Two things, I can do,
At three I am an expert:
Recovering from surgery, and
Picking up the pieces of a broken heart.
It is remarkable to me how similar physical recovery is to emotional recovery. Life post neck surgery is a whole lot like life post heartbreak. There’s that initial period of intense disorientation and pain, fatigue and tension. You’re not quite sure what you can or cannot safely do so you hold yourself close and play it safe. It hurts too much to do anything else anyway. Then your energy starts to pick up a bit as life begins to settle into a more recognizable pattern. You begin to test your limits and find both pain and strength in new places. The wound is ever present. There’s the numbness at the surface and the roar just below – the tingling, pulsing, throbbing, stabbing set of sensations that refuse to let you forget for a moment that a piece of you is gone. At the center, the wound aches with every move; at the distant edges, the softest touch feels rough, harsh and irritating. So, you keep everything clear. Anything or anyone that might accidentally brush the spot is held well away. Though the pain eventually begins to fade, it seems so very slow to go. There are those moments when you think it’s almost gone, and you’re living along, not thinking about the thing when BAM! – fresh shots of sensation fire unannounced. Will you ever feel normal again? Will you ever be free of these feelings? (Woe to the one who has to live through both surgery and heartbreak at the same time.)
My second surgery three weeks ago went about as well as surgery can go. It’s hard to know what to say about it. They knocked me out cold. When I woke up, I had another 10-inch cut in my neck and was lighter by twelve lymph nodes. The surgeon told me last week that, of the twelve nodes removed, only four were confirmed cancerous. I am assuming that’s good news. The chances of him having cleared out the last of the problem seems high – good odds from my non-medical perspective. Even so, cells are tiny and cancer is sometimes slippery. They will scan me again in six months to be sure. So from now until September, I go on living … and healing … and waiting. Waiting for the invisible hand around my throat to loosen its grip. Waiting for the strength to move my arm and head in all natural directions. Waiting for the energy to start exercising again. Waiting for the me I know to come back.
But who is that me that I think I know? And do I really want her back?
Coming soon: “Conversation with Myself”