Last July I hit a bump in the freeway of life. My mammogram revealed lumps, small but needing a biopsy. Test conclusions: I needed to have two lumps removed, one from each breast. The surgeon said, “Wow you are lucky, easy to get to the lumps and no signs of cancer.”
“Yes, I am blessed,” I confirmed.
I recuperated from the procedure outside on my terrace. No reason not to enjoy life—anyway. It’s a little slice of heaven, the gardens blooming and the birds singing in praise. I have an outdoor kitchen, wireless, a favorite book, I’m truly grateful. Lounging with my ice tea, I’m captivated by the dance of nature coming to the blooms and feeders. One particular enchantment, a flying lobster bee arrived as I went to refill my ice tea. I dropped the glass on the hard stone surface. Sleepy from my lounging I wasn’t agile enough to miss it with my next steps. I ended up with more stitches than I could count in the soles of both feet.
“The soles of the feet are the most painful place to have an injury,” my doctor confirmed above my screams as he plunged the needle filled with novocain into my feet 7 times prior to stitching them up.
Buy mid-July a critical balancing force in my life, exercise and yoga, was non-existent.
Then the crazy heavy bleeding began, clearly my uterus was as unhappy as the rest of me.
More tests revealed two large polyps needed to go-so they did. If I wasn’t already on the edge, I was about to find out how close I was: besides the procedure for the polyps, I was prescribed a two month regimen of medicine that would cause me to gain weight and be forgetful.
Coming home from my polyps surgery I declared, “well, that’s number three, so I’m done with this craziness!” I was feeling relieved as I popped the first pill into my mouth.
My husband stared at me in disbelief.
“Grandma always said bad things come in three’s,” I told him.
It was going to be ‘all better’ from here on out, was officially my new mantra.
Aware I needed dietary adjustments to match the lack of exercise, I watched what I ate--I thought. I did what I could do in terms of exercise and Yoga and didn’t get too uptight about the situation. It was what it was and it too would pass.
September came and I was able to begin walking every day. I worked through the pain and soreness of healing. I gradually increased my walk to my regular 6 miles and began an easy jog for some of it, hoping soon to find my old routine of running the hills with gusto. My time was SO much slower than ‘before.’ No problem, I’d just do what I could do-gently pushing myself a littler more each day. I would get better, I would improve no doubt about it.
The return to walking set off a joyful domino effect with the doggies. They followed me into my closet each morning, if I touched the clothing on the shelf that contained my workout gear; the celebration commenced with spins in a circle and leaps upon one another. It didn’t stop until we had done at least a mile.
Doggies had been laying at my feet for weeks. All of us were out of practice with the commands, and consistency well trained dogs required to remain well trained. Returning from a walk I hooked Beau and Nutmeg up to the training ropes. They span about 100 feet, enabling training at a distance. If your dog only listens at 5 or 10 feet, it’s not too helpful when you have acres and acres.
Doggies spotted a neighbor dog down the road. It looked like Utley, another lab, and one of their favorite visitors. I saw them come to attention. I wasn’t concerned, if they decided to run to greet Utley, they were on the ropes. The problem? I didn’t know the ropes the doggies were hooked to had wrapped around my ankles.
Forget about the skin, there wasn’t any left in the 180 degree burn the ropes inflicted. “The real issue,” said the emergency room doctor, “was whether or not the ligament and tendons had been damaged.”
As soon as I felt my self be upended I started praying. Utley managed to break away from his human upon seeing Beau and Nutmeg. He bolted into the yard causing Beau and Nutmeg to stop running and limiting the damage.
“You are very lucky, your tendons and ligaments are just a hair away from being cut too,” The specialist confirmed. “Yes, very lucky,” I thought. “That’s exactly how I’m feeling.”
My husband got very angry with me. This is not the first time I’ve had this very same problem. In the past, the burns were minor, “you should know better” he admonished.
I called a girlfriend and advised her to keep plenty of cash on hand as I may need bailed out of jail in the near future. “What for?” she shrieked between recitations of “Oh My God!” I explained it would be for homicide and why. She offered to help me bury the body.
Banished, husband was now sleeping in the guest room, while doggies slept with me and alternated between licking my toes and crying for me. I gingerly arranged my feet up on pillows in my bed so my wounds were not baring any pressure. While my painful, horrid, burns and cuts wept and ached, I prayed for some scabbing to begin-knowing it was weeks away.
