I have gone back and forth about writing this post.
For me it’s extremely personal and I know many of my friends and colleagues read this blog. To share something like what I am about to tell you is something that I have thought about since I began writing these posts. I knew we would get to this point in the narrative and I wondered if I would politely sidestep this portion of the story or bare it all like Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s. In the end I decided to be bold so we’ll go with the Miley approach. If you’ve been reading these past few weeks I know they have been kind of a bummer. Stick with me guys, we’ve got to go to the bottom of the ravine before we can begin climbing to the top.
As I said in the dedication of this blog, “It’s not a story worth telling if there aren’t any dragons” and I had surrendered the castle to one of the oldest, scariest, dragons of them all; fear. It had wrapped itself so completely around my mind that all I could do was sit in the tower and look out. I could not wrestle free from the hold that it had on me. I woke up every morning and wrenched myself out of bed. It was getting harder and harder to talk myself into getting up every day. I would go to work, go through the motions, go home, sit on the couch, take a nap, eat something, sit on the couch, go to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. I was simply trudging through life like a zombie. I was living life in a state of suspension. Floating along with no direction or effort to pull myself out of the void. I was just so tired…
Every main character in a story has that one moment where everyone in the audience holds their breath because they aren’t sure if the white knight is going to rescue the maiden in time, or if the receiver is going to catch that Hail Mary as the clock runs down. Time slows and the music gets more intense, people grip the armrests trying to spur the knight’s horse faster or make the football players reach just a few inches longer. This moment in my story happened one day while I was sitting in a physiology class. One of the perks of working at a University is that you can take two classes a semester for free. When I started getting second opinions I had enrolled in a physiology course that was held during my lunch break to better understand terminology and how all of my body systems interacted. (remember: knowledge is power) It was extremely helpful when I began learning about the problems I was having with my pituitary and the resulting hormonal imbalances I was experiencing. It has also helped me communicate with my healthcare providers. Being able to speak the lingo has its perks. Doctors and nurses take you more seriously and seem more relaxed when you can tell them you have a t-cell mediated response to CT contrast dye and that you won’t go into anaphylactic shock if they push that IV.
Anyway, I was sitting in class one day and the lecture was on the respiratory system. The professor who was extremely passionate about our lungs had made us swear that if we smoked we would try to quit and then went on to explain the various lung diseases such as emphysema and pneumonia. He then went on to ask us if we had smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors in our homes and pleaded with us to check and change the batteries regularly. Carbon Monoxide was such a friendly killer, he explained, making its victims simply feel warm and sleepy. They dozed off and simply never woke up.
Now maybe it’s because I was overly tired these days, never managing to get enough sleep, or maybe it was because it was very warm and cozy in that room. I had on a hoodie to shield me from the October chill and I was sitting in the chair with my feet propped up on the back of the row in front of me. I was drowsy and I remember yawning and thinking, “Gosh, that would be so nice, to just fall asleep and not have to set an alarm. Just sleep forever. So much easier than what I’m doing now.” I closed my eyes half way, about to nod off,
And then I was extremely awake.
Did I just think that? That dozing off forever, like Sleeping Beauty would be better than hacking my way through the brambles below like her Champion on his white horse? I began to feel hot as I sat in the classroom. It was extremely quiet and I wondered if the rest of the class had heard me think about taking an infinite siesta. The more I thought about it, the more I felt ashamed. I had fought so hard for this life over the past few months and now I thought it was too hard? Because why? I was too lazy or afraid to change the things I didn’t like about it? I shook my head as if I was trying to shake those thoughts from inside my head. I gathered my things and slipped out a side door thankful for the crisp breeze and cool October temperatures that jolted me awake. As I walked back to my office my head became clear. I realized the reason I was unhappy was because I felt stuck.
When I let fear into the castle everything stopped.
I had stopped.
Stopped fighting for this life.
Stopped actively living and enjoying the time, the people, and the experience that was mine.
I had done what I said I would never do during this climb.
I had taken a break and sat down.
It was time to get up.
As I said before, happiness cannot be found behind us. It lives on the other side of fear. It was time to slay the dragon. Time to wake up. Time to move forward. I got on my computer immediately and drafted an email to Dr. M. I didn’t think, didn’t weigh the options, I just started typing… “I’m ready to schedule an appointment to re-scan my tumor, meet with you and Dr. L, and then schedule subsequent surgery.”
I hit send and exhaled. The “hold your breath” moment of my story had ended.
I could finally turn the page.