Life is incredibly short. 37 is just around the corner, and the last 10 years are a complete blur. A magnificent and chaotic blur. What’s really important has been taken for granted while the trivial has gotten priority. I have pushed myself until I am completely burned out. Satisfied for only a second with my accomplishments because “better” and “more” fuel my psyche. All the while I am shrouding myself in guilt for the many moments that I’ve missed. It is a challenge for me to wake up and savor the day, to live in the moment, because I am always expecting more moments. Expecting more time when I’ll be able to pause and appreciate them. The truth is, I am the only one that can make that happen. I can’t blame it on life and how busy or hectic it may be. It all comes down to me making a conscious effort to experience and not to expect. If this is my body’s way of telling me to slow down, I am listening.
This is a letter to my neurosurgeon.
To the man who will have my big beautiful brain… and life in his hands,
I realize that this is what you do for a living. That this is the profession you chose, but you see, this is MY brain we are discussing here. This isn’t a story of a friend of a friend, a distant relative, or a character in a movie. This is real and it’s happening to me. This is a brain full of wit and humor. A brain that loves to write and draw emotion from my readers with my words. This brain is responsible for three gorgeous children and for the ability to recognize beauty, kindness and humility. I can’t lose that. I can’t lose the privilege that is the human experience. And yes I say privilege because I think I have been taking life, which is absolutely a gift, for granted.
You see, my loss of vision was thought to be just that. A trip to the eye doctor and some contacts would be an easy fix, but something was wrong. The MRI results left me numb. Staring at a computer screen in silence, I could see it plain as day. The words “brain tumor” echoing in my ears long after they were spoken. Hearing “brain surgery” left my body limp, clouded in a fog of confusion and uncertainty. This was not supposed to be serious! These things don’t happen to me! I have too many people who depend on me, and too many things to do! I could only think of my husband and best friend who adores me and relies on me for so much, and of my mother. How was I going to tell her? After she had lost my dad to a brain tumor 13 years ago?
I’m sure you hear these concerns all the time. In fact, I am positive that you encounter an insurmountable fear of the unknown from your patients on a daily basis. I am no different. To be completely honest, I am absolutely terrified, but I refuse to show that fear. I have to take care of my family. So I’ve bottled up the emotion and put it on the shelf for another day…a day deemed more convenient to be vulnerable.
The moment you gave me a “benign” confirmation was the moment I was actually able to take a breath without feeling a crushing weight on my chest…an arduous and painstakingly long week after my diagnosis. There was relief and reassurance in that moment, but the fear has remained. With my options being “brain surgery” or “going blind,” the choice seemed simple enough. It’s the coming to terms with that reality that is mentally and emotionally exhausting. The list of complications and risks involved in regard to the tumor’s location still keep me up at night with an anxiety level of epic proportions. The “what ifs” hitting me in the check out line of Costco or at my kid’s soccer practice while I do everything in my power to compose myself, holding back the army of tears and emotion that continue to build.
I need you to do your very best, to be on top of your game! I have a husband who I fear will completely fall apart if something goes wrong. So please take care of me for him. I am staying positive of course, but I cannot lie and say that the fear and negativity don’t completely consume my thoughts at least twice a day. The over thinker and type A personality in me needs to be prepared for whatever happens, so I must. I hope you are well rested and ready to take on this surgery with confidence and optimism. When I wake, I anticipate the opportunity to personally thank you for saving my vision and taking the upmost care with my life.
P.S. Is it at all possible to bring whiskey into my hospital room?…Asking for a friend of course.
As I sit here in the early morning hours leading up to my surgery, I can think of only one thing. A moment. The moment I awake and see my best friend by my side. The moment I can speak to him and smile. So cheers friends! To waking up! To the gift of sight! To life and the gift that it truly is, and to the privilege of the human experience. May we never lose sight of what is truly important in our own lives and may we always have the wisdom and courage to recognize it.
“Sometimes it’s the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose and love back into your life.”- Steve Maraboli
Life is precious.