A few weeks ago I was trying to fuel my car when my cell phone rang. It was the Friday before Memorial day at around 4:30 p.m. You can imagine how packed it was at the pumps. Visualize vehicles everywhere, SUVs' with boats, minivans and trailers, compact cars loaded to the ceiling with luggage and pillows. And right in the middle of it was my car blocking two fuel pumps while I talked on the phone.
You should have seen the venom launched at me, not to mention the hand gestures. I don't blame them. I've probably glared at a women or two for acting like a bone fide idiot on her phone. But I couldn't move. I was locked in a stupor by the news spilling out of the receiver.
Inoperable what? Sitting where?
Someone honked behind me and with very shaky hands I shifted my car out of park and pulled away from the pumps and into a sorry parking space between a bread truck and a minivan. I tried to make sense of the words, "inoperable brain tumor sitting against my hypothalamus". What does that even mean?
Of course, I knew the anatomy. I'd prepared myself for every medical possibility of what could be leading to my steady mental and physical decline. But a brain tumor was the Big One, the impossible possibility, the most unlikely reason I'd lost so much of my life and abilities over the past two years.
I mean, come on, a brain tumor? Really? That's the stupid go-to-plot device for killing characters on T.V. It's not something that happens to real people. Not really.
Sitting there in my car on the side of the road I tried to make the words sink in and feel something. But I couldn't. For the first time in six years this thing that had slowly chipped away at my life, friendships, career, hobbies, writing and family had a name. Holy Crap! It had an image on a screen. I could actually see the parasitic thing that dogged me, drowning me with doubt, feelings of failure and confusion.
I have a tumor. I am NOT going crazy.
For about three days I was freakishly calm. In fact, I was such a pillar of strength I even impressed myself. I comforted my husband, parents, siblings and closest friends with my seasoned wisdom of what a brain tumor had done for me. "It's such a blessing," "I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world." "It has taught me so much about love, and mercy, and humility." And I meant it.
But when side effects from the meds sucker punched me and I was reduced to a ball of tears on the floor, I didn't feel like a big hero. The tumor wasn't a novelty anymore and I was ready to get off the roller coaster.
This is where reality is starting set in for me. There isn't a cure. I have a tumor sitting between my pituitary gland and my hypothalamus. It's most likely benign and I've probably had it for years. And though there are many medications I can take for the symptoms, because it's using my hypothalamus as a lounge chair it's inoperable and I've got to learn to make friends with it. 'Cause it ain't going anywhere.
Some days I'm okay with that and some days I'm not. But I am deeply relieved to at least see the challenge I'm facing. My husband asked me why I wanted to blog about this. He comes from stoic Vikings who suffer silently. That's part of the reason I love him. Wink!
I'm not a Viking. I've stumbled a lot over the past few years and feel like I've lost some parts of a very full life but I believe there is still an entire life for me to live and I intend to seize it.
I just don't feel like doing it alone.