~ May 2013~
I am a fixer. I fix things.
His pain. Emergency Room. Appendicitis. Scans. Doctors. “I’m sorry…” Kidney mass. Large. Cancer? Maybe. We don’t know. Blessing. In disguise. Quick kiss goodbye. Emergency appendectomy. Worry. Recovery. More pain. Please let me fix this. IV machines. Sleeplessness. Fear. So alone. Don’t cry yet. Specialists. Consults. Family history? Surgery. In two weeks. This can’t be. Must be strong. Breathe. Get him home. I can’t do this. More fear. It’s okay to ask for help. Wonderful family. Amazing friends. Prayer. Meals. Lawn mowed. Childcare. Breathe. Cry. Lean on my Beloved. Let him lean on me. Waiting. Why? Why can’t I fix this?
Surgery Day. Hold his hand. Gaze into his eyes. Treasure. Kiss goodbye. “I love you…” So alone. So afraid. Then not alone. Family. Friends. Sitting beside me. Holding me up. Calling and texting. Loving us. Waiting. Small talk. Waiting. Hours pass. Finally. He’s resting. Kidney is gone. Surgery went well. Pathology? Wait for results. 10-14 days. Probably benign. Relief. Call family. More waiting. So much pain! Somebody do something! I want so badly fix this! I can’t kiss this away. I can’t wish this away. No sleep. More pain. More waiting. Breathing machines. More IV machines. Pain meds. No sleep. Friend with chai latte. Hug. Emails. Calls. Researching. More waiting. Don’t cry yet.
Home. Resting. Waiting. Recovering. Nursing. Mothering. Hold his hand. Get him better. Cry. Probably benign. Breathe.
Phone call. The one we’ve been waiting for. News. It can’t be. Heart racing. Veins turn to ice. Stomach drops. Nightmare. Please, no. Renal Cell Carcinoma. Cancer. Prognosis. Recurrence rate. Treatment options. Chemo? No. Doesn’t work. Career? Unknown. Future? Hope. Plan? Scans. Watch. Wait. Pray. Scans. Watch. Wait. Pray. Five years of scanning. Watching. Waiting. Praying…
Our lives took a dramatic turn that night in May when I took my Beloved into the Emergency Room because he wasn’t feeling well. His chills and warmth to the touch were proof of a fever. His stomach ache had gradually crept over to the right side. I talked him into going to the ER to “just rule it out,” but my previous life in the medical field told me that he would be having his appendix removed that night. My Beloved was the picture of health. This was his first CT Scan – to confirm the appendicitis that I had suspected.
What I wasn’t expecting was for the doctor to come back into the room and say, “I’m sorry, but not only does he need to have his appendix removed, but we found a large mass on his kidney.” I knew that it wasn’t a good sign if a doctor started out by saying, “I’m sorry.” “A blessing in disguise,” he called it. Unable to give us further answers, my husband was given over to the hospital surgeon who would perform the emergency surgery. He, too, told us how lucky we were to have discovered the mass through the unrelated bout of an unhappy appendix.
Two weeks later we were back at the hospital to have the affected kidney removed. Everything really did happen in a blur like I described above. Experiencing it at the time, and trying to look back at it now, all that comes to me are these short bursts. I can’t put more than a few words together when I go back to that place. Words escape me. Perhaps the fear still hasn’t left my mind and my heart. Maybe it’s knowing that an intruder, an enemy, had been lurking under the surface for who knows how long devising, waiting, and plotting to take away our happily ever after – scheming to forever alter our bliss and our future.
The doctors believe that the cancer was confined to the kidney that was removed, and they are hopeful, but the recurrence rate has us scheduled to check in with his body and make sure that cancer is not forming or spreading where it doesn’t belong in the one whom I love.
I’m a fixer. I fix things. I kiss scrapes and bruises. I cuddle away bad dreams. I wipe the tears. But what happens when something comes into your life that you can’t fix? I can’t fix cancer. I can’t… But it has somehow fixed how I look at life around me – at my loved ones. I can now hold tighter to the ones that I love. I have never wanted to take my blessings for granted, but now I can appreciate every moment that I might not have treasured before our news. I can soak in their very essence every day. I can overlook the little things that don’t matter, and I can cherish the little things that do. I can curl up in his arms, and I can gather them into mine – where I know that I am at home. I am whole, I am loved, I am safe, and I am so grateful for the gift of new beginnings. I still can’t change it, but maybe – just maybe – it has changed me.
*Photo courtesy of NZ Portraits by Joanne
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