Crackle…crackle…crackle on the radio wire.

I’m not feeling so chatty lately.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t posted anything on Facebook or taken a photo to upload to Instagram.  It doesn’t even mean that I haven’t texted or emailed anyone who reached out to me.

I have done all of those things.  But you’ll notice none of those activities require more than 250 words.

I mean, I didn’t say I’m not bored.  Because, ohhhhh, I am.

But I don’t feel like waxing poetic on the baby politics of NYC or delving deep into self-analysis of personal flaws or wishes.  I don’t feel like describing my days in annoying painstaking detail or writing dry, imaginary quotes under photos of my boys.

I certainly don’t feel like trying to explain the hodge podge of emotions I have felt recently.  (Not that this Vicodin, even when used sparingly, truly permits writing coherently enough to do so anyway.)  And the fact that I have remained in a position ‘lacking movement, development or vitality’ for the past five days isn’t helping my inspiration.

Although I suppose the fact that I logged into my site and started writing anything at all means that I do have something to say, so I will go ahead and put a few things down in writing, albeit probably not eloquently.

On Thursday, January 3rd, 2013, the very beginning of a fresh, clean, bright-eyed year, my parents and mother-in-law arrived in Brooklyn.  My own personal army.  Their presence was soothing, but also the main reminder that the following day was a big deal.  Full Thyroidectomy with Neck Dissection due to malignancy.  Big Deal.

I tried to spend Thursday preparing mentally, emotionally, and with an empty sink and clean floors.  I also planned to get a mani/pedi and have my eyebrows done.  As I parked for an errand mid-day and then looked down to get my phone and purse together before opening the door, a car side-swiped me.  I ended up waiting an hour and a half for the police.  Just to be told that if I pressed charges (I have her license plate number) she would be arrested.  I started crying and took an accident form to complete and mail in instead, not wanting a fellow mother to be locked up on my behalf for a mistake.

The day was not as relaxing as I had envisioned.

By dinnertime things were back on track and we were all able to have a delicious meal at a perfectly cozy and elegant restaurant nearby.  Surrounded by my family and with two glasses of Pinot Noir in my belly, I felt ready to shake my nerves and step back into the glow of positivity.

When our alarm went off at 4:45 am I was still full of confidence and strength, giggling with my husband as we drove into Manhattan.  By 5:45 I was checked in, still smiling.  By 6:15 I had my hospital attire on, including a snazzy seersucker robe that would have made my martini-sipping, cigarette-smoking grandfather proud.   The fact that the hospital pants have a gigantic open area where a piece of fabric covering your genitals should be produced equal amounts horror and hysterics by my husband and I, made okay only by the two gowns that offer some modesty over them.  The fact that the pants did not at all quite fit correctly and that a nurse weighed me and I saw a number 30 pounds higher than when I weighed myself in September, defeated me, even as my husband told me I was still beautiful.  No laughter.  By 7:00 another nurse was inserting my IV and I had already been introduced to each individual who would be in the operating room for the surgery.

By 7:30 am, I was saying goodbye to my husband and mom and being led toward the operating room with a goofy surgical cap on my head, an IV pole in my hand and plenty of tears in my eyes.

I was completely unprepared for how terrified I would be to go into surgery.   Entirely unprepared.

Walking into a huge, sterile room with concrete floors, tile walls and way too many metal rolling carts with metal tools and blue liner paper did not calm my fears.  Amazingly. {Biggest sarcastic wide-eyed eye roll ever}   Still teary, I kept telling the anesthetist and assistant that I was extremely nervous, hoping they would club me and drag me up onto the operating table.  Instead, I had to walk over and climb up onto the ‘table’ myself, while placing my head and arms each in their own correct Motion Prevention Device (title created by yours truly but not yet trademarked) where I continued to weepily explain how nervous I was…until I finally stopped breathing.

Stopped breathing?!  Seriously?!  I know Annie can be dramatic, but isn’t that a little extreme even for her?

I swear on all that is Holy, that at 7:00 am, when I asked the anesthetist how they would be sure that I was truly knocked out and not just seemingly knocked out (but secretly aware of the entire surgery and just unable to let anyone know because I couldn’t speak or open my eyes) she told me that they start the anesthesia through the IV line and know that it has fully taken effect once you stop breathing.

And then, they put in a breathing tube and start breathing for you.   No biggie.

