How it feels to be me

My “all your money on red” surgery is in 11 days, and the countdown has started…the one where amid all the “normality” of school lunch shopping and figuring out the nuts and bolts of the netball season (registration, fees, uniforms….I haven’t done it yet and training starts on Wednesday) and of course, the endless wondering what the family is going to eat for dinner for the next week…I also start thinking about how the fuck (pardon my French, but it’s not the time to give too many fucks about my potty mouth) I am going to actually do this.  How I am going to walk in the doors of that hospital, kiss my people goodbye at the door that says “authorised persons only beyond this point”, VOLUNTARILY climb onto that trolley, and let them put that cannula in, and that mask over my face.  I feel like I’ve done it a million times before, but I’ve always been pretty sure that no matter what ensues in between, I’ll be leaving the hospital again by those front doors that just slid shut behind me.  There will be no such certainty this time, the 50% factor as it has come to be known, is very much a game changer.  It will be the most hellish and gut wrenching day in human history…for me anyway, and for the people who love me.  And I still have no idea where I will find the strength to do it.  I don’t think there is any way to prepare for something like this.

I’ve also been wondering how I will feel when I wake up, and find out what has happened whilst I have been sleeping.  Of course I want to find out that I have been able to be successfully resected.  But after that will come the wait of several days, a week, whatever to see if there is any signs of regeneration in my liver.  If there is, logically we are in good shape, and things should proceed for me in the way that everyone else who has a liver resection proceeds.  Major operation, heaps of pain, lots of chance of complications, but that front door is still looking pretty good.  If there isn’t, then I have to face the fact that I am mostly likely cancer free at that point in time, but I am going to die anyway of something that is rare and unfathomable to someone who has gone through so much to come this far.  The other option of course is to find out nothing could be done as the cancer is too extensive.  I will be sad about that, and badly frightened, as it will mean that the tide has really turned against me and we are dealing with something that has become quite aggressive….how long will it be before it is too “big” for the chemo to control?  No answers.  It’s hard, all this.  So, so hard.

How am I putting one foot in front of another?  Somehow I am.  I went shopping by myself this afternoon to get groceries for the week.  As I was passing a clothes shop I saw a lot of retro gear, and I kind of fell into the shop door against my will and the next thing you know, I was carrying about 15 dresses into the changing rooms, my arms groaning under the weight.  You know how it is :)  Yep, I was having a gay old time, trying them all on, putting a short list up on facebook for my friends to help me choose, as you do.  I crave normality more than anything, and it felt really good for me to be trying on dresses, but of course it smacked of the absurd to buy another frock when I have quite a good selection in the cupboard…and….well, you know…

As I was slipping dresses on and off, I heard someone paying the lady at the counter and saying she will pick up her order on Friday.  And my mind said “oh, on Friday I might only have one week of this regular old life left”.  Then I put on another dress and smiled at my reflection, because let’s not go the fuck there before we need to.  I consulted the vote tally on Facebook, and quite a few people said get all three dresses I had put photos up of.   And I thought yep, love to, and then stifled an almost hysterical giggle as I thought about how if I wore all three for the next 11 days straight, Gaz would still be able to put them up on EBAY listed in “as new condition”.  It’s life kids, but not as we know it.  In the end, I settled on one.

After that, I proceeded to Aldi…just a normal mum, doing the shopping for the week.  It was all going well, until I picked up the milk.  I looked at the date on it, as I always do, and there it was – 27 February.  It really did send a shiver down my spine, and make the hairs on my arms stand up, realising if it all turns to shit on the operating table, and it could…there was milk in existence that might expire on the same day that I do.  Believe me, this is not me being negative, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop your mind wandering to those places.  The title of this blog post itself is absurd, as there is no way I could describe to any of you what it feels like to be me..I can’t even comprehend it MYSELF.  And maybe there is a reason for that.  Self preservation.  Because to truly take it in would be, I think, a descent into madness that I might never fully recover from.

