“I’d be a liar if I said I did,” is one of my husband’s least favorite Southern sayings. It’s applied most frequently when you ride for miles looking for a certain place, only to stop and ask the owner of a gas station if he knows where the place is you’re looking for and the answer you receive is, “Sure don’t. Or I’d be a liar if I said I did.” Back he comes to the car fuming, “Why do they say “sure” if they really mean “don’t?” he asks with the utmost consternation. And like most natives, I have no answer, never having really noticed this odd turn of phrase I’d grown up with, it doesn’t bother me.
But I’d be a liar if I said that the reason I haven’t written a blog post lately is that I’ve been busy or disinterested. I’d be a liar if I said that there was nothing of import to pronounce. I’d be a liar if I said that the last two months have been delightful and not agony, disappointment and pain, over and again.
It started post-op in the ambulatory care center when I bled for five hours and they couldn’t find a doctor. Even as my pulse quickened and my blood pressure dropped, we were told doctors could not come to ambulatory care. “What in the world were you doing there in the first place?” my friends ask me. I didn’t have any answer and I’d be a liar if I said I did. As we waited and I got sicker, my nurse told me the monitor beeping a lower and lower blood pressure was “probably not correct” but still I couldn’t have any pain medicine. Finally about 10:00pm, the oncology fellow came and placed a pressure dressing, drew blood and hung a bag of saline. Blessed with a better blood pressure, I was then allowed my pain med. You probably can’t imagine the suffering unless you’ve been under the knife yourself. I don’t recommend it,
They sent me home the next day even though my pressure was still low. A nurse practitioner came in and said some things and gave me a handout with exercises. I was way too dizzy to stand up since I was still hypovolemic, so I didn’t do those exercises the first day and I’d be a liar if I said I did. Every time I stood and tried, I felt nauseous.
The bleed set me up for an extraction. That’s where they suction out the old blood two weeks later in hopes the swelling goes down and the pain abates. I’d be a liar if I said it did because two weeks after that I got a raging infection. The radiation oncology doctor wrote for clindamycin which I stayed on for two and a half weeks. After getting way worse day after day that infection finally cleared. The swelling is akin to a tooth ache, just a bit bigger and across your whole chest and under your arms. I don’t reccomend it either.
Our 33rd anniversary ran through this time and my husband bought me a card that said, “I honestly believe that we are two of the luckiest people on earth.” Inside it said, “We’ve got a great life.” I guess that’s why I stopped writing. I didn’t know what to say that wasn’t awful. How about, “I’m miserable and sleep alot and the only time I’m not in pain is when I’m sleeping?” No, I’m not that person with that tale. I was struck mute. If you don’t hear from me you can assume things are declining.
At first I wanted to say you might be lucky but I’m not so sure about me. But then I started thinking about all my many blessings, my surgeon who did a fabulous job and can’t help the spasm of a tiny vein bleeding and causing such trouble, my oncologist who when I told her I found IBC on the Internet and it sounded like my symptoms answered with why don’t you come in tomorrow at 8am?, my family, especially my husband who has followed me around for eight months and done everything he could and was asked and my daughter who has come to every chemo and lays in the bed with me after pressing on my head, hands and feet-whatever hurts, and my son who made a get well dance video with all my friends and my other son who worried so about me he asked if he should fly home from Asia early. I’m also thankful for the wonderful weather we had this fall allowing me to lie on the deck and rest, maples turning the most beautiful shades of red catching my gaze and asking me to reflect and look again, my courage which rarely fails, my church family, my love of art and writing. All my friends, patients and readers who are praying so hard, cheering me back to good health. I’m glad to be back.
Celebrating the first Sunday in Advent and looking in anticipation for the birth of the Christ child we remember God does his best work in the dark. He’s working that best in me now. Peering into the darkness, I seek light. And when I find it lying in a lowly manger, I am reborn. *I’ve heard this story before and it does not end in blackness and death.
I honestly believe that we are the luckiest people on earth. I know the devil and darkness will not triumph even in our moments of greatest fear and pain, and I’d be a liar if I said I did. i just had to be reminded.
*Taken from a sermon by Brent Levy on Nov. 30.