The thing that angered me most about this recent health crisis is that I HAVE FELT SO INCREDIBLY WELL LATELY. Really. Ask anyone who has seen me in the weeks leading up to this-- I do NOT seem like a sick person. I AM NOT "LOSING THIS BATTLE". I've been going to parties, dancing, taking care of the kids, running errands, swimming, you name it. You would never guess there is a thing wrong with me. I have truly been living like a person whose brush with the C-word was a thing of the past.
I think that's one reason this recent collapsed lung has been so hard on me.
After doing so well on my own, I truly hated the fact that a pesky complication from surgery was sidelining me. I hate that "Shelly's health" is even a topic of news again, especially when, collapsed lung and all, I FEEL healthier overall than 1/2 the people I know!
I hated being in the hospital. It did nothing positive for my spirits or sense of well-being. When you are there, it's a constant barrage of questions about your health history, and in my case, this involved rehashing the facts surrounding my '09 cancer diagnosis and the battle that ensued.
I frequently heard: "Aww, wow. YOU'VE had a rough go. Tell me, how they first detect your cancer?"
To which I wanted to reply:
"Yeah, let's really get into it! Just when I was starting to forget all those sad details. Let's relive those times! Especially considering the fact that I can barely speak from this chest tube, it seems like a smart use of my energy. Best of all, when your shift ends, I'll get to explain it to the next nurse!"
I also heard my fair share of: "So sad. Especially in such a young, healthy person with such young kids."
("Y'know, that NEVER occurred to me! You may be onto something there.")
And: "It was great meeting you, Shelly. And hey, don't give up the fight, ok?"
("OH, OK! I WON'T! I WAS GOING TO, UNTIL YOU TOLD ME NOT TO. BY THE WAY, DO I SEEM LIKE I AM ON THE VERGE OF DEATH TO YOU? I ACTUALLY AM DOING REALLY GREAT. But thanks for bringing it up.")
And how about this: "Do you have a living will? If you'd like, we have some great books on the topic."
("WOW. NO SENSE MINCING WORDS, IS THERE? YOU'RE RIGHT, I MAY DIE BY THE MONTH'S END, SO I GUESS I SHOULD GET ON THAT, ASAP. Besides, it'll give me something to think about while I lie here in bed.")
The kicker may have been when we heard a gentle knock on the door, and a kindly man walked in and said, "Mrs. Butler? Hello, I'm the hospital chaplain. I'm here if you need to talk. I understand you both have gone through quite a lot recently."
Ok. Yes, that was a very nice gesture. But I highly doubt they send in the chaplain to every Tom, Dick or Harr(iet) who show up for things like, say, tonsil surgery. His appearance just reaffirmed the unsettling notion that I am a "red alert" case.
To my own detriment, perhaps, I'm an extremely perceptive person. I can detect pity from others a mile away. I try hard to let certain comments roll off my back, but I can only take so much in any given time period.
The fact of the matter is that right now I am extremely laid-up. I have a very long tube in my lung and it hurts to move in any direction. But once they yank this sucker out, I'm going to be a-ok once again. So this is my invitation to you to follow my lead and get on board! This girl aint going nowhere.