It's been a long day. It's Monday and I've been at the hospital for blood work, an EKG, and my preoperative physical. It's rainy, I'm tired, and I need this to be over. Surgery is on Wednesday.
I'm trying not cry. I've been positive and focused on all the love and support surrounding me since Diagnosis Day. But now it's time to say goodbye to my sons. I won't see them again until after the surgery.
I hug them. I kiss them. I tell them I'll call them tomorrow.
I tell them I love them.
And then I wonder if I will see them again.
* * * *
People don't like to talk about death or dying or the fact that you might be afraid. Mostly what they want you to do is to Stay Positive! Because Everything Is Going To Be Okay! They will remind you that You Can't Think That Way! Everything's Going To Be Just Fine!
(Spoiler Alert: this is bullshit and I thank God that I've surrounded myself with people who believe in letting you cry your ugly cry and say whatever the hell you need to say, people who will stand there and hug you while you have a cry, even if you're in the middle of a very large seating area in a very large hospital where a number of doctors are sitting checking their phones but neither of you cares about them because you are a real, live woman and anyone who is uncomfortable with crying or feelings can just go fuck themselves anyway because who gives a shit what anyone else even thinks when there's a tumor in your head and it's kissing the part of your brain that controls your breathing?)
Doctors are different. Doctors lay it all out there for you, they make sure they are clear and that you understand the risks involved. You will sign paper after paper saying that you understand and agree to and accept the risks involved.
Death. Stroke. Right side facial paralysis.
Do you understand? Do you?
* * * *
His name is Dr. Matt. He has a last name and it begins with a V, but I can't remember what it is. I remember only that he introduced himself in the ER the first night as Dr. Matt.
"What day is it?"
I know the answer this time. It's Wednesday, June 12th, 2013. It's 9:30 in the morning and my two friends have just been ushered out of the pre-op area because it's time. They'll start IVs, they'll put me to sleep, they'll put in the breathing tube, they'll put the lumbar drain into my lower back to drain cerebrospinal fluid off my brain, they'll pad my body, they'll secure my head, they'll shave my hair, they'll cut through my skin and muscle and skull and remove part of the bone and then lift my brain and try to get to the tumor.
We're done with the baseline neurological exam. This is it. This is happening.
It's go time.
My hands are trembling, but I'm not crying. Dr. Matt puts a hand on mine and says this is a big surgery. He tells me that it's normal to be nervous.
But to prove it, to prove he's right, to prove that it really is okay to be nervous, I feel the need to run down the risks again. I start with the general: death, stroke, right side facial paralysis. Then, I piece together tidbits from various conversations with various doctors over the last week:
-it's in a difficult spot to get to
-it's wrapped around the part of your brain that controls breathing
-we might not be able to get it all
-there's a major artery right here
Does this warrant being afraid? Does this finally warrant it being okay to say, "Not to be overly dramatic here, but this is serious shit and it has shaken me to my core, and while I no longer doubt my own personal strength, I am afraid of having my head cut open and I am afraid that I just hugged my best friend goodbye, and I am afraid I won't see my boys again, and I am afraid that I am going to die today and I am afraid that this is it, that all of these 38 years have led me here and I am afraid that this is how my story ends. I thought I had more time. I thought I'd be a wife again. I thought I'd write a book someday. I thought I'd be a grandmother..."
The anesthesiologist is pretty. She tells me she's a mother, too. She tells me to lie back and relax. I focus on my hand as she puts something into my IV.
Dear Dad, please be with me.
Dear God, thank you for every person I have ever loved, for every thing I have ever felt, for every thing I have ever done. Thank you for such beautiful sons.
Thank you for this life.
And then, I am out.