Letting Go – or Goodbye to All That
A week from now I’ll be in NYC and the following morning I will be unconscious. The best doctor I could find in the USA is going to cut my arm open into quarters, cut through muscles, and ever so gently but firmly cut away this large tumor that right now makes the palm of my hand hurt for no reason. Actually, the reason is that the tumor is attached to and compressing my nerve sheath. So I get all kinds of weird pains, like sometimes it feels like a ghost is slapping the top of my hand. Sometimes it feels like I punched a wall with only one knuckle. Sometimes by tricep has shooting pains. It’s a grab bag of weird sensations.
The best news is that the tumor is not INSIDE said nerve sheath, just surrounding it. I might have mentioned that my surgeon said he will gently “tease” the tumor away from my nerve sheath without stretching out the nerves inside. They are already being stretched and pinched and what not. I wanted to find a picture for you, but all I found was an amputated arm . . . I don’t think that would make any of us feel good right now.
So, in a week I will wake up and not know if my right arm works. Here is a list of things that have occurred to me in no particular order, that I will not be able to do for some undetermined amount of time:
- Eat with both hands (e.g. no fork and knife action)
- Eat with a spoon – I don’t trust my left hand to do this
- Easily use the toilet for both my human and feminine needs (maybe TMI but hey, I didn’t show you the severed arm
- Make jewelry – my favorite hobby
- Pet my dogs with my right hand
- Drive a car
- Walk without losing my balance (it’s a thing the surgeon told me about, I’m going to be very slow and need a spotter)
- Text on my phone without great effort
- Write blog posts
- Write anything
- Sign my name
- Go to work – though my awesome employer is working on getting me some adaptive software.
- Wear my “mother’s ring” with my children’s birthstones in it
- Be a fully independent human being (this is the hardest one for someone who’s always been so independent).
I face a slim, but not impossible, chance I will be paralyzed in my right arm. I fave a slim, but not impossible, chance that this tumor is malignant, but even if it is, it’s a curable type of malignancy, unless fate has more surprises in store for me.
I’ve had a hard day. I had a great day yesterday with Jim on our 25th anniversary, but today is the day after and it’s hard. I’ve given up a writing project I really REALLY wanted to do. I’m making jewelry for a sale this weekend because I love doing it and soon won’t be able to. I might knit between Sunday and Tuesday, while I still can.
I know there are worse things, but that doesn’t matter because this is MY think. This is a real thing, and it’s really, really scary and hard. It’s not optional, it’s not avoidable, it’s ahead of me and I will keep on moving on, like I do.
I need help. I need help at the surgery (my in-laws will be there). I need help in recovery (the nurses will be there). I need help draining my tube after the surgery (my sister will be there). I need help getting back and forth to PT/OT (again my sister, and the therapists who will help me will be there). I just need a whole lot of help for a 45 year old, and this help is teaching me humility and grace. It’s a lesson I thought I’d already learned, but maybe I’m just getting a PhD now.
I guess I also need financial help. I got my credit card bill today . . . it might have had something to do with my panic attack. There was a lot of airfare, my husband’s dental surgery, and a few cab rides on there. I’m doing my best, but will a stretch of unemployment followed by 60% of my pay for the last part of October through short term disability, that’s also scary. I HATE HATE HATE to ask for money. I give it all the time and it makes me feel good. Needing it makes me feel sick. Receiving it makes me feel loved. It’s a complicated twisted thing.
Thanks for bearing with me. I’ve got a few good-byes this week, and I hope they’re all temporary.