As I heard on the radio this morning, I am like the majority of Americans–fall is my favorite season. Fall brings weather I like (at least back home), clothing that makes me comfortable, a few of my favorite holidays, my birthday, and, because I’ve been tied to an academic calendar for so long, a sense of beginning, of possibility. The same feeling I get with a new notebook.
So it took me by surprise today when I thought it was all over.
I had gone to the doctor for an ultrasound because I’d been having some mild pelvic pain. It was over cautious, really, but as I’ve already experienced one breast cancer scare, I don’t like to take chances, and my doctor agreed. I have no idea how to look at an ultrasound, especially if it’s not a well-developed baby I’m looking at. So the technician is moving the wand around in there, and this big black blob shows up in the picture. She is interested in this blob. She keeps measuring it from all different angles. I am trying to remain calm, even crack a joke with her, but she is all business, which scares me. When she’s done, she tells me to wait outside the lab area for my blood pressure and other vitals to be taken. So I sit.
Before I’ve been there even a minute, my eyes fill with tears. I have cancer. My kids will have no mother. I am going to get very sick, have treatments that will make me very sick, and then I am going to die. I cannot stop. Maybe it is a panic attack. But there I am in the hallway with tears running down my face. I am not like this. I’m not much of a crier, not a hypochondriac, but I realize that I was terrified. My doctor walks by and sees this mess. “What happened? Did she find something? I haven’t even seen them yet! Come with me, you’re fine, we don’t need your blood pressure.”
She whisked me to her office, where she looked at the results and told me repeatedly that everything was fine and entirely normal. The blob looked big on the screen but was a typical follicle, unusual in no way. I mopped my face and blew my nose. She sent me on my way with a hug and instructions to freak out about something else. She probably thought I was nuts, but she was very nice about it.
For the rest of the day I should have been elated. I’d been to the brink of death, and I’d been pardoned. I could go home to my family. But I was in a fog. I wandered around in stores, hoping to find a dress to wear for Rosh HaShanah. Everything looked weird or meant for a much older woman. And I was dressed for the gym, not shopping. I bought a hair dryer.
Later when I went to pick up my daughter from school, I missed my turn and found myself on a bridge headed out of the city. A few careful moves later, I pulled up to her school just as she came out. I texted my husband. “I’m going to need a good long hug when you get home. I’m a mess.”
By the time I’d put away the groceries, I felt more calm, and I took the dog out for a walk. My dog loves me like no one else. You can see it in the way he looks at me. When I’m in the right mood, the dog walk is perfect. It was cool outside, I was feeling better, and Max was being good, not pulling on the leash. He did his business, and when I bent down to clean it up, my back objected. Strongly. I stood up slowly and “ambled” home. My daughter helped me sit on the couch. My husband came home and gave me alcohol. The ibuprofen is kicking in, too. So I can feel the return of that September mood, that sensation that things will be clean and new, that I can make them that way and begin again. I can’t bend over right now, but maybe upright and eyes forward is the best way to greet the new year. L’Shanah Tovah.