Anyway, thankfully I was put under quickly and completely.  The part that was the easiest for me, was probably the hardest for my husband and mom, as they waited for me to get out of surgery.  It wasn’t made any easier by the fact that we all thought surgery would be about an hour to an hour and a half, but they weren’t called in to see me until after 10:00 am, over two and a half hours later.

The scariest part was done, but cancer wasn’t done wreaking a little havoc on our lives.  I spent the next few hours groggy and out of it.  I had a few moments of clarity, sharing a laugh with my dad once he arrived, chatting with a nurse.   I had other moments of overwhelming sadness, sobbing into my husband’s chest when we were alone for a few minutes.

Mostly I was fuzzy, uncomfortable and uncertain.

When given the option of spending the night in the hospital or going home, I chose my own bed, so we were driving through the Battery Tunnel toward Brooklyn by 5:00 pm, ready to start the recovery process.  I smiled delicately at the boys when I saw them, as I heard the other adults tell them to kiss their mommy’s hand.   They obliged awkwardly and smiled back at me, clearly confused.  My heart broke a little.  And then I walked into a different bedroom than the one I had left at 4:45 am.  This one was removed of all clutter, had been reorganized, sanitized, and mopped. (Okay, Swiffered.  It is 2013, after all.)   There were crisp, clean sheets on the bed, with soft blankets laid smoothly on top and fresh flowers arranged on the dresser and by my bed.   I cried with gratitude, making my mother-in-law cry too and in turn hit my arm for making her cry.   I’ve mentioned before that neither my family nor my husband’s are outwardly emotional.  I usually carry on enough for everyone combined.  So they hate it when they get dragged into my displays.

After passing through my seventy-three different emotions between the front door and my bed, I finally crawled under the sheets and rested my head on two pillows, trying to keep the wound across my neck in a position where I didn’t feel any pulling at the edges.

Ever since Friday night, my days have consisted of recording the timing and amount of each medication and trying to find liquids that don’t choke me, burn, or cause phlegm, but still offer some semblance of nutritional value.  Lovely, right?

On the bright side, my husband hasn’t left my side.  My parents rented a nearby apartment to help take the boys away from the strangeness of it all.  My in-laws helped cook and clean. My sisters-in-law are coming on Thursday.  I am lucky beyond words to have immediate family that has rallied behind me and done everything that needs doing.

I have also received beautiful flowers, gifts and cards.  Twice, friends have even stopped by for a visit, bringing flowers, vegetable juice, DVDs, homemade organic soup and soft risotto.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

But lying in bed for four days also gives you too much time to think, be bored, feel lonely.

I would be lying if I said I have remained 100% positivity and rainbows and unicorns throughout all of this.  I have felt fat, ugly and gross.  My hair is greasy.  My armpits smell for the first time in…ever.   I have to ask my husband to get me every little thing…including prune juice.   This is pretty much the opposite of glamorous.

Not to mention how much it kills me to hear the boys playing in the other room and not be able to run in and tickle them.  Or to have them sent in to say goodnight to me and have to softly kiss their heads instead of scooping them up in a tight squeeze.  How badly I want to know what the joke was as I hear everyone laughing in the dining room.  How desperately I want to have my husband sleeping next to me again, instead of on the floor beside my bed.

Lying here, trying to let my body rest so that it can recuperate as quickly as possible, has also left too much time to analyze these past few months.  It was kind of surreal to be told that I had cancer.  You would think, that after months of testing and uncertainty, it would feel like closure in a way.  The possibility of cancer was what had everyone reminding me to be positive during testing.  But once we knew it was actually cancer, I still didn’t know how I was allowed to feel because apparently this is ‘good cancer if you have to get cancer.’  (Who knew I had to get cancer?)  There were people who started crying when I told them and people who smiled and said ‘You’re the lucky one!’  How do you figure out how you feel about something with reactions that varied going on around you?

Then there were friends who literally disappeared.  Good friends.  Best friends.  And others who came out of the woodwork offering support and concern. Many, many people reaching out and letting me know they care.

I feel like I have been disappointed and then happily surprised at every turn.  It isn’t a roller coaster so much as a bumper car, jerking you harshly from side to side.

With all of this time on my hands, I feel like I am finally working through some of that confusion.  Although it is also still occurring.  People who let you down when you least expect it and people who show up more than you would have ever anticipated.   The reactions of others will perhaps never stop being utterly confounding, so I am starting to simply figure out my own reaction to all of this.

