.
Finding the value in what remains of my life will be my goal for the next adventure, to be sure.
I caught a glimpse of what life might be like in the near future. Me, working at my windowed desk, with the sun shining on me, and me feeling joy. Feeling joy again. Small, soft, sweet joy that will fill my heart again with some energy and wholeness. It’s hard to see that kind of normal in this ‘normal’ insane heart and mind of late. The ride has been too harsh, too swift, too gruesome. Now, might it even be too hopeful, too good, too fancy an ending? My little life in my little apartment doesn’t seem precious enough to have been saved by a blessed Savior who may have spared my life from a painful, oozing death?
As I walked the halls at the hospital, I saw the women who are in the midst of their cancer battle. Balding women with too-pale skin. The reconstructive surgery candidate. The kind nurses and incredible CNA’s that run the joint. Their callings are much higher and more valuable than mine. I feel that I am a mere ant in their shadows. All those memes on Facebook about nurses are true. They don’t get to eat and they don’t get to pee. They are pinged and hollered for and needed at every breath. We can’t pay them enough.
I wonder if I will get to sleep normally again. “When” I will get to sleep normally again. When I might not need a sleep aid to get an 8 hour rest. My mind is too fast-paced and radical to allow much rest after 5 AM, which is a hard thing when it’s after 11 PM before I close my eyes. All things electronic scratch at the door to keep me distracted from the hurricane behind my eyes. I am not sure how to help myself enough through this. I will start taking the antidepressants again. I will work toward not using the anti-anxiety meds that will try to make me their captive. Being alone in this place scares the shit out of me.
I told K this morning that I feel I’m at a precipice. I have one foot on the side of a life full of love and joy and thriving. The other side, where my other foot is steadfastly planted, offers fear and self-loathing. I fear being alone and sick. I fear needing someone to hold me and no one being there. I fear the hurricane in my head that will return when I return to the land of the diagnoses and medical procedures.
There are so many words screaming to come to this page, but at some point this kid has to take a shower. Besides, Red won’t be here forever. I must enjoy every minute I get with her.