Need a comfy mental place to think about my life as I prepare for the next stages of it. This seems to be a very nice one. You may not see me sitting there, but I am–and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come are right there with me.
Yesterday’s post was about the details of my brief hospital stay, my opinion of da Vinci robotic laparoscopic surgery, and my discharge experience and instructions. It ended with how I’m doing at home and included the phone call from my doctor last evening, in which he said that the pathology report showed no spread of cancer beyond my uterus, but that I need radiation treatment to prevent my “aggressive cancer” from recurring in the upper part of the vagina. I don’t have the name of the cancer yet (it had been diagnosed pre-operatively as endometrial adenocarcinoma) or the staging, and I am frustrated that I have to wait until next Monday to get it.
So if it comes down to a decision I need to participate in–although the doctor didn’t present it that way during the 7-second phone call–I have to figure out a good basis for my choice. It’s hard to know when to take charge of your situation, when to let go and let experts decide, or when and how to find some compromise position where you’re working through it together. The latter option is what I advocate–but it requires willing healthcare team members. And even enlightened surgeons are still surgeons who move through the world of “fixing things” as only they know how–and very quickly. I learned early in my work life that surgeons inhabit a very physical universe in which they become expert human repair people. But that leaves the rest of who we are as patients–our essential selves, our emotions–exposed to daunting clinical situations without the benefit of psychological comfort or spiritual healing. For that, we need to turn to the external support of our family and friends and to turn toward the inner support that only our own personal healing places can provide.
One of the most powerful ways to connect with our inner healer is to remember and relive the things we love, vehicles that transport us to where we understand what is important about life. In those places, we not only reunite our physical self and circumstances with what truly makes us who we are, but our spirit merges with the areas in our experience of life that transcend physical challenges and points our soul toward the social circumstances we can engage in and improve upon–and, most important, toward what is essential and eternal. Although I was raised in the Protestant church, I have no specific religious beliefs–or non-beliefs, for that matter–because truth is truth, regardless of what I think or would like to believe. But it is what I sense at a deep level that explodes my intuition open, allowing for all possibilities about the meaning of life as we know it to enter, enlighten, and inspire. Profound teachers and teachings are available to those who seek them.
For me, much of the wisdom of the world is found in books–books of knowledge and books of tales. I love stories. I think we all do. So I defer to the three-ghost device Dickens used because A Christmas Carol is my favorite story–of any type, of any place, of any time. He captured the essence of what it means to be human–sickness of body and spirit healed by the powerful lessons learned from contemplating who we are and the good we can do on this earth. These matters lie beyond the bounds of time. And time is a subject that fascinates me. Reliving Dickens’ story of “reclamation” is a very important part of who I am. No disease, which exists within the limits of time, can interfere with that. No physical illness can even come close to touching who I really am–except as a lesson in how to live and how to make the journey of life a bit easier for the others who are “fellow-passengers to the grave”–and, I dearly hope, beyond.
|Coming over the next few days:|