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.


  1. So many of your blog posts have affected me deeply in the past, but none more than this one. You are receiving all of this love from family, friends, and strangers, because you are so deserving of that love. You are an amazing person, and we are the ones that feel grateful, blessed, and lucky to have you in our lives. So much love to you, my friend.

  2. Jenn,
    Your talent and willingness (or writer's drive?) to share always impress me but never as much as in this post. I'm wowed by your honesty and ability to tell a story that tugs at your readers' emotions.

    Amanda B.

  3. back in 1991 I was suffering from occassional dizziness and it started to get worse as the days went on. I woke up one Saturday morning and almost fell down the stairs it was so bad. My mom took me to the ER where upon exam I passed out and had a minor seizure. I had a CAT scan that showed a free floating tumor with a cyst attached causing my brain to swell. They got the swelling down enough to send me to Boston to remove the tumor- I spent 1 week in the hospital. It was a good 2-3 month recovery before I could really go back to driving and back to work but no further treatment was needed. I had MRIs over the last 22 years and everything is clear. I will be praying for you and sending good thoughts your way. You will get thru this just like I did and many others before you!

  4. I feel lucky to know you lady! Meeting you in September has brought me laughter, a professional who "gets it" and a friend. You will kick this tumor's ass and come back stronger and with sooooo much to write about! Love and a big ass hug!

  5. You are blessed, you are lucky and we are grateful. Love you

  6. Saying a prayer for you and sending you a virtual hug. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  7. Jenn, thank you for this post, although I don't know you real well, my heart breaks at the thought of you having to go through this, I am praying and will continue to pray, please lmk if there is anything that I can do(ps I am not good with words so I hope that came out right)

  8. You are no stranger to me- and I'm honored to call you a friend...having been brought together by the bond of motherhood. I've grown to know you and respect you for your strength and ability to reach people through your writing and sense of humor. I am praying every day for you and your team of doctors and know that like most of what you do- you will do it with grace, strength and a healthy and necessary dose of wit, sarcasm and humor. xoxoxoxo

  9. Jenn, I read that twice. The first time was silently in my head before sharing this link with others. I then read it aloud, sentence by sentence, as if you were speaking to me through computer speakers. I spoke every syllable of every word and I felt what you felt, what I think you felt, because when you wrote that you cried I cried too.

    I don't know why bad things happen to good people. I don't know. But I know there's a reason. I believe with all of my heart that there is a reason why shit happens. You will get through this. I believe that too.

    Keep writing down your emotions and we, or I anyway, will keep reading along with you and your journey.

  10. You amaze me, Jenn. Truly, amazing. Amazing mother, amazing friend, amazing writer.
    Love you.

  11. Your blog post found its way to me. Even though we are strangers I will certainly be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  12. Oh Jenn,

    Well if there were any doubt you could only write, funny whimsical satire, that has been obliterated! You write, you laugh, you curse, you ROCK! I have known you long enough to know, this little golf ball tumor has met it's match! Your strength and spirit will overcome all of this! I know it, WE ALL know it! And your Wonder Woman powers will become so clear to your little ones, they won't need to see your gold wrist bands or lasso. Blue starred corset and red bottoms, can be left in the closet. Your new Super hero costume may be a hospital gown, and you will ROCK that too! Your family of ladies and Mommies are sending you loads of hugs, prayers, well wishes, good thoughts and most of all LOVE!
    Jen of the jerseygirl kind xoxo ;)

  13. I am praying so hard for you. Much love to you. I hope the surgery goes well and your recovery is easy.

  14. Oh, my... I can't say that I am surprised that you are able to communicate so clearly and so soon, because I am not surprised one bit. I love you and your spirit and will be praying for you to make it through your surgery and recovery with as much strength and humor that you've been able to bring to everything else life throws at you. We're all here for you.

  15. Speechless. You're an inspiration, Jenn Lane.

  16. I don't know you and this is the first of your blog posts I have ever read. A link from a mutual FB friend sent me here. What I know from my brief, initial introduction is that you are strong, you are brave, and you are loved. I will pray for your successful surgery and recovery. And be back soon, anxiously awaiting an update. God bless!

  17. Awesome!

    Reading this initially brought tears to my eyes, but when I got to the end and read how your attitude had changed I knew that you are ready to do battle. Stay angry and fight as hard as you can.

  18. God bless so sorry wishing you the very best.

  19. Hi Jenn, my thoughts are with you getting better. I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I say Fuck whatever it is too. Don't let it get the better of you. Be an assskicker!

    This is Tricia, Karen'S sil remember we were in her wedding.

  20. Hi Jenn - I'm friends with your cousin Kathleen. I have read some of your blogs before that she has shared with me, your writing is truely amazing! I just wanted to wish you luck, sending good thoughts, love and hugs from Iowa. Continue to stay strong. You can do this!

    Jenna from Iowa

  21. I had to read this out if curiosity as several fb friends had shared it. My heart sank &prayers eyes filled with tears. I don't know you but I will keep you & your family n my prayers.

  22. I don't know you but I had to read this out of curiosity as several fb friends had shared it. My heart sank. & eyes filled with tears. I will keep you & your family in my prayers. I wish you well.

  23. Jenn, you are a friend of the fabulous Tracy in Texas. I am a fellow teacher and have run across you on FB. Your sense of humor is fantastic. I am so sorry this is happening to you, to your family, to all of those who love you and care for you. You inspire me and humble me with your courageous spirit. I am sending prayers, chants, mantras, hugs, love and every hope that you will recover quickly and completely. I send you love!~~~Dede Hart

  24. I came across your blog on Facebook. You're a hell of a writer, Jenn.

    I was all, "Wha?!" today to hear about what you're suddenly facing.

    You will kick this thing's ass. Because it's pretty clear that you're an ass-kicker.

    xoxo Katy Shamitz