29 January 2013

The Edge

"You figured what?  You'd just get out of there and bounce right back?"  

I shrugged, wiped away my tears that seem to always be threatening to fall and said that I just thought I would feel better.

"You probably feel better than being dead. It's been a little over a month. A month. Think of that."

"I think of it too much, I think."  

"You're a carrier. You carry things. Some people might be able to go through what happened to you last year and go on like nothing happened, but I don't know any of them. Some people carry things, some people don't. Nobody would walk out of what you did unscathed."

"I feel assaulted. By everything. Like a layer of protection has been shorn away and now I feel like I have nothing left to protect me."

"Then protect yourself."


I think of the first surgery.  

I think of that first moment, a cold shroud of dread being woven over me as I sat and listened to a doctor and nurse talk outside of what they thought was my earshot as they reviewed an X-ray.  "Yes. Right there. Solid. She'll need to be referred out."

I remember how cold I thought the surgeon was; irritated that I was asking questions.  

"Look, it's this simple. I cut out the roof of your mouth. I hopefully cut out all of the tumor. I sew the roof of your mouth back on. If I can't get it all then we will have to reassess. Your questions don't answer anything that you want to know."

I nodded. And cried. That's all that I did.


I think of the second surgery, eight days later. 45 minutes and it would be over, they said.

I was woke up in recovery over five hours later.  

"Massive bone deterioration. Did you have an infection? You'll need a new hip within a couple of years. We are going to hope that this works."

I was supposed to be back running in a couple of months, instead, I wasn't cleared to move for a month.  Then I was allowed to swim; the irony of it--all of my nightmares of drowning; how even in the shower when the water splashes my face I startle and now, my only solace was getting in the water.

I remember one day, I finally put on a face mask and went under, pulled myself down to the bottom. I watched the bubbles rise slowly to the surface and I thought, "I could let go". But then Little A jumped into the pool, her goggles on, eagerly swimming over to me. I broke back up, panting for breath.

I remember looking at my leg when I stood, how blue it got. "It's not working right," I said. "You're paranoid," he said. "I am," I thought.  

It's easy to think you are something when you don't know who you are anymore.

So I let it get bluer and angrier. The third surgery happened after that; when they opened me up, looking for a tied off artery or vein.

"Nothing, I'm sorry," my doctor said as I wept. It was obvious something was wrong, but they couldn't find it at the hospital close to home, so again, I had to leave home.  


After the fourth surgery when they replaced my hip so many things happened. There was paperwork that wasn't signed so when I got to my room, I couldn't have any medications or food. I remember screaming in pain, literally. I ripped off the covers and stared at my leg; the bandage was oozing; there was fluid everywhere.  It hurt so.fucking.bad.  

"Why can't another doctor sign the paperwork so I can get some medicine? Why can't you fax it to where he is now?"

After a couple of hours, a stony silence settled over me and I refused to talk. The pain had settled in and I wasn't going to beg again. It was then that I realized I had a roommate. I heard her coughing. I covered my leg back up.   

I remember the face of the resident that told me it was his fault that I hadn't been able to get any food the previous day. His face was smug and he was fat. He wasn't sorry in the least. I remember wanting to punch him. I remember thinking, "I bet you ate last night when I couldn't get a goddamn ice chip."  

I remember actually trying to raise my good leg just to see if maybe I could kick him.

"You're irritated," one of them said. "No shit." I answered.

"Up her pain meds to 1.5 and get her some Ativan," he told the nurse.  


My roommate and I soon pulled the curtain that separated us and began talking. I worried about her too much to not talk to her. She had few visitors and she would be taken for tests and not come back for hours. Before I ever spoke to her, I would wait until she was back to fall asleep.

She came in for pneumonia and found out that additionally she had breast cancer. We were close to the same age. I quit complaining to her about my leg, but I kept reminding the nurses about the fever that I had and they kept feeding me Motrin.  

"I just don't feel right," I said when they told me I was going home. 

The next thing I knew, I was almost dead, but I was still alive.  It's a weird place to reside.


It's hard now. My body doesn't fit me. I stare at myself in the mirror, hard, and try to find something that I recognize or like.  

I keep going through the motions because it's too hard to explain to people why I don't feel like going through the motions. I try to reach out to those that I wanted to see before I thought I was going to die, but I don't blame them for not having time. We always think we have time.

I want to yell out to everyone; to tell them how close we all are to being or not being, but I stay quiet, mostly; trying to save my energy for what I do know: The A's, my work, my favorite books and I figure that one day I will adjust my rear view mirror and recognize myself again. 


"The wind shows us just how close to the edge we are."   
Joan Didion


Sarah said...

Oh, love. You have been to hell and back. I am SO sorry and wish I could have spared you some of this.

jess said...

I'm so sorry. You've been through hell and you're still on your way back. Hang in there, please.

Scarlett said...

I am so sorry to hear this. You are so deserving of happiness and light and all kinds of ridiculous joy. It will get better, your grace and strength will see you through. This too shall pass. Everything does. Stay strong.

luckyzmom said...

Wishing you strength, comfort and a life as beautiful as you are.

Nell said...

I had no idea you were going through so much. It's a hard road, but you'll get there. Sending love and strength...