Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lessons from the Hospital, and Where I've Been All Summer

I am grateful that I didn't let fear get the best of me. 
It only holds you back from possibilities.
-Mariska Hargitay

It started in June. Life was fine. Busy, but fine. And then one bright, hot day in June, I started bleeding. And I bled. And bled. And bled.

We knew something was wrong by July. We wanted to go look at a pickup truck he was interested in buying, so we drove about an hour away to check it out. I fell asleep on the drive up. I never fall asleep in cars. Never. Not ever. The next morning, he asked me why I wasn't getting ready for church and I told him I didn't have the energy. He took one hard look at me and announced we were going to the hospital.    

It took two nurses trying three cuffs to find my blood pressure in triage at the ER. I remember feeling tired but otherwise okay, but suddenly I was in a wheelchair getting hooked up to machines. Hours later, the doctor came in. Lab work had some markers and as soon as they stopped the bleeding and got my blood pressure up, he was releasing me to see my doctor. And then he asked if I had a family history of endometrial/uterine cancer. I told him my maternal grandmother had recently undergone chemo. He looked down at my chart, and said quietly, "I wish you both the very best." And he called the nurse in and left.

Thus began the biopsies. The ultrasounds. The hysteroscopies. I'd leave work, go in for a test, and get back to work. I focused on running my small business, making dinner, folding laundry, getting the dogs to the vet, and keeping up with our church and social life. I threw fits sometimes in the shower. And I prayed often, but usually for other people, because when I thought of myself, I'd cry. 

Then came the call. The doctor wanted to go over results with me and could I come in blahblahblah? Nurse friends had already told me that if I got that call, it was over. I had cancer. Because if you don't have it, they'll just tell you over the phone. So I trudged in to the doctor's office, was shown to an exam room, and sat in the chair closest to the old magazines, staring at the floor tiles and trying to think of everything- anything- outside of that exact moment.

And in that moment, I realized something that shook me profoundly. I felt like someone was blowing a trumpet inside me, filling my ears and shaking me to my core. I was living lazy. Who was I to live so... nonchalant and purposeless? See, there was still so much I wanted to do. There was still so much I wanted to be. For instance, I've always wanted to kayak. To be a kayak-er. To be one of those girls who shrugs into a life jacket and slides onto the water and looks out at the deep and paddles toward it. And what do I do? Pin things on Pinterest and watch Netflix. I wanted to be the girl who sees the world and writes it down. And what do I do now? Take the shortcut home from the grocery store and lock myself inside the house. (Ebola and ISIS is out there, for heaven's sake.) I was losing myself and losing my dreams, and it took this cancer nonsense to scare me back to reality.

By the time the doctor pushed open that exam room door, I felt like a new girl. So when she told me that we'd need to re-do a test and start me on this medicine but it didn't look like cancer, all I could do was nod. And think about my kayak. I couldn't wait to get out of there and go to a boating store.

That was August. We still don't know what's wrong with me, but for now, medicines do seem to be helping. I talk to my doctor every three weeks and we're still watching for cancer and searching for an answer.

And in the meantime, I shrug into a life jacket and slide onto the water and look out at the deep and paddle towards it. I have bought kayaks and hit the lake when I can. I'm trying to collect experiences- moments- laughs- and put them in my treasure chest of a heart. I'm trying, as Jesus advised, not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. I'm grateful, and I'm not letting fear get the best of me. 

It'll only hold me back from the wonderful, wonderful possibilities.