I woke this morning after a restless night of sleep due to the mounting, unspent energy of days without forceful activity from running or riding, which also wasn’t helped by an intermittent rainstorm marked by window rattling thunder crashes. I also went to bed unable to shake the visuals of the surgery I’m about to undergo flashing in my head like a strobe light, casting an emotional darkness upon my night and expectedly remaining there upon waking. The storm had ceased, but the skies stayed cloud covered and grey, giving no emotional relief or inspiration to start the day. I went to bed with concern and went about my morning the same.
Because now this is real.
Last week I was only concentrating on the Colonoscopy, taking each procedure as it comes and each day the same, but now that has passed and the next mile marker staring me down is the ultimate surgery. And now I can’t avoid it.
Since my diagnosis, which was shockingly only two weeks ago to this date, I had a void in front of me, filled with the mention of an arduous surgery, some form of recovery timeline and then the visuals I had created for myself leading into the recovery that would get me back up and running…and that’s all I could see. I saw an empty space in between diagnosis and running, filled with the ignorance of what I didn’t know was coming.
But slowly that void began to fill, with each appointment detailing a part of the procedure further.
An incision that runs the length of my abdomen, swallowing my bellybutton in the cut.
A ventilator to breathe for me while in the ICU.
Multiple ports funneling poison into my body for days at a time.
A device called a “spreader” to hold my abdomen open while organs are removed.
The loss of an appendix, maybe a gall bladder, maybe more.
The description of being “punched in the abdomen for 10 hours straight.”
A surgery time extended to 17 hours and an ICU stay rising to 5 days.
A recovery estimate of 6 months feeling unwell.
And on..and on…and on. The void slowly filled with the traumas of this coming experience, the physical reality of what lies just past the weekend, and a handful of days to do little but dwell upon it. So now it is taking it’s emotional toll. I’m becoming slightly more irritable, unwilling to deal with others petty complaints, frustrated at friend’s not understanding the seriousness of what I’m about to face, and simply a compounding dread.
And it’s not just me. My dad confided in me the other day that he has been losing sleep over this, while my mom opted out of the visit with the chemo doctor after feeling the recurrence of emotions from my sister’s battle with cancer.
But what can you do? The void is filling quicker and quicker and the reality creeps closer and closer…like the fearful anticipation of your goal race just a few days off. The butterflies that swarm my belly days ahead of any race have made themselves known, but the pre-race nervousness that often ends with a relieved triumph will only be met with…this time…I don’t know.
I truly don’t know.
The finish line is blurred. It’s like a race without a prescribed distance, just a course that winds and climbs and drops until someone tells me it’s over or I say it’s finished. I know when the starting gun goes off…but I don’t know when I’m done and I’m not sure how to handle that. And I don’t know what the pain and adversity is going to be like either.
I know when I lie on the hospital bed that I’m just along for the ride….comfortably unconscious while the indescribably mesmerizing powers of science, technology and accumulated knowledge work their magic, transforming my physical state from one of continuous deterioration to something entirely different. But then I will wake…and I can’t even imagine what that will be like.
I’ll be in a different room…with tubes snaking from my body, an altered physical existence, missing body parts (some good, some bad) and a drug-induced awareness that something is different. I just can’t imagine what I might think at that moment…though I’ll probably wanna facebook about it or something. 🙂 Still, that is a part of the void I just can’t comprehend, but I’ll know about soon enough.
Things are real now. They aren’t considerations. They aren’t hopeful envisioning. They aren’t dreams of ultimate triumphs. They are simply a few slow-crawling days leading into a wall of unconsciousness where everything is about to change in my life, more so than they have to this point, more so than they have ever, and I’m not exactly sure what that void on the other side is going to look like anymore.
I know what I want that void to be filled with, but the only thing that matters in our lives is the physical reality.
Blood and Bone. Legs and Lungs.
So friends, bear with me as I work through these coming days, because I’m not sure how this is going to play out emotionally. I’m swinging by the moment, wanting to absorb the kindness of friends before I can’t for awhile and then wanting to go inward, protecting myself from the trivialities of daily life. I know you understand, but I feel better putting it out there.