Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21

Four months ago today, I had a surgery that saved my life.


I have really GOT to stop doing that! (By which I mean: growing tumors. I don't plan on stopping having life-saving surgeries when I am in need of one. I'd just rather not be in that position in the first place.)

I plan on writing more about the surgery this week. I haven't taken the time to write about the experience of the surgery itself, in large part, because I have foggier memories of this surgery than I do the other two. ... It was a harder surgery. My body was in more trauma than it had ever been in. And one of the blessings of living in a human body is that when things are really hard on our bodies - when there is significant trauma - our memories won't allow us to fully access how bad that thing was.

My memories of that day, of the following weeks, are clouded. But there are a few things that I remember from that morning, clearly and distinctly:

* My friends and family who would not let me go into surgery without telling me that they loved me.

* The anesthesiologist was ridiculously good looking. (He was also wearing a wedding ring, otherwise I may have given him the same deal I gave Dr. H. You know, the "You save my life, and I will marry you." deal.)

* Dr. G looked totally different with his hair pulled back under a surgical cap.

* The frustration (and fear of the pain that I knew was coming) when the epidural wouldn't work. ... The surgical team spent a good half hour, trying to get the needle in right, but it wouldn't take. Every time the anesthesiologist would insert the needle, I would feel sharp pain or tingles down one side of my body. (Not a sensation anyone would ever WANT to feel, and the the possibility of permanent damage wasn't worth the risk, so they opted to not give me the wished-for (and desperately, desperately) wanted epidural.) The last two things I remember about that morning are the surgical nurse having me lean into her body, while she held my shoulders with her hands and held me still while the anesthesiologist tried, for the last time, to insert a needle into my spine, and the anesthesiologist rubbing my arm as he tied it down, telling me that I had done good. I remember thinking I had done well, not good, as I thanked him for trying. I had tears streaming from, oddly, my left eye as I went under anesthesia.

* I remember waking up blind, unable to see anything but light, and having to orient myself by listening really carefully to the voices around me.  With nothing but light around me, I wasn't sure where I was, what world I was in. I remember lying really still, not even aware that I was breathing, and then hearing my brothers talk,  and picking their voices out one by one, thinking, "I made it through surgery. Now comes the really hard part."

Last week, I had a friend ask me how old I would be on my birthday. When I answered 38, his response was, "I remember that age, thinking that the world was mine to conquer". I smiled and told him that I'm just glad that I'll be 38. I don't want to conquer the world, I just want to enjoy it.

Four months ago, I had a surgery that saved my life.

Today, I turn 38.

I'm so grateful for another birthday, for being another year older, for the life that I have and the people that are in it. (Also, for the perfect excuse that a birthday is to eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner.)