I’ve been pretty quiet for an entire week which is just slight of a miracle for me. The last time I went silent was probably when something bad happened. In this case, nothing BAD really happened, just lots of change in a short amount of time.
As you may recall, I kind of (ok, did) broke my back about 7 weeks ago at the end of July. This past Monday I went under the knife to have the broken piece of L5/S1 disc removed. As I was in the pre-op holding room with nurses trying to poke my dehydrated veins I heard a conversation next to me. “Amputation”. My heart gave out. That word terrified me. “Sarcoma”. My eyes got HUGE. I looked at the nursing student who had been keeping me calm, stared at her, then burst down in sobs. “That woman next door, she’s getting her leg amputated, she has sarcoma. My husband died of sarcoma”. Why was this ‘coincidence’ happening here and now? After calming me, I asked that the nurse tell the woman I would pray for her. But things went fast and while the nurse assured me I would have time to tell her myself, before I knew it I was kissing my Mom and Boyfriend Ta-tas and heading off to the operating holding room. Alone. Without telling the woman anything.
I lay there in my thigh high Ted stockings, my gown with nothing underneath. The nurse scurried about making sure operations were beginning as on time as possible. A gurney pulled up next to me, a young Amish man. His first IV, first surgery. I joked with him about our lovely hats and gowns trying to calm him, and myself. I discovered he too was having his L5/S1 disc repaired, but with a much more invasive fusion. He HAD been a mason, past tense. I found out later he was just 21. No wonder he was so nervous.
Every gurney that came in, I listened intently for her name, her voice. Finally, just 10 minutes before my crew took me out for surgery, she was brought upstairs, but on the other side of the room. As I listened to the other conversations, I hoped that I would get to tell her. Tell her what? My husband died of the disease that was causing her leg to be amputated? What a pep talk Brenda, I thought. No, I wouldn’t tell her that. The anesthesiologist and OR nurse came in and began wheeling me away. I sent good wishes to the Amish man and then craned my neck as they wheeled me out. With no glasses on, I had no clue if the person to whom I was asking was Bonnie was really Bonnie or even a woman, but I called out anyways. “Bonnie, are you Bonnie?” I asked, waving the nurse to stop for a minute. There was silence then, “yes..” “I just wanted you to know that sarcoma has touched my life deeply and that I’m having a fundraiser for it on Saturday. I will be praying for you today.” Quiet. “Ok,” she said, certainly confused about how I knew her name or that she had Sarcoma.
The surgery itself went routine and they made a small 2″ incision in my lower back and removed a chunk of broken disc that was about the size of half a thumb. While I was in the dizzy fog coming out of anesthesia my surgeon informed me that the nerve was very crunched and it was likely I would have long term numbness. I cried. I was given pain meds. I got nauseas. My family came in, I cried some more, slept some more. Bathroom, muscle relaxers, more nausea. Sleep. Finally, awake enough to move and get taken home after a very long day.
The following week has been difficult. I have been dealing with nausea from the numerous medications which are thankfully now straightened out. I experienced what appeared to be a spinal headache – hope I never have to deal with those again. And today I am trying to wind up the last of the details for that Sarcoma fundraiser tomorrow while doing anti rain dances in my head.
It’s been a very long, trying week. Not all things are permanent. Life is about moments. I can only get a taste of those moments sometimes but I am always astounded at how they connect to the moments ahead or in the present. Bonnie – this Saturday is about you as much as it is about Kevin. And it’s also about me and getting to walk despite what the prognosis could be. Numbness or no, I plan to be there tomorrow, for all the many ways that Sarcoma has brought moments into my life.