I’m not sure if any of you are athletes but I have mentioned that I was a swimmer in what now feels like another life and when I raced I had a superstitious pre-race routine. I wore certain colored goggles, went behind the blocks a certain number of heats before my own. Did stretches in a certain order. Officials hated it but I needed to reach down into the water and splash myself and get my suit wet before I could step up. And of course I had a certain number of times I jumped up and down behind the blocks to stay loose and spike my heart rate. Doing these things kept me calm before a big race and even though I should have been able to be confident in my own abilities without them they were necessary part of my ritual. The mind is a powerful tool. It can raise you to new heights or it can defeat you before the race has even begun.
I approached this surgery like a race. We stayed in the same hotel, ate at the same restaurants, I wore my katniss braid, and even got all of my IV’s in the same arm. (ridiculous I know, but as I said, the mind is a powerful tool. Doing these things helped me feel confident that we would have a similar successful outcome with no complication on surgery day) After CT and MRI we went to see Dr. M who informed us that he was very surprised my recurrence had happened so quickly, the area had been clear and he had been very thorough when removing the tumor. He had never seen a recurrence like this in an adult and he had also conferred with other colleauges. Neither had they.
“You are very…unique…Miss Fahs. I have never seen anything like this.” At this comment I laughed and complimented him on his diplomatic choice of words.
Unique…Freak of nature…”Poe-tay-toe. Poe-tah-toe.”
We discussed my surgery once more and scheduled it for the next day like I was scheduling a teeth cleaning.
Something that I must stop and marvel at is the mind’s ability to adapt to it’s environment. I was about to have another risky surgery of which the outcome was uncertain and the risk of complication was still 50-50 but it felt routine. Growing up I had had anxiety attacks about going to the doctor because I was deathly afraid of having to get a shot. I hated needles. Now I can tell a phlebotomist which arm is a better stick and I don’t even break into a sweat when CRNA’s close in on me with a 10 gauge to start an IV line. Being shoved inside the tube for an MRI is no longer chlaustrophobic, it’s nap time, and I can carry on a conversation while a fiber optic camera is being threaded up my nose. I say this not to boast that I’m the toughest chic on the block. (those of you who have seen me break down and cry know that this is far from the truth) I say this to point out once again that the mind is the most powerful tool that we possess.
Where there is a will there is a way.
At this point of the story I had had a biopsy and known what it felt like to watch the minutes of days tick by while waiting for the results. I had contemplated the fall out of losing my job and financial security. I had known fear, physical pain, and emotional loss. Finally, I had had the very intimate and brutally honest conversation with myself examining how I felt about my own mortality and the possibility that this life could end.
These things are exhausting. I remember being tired. Mind, body, and soul tired. This had been a continuous uphill battle and I was starting to stagger under the weight of it. Like a rubber band that has been stretched too far and loses its elasticity I was losing my ability to bounce back in a positive way to all of the weight that kept dropping onto my shoulders. But my parents and I had made an unspoken promise to each other that whatever happened we simply would not stop. We would continue forward. Perhaps stumbling forward at times, sometimes crawling, but that was the direction we were going. Changing your mind about that was not an option.
Many people who find out my story flap their hands in the air and say “oh honey, I can’t believe you went through that. How did you do it? I would have just sat down and cried.” To be thruthful, even now when I write this blog and see it all on “paper” it seems more like a dream. And there were times when I did cry. Many times. But I never let myself sit down. I had made up my mind. I would not let the sight of the obstacles ahead defeat me before I had even begun.
I wanted to climb to new heights…
never look back, that’s not where we’re going…you don’t have to go fast you just have to go… keep moving forward