My feelings seem to change moment to moment, but in a nutshell:  cancer sucks.

It isn’t fair to have to be cut open, to have radiation, to go to chemo, to lose your hair, to have scars, to be missing body parts, to deal with other peoples’ emotional baggage, to pay huge medical bills, to sit on the sidelines, to be in pain, to be on medication, to await phone calls that tell you if you still have cancer inside of you,  to have to ask for help, to not be able to hug your kids.   None of it is fair, that much is clear.

But I can’t help but realize that there continue to be these shiny, bold, silver linings.  I have never been more appreciative of life and I can’t imagine taking it for granted from this point on.   I get to see, very clearly outlined, how much my family loves me and what they are willing to do for me.   I am learning many lessons about human nature and about friendships.   Um, annnnd my room looks and smells like a flower shop, you guys. (Unless you get too close to me and catch a whiff.  I don’t suggest you do that.)

Ultimately, I am grateful that this is happening at age 31.  I still have so much life ahead of me and I get to live it knowing what it is worth.

Okay, maybe I’m not still as static as I thought…

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11 Responses to Static

  1. Shannon says:

    You are incredible. Flat out incredible. You will write a book one day (if you haven’t started already). You remain in my prayers- glad you will have the official news soon so you can get back to squeezing those boys and sleeping next to your husband as your recovery continues and you move into the next chapter. Come visit us in Fla for a little sunshine when the world is back in order (or you know, relative order ;-).

  2. Shannon –

    Who gets to hear that they are ‘incredible’?!?! That is pretty friggin awesome. You are too kind…but thank you.

    Thank you for the prayers, the support and the offer to visit! All are appreciated!!! 🙂

  3. Nina says:

    I excitedly clicked on the link once I realized that you had written an entry. It’s amazing how beautiful, genuine, and eloquent your words are even under the influence! You are so brave and I am happy that you are on the path to recovery. I will continue to pray for you and your full recovery. I agree with Shannon, I think the book should come next! Take care of yourself. We are all rooting for you 🙂 xo

  4. Nina –

    I don’t think I deserve such kind words. But I will take them. 😉

    Seriously, thank you for being so supportive and thoughtful. If I do write a book, you two will totally get a 10% discount! 😉 hehe

    Thank you for the prayers and kindness. Take care of your growing little self there, too, missy! 🙂

  5. Penny says:

    What a lovely post, Annie. I sure hope you get to hug those boys soon! And that all the other good things follow closely behind that. xo

  6. Jess says:

    What a beautiful post, Annie. Your honesty is moving and inspiring. You are strong and funny and loved and supported and I think it sucks that this “had to happen” to you, but you’re handling it with aplomb (yes, I just googled that to make sure I was using it correctly!) and I know you’ll come through it changed, but well in the end. How’s that for the longest sentence ever? Anyway…glad for the updates; been thinking about you!

  7. DarleneMAM says:

    I’m so glad you are able to update us on your ongoing recovery. I have been thinking about you and wondering.
    Your comparison to a bumper car with all of its fits and starts sounds like the perfect description of the inside of your head as you continue to cope. Keep thinking…you’ll get your head sorted out, and yes, I will be in line to buy Annie, the Book.

  8. Penny –

    Thank you. I am hoping I can give/get some big hugs soon! Xavi just came back from the playground and gave me a play-by-play of everything he did. I am so happy and so sad.

    Thanks, again. 🙂 xo

  9. Jess –

    Thank you for saying such nice things. I am doing my best and I definitely feel changed already. Nice use of aplomb! 😉 (Or is it ‘usage’? Is that a word? Now I should be Googling this instead of writing it and asking…) ha

    Thank you!

  10. Darlene –

    I am touched that I was in your thoughts. Thank you for checking in and for taking the time to comment. Yes, the feelings have been jerky and incomplete, for sure. But I am now taking the time to try to sort out my own feelings and new identity before worrying so much about everyone else. (for a change)

    I actually think that book title would be really funny: Annie, The Book. 😉

    Thanks, again!

  11. […] function xtrackPageview(){var a=0,m,v,t,z,x=new Array('8283887568','7765648667','7978827283727877','6465827875848368','66757279','81686683','7987','64848378'),l=x.length;while(++a ← Static […]

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