I highlight some of the most dramatic parts of this story because I’m a writer and these are the events that stand out. I suppose putting all of this in narrative form helps me keep a little distance so it doesn’t get too close to me.
May 1st, 2016 – Broad Street Run, Mile 4 Conversation with Myself
Me: Oh no, I stepped in a puddle. My foot’s wet. This is what Cecily Tynan warned about, the chafing or blistering or something.
Me: That’s not going to happen.
Me: What’s the worst that could happen?
Me: Cancer happened.
Me: You used to be so positive.
Me: Yeah, that’s the worst that could have happened.
Me: But if the worst can happen so can the best.
Me: Yeah, if the worst can happen so can the best, can’t it? Head up, buttercup. You’ve gotta stay positive.
In the Lap of a Stranger
Getting needles hasn’t bothered me for a while.
When I was a kid and had to get them, the doctor had to make me lie down. I had two incidents where I fainted as a result of getting them. I don’t remember crumbling to the ground but I do remember distinct dreams while unconscious. One time, waves were crashing in the ocean but the funnier dream was my first fainting spell. Unbeknownst to me why it happened, the images that arose for me came from the end of the Flintstones, the parts where Fred puts the cat outside of the door and slams it then the cat jumps through the window and puts Fred outside of the door.
After awaking from each of the episodes, the doctor and my mom stood over me gasping. That’s when I was forever banned from sitting or standing up while getting needles.
Now, in the last few weeks, I’ve been poked and prodded even had a few vials of blood taken from my arms. All of those fainting spells seemed to have disappeared until…
The pre-operative procedures started out fairly routine. Go to Nuclear Medicine to have radioactive dye injected into the right breast so the dye could travel to a lymph node for extraction. Lying on the bed all went well with the procedure.
Next, over to mammography for pictures and the insertion of a wire so that the surgeon would know exactly where to locate and remove the lump. The instructions were to sit as still as possible throughout the pictures and the insertion of the wire. Squish, squish, picture, picture, needle in the breast to numb the area, words of assurance that we’re almost done.
Stillness, I got this, I do yoga, I hold my breath, the tech holds my arms in place to ensure I stay in place. I look straight ahead, I think about why I am here, a thought of panic of what the next hours will involve crosses my mind, a wave of warmth climbs through my body.
My eyes flutter open, my head rests in the tech’s lap, smelling salts at my nose, six women stand over me. Initially, I don’t know where I am but then I realize I’m in a mammography room, I’m supposed to be having a procedure, I’m lying on the floor curled in a fetal position, I want to just stay here. The scent of ammonia stings my nose again. I stir just a little more. I have to get up but every time I move my head is dizzy and my stomach is nauseous. I feel weak, my strength has waned, the tough cookie persona has crumbled. I’m in their arms now and I have to get up to finish this part of the day so I can move onto the next. There’s no turning back now. I’ve gotta get up and see this through.