Friday, June 7, 2013

Unfortunately, Instead

There's a small yellow bowl sitting on the table, a handful of cereal still in the bottom. My son left it there on Wednesday morning. My stomach drops when I see it.

Brush your teeth, I said.
Where are your shoes? I asked.
Don't forget your belt, I said.

It would be our last normal morning for a while, but I didn't know that then. 

8 hours later, I was sitting alone on a bed in the emergency room, knees tucked up under my johnny as a handsome doctor stood before me.


I watched his mouth, shutting one eye so that I would not see two of him. It was the sudden onset of double vision the day before that had brought me to my doctor, who in turn had sent me to the ER. That morning I had tried to put toothpaste on my toothbrush, bringing it close to my face so I could see. When I brought the toothbrush to my mouth, I realized I had missed, spotting a thick glob in the sink, inches back from where I thought it had been.

Something wasn't right.


I watched this man's mouth and the words that followed seem to stretch out slowly as my hands began to shake and my heart began to pound.

"-the CT scan showed a tumor on your brain. We're concerned-"

There was more after that, and I continued watching his mouth move as I listened to the words, part of me present and understanding, and part of me focused on the heat spreading in my chest as a shock of adrenaline flowed through my system.

"Do you understand?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered. I understood perfectly.

"Do I have time to go home first?" I asked.

He shot a quick look to the other doctor in the room and then turned back to me. 

"You're not a prisoner, I can't stop you from leaving if you want to.  I think you should go now."

I nodded. They left to make the arrangements for an ambulance to bring me into Boston. I sat for a moment, unsure of what to do with myself. I was alone with this big news.

tumor on your brain

I pulled at the velcro of the blood pressure cuff on my arm. I pulled off the pulse oximeter from my fingertip. Fuck this, I thought. I got dressed, brushed my hair, and fumbled through my purse for my lipstick.

I started making phone calls.

My first call was to my ex-husband. "I need you to take the kids, and I don't know how long for."

And that was when I cried, because I knew my sweet babies were already wondering why mom didn't pick them up from school. Now they would be wondering why they were going to their dad's on a Wednesday night.

"Just tell them..." I trailed. "Tell them I'm still at the doctor's and will be until after dinner."

As I write this, it is 12:40 on a Friday. I should be at work, getting ready to wrap up my day with my class. I should be buttoning coats and helping with backpacks.

But instead I am at home, waiting for surgery to remove a golf-ball sized tumor from my head. Instead, I am feeling myself become more symptomatic as my right side grows weaker. Instead, I am at home looking at a yellow bowl with a handful of cereal at the bottom, missing my sons.

Fuck this, I think.

Instead, I am at home getting ready to do this because I am SO. FUCKING. READY. 

Instead, I am at home learning that strangers will pray for you, they will open their hearts for someone they don't know, have never met, someone who is nothing more than a name or a picture and they will send you love.

Instead, I am at home bearing witness to the enormity of my friends' and family's hearts, the generosity of their time, the beauty that they wear not only on their faces but in their actions.

I feel grateful.
I feel blessed.

I feel lucky.