I thought if ever there was a good time to begin serious drinking, this might be it. I revisited this option often over the next week. It hurt to move my ankles, my breasts, which seemed as if they fully recovered from the dual lumpectomy, now decided they was sore. The bottom of my feet joined the party by throbbing constantly. I cut the heels of my running shoes down so nothing could touch the mess around my ankles--and I walked-- anyway. Some walks I cried. Some, I prayed. Some, I gave thanks I was alive and I was walking-- anyway.
Fall brought the blessed relief of cooler days and a body that was doing a good job of mending. When my doctor saw me for my three-week check-up for my ankles he noted, “You are doing really well for 6weeks-way ahead of the curve.” I smiled. I didn’t say anything. He looked at my chart and said, “It’s only been three weeks? That’s not possible.”
I smiled again. “I’m taking all the help I can get.” I told him.
Fall also brought the traditional wardrobe swap. Nothing like changes in weather to force us to admit the clothes don’t fit us any more. Okay, that was to be expected. I didn’t like the 30 lbs of weight that found it way to my mid-section since July, but no problem. I was working on taking it off-- anyway. The weight hasn’t been on me that long, I rationalized, so it’ll come off fast. This was my new mantra.
One more thing fall brought? Intense hot flashes and skin that is positively hormonal.
Spring is just thinking about making an appearance as I write. I have been exercising very hard. In fact, it feels like I’m exercising twice as hard and getting half of the results. So much for the mantra, “it’ll come off quick.” Some of my clothes fit me a bit better, but most don’t. I checked and doubled checked my calories and nutritional intake and my lack of progress didn’t make sense.
A series of glucose testing and blood work revealed diabetes.
“You need to make some serious adjustments if you are going to control it with diet and exercise,” my doctor cautioned.
“Yes, that’s what I’ve been thinking, I needed to get serious about everything,” I replied. “God knows I haven’t been paying any attention to my body these last 7 months.”
Oh, the skin? I went to the dermatologist to see what he could do to help.
As soon as he came in the room something on my chest caught his eye. Immediately he said, “I don’t like the looks of that spot, we are going to biopsy it.”
“When?” I asked.
Five biopsies later, I’m having several spots on my back and chest freed from “dangerously” atypical cells.
“You are really lucky, we caught this early,” he said. “Plus I’m the best plastic surgeon in Princeton.”
“Ah luck, my old friend, where would I be without you,” I said.
I'd be lying if I said I was fine with what has been happening to my body for the last 7 months. If I could change it I would. But it hasn’t stolen my happiness. That feels heroic to me.
I feel heroic because I’ve said, “I quit,” “I give up,” pitched a bitch and sang the ‘why me’ song about a millions times—but each time I quit, I un-quit. Each time I sing another verse of the why me song-I stop.
I feel heroic because I can have my feelings and not attach to them, thereby giving power to them and enabling my feelings to spin a story of woe and being forsaken.
I feel heroic because I forgave my husband for talking with his man-brain.
I feel heroic because I am using my Spiritual Practice. A lot.
I feel heroic because I’m allowing Source Energy to lift me up above the circumstance: I’m not trying to do it myself.
Mostly, I feel heroic about choosing the happy—anyway.
I LOVE your grateful energy and fighting, humorous spirit. You shine!
|1966 days ago|
Marta, thank you. I treasure your kindness and I love all you have done for me just by being friends! XOXO Love and Blessings
|1968 days ago|
Dear Karen I am so blessed to know you, to be included in the beauty and strength of your spirit. You are such an inspiration to me and I am sure all who come in contact with you. What a year my friend and such grace and beauty you went through it with.
I have 2 sisters who had ovarian cancer so I in a small measure understand how it must have felt.
Thank you for your beautiful enriching of the spirit sharing. You are and will remain one of my hero's.
|1968 days ago|
I absolutely must agree with all those above Karen what a amazing spirit you have. I will add you to my hero list. Oh yeah you are already there.
I went through the removal of the fiberoid tumor thing in my twenties no fun at all. I am glad though as I have two sisters that had ovarian cancer and am a DES baby.
You are truly remarkable.
Big Hugs my friend if I can ever do anything to make it easier for you let me know please.
|1968 days ago|
Elaine and Beth, thank you. It's helpful to remember just getting through the day can be heroic at times!! Love to you,
|1970 days ago|