Saturday, October 24, 2015

when the cup is half full

So, earlier this week I went back to see the neurologist and it turns out I've got two tumors.  One on the left and one on the right.  In case there was any question, being diagnosed with "multiples" in tumor language is not nearly as much fun as the diagnoses of "multiples" in children language ... although the sensation of surprise is comparable.

The doctor initially thought that I had a glomus jugulare tumor, but because they didn't "light up" with the contrast during my recent MRI, he's not quite sure what they are.  He's assured me that malignant tumors in this region of the skull are extremely rare ... in fact the only time he's ever seen one is when it metastasized from somewhere else.  That's good news for me. I think.

At this juncture, we know that the tumors are eroding the bone, and are very close - if not impeding on the temporal lobe - so I'll be going in for basal skull brain surgery on November 18th to get the pathological scoop.  (Literally.)

While I'm remaining very optimistic that everything is and will be fine - and this will soon become yet another blip on the radar of life - there is this small little voice that whispers, "What if..." 

My hearing is further damaged? 

There's a hemorrhage?

It's malignant?

What's really amazed me is that the little voice of worry, is being drowned out by an even louder voice of strength that is shouting, "WOW... WHAT A GIFT!"

The truly beautiful thing about having a health situation like the one I'm currently facing, is that it makes you abundantly aware of your fragility and mortality.   I'd suggest that the vast majority of people are so busy with their lives, they never really stop to think that this could be their last day.

Or year. 

We have plans! Schedules to keep! Goals to accomplish!  Rooms to paint, albums to organize, pounds to lose, trips to travel, children to raise!

At least for me, I've been far too busy to even think about the prospect of NOT being here.  The mere concept of that is simply inconceivable.  It's got to be an emotional defense mechanism because if we dwell on the not of being here - the possibility of departing our loved ones - we'd slump in to a state of perpetual depression.  That's surely part of the reason, seven years later, I still haven't finalized my Will.  Yep, totally flaked... can you believe I never had it notarized!?

So this blip on the radar, has been an excellent reminder that we're not in control.  While being organized and having a clean house and stocked refrigerator, might give the illusion of control, we don't completely hold the reins on our fate.  The only thing we can control is our attitude, so I'm trying to keep a positive one.

It's also been a gift to be reminded that we're part of something.


People from all over the world have been sending me emails (I'll respond to all of them soon, I promise!), and friends and family have been showering us with calls and offers to travel to Texas and stay for as long as necessary.  The kids asked me one night when I was tucking them in to bed, "Mom? Why were you crying earlier today? Is it because you are going to die?!" and I laughed, "No, I'm not worried at all about that .... we are blessed because we have so many people that love us.  That feeling of being lifted up, it makes me so grateful I weep!"

My sister called me last night to tell me about a sweet little girl that lives across the street from her, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was two. The doctors surgically removed most of it.  She's now seven, and recently lost sight in one eye because the tumor had regrown and damaged her optic nerve.  This past May, she had a massive stroke, while undergoing surgery.  Her recovery has been very long, and is now punctuated with chemotherapy, because the re-growth is malignant.

It's so difficult to see God's Fingerprints on that situation, but I'm sure they are there, just as they are on so many other incomprehensibly sad situations.  Perhaps these things happen - in part, to spark love and compassion?  And maybe remind us of the beauty in what we have in the here and now?


A favorite passage of mine is from the Buddhist teaching:
One day some people came to the master and asked, 'How can you be happy in a world of such impermanence?  The master held up a glass and said, 'Someone gave me this glass and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight.  I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. And I say, 'Of Course!' When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.' 
Another way of looking at it, is to consider the conversation I had with my mother earlier in the month. Her response upon first hearing all of this was to say, "Well, you know ... NONE of us are getting out of this world alive!" 

True that.  Treasure your cup ...


And all the awesomeness in it.