It always happens when you’re not looking . . .you know, you are going along, minding your own business, getting (or in my case romping) through the days and weeks of your life and POW – you get blind sided like one of those Batman shots. And afterwards its really, really hard to remember what your life looked like before you answered that phone call.
Malignant melanoma. At that point in the conversation, seriously, you stop thinking, stop listening – stop breathing if truth be told. It’s like someone has shone a really, really bright light in your face and everything around it just disappears. The rest of the day is pretty much white noise – I went through the actions, but truth be told I don’t remember a thing.
That was last Friday. My beautiful daughter and I had a white water rafting trip planned for the weekend, the timing could not have been better. The 10 on the Richter scale migraine Saturday morning was a bit of a kicker and we got to Reo Rafting Resort slightly later than planned, but it was a fantastic weekend of camping and rafting. Tequila shots in the hot tub . . . great way to warm up!
Fast forward to Monday, me and my denial. I had somehow managed to convince myself over the weekend that I was going to see a surgeon for a simple office procedure and that I’d walk out of there with a few stitches and a sore leg, but I’d just carry on with my life. And I had a lot of life to carry on with in the next 2 weeks. A long-awaited and much-anticipated 10 day summer holiday with my love, just for starters. Living on opposite sides of the continent is one heck of a long distance relationship – those 10 days were so precious. Time to just hang out at home and then a road trip to Newport, Rhode Island for a music festival. Time – just lots and lots of time, something we never have.
POW – I got knocked right out of my denial in the next hour. No office procedure, no “see you in 10 days to remove the stitches”. No, it was the tough love talk. As in “cancel all your plans, you are going in for major surgery as soon as we can get you in”. “Hey Doc, can I postpone for a couple of weeks, I have a life to live?” The deadpan answer – “Not if you want a life to live”. Sweet baby Jesus, didn’t see that one coming. So next Wednesday, instead of packing the car for our road trip, I’ll be having three different surgical procedures, coming out the other end slightly radioactive and with a couple of rows of Frankenstein staples on my leg. It’s really, really hard to fathom.
There is good news; although the melanoma sits right on a diagnostic threshold, the prognosis is cautiously optimistic that with aggressive surgery now it can be completely removed and no further treatment will be required. This is how it plays out in my head: I can count the number of “shoulds” and “likelies” and “usuals” in that consultation. There was not a shadow of lightheartedness in that surgeon’s demeanour or conversation. It’s a scene you somehow never see yourself in. Really . . .never. And on a moment by moment basis it’s back and forth, back and forth in your head – “I have nothing to worry about” v. “I am senseless with fear that I have everything to worry about” And I simply have not let myself walk down the “why now” or “why me” road, because it goes straight to ” Can you be too happy? And if you are, do you have to pay?” Is there a great, cosmic scale that says “you were so stupidly, ridiculously happy you took your eye off the ball and now – time to pay up”.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Edgar Allen Poe.
The other crazy, stupid good thing – my friends. You are my family and as I have reached out to you, you have offered me your kindness, your support, your sensible advice and your caring. Not knowing even slightly how I will face tomorrow, when I should be getting on a plane and flying East; or this weekend, when I should be at Nick’s eating Maryland crabs, laughing late into the night on the roof deck and probably discovering a new favourite craft beer, you have come up with enough fun to keep me busy for three weekends. I will need it all. And I will be taking you up on your offers of domestic help, meals (hell yeah!) and being picked up for outings to stave off the boredom.
Sleep, always an easy and generous companion, has become elusive. Writing is therapeutic. I had an amazing 3 hour kayak paddle in Deep Cove after work tonight. And I’ve written for a couple of hours. Time for some shut-eye.
Dawes – “A Little Bit of Everything”. Because I love every single word of this song and I am so not done with my little bit of everything.