"You've always been so brave." These were the words my surgeon left me with this morning as I exited his office and walked towards purgatory (a.k.a. that little white room where the soft-speaking secretaries work out the details of your fate). "So when would you like to book your surgery?" where the next words that reached my ears, though my mind was far off, tuning into the faint noises of the sterile waiting room where I could detect the sound of my two year-old daughter crying. She was telling my mother that this place was "so scary." I smirked. Despite her experience being limited to the waiting room, where the fish in the tank swam seamlessly in tune with the spa music that permeated the space, the discordancy of that room's purpose and its semiotics was not lost upon her. I re-focused on the secretary's question, "Never," I answered, "I would like to book this surgery...never."
January 29th. That's the date. That Thursday morning will bring yet another time that I will have to put my "brave" face on and walk into that O.R. and lay down on that crucifix-form table. It is on January 29th that I will allow the anesthesiologist to drip the poison into my veins, and as they ask me to begin counting down from 10, all I will see is that face. That adorable little face. And I will be terrified.
You see, Dr. Procaccino, that steely look you see in my eyes is no longer bravery. It is now terror. It is not stoicism, just fear. It is the look of someone who has so much to lose. It is the face of someone who faces invisible enemies. You are now looking into the eyes of a mother.
When I fall asleep on January 29th I will know that I will wake up with a 2.5 liter cyst removed from my abdomen. I know that I will have adhesions lysed from my small bowel. I know I will wake up with many tubes, and I know that I will almost immediately begin the obsessive week-long (or longer) wait until food or drink can pass my lips. What I don't know is if I will still have ovaries. Those tiny things that carry within them the very keys to life. "We will do all we can to save them," I have been told. Though I am anxious at the thought of losing them, they have already worked the greatest miracle of my life. And for that I am forever grateful.
I almost didn't write today, because I have almost lost hope. The space between these major recoveries is becoming more and more slim, and the prospect of recurrence of a peritoneal inclusion cyst is vast. I am losing hope of being healthy enough to realize my dreams of becoming a doctor. I am losing hope of my ability to be a stable force in my daughter's life. But, mostly, I am terrorized by the idea of hearing that little voice crying in a waiting room where the wait seems to be eternal, and her fears are never assuaged.