Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Everything Changed (Part 3)

In the month and some leading up to my surgery I felt perpetually anxious.   It always felt like there was a small and heavy rock in my stomach that acted as a reminder at every moment that nothing was going to be the same ever again.
  • Whenever I made a dinner I wondered who would cook for Jeremy if I wasn't here to do it.  
  • Every time I ran I pushed myself hard, realizing I wouldn't be able to run at all during my recovery. 
  • I cherished every bedtime snuggle because I had to battle irrational thoughts about how my kids just wouldn't be able to function if I weren't present to complete the bedtime ritual with them every single night of their lives.  

I thought about all the things I am proud of:  my education, my career, my insane devotion to cats, the perfect little family of four, my volunteer efforts, the travels, the passionate conversations, other secrets I won't share here...and I realized, IT WASN'T ENOUGH.  None of it was epic enough. I vacillated between being fatalistic and thinking about my own funeral and feeling an intense will to survive and work harder to make my life meaningful. 

Of course it's normal to have existential struggles when you are facing significant medical issues, but normalizing it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.  I think I had my first (and only) actual panic attack during this time.  It was mid-September and I was making dinner.  I was putting away dishes and had two boiling pots on the stove and the radio on.  Ava was asking me questions about her homework and Alex was buzzing around the kitchen one hundred miles an hour, as he typically does.  While putting a glass in the cabinet I heard my uncle honk outside (he always announces his arrival this way).  Alex ran out the door with no coat on and I yelled after him to get back in the house, which he ignored.  Immediately after that I jammed my finger on the hardware on the cabinet. I hit it in this odd way and it made the skin of my finger split.  I knew immediately that I wasn't injured badly and didn't need stitches.  Nonetheless,the sight of the blood pumping out made me feel ill.  I am usually never squeamish like this, but I felt instantly nausea as my heart pounded quickly and I had trouble getting enough air to breathe.  I suddenly felt like I was in this terrifying vacuum and I would never recover.  Ava came to look it over -and ever the calm chickadee that she is-said, "you better grab a band-aid" before promptly returning to her room.  I sat down at the kitchen table and tried to get my breathing back under control.  I kept thinking, for eff's sake, Mindi, you are a counselor, get it together!!!  Jeremy came home from work and certainly thought I had gone off the deep end when he pulled into the drive and saw Alex outside, unsupervised.  When he came in the kitchen and saw me sitting at the table he knew something was definitely wrong.  As he usually does, he made me feel like 

it's completely acceptable to act wack-a-doodle-doo.
 Jer and I very much knew during this time that we had important things to talk about.  Not only did we need to figure out the logistics for childcare during my recovery, but there were bigger questions looming for both of us.  He tried bringing the issues up a few times and I always asked him to stop talking about it, because I didn't want to cry any more about everything.  We spent a weekend together in Galena with the the explicit goal of talking about the important stuff.  We had a great time together and during a fabulous dinner at Fried Green Tomatoes we finally broached the dreaded topics I had been avoiding.  First and foremost, we talked about the fact that I don't have a will.  We discussed personal financial arrangements that he doesn't typically deal with.  This ranged from the mundane (when to pay the power bill), to the more significant (who my 401k is managed by, should he need the funds for funeral arrangements).  We both teared up several times during the conversation, but it was a good thing, because it was another milestone we needed to conquer, hand in hand.  We took several pictures during our trip, look how at much fun we had!  We spent money, we drank too much, we ate too much, we had sex (not too much), we laughed too much, we talked a ton (but it never seemed like enough), and we cried just a little.  The conversations weren't easy to have, but there's no doubt we weren't given any choices.  Every day spent was one day closer to November 12th. 

Pucker up, Jebby

Jer was so annoyed with my kissy pictures
We heart Durty Gurt's 
Isn't this sign the coolest? 


Cheri said...

Mindi .....you are an amazing young woman.

Stephanie said...

Oh, my sweet, kind, smart, funny and amazing friend. I love you love you love you.