Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The big feelings

My surgery is in one week. I am rapidly getting to the point when all of the appointments will have been made, help will be lined up, and work shifted to my colleagues. And then, when I walk in for surgery and later when recovery begins, I'll be left with the big feelings.

Soon after receiving my diagnosis I moved swiftly into action mode. Make appointments, see doctors, tell people, sort out insurance, make decisions. LOTS of decisions. This is me at my best -- action mode. Get it done mode.

And I have made all of these things happen with a smile on my face. I'm happy! I love my job! I love my family! I feel healthy! I'm going to be fine! I am forging through this whole process, the experience, without giving any space to doubt or feel sad. It's a little ridiculous. How can I be so fine, so happy, when I have cancer?

But I'm a survivor and for thirty-one years, survival mode has served me well. Just push on through, get to the other side of loss or pain (feel as little as possible), believe it will be okay and it will. And I am OK.

Except, this isn't a task list I can complete and throw away. This isn't something I can avoid feeling. Having the big surgery -- the double M -- might enable me to skip some of the uncertainty and the fear, but the physical recovery will hurt.

The hospital is offering me a nerve blocker to manage the pain. "Like an epidural," they describe it. Except I've never had an epidural. I have no idea what that's like. When I was pregnant the idea of dulling the pain scared me. I knew I could do it, just push through labor, and I did. I wasn't afraid of the hurt. But this time I think maybe I won't want to feel the pain. With the pain might come the big feelings.

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