A few months ago, I was in Montauk with my girlfriends. I told the story of the trip, but I forgot to tell a few OTHER parts of the story.
We had planned this girls’ trip, and we were all en route to Long Island on a Friday afternoon when I had a complete, total, uncharacteristic melt-down. It was mid-October and I was spent. Work had been so busy, and life had been so busy, and I was strangely exhausted, and I was way behind on marathon training to boot.
But I also didn’t know then what it would take three more months to discover: That things that seemed so benign on the surface were actually malignant.
You see, that week I had just gone in for a routine scan, and the radiologist had incidentally noted a cyst that seemed like nothing, but would later turn out to be something. And it would take two more months of accidental discoveries to uncover the fact that the alleged cyst wasn’t what it seemed.
Not long after that weekend in Montauk, I had seen a doctor to ask about switching a medication I was taking. I had made a few complaints, and as an afterthought, mentioned the radiologist’s report. Moments before I left, he checked my chart and he decided to run a few additional tests.
They all came back with very abnormal results.
After Thanksgiving, and a few more rounds of tests, it was clear that something was wrong. By mid-December, I was on edge with all the news I was getting. And when I got back to New York, after a very busy week of work in London and Amsterdam, I had to schedule surgery for right after the new year.
Somewhere in my shock, I remembered that this was not the sort of news that one text-messaged to people — this was phone-call news. It was a weird soup of emotions I cycled through — it was the process of not getting too emotional over knowledge I didn’t yet have, but getting emotional enough to look like I was scared.
I am not sure why I cared, at that point, about how I would be regarded by others. I think it was because I had been told for so many years to have feelings; to be emotionally accessible. But I had learned a long time ago that, at least in my experience, emotions had no place in a crisis. Deal first, feel later.
I was dealing.
On Friday, 10th January, I had surgery. Bethany came up from Washington to be with me, and we walked down from my apartment to the hospital together. It was a damp, unremarkably grey morning after the Polar Vortex. We arrived at the hospital, and the pre-op process was quick and painless.
And then it was done. I had a few complications and so what should’ve been a straightforward day surgery wound up taking a couple of hours longer than expected (my blood pressure dropped significantly and unexpectedly in recovery, which was a little scary). Bethany stayed another night, and eee and Katka stopped by. I ate a lot of ice cream. I survived.
This week, the doctor called with the pathology reports. The “cyst” was really an early stage malignancy. They were able to remove it all. Further treatment would simply be close observation.
And that’s it, really.
I haven’t felt like myself in a long time; I haven’t felt like writing. Things have been weird, and scary, and unexpected. And I have been extremely angry — angry in a way I didn’t know how to handle before now, and I don’t like to write about things until I feel I’ve got a good handle on them.
I have felt…rabid. Frothing at the mouth; suspicious; unable to take in the simplest things.
And now, I am…healing.
Maybe someday, I’ll go into the intricacies of the wounds. Maybe someday, this will all be worth discussing. But for now, I am going to be…Okay.