Disaster preparedness

Risk, by K.G.Hawes on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

I was up early today. Young A, just off the sick list since he started antibiotics for strep throat, came in before 7 to let me know he’d slept great. He’s thoughtful that way. It so happened it was a welcome wakeup, for a change, because I had an early appointment today, for a mammogram and (because my regular doctor felt it would be a good idea), a breast sonogram too. In my wisdom I had scheduled it for 8:15 a.m. I felt bad leaving J in the lurch, but at least today there was one less kid to get out the door for school, and Young J had hot lunch today.

I’d spent exactly zero time meditating on the test today and the results. I was expecting to get a letter a few weeks from now, telling me all was well. I was so overzealous last night in wanting my nightstand clear of clutter that I clean forgot to put my glasses on before leaving the house. My vision isn’t exactly poor without glasses, but everything was much fuzzier. Perhaps even more pleasant, actually, except for the walk in 12 degrees to and from the train. The mammogram technician spoke in a near-whisper. I wondered to myself what her job must be like, maneuvering breasts onto trays all day. The sonogram was lying down in a dim room. I might have taken a nap, save for the gross gel slathered all over the areas of study.

I came home, showered to get the ultrasound gel off me, and spent the day with Young A. This was his second sick day at home, a day during which he would have been fine at school, but he hadn’t been on antibiotics for 24 hours by the start of the school day. He was feeling fine and basking in my attention. I took him to movie, which I think for Young A was almost incidental to the fact that we rode the subway there (front car) and back (rear car). We were the only people in the theater at 10:45 a.m on a Tuesday, save for a coughing, adult man who made the questionable choice of going to see a childrens’ movie that was roundly reviled by critics, but which Young J saw this weekend and enjoyed (although, he noted, it lacked “a message”).

While Young A was typing on my computer in the living room (proof of my need for another workspace in the bedroom), I was lying down. Scans and tests are always draining. I haven’t felt super energetic yet in 2016.  I checked my email and saw I had a message on my doctor’s portal. I logged on (why, when this is supposed to be so high-tech, does it just feel clunky to have to remember my password for it each time?) and found this note:

hi deborah, your mammo/sono showed a shadow in your Left breast that needs another sonogram for clarification. They also needed to repeat a mammographic view of the R breast.

It’s not the end of the world, I know. And it’s not like anything invasive has been proposed, so far. It’s just… shit, fuck, and goddamnit. For starters. Just yesterday I was at the pediatrician with Young A and she asked me how I was doing (which she should know better than to do when I’m with my kid) and I mentioned offhand, tongue-in-cheek, that I’d had to have some touch-up brain surgery last November. “You’re so stoic about this,” she said. As though there is any other way to be, around young kids. Today, Young A momentarily stopped my heart when he said, “What would it be like if I didn’t have a mother? If I only had a dad?” I cautiously inquired the source of this, and it turned out to be entirely taken from the plot of a book series he’s been reading, in which one of the characters loses her mother at birth. (Whew, I breathed.)

It’s just so hard to know anymore, where some little hiccup like this will lead me. Back to my melanoma surgeon, who also handles breast cancer? Merely an uptick in the frequency of my mammograms? An all-kale diet? I’d be wise to strive towards the last. Predictably, in the face of bad news, I ate very badly tonight, raiding the fridge for anything crunchy that wasn’t a vegetable, anything salty, fatty. And for dessert, the worst I could do (because we didn’t have anything worse) was raspberry sorbet. I dumped some chocolate syrup on it and made it work.

So that’s one defense mechanism back in place. Another, which I’ve noticed and which I seem to keep developing and refining despite how sad it makes me, is a mental game called, If I Had to Leave Now. It’s not something I decide to play, it’s more like it plays me.

If I had to leave now, Young J is working on bar chords and can play a few bars of “Space Oddity.” If I had to leave now, Young A is no longer hitting his brother frequently, and is playing the piano quite beautifully. If I had to leave now, J is young and handsome and kind enough to find someone else. If I had to leave now, maybe a writer friend would take pity on me and finish the essays I started. Maybe someone else would find my journals and decide they were best as kindling.

I’m happy that I don’t have to leave. That there is no way to “win” this game. That my mind doesn’t play it 24 hours a day. I will have to get through the days until Monday, though. I may need to take up Words With Friends.

4 thoughts on “Disaster preparedness

  1. If I have to leave now IS A BIG IF and it is hard to be fully prepared when there is young J and young A and J in life. I am trying to understand what you are feeling. I send you a tight hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it is hard to understand. But it has become a part of my thought process, even though I’m well aware my departure is far from imminent. Thanks for reading, as always.


  2. Only you, Deb, could describe the “if I had to leave now game”so well that I FELT what that must feel like. I hope your kids and J never have to know. I had a mammography and sonogram scare that they wanted to redo and was sent to Johns Hopkins breast cancer center for evaluation. They said it was so common to get flagged and it turned out to be nothing, thankfully. I sincerely hope you get that same reassurance. Thinking about you always. Endlessly in admiration for your bravery. Forever in awe. Love, Franci

    Liked by 2 people

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