Posted on February 20, 2015
I woke up this morning and I knew something had shifted. This time NEXT WEEK, I will be on the operating table. The surgeon will have already looked at my liver and decided whether he might be able to free me of the imminent threat of liver cancer, but if he can, the minute his scalpel starts to dissect liver away from veins, and cancerous segments away from non-cancerous segments, then fate already knows what the future holds for me in the following six weeks or so. Fate will know, but we won’t. In a week, the story of my life will take a massive and irrevocable turn for the good, the bad, or the very, very ugly.
When the clock strikes 12 tonight and turns Friday into Saturday, that might be the last Friday that I ever spend outside a hospital. The last weekend, the last assembly, the last week of school runs. When next Thursday night comes around, I will snuggle spoon style into the back of the man I have loved for 15 years and seen 4 children into the world with. I will think about how every time we have settled into that position, even if we have been mad at each other during the day about something, there has been an exhale, a feeling of great peace, a feeling of being home. And the next day I will check into hospital, where I will have to lay alone, not knowing if I will ever know the warmth of that home, or this home, ever again. Seven days.
Today I have had professional company all day in the lead up to next week, working out strategies on how to cope. I’ve had visits from the welfare officer from Georgia’s school, who is also a lovely friend, and I have had the palliative care nurse who has been visiting me for the last few months, and the palliative care counsellor. I have wanted it to be acknowledged, and it duly was that I am not being pessimistic when I think about the “lasts”, and indeed, they told me they would think I was in denial if I didn’t give due consideration and respect to the fact that this might not turn out the way that we all want.
Together we worked out that I have done pretty much all the “practical” preparation that I am going to do. There have already been too many weeks of war between my heart, which thinks that I should “prepare” all things and people for the possibility that I may not return, and my head, which says that the minute I do that, mentally I will give up, and it will be all downhill from there.
Palliative care has always told me that I will know when the time is right to talk about my end of life care. I have always been like, errr, no way, thanks all the same, I won’t be talking about THAT, though we have touched on it from time to time and talked “around” it…in times when things seemed a lot more hopeful than they do now. But of course, they understand that all the people who face death will face it in a different way, but eventually pretty much all want to have “that talk”. And today I found I did. Suddenly I needed to know whether by the time we established that I was in the last weeks of my life, would I be lucid for a time, or basically kept unconcious by pain relief drugs? Will the end be peaceful, or will I feel great pain? I feel better for knowing the answers.
So many other things I want to know too, but was too scared to ask yet. I want to know will I be able to be wheeled out to the park opposite the hospital to feel the sun on my face one more time? Would there be time to tell my children how every minute they have been on this earth has been pure magic to me? Time to reminicse with my great love about the bond that grew when we put four children on this earth together. The bond between us, and the bond between them, something that can NEVER be broken. I wonder if there will be any chance of one last night in my home, where we could gather together in the family bed. Soon, I will have to ask these questions, as I need to know. Soon, but not today.
For the next week, I will practice mindfulness. The time has been and gone for me to keep asking myself questions that, unlike the ones above, actually have no answers. I must cut these thoughts off at the pass, live in the moment, do the dishes, put the washing on, strap a kid into the car, anything to quieten my mind, the routine, the mundane, the things I have craved for 14 months. And on the day of surgery there will be sedatives, strong ones, that will allow a level of function where I can put one foot in front of the other, but will render me too numb to ponder the darkness and feel it’s descent.
I don’t see beyond next Friday, I anticipate a beautiful future, where I leave hospital with the promise of many nights of spooning, and family bed laying, and movie nights, and dinners cooked lovingly by my hand. I imagine assignments, presentations, and words on a page that will one day become a book which bears my name on the front.
Yes, I can imagine it, and anticipate it, but I can’t SEE it. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s there, or I don’t believe it, but just that the obstacle is big, and I can only hope that I have enough luck to find a way over it, or around it. I know I have the strength, the heart, the desire and the motivation, and what’s on the other side is so bright and magical, and I want it so much.
It’s been a beautiful fight. It still is. It still IS.