It's my attempt to quiet my chattering mind, but it also gives me a calming memory from which to draw upon during the various periods of anxious waiting, waiting, waiting that I experience on surgery day.
First, there's the waiting for water I cannot swallow because it's after midnight. Or the cup of joe I smell in the morning as my husband sips it while reading the paper before we leave. I am too nervous to focus on words.
Then there's the waiting in the passenger seat of our car as we drive to the hospital in the inky pre-dawn light...
Waiting after I've slipped into my surgical gown, hairnet and gripper socks (cafeteria lady comes to mind), and crammed my clothes into a plastic bag that Husband now carries around like a homeless man.
Waiting as the nurse peppers me with questions, preps me with a PIC line and presses for more medical info than I can possibly remember in the moment.
Waiting for my plastic surgeon to arrive. He is almost always late. I listen as a nurse on the surgical staff calls him on his cell; I'm 10 minutes away, he says. (I know that's code for being 20 minutes away, 'cause you always halve the amount of time you think it will take to get anywhere, right?) But now I'm left waiting and wondering what happens if he gets into a car wreck. Yes, bad for him, but what happens to me? (What is it about going under the knife that makes one so self-focused, anyway?) You see, I'm prepped and PIC-lined and I don't want to go home and have to wait another month to get my implants. Can't bear even the thought. So I really hope he's not driving too fast. I send him good vibes.
I sit waiting in a small chair in a corridor outside the OR. A good-looking guy is waiting in the chair next to me; he's having hernia surgery. (I shouldn't know this, but he's sitting right there and they ask him his own set of medical questions and I can't possibly not hear what he says. So much for HIPAA.) His anesthesiologist greets him with a wide smile, a breathy voice, a bounce in her step and flowing blonde hair. Are these actors? Because we could easily be on a movie set right now. My nurse swings by to walk me to the OR (as I mentioned here). I quick-kiss Husband, who is still holding my plastic hospital hobo bag.
A voice behind me tells me the substance she is injecting into my vein will feel cool. I feel nothing, and I say so. I remind them all about my words of the day: pretty and natural. Pretty natural. Then I see an oxygen mask hovering over my forehead, inching towards my nose. I'm told to breath in. I push the mask away. It feels suffocating. Don't put that thing on me! I am waiting — waiting for the relief of the drugs. Waiting for the moment when my world falls silent.
I first wrote of the power of post-BC hiking here. That's when I discovered the catharsis in a solo outing. And while I look forward to my pre-surgical hikes, it's the post-surgical sojourns that I enjoy even more. They make me feel powerful. They give me a semblance of my self back.
I always start out with a gentle walk on flat trails the first time I venture outside while in recovery mode. For that initial hike, I bring Husband with me. But there comes a day soon afterwards when I feel strong enough to go it alone, and I take to the hills with just my camera. This moment signals to me that I'm over the hump, that my healing is in full swing.
It's hot and dry this time of year, so at first glance I'm not sure there is much vegetation here worth photographing. Everything looks so yellow and brown and dusty. But I know from experience that means I just have to look a little closer to find the beauty. So that's what I do. I stop at some dry brush, get up close to a solitary branch and voila... two love bugs doing what comes naturally come into focus. You never know what you'll find, you just have to be open and to know to look for it.
A woman wobbles past me on a bike. She notices me squatting with my camera in hand on the dusty trail. "Finding anything special?" she asks. I look over my shoulder as she passes by and I smile.
"There's always something special. You just have to look for it," I call out to her.
"So true!" she replies as she rolls down the trail.
|(All photos Copyright © 2012 The Big C and Me)|