“Hi, Liza. This is the hospital calling. We don’t seem to have any of your pre-op results here in our computer. Did you do your pre-ops?”
And there went my entire schedule for the day, including working on chapter 2 of my dissertation which is due on Friday. That’s 3 days, Friday. Like, I have to stand in front of a room of professors, the program director, my classmates, and others in the doctoral program and talk about my research. Needless to say, today would have been a good day to write.
I’ll be there, I said.
Instead of writing my paper, I drove the 1-hour in traffic, sat in two separate waiting rooms for 2 hours, and drove back. Rather than lament the fact that I might have written at least a few more pages, I decided to have some fun and at least make the mishap entertaining (for me!). The big reveal will come after my surgery, but here is a sneak peek of what’s in store:
While I certainly should be using my evenings writing, I’ve committed to focusing my evenings with the kids. Because I know, they too, are scared in their own ways. At different times this week, my two young daughters have asked me “Will I have to get my ovaries out, too?” and “When will I have to have my mastectomy?” Hard questions from two kids who haven’t even hit puberty, yet.
The older one (she’s 10) has a pretty good grasp on genetics. She asked, again, about my surgery and how I was feeling about it. In these conversations, she always brings up her eye — the one that was removed from her own cancer diagnosis just weeks after her 2nd birthday. She tells me, “I’m glad we removed my eye, Mom. I know that it’s kinda weird thinking about taking off a body part. But, that’s just one more thing that we’ll have in common. You’ll be fine, Mom.”
She always knows when I need to hear this.
My younger daughter (she’s 7) has questions about my surgery and recovery. She wants to know if she can see my stitches, or whether there will be blood, or how soon can I start snuggling you again?
But, this morning, the one that really hit me hard was my son. He’s 4. Big brown eyes, smile that lights up my life.
Today, in the few moments of quiet before the morning rush, my son — in his mismatched Handy Manny pajama bottoms and Spiderman top — flopped his way down the hallway and onto the couch where I was absently gazing outside of the window. His body still radiated warmth from being tucked in his bed blankets. “Mom,” he whispered. “When you went away for five days for your work trip, I missed you. And, I’m going to miss you when you go to the hospital.”
I had no idea he knew I was going.
“I’ll miss you too, sweet boy,” my arm pulling him closer to me.
When I gave birth to my son four year ago, the doctor actually allowed me to reach down and guide my baby into this world. I remember, just a few months prior at a regular visit to my gynecological oncologist, the doctor asked if I wanted to just have a C-section and remove my ovaries all at the same time.
“No, I’m not ready,” I insisted, though at the time, a part of me felt guilty for not taking the advice of the doctor. I felt disrespectful. “I’m not ready.”
And as I lifted my newborn into the world, I pulled him close to my chest, his warmth radiated onto my own skin. I felt strong. I felt empowered.
Four years later, in the quiet of the morning, I feel ready.
Peace and love,