Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Had a fever last night that came on suddenly (though for a few moments, I wondered if I was having a prolonged hot flash) and sent me into a spiral of self-doubt and fear. My stomach was upset, my chest tight, and I was so tired, that I felt intensely discouraged, wondering what had happened to the resurgence of energy I had felt just the day before. If nothing else, the fever was telling me to go to bed, and stay there, so I obeyed, and lay amid chills and sweats, stripped bare of my shield of courage and brave face. I cried like a baby, for a long time, and Dominick brought me an extra blanket, and Luke came in to check on me, and I finally fell asleep, feeling the snug embrace of my family around me.

In the morning, I woke with the sun, felt groggy, but okay--to be honest, I was happy to be alive, since the night before I had myself convinced that I lacked the strength to battle my demons. But somehow I did, and somehow we do--somehow we battle back, and however downtrodden, pick ourselves up off the ground, find our shield of courage and put on our brave faces once again. It's really the only thing we can do. I'm working on being more mentally tough--meditation is helping, but it's not easy. I'm digging deeper for my warrior woman; I hope to unleash her in time for a full assault on surgery day. Am thinking of a name for her. Zilrendrag, perhaps. And she rides a purple and green dragon-lizard into battle? Yeah, okay, so I've read far too many books like Eragon lately.
My mother drove me into NWH for pre-tests today. I was glad for a chance to see where I'll be on Monday for the surgery. Another easy, lovely drive (best part: seeing no snow on the ground just east of us). NWH seems like a well-run hospital--my time there was incredibly efficient. I checked in at the surgical center, was called in right away, met with a nurse who took my medical history, then was given a physical by a 12-year old (ok, maybe he was 18) intern named Mohammed. He was excited to be able to feel so many things in my belly--maybe I should loan my skinny self to a teaching hospital more often: "Here is your aorta! Wow! I can really feel it! But it is small, as it should be. No evidence of an aneurysm." (Oh, thank goodness; I was worried about that.) I then met with the anesthesiologist nurse, and then with a resident, who checked over Mohammed's work. I didn't have to wait more than a few minutes in between visits. Very impressive, I thought. All in all, my lungs were listened to by four different people today, and then x-rayed. Results tomorrow. Am hoping they are as clear as they sound. None of the docs seemed nervous (maybe because they are so very young? or maybe because I have become a hypochondriac who obsesses over every little junky feeling in my lung?), so I should not be as well, right? Right?
While I was getting my johnny gown on before the x-ray (as if the johnnies aren't cool enough, you get to wear the little locker key around your wrist; mine was purple), I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror--from the waist up--and saw my skinny, broad-flat-chested self, and laughed out loud at the ludicrously of reconstructing a breast that was so, so small. A breast that no bras fit anyway--those bra-fitting ladies always explain politely to me that they just don't make bras to fit my body, that the bra folk figure that it you're as small as an A cup, you're going to be just as small around the rib cage. Well, they didn't count on me, with my big-ass rib cage with its stick out, get stuck in the mammo clampdown ribs! Would it be worth it, really? Would I be better off not having the reconstruction? Fewer surgeries, less recovery time--but what would the trade-offs be? Would it really mess with my self-image? Questions, doubts, and imagination in over drive. My writing profs always accused me of over-writing (nah, not me!); I'm sure I'm an over-thinker, too. Just how many times can you turn something over in your mind before it wears itself down to dust and vanishes into nothing?
My cousin Teri made the beautiful card above. Thank you, Teri! It shines bright--as she does--and fills my heart with love and light, leaving very little room for fear--which is the way to do it, if fear has been knocking on your door lately. (and it has).
On this day after St. Patrick's Day, I leave you with this Gaelic toast ~ Slainte! ~ to Health!

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