Last week I returned to my studies.  It was, no question, the best thing I have done in a long time.  I settled on 1.5 days of study load…3 subjects.  It won’t see me finished this year, but it’s a fair workload all the same.  For half of Tuesday, and all of Wednesday, I barely gave any thought to cancer, operations, death…you know, shit like that.  I was just Julia, the student, back doing what I loved most before cancer.  Thinking, opening my mind, learning, dreaming of all I could do, and all I could be.  And then it got kind of hard as I just wanted to keep going.  There are crazy times when I  think I can.  Except for mild pain in my right side where my tumours push the liver out from under my ribcage, I feel pretty normal.  It’s surreal that I can feel this good, and voluntarily go and face the scalpal, but I know I must.   Because I want to finish that diploma.  I want to walk Dakota into high school next year.  I want to see Georgia turn 7, and Tana turn 9, and help Indi prepare for her last year of primary school.  And me, well I want to turn 44.  Remember when that seemed ancient to us, when we were young whippersnappers in our teens, and 20’s?  Now it doesn’t seem old at all.  My 40’s have been my favourite decade and I want to see more of them.  I don’t even want to be long life milk with it’s “best before” date, because I’ve never been better than this :)

Here is  the dress I decided on today.  Because I firmly believe that the more attention that is diverted to the top half of my body, the less people will notice the size of my arse :)


16 Comments on “How it feels to be me

  1. What it feels like to be a mother is the big arse you have ….oh I mean Heart … Bug being the mother gave you both ..xxxx

  2. Gulp. I dunno how you can write so well about this. Stay calm enough to do the normal stuff when the abnormal stuff is so huge … I can scarcely find the words to write a comment, but feel I must, because if you can do it then I should honour you with a response. I honour you, Julia. If prayers and thought could cure you you would be 100% certain on Friday. xxxxx
    Great dress too

  3. First off you don’t look like you have an arse in the dress–you are the shopper &?stylist of the century!?

    Hang in there beautiful. Keep on keeping on. I have several cliche perhaps songs, movies and books come to mind but I will spare you and look forward to your own book you are writing these momentous days.

    No expiration date–that’s why you are as brave as you can be. Love always for the rest of the 10 and to infinity and beyond.

  4. Our comments are trivial as you leave the world speechless. We are honored to share a small part of your life and love.

    Thrilled you are at school. Praying you can keep on distracting yourself with your studies during recovery in addition to all the amazing family transitions.

    Red red red

  5. Hi Julia. I’ve been following your story over the course of the last month or so thanks to my client and friend Catherine Deveny alerting me to your blog via FB. Thank goodness she did. Your taking the time to write through this process has been more meaningful to so many people than I assume you can possibly fathom (myself at the top of that list). The raw sincerity of your posts has helped my somewhat ingrained mid-30’s perspective on business/life/relationships etc etc morph into something decidedly less neurotic and anal – something I didn’t think would happen easily. I’m sure I’m not alone. Thank you for finding the courage to not only write (and to make time to write) during this time but for doing so with such finesse and aplomb. I’m having a dinner party on the 28th Feb (Dev is coming along as it happens) and I am looking forward to toasting your successful operation with a glass of something very sparkly on that evening. Will send you a picture. Will someone be updating your blog in your absence to let us know how you’re going? Be so very proud of yourself.

  6. Hi Julia – I was led to your post via Facebook (hope that doesn’t seem too stalkerish). Thank you for putting your thoughts out there for the world and I wish you all the very best xxx

    PS – the dress is fabulous!

  7. Here via Gunnas. I hope you can feel everyone hoping for you that the surgery is just a glitch in your year and it buys all the time you want. Everything’s on red, fingers and toes crossed.

  8. I too have been following your blog on Facebook and we have never met, though I’m starting to feel like I do know you. Your writings are so inspirational and realistic, I am looking forward to the first one post surgery telling us all that everything is going yo be fine and your girls are going to have their mummy for a long long time. Wishing you all the very best for your (much extended after the surgery) future!

  9. Love love LOVE the frock! For some reason, I thought LAST Friday was the big day, you’ve been on my mind constantly xx

  10. Thank you for writing this – I was sent to your blog about a month ago too by Johann Hari.

    Since I began reading your words here I’ve become so much more grateful for those little things you mentioned that everyone takes for granted. Because they aren’t necessarily nice things, but they usually give a reassurance of permanence. Any ‘tomorrow’ we might find a threat hanging over that idea of permanence we all have and give no thought to when we have our health (or think we have it).

    You have my prayers, Julia, especially for that moment when you go through those doors. I don’t know how much that will mean when the moment finally arrives, but we and your loved ones are here until that moment, knowing you face that moment alone in more ways that we can know…

  11. I’ve been thinking of you Jules and barracking for you like mad. You look gorgeous in that dress. Love from Silverstreak from EB.

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