Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bye-bye, Blackbird

Nothing will delineate the difference between friends and acquaintances better than a crisis. They sort themselves out, but that's not to say that the results won't be disappointing.

In the past week, I've found out I'm toting around a grapefruit-sized mass in my abdomen and that my uterus also needs to leave the building- and tra-la, tra-la, yesterday I was sent for a blood draw for cancer markers. I'm not too happy about any of it, but what can you do? Much like the dried-up sodium incident in high school, sudden knowledge does not exacerbate the situation at hand unless you choose to be melodramatic about it.

Here's the thing: if you don't know what to say, it's perfectly all right to say "I'm sorry." To say nothing is both rude and unkind.

Our illusions die hard, and seemingly, at the most inopportune time. We're relieved, I suppose, of the burden of them on our hearts, minds, and souls. It does, however, incinerate some of the better memories of childhood in a single, blinding flash, just when we might take a modicum of comfort in them.

The spell of banishment is simple: write the name of the person on a strip of paper, and burn it to ash. Take the ashes to a body of running water such as a stream or river, and dump them in, while speaking or thinking that the person be gone from one's life forever. Maybe I can put it off, until the words and pain are borne away by the 'mighty' Green River, but I'm not sure I have the time to wait.

Friday, July 27, 2012

We Are But Mortal

Everyone from my hometown knows the story of Jane Todd Crawford, the patient who survived the first successful ovariotomy in 1809. She was from my home county; our hospital is named for her. Ephraim McDowell thus joined the pantheon of the most celebrated surgeons in medical history after removing a basketball-sized ovarian tumor from Mrs. Crawford. Shockingly and unexpectedly, she lived through it, and McDowell introduced a non-lethal, lifesaving gynecological surgical procedure to the world.

Two days ago, I looked a radiologist in the eye and told him that I knew that the surgery I required had been successfully performed for over two hundred years and at least I had the benefit of anesthesia, whereas Jane Todd, as we affectionately call her back home, did not. He had just explained that there is a mass the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. (Just FYI, the ovary is about the size of an almond- so try to visualize a grapefruit attached to that.) The mass is not vasculated and is fluid density, according to his reading of my ultrasound, so those are both great under the circumstances-but anything half that size and larger needs to come out. Soon.

So now I wait. I've called a few people who are close to me, but this is really the first time I've just laid it out there. Today, a plea went out from one of my closest childhood friends to the rest of our graduating class, asking if they would please RSVP for our twenty-fifth reunion. The restaurant will not close for under thirty people, and only ten have responded- I can't blame them, especially since our local fall festival, Cow Days, will be underway that weekend. It will lose them some foot traffic to shut down just for us.

There was a blinding moment during which I seriously considered emotional blackmail, i.e., "Hey guys, I just got some pretty depressing news a couple of days ago. Think you could show up for three hours, because I'm not sure I'll be around for the next one?"

My initial diagnosis is pretty good. I'm trying to keep a stiff upper lip and all that, but deep down, I am scared shitless. My health, despite my weight, has been fairly good most of my life. This is a big one. I haven't processed it completely yet. Of course, the timing sucks, since we're on the forward edge of the fall semester, we have a lot of big plans, I'm supervising a graduate project for our intern, et cetera, ad nauseum, and The Boyfriend is returning to school here to learn automotive repair, social work having been flooded with degrees by two area private colleges in recent years.

I have things to do. I have places to see. My elderly parents need me. 

I don't have time for this.

Does one ever, really? But these are the things that have no 'good time', that don't brook scheduling. In the end, I have to face it, deal with it, and go one, whatever that means. Time to take my own advice- i tan i epi tas- "with it, or on it".