Posted on February 15, 2015
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