My Thursday morning that week started out normally. Kids off to school? Check. Update my Facebook Scrabble game? Check. Look in the mirror and weigh the pros and cons of plastic surgery? Check. Run 5 miles? Don’t be silly. Then, somewhere between a double word score and self loathing I felt my abdomen begin to cramp. Soon after, what started out as mild discomfort led to, “Holy crap, I think my abdomen was a client of Bernie Madoff’s because it’s @#!*% .” Not knowing what to do I got on the phone and called my friend Ganelle – through sobs I tried to explain what was happening which resulted in her mandate, “Stay put. I’ll be right there.”
Thirty minutes later we stood in the ER entrance and I began peeing in cups and describing my pain on a scale of 1 to 10. (say 8! say 8!) Hmm…. “With ONE being that I never got the good stuff in my school lunches, and TEN being the Holocaust, I’m somewhere between never going to Homecoming and Columbine.” A little later, before the CT scan but after the incident where Ganelle pulled my gown over my legs in opposition to our “friendship knows no boundaries” clause, (turns out there ARE boundaries, and they stop short of the upper thigh being exposed through the light blue tent that one is given to wear when vacationing in the ER) Ganelle was also found holding my hair while I threw up into a pink, plastic bin. It was glorious, I tell you.
When my doctor finally showed up and took my information, he announced that we would be conducting a CT scan and whisked me off to see Jack, the CT Scan guy. “Hi Jack,” I gestured. “Don’t say that on an airplane!” he laughed. Something told me Jack only knew one joke. But he was nice, especially when he said, “We’ll be injecting your body with dye – you’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside, and then you will most likely feel like you’re wetting your pants.” I was all, “Dude, I just threw up on my best friend, what’s a little bed wetting incident with a guy who can’t do airports?” It was quick and painless, and even though I DID feel like I was wetting myself, I wasn’t. Not to worry, I would soon be cozying up with a catheter anyway.
The results were in. I had a mass on my ovary. Was it cancerous? We didn’t know. It was about the size of an orange, had damaged the only ovary I had left beyond repair, and needed to come out immediately. I was admitted that night, had surgery the next morning, and came home from the hospital a few days later. At the end of the day, I did NOT have cancer (phew) but they ended up taking out all my lady parts, and closed me up with eighteen staples in my stomach and mailed me an invitation to menopause.
In the ensuing weeks I was flooded with good deeds from friends, neighbors and family. My parents flew to my rescue, did my laundry, and made me fresh guacamole. Another friend, conveniently an owner of a Cold Stone Creamery, dropped by and left me a couple of gallons of menopausal medicine. (Channeling my inner Mary Poppins: “Just a spoonful of cake batter makes the es-tro-gen go dooooown.”) After my parents left another woman showed up on my doorstep to vacuum and mop, and countless others gave my kids rides, dropped off treats, called to check on me and scoured my kitchen sinks. The amount of help I received during those long and painful weeks was humbling. I don’t think I could have felt more supported if I had been standing in a warehouse of jock straps. It got me thinking what in the world I would have done without all of those people. The truth is I have no idea.
While lying on my gurney in the ER, Thomas S. Monson delivered this message to millions of Latter-Day-Saints:
“Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish – and in effect save their lives.”See, it didn’t matter what people came to my door to do during those weeks, what mattered was that they came. Because they showed up, I felt loved and (bonus!) according to Mr. Monson they not only saved MY life, they saved their own.
Plus, I got some free ice cream out of the deal. A win/win, really.