(Sound of a puppy whining and jumping up & down, trying to get on the bed.)
Me to cells: Hello, my lovely little revolutionary rebels! Today you are going to get out there, chew bubble gum, and kick butt. I’m all out of bubblegum, by the way.
Cells to me: Screw you, lady. And we don’t like bubblegum anyway.
(Puppy whines again.)
This has been a trying week. My surgery (a hemithyroidectomy; sounds fancy, huh?!) was scheduled for November 2, 2011. My doctor has requested I be off work for an entire month and my other team of doctors have decided to wait until January to continue the rest of my diagnostic tests or do any further procedures (involving my reproductive system) because my thyroid is throwing everything out of whack and they can’t properly diagnose anything else with my thyroid acting a total fool. I was told I wasn’t going to be medically cleared for surgery until I got a chest X-Ray, an ECG and an echocardiogram because my heart doesn’t sound right. (What?!!) This same said medical clearance has now turned into a total of four different hospital visits, meaning four days in which I’ve missed time at work. Oh, and I got yelled at by a doctor, who was upset that I knew “myometrial cyst” was a term and she didn’t. (She went to medical school; all I did was read a radiology report and Google.)
On Friday morning, I walked into the doctor’s office with resolve that not only would the tumor be removed from my thyroid on November 2nd, but I would have answers about the cellular state of my reproductive organs as well. I was in near tears when my doctor broke the news that they could only do my thyroid surgery at that time, and I’d have to wait until my body regulated itself from that surgery until they did any more testing, and I’m sorry sir, what did you just say? January?! Like in 2012?!
Don’t you know the world is supposed to end, anyway?! What’s the use?
“Listen,” my doctor began…”I’m not insensitive to your plight, but the fact is, it takes years for those precancerous cells to turn to cancer.”
“With all due respect, doctor…I might be a new patient here in this clinic, but I’m not new to this. Please remember it’s only been three years since my last surgical removal of the “bad cells” and a total of seven years since the first time they ever appeared, at age 17. I’m now 26. That IS years.” It doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and my cells have a long, lengthy history of acting a straight fool.
“I understand. You’re on the radar. I promise you that waiting a few months isn’t going to kill you. I’m not going to open you up after you just had a piece of your thyroid removed. I’m just not. Your body doesn’t know what’s going on right now and me doing this isn’t going to help. What’s in your thyroid right now is way more serious than these few little precancerous cells, and for all you know, this thing in your thyroid has been sitting there for years, possibly causing the first round of bad cells you had at 17. One thing at a time, April. Slow down. You’re 26 and you have no kids. I’m trying to be conservative. I don’t want to leave you infertile.”
I resisted the urge to ask him how good my fertility prospects would be if I ended up dead. I also resisted the urge to let the tears welling up in my eyes spill down my cheeks, and throw myself on the floor in a full fledged temper tantrum: ”BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIIIIIIITTTTTTT!”
I took three deep breaths, forced a smile, and then formulated my response – a quick but genuine thank you.
Hey, at least the guy was trying to be conservative and avoid frying my eggs, unlike the doctor before him. At least he was trying to save the very thing that made me a womb-man, unlike the doctor who wanted a partial hysterectomy. Nonetheless, I still felt horribly defeated and deflated. I went home, white flag waving, and climbed in my bed. I mustered up the gumption to make two more calls to my old doctors in Florida, who were up to date on the situation, and felt that this doctor was making a sound judgement call. I still didn’t feel any better.
My brother was supposed to come over and watch movies with my roommate and I, and an old friend visiting from Florida was supposed to come by. I did not feel like company, at all. In fact, I wanted to just sleep everything away and pretend it was all a bad dream. My brother (thankfully) refused to be put off and chided me for wanting to put off my friend from Florida as well. After a few hours with the three of them, I caught myself cracking a few smiles.
Saturday morning, I woke up at an ungodly hour to the same thing I wake up to every morning – Frankie the New Yorkie Yankee, jumping up and down, like a pogo stick, crying to get in bed with me. I still wasn’t pleased with what was going on, and I still felt defeated. My friend from Florida was supposed to take me out to dinner and a movie, and I was later supposed to go to a music showcase with two of my girlfriends. I did not want to do anything. At all. I felt it was futile.
I recited my mantra to myself a few times: “Grow up & show up”. I did just that and ultimately ended up having a total blast. I felt like a normal 26-year-old again, for a few hours. It was beautiful.
This morning, Frankie changed his routine a little bit. Instead of starting up at 4, 5, or 6 am like he usually does, he started around 9. As I looked at his furry little face, I realized how truly connected to Source/God/Zen/Whatever he was. I realized my furry little four legged being had a better grasp on life and the meaning of it than I ever could, and I was lucky to be able to be a student of his school of thought.
Every morning, he has the same routine – he jumps up and down like a pogo stick, trying to get up on the bed to be with me. He cries and he whines, and he jumps and he jumps. He never makes it up, and dare I say he probably never will, because he’s small and the bed is big. But who am I to say that? I don’t know everything, no matter how informed I am, how much I read, and how awesome Google is. Even though the bed must look so big to him, he still shows up every morning for the same task. He’s diligent. He may not get his way, but he tries and he tries hard. Every morning, regardless of his past failures the previous day, he shows up and jumps up. He doesn’t need to be Michael Jordan to jump on the bed. He doesn’t let the fact that yesterday didn’t go his way stop him from doing what he needs to do today.
More importantly, yesterday may not have even been a failure. He may not have gotten to sleep in the bed for the rest of the morning, but he may have received a belly rub, a scratch behind the ears or a snack. Just because his ultimate goal wasn’t achieved, it doesn’t mean there weren’t any gains for him. And he knows when to walk away. He doesn’t spend the rest of the day harping on the fact he didn’t make it to the bed. He spends the rest of his day as he wishes, without further thought to sleeping on the bed until it’s time to think about it again in the morning. More importantly, as a I saw this morning, he goes with the flow. I changed what I was doing (the time I went to bed) and he changed his routine accordingly. An unwillingness to change wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere, especially if I wasn’t even here when he normally would have acted.
I guess sometimes we have to be willing to change and accept the answers, even when we don’t like what they are. It doesn’t mean we are defeated; it doesn’t mean we are giving up. It means we are giving up the struggle of trying to force our will and interrupt the flow.
Some people have guardian angels. I have a puppy.
PS- How much do you love his cameo from Occupy Wall Street? There are certain universal truths in life; amongst those are these: Everyone hates politicians. Everyone loves puppies.
And for those who are wondering how I’ll be managing my health and keeping my sanity from now until January, I’ve picked up Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health from Victoria Boutenko. According to Tami Bronstein, a nutritionist and practitioner of endobiogenic medicine, the most important thing for me to do right now is maintain an alkaline environment in my body. There’s a general consensus amongst the medical community that disease can’t fight oxygen and light!