I was hoping to slide into 43, celebrating, being done with this year that has floored me, surprised me, stunned me. Sometimes, I look back at all that has happened and I am left breathless, no words in me to fathom all that has occurred.
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And then I had to go back for a second scan - this one that would tell me if the preliminary one, with a small dose of RAI was correct. Perhaps the small dose wasn't taken up by a small subset of cells that had decided to migrate south of my neck. The apprehension of the scan was off-set by the fact that I was starting to feel better, as I was able to get back on my meds, and I could feel them slowly taking affect. My pulse moving into the low to mid-50s. The ability to focus longer. No longer feeling like I needed to melt. The swelling around my eyes going down slightly.
I hadn't realized I had been holding my breath for months, since my surgery, really. I hadn't realized that it was a big deal, or maybe I downplayed it, because what could I do, really? It is all so out of my control.
But it all is, isn't? This whole little life of ours.
Tomorrow marks 8 weeks since my surgery. Eight weeks since part of my body was removed. A part of my body that was actively trying to kill me; growing and spreading to nearby organs. A part of my body that served a function, but now is replaced by a synthetic hormone I wake early to take each morning.
I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, the feeling of fall. One of those beautiful early fall days, crisp, sunny, blue skies. It's not yet fall, with hopes for more summery days over the next few weeks, but the feeling of transitions, of seasons changing.
September 1st. Tonight, I was scheduled to be on a flight to India; first to Delhi, and then onto Ladakh, for 3 weeks of trekking and climbing in the Himalayas.
I drunkenly worked to take off the toenail polish, questioning the decisions of the hospital - why my toenails?!, but following them anyways. Superstitiously. If I do all the things, I will be ok.
I gulped down a glass of water. 11:30. Only half an hour more of taking anything into my body. In the back of my mind, I questioned the beers, assuring myself they would be out of my system come morning and congratulating myself instead for not getting high along with everyone else I was out to dinner with.
This moment had come on too soon. From the time we scheduled the surgery two weeks prior, I worked hard to put the reality of it out of my mind, other than the fears that would seep in around the edges in unexpected moments.
I used to climb mountains. We would talk about the risks - all the objective and subjective risks. The risks you can control and the risks you cannot. Weather and crevasses and roping up and routes and conditions. Judgement calls and other people and how your body responds to altitude. So many risks, all to be considered and managed. For anyone who spends time in the mountains, it is that risk, that fine line we walk that is part of why we go out there. To be able to play with that risk, to manage it and come out the other side, safe and sound, but having lived it.
'...anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That's when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time." -- Pema Chodron