I’M JUST FINE. THANKS FOR ASKING.

BLAST FROM THE PAST:

A mere two years after a double mastectomy, I’m facing another medical crisis. I’m not handling it gracefully. Too many crises. Dozens of surgeries. I can’t bore you with details; I have, thankfully, forgotten them.

Fake breasts

I’ve spent more time in the hospital than most interns. I’m a professional patient with the scars to prove it. When I die, they should stuff me. Put me in some kind of museum proving with enough medical attention, even the totally unfit can survive. Each doctor who redesigned some portion of me can tattoo his signature along the appropriate scar, assuming all the doctors are still alive. Probably they aren’t because I started my career on the wrong side of medicine while still a teenager and apparently am not due for retirement anytime soon.

I need a new mitral valve. I used to joke and laugh, saying the only major system in my body that continues to work is my heart. I laughed too soon. Probably jinxed myself.

I go into each surgery with fear and resignation. I know how I’m going to feel when I wake up from the anaesthesia. I will hurt. I will be sick and disoriented. I will realize I must have survived because I’m aware how totally miserable I am. Again.

Last time I woke up and the first thing I did was look down at my chest to see if I had a semblance of breasts. I did. Lumpy, not flat. Though I knew they weren’t original equipment, I was comforted by the familiarity of the landscape. With all the pain, drains and anger at my body for betraying me, it was nice to know I would at least appear — on the surface — female.

75-BostonView__09

View of Boston and Fenway Park from the Baptist Hospital

That was when I said: “Never again. I’m never going through this again.”

I should just shut up. How stupid am I? I can’t remember how many times I’ve woken from that weird deathlike anaesthesia sleep and have fought my way back up to the light. Each time, just a little weaker, a bit less sure of the future — but alive. Hanging on.

Lobby of the Dana-Farber in Milford

Lobby of the Dana-Farber in Milford

It’s too soon. I’m not ready. Maybe this time the magic won’t work. My first husband died following complications of mitral valve replacement surgery. I watched him die. After the surgical accident that killed his brain, he remained technically alive, but in a vegetative state for 9 long months. I took care of something that looked like him, but whose eyes were empty. When finally he passed completely, I and the rest of his friends gratefully wished him well on a journey he should have taken nearly a year before.

Probably no surprise that this particular surgery holds a special terror for me.

Less than two years since I vowed “Never again,”  again has come. I suppose I’ve already made the choice to let them fix me, or try anyhow (does “or die trying” sound too ghoulish?). The alternative — slowly dying while my heart becomes less and less able to pump blood — doesn’t sound attractive. An attractive option does not seem to be available. But, there’s no advantage in waiting. I won’t get younger or healthier. The older I get, the more dangerous surgery is.

75-UpwardsNIK-31

Glass shaft at the Dana-Farber.

I gave myself a little gift of time. I put off my appointment with the surgeon until the beginning of September. I need to get my head into a better space, to settle down emotionally. A few weeks of denial before I tackle another scary reality.

So for the next three weeks If you ask me, I will tell you. I’m just fine. Thanks for asking.

HAIL ODDFELLOW

Cousin It — We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?


We live in “anything goes” times. Who is eccentric versus who is normal is entirely a matter of taste and opinion.

Time has thinned the herd of my family so there are few cousins from whom to choose, weird or otherwise. At least ones I know personally. There are a bunch of second and third cousins I have never met except on Facebook, but I don’t think they count.

SeidenFamily 1963

Maybe I am the weird cousin. Not because I’m especially unusual, but just because I’ve made choices no one else in my generation made. If I were young now, my choices wouldn’t even be noteworthy.

What is weird? I went to live in another country. I was married and divorced more than twice. In my generation that was “something,” but I doubt it’s anything now.

So. If I am not particularly weird, who is? I know I’ve been somewhat unexpected and perhaps a bit unpredictable, but genuinely eccentric?

What would that mean, really? What would I have to do to stand out from the crowd?

I think being alive is outstanding.

In this generation, normal might be the new unusual. Whatever normal is.

ANOTHER ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 38

I’m not entirely sure what make a photo odd any more. I just have photos. So here are a few. Odd? I don’t know. But  whatever they are, I’m fond of them and I can’t figure out what else they might be.

The first are my stained glass wolves on my living room window, the second a pot of marigolds in a flower box in Hyannis. The third is the old bread box I bought at a yard sale long ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Hyannis flowers shop

old breadbox new bread