Friday, September 11, 2015

The Exceptional Uncaptured Moment

When there are difficult things weighing you down, suffering and struggles that take your attention, it's easy to focus on the wrongness of "everything." I remember, in every era of depression, someone asking me what was wrong and my response being quite honestly, "Everything." And it sounded dramatic, and people called me dramatic, but there are those experiences where everything truly seems wrong. And then, after some conversation, you can pinpoint that one thing, that untranslatable exception to the everything else, that singular flaw in your life that somehow feels worse and somehow "more wrong" than everything else.

In turn, there are good times in life when everything does not seem wrong. Everything isn't wonderful or overwhelmingly happy. But it's good. It's alright, it's pleasant. These are the times, I believe, that finding "joy in the Lord" is most accessible, because that sort of joy is often quiet and contented. It doesn't require wealth or impressive photography or acknowledgement from the world. It just is. And even in those times, there are also the exceptions--the untranslatable thing that rises above everything else, the singular fragment of bliss that surpasses all the "good" and the "alright", the thing that is "more good" than everything else.

I have experienced both of these times in abundance. I have experienced these exceptions. And since I spent my last post talking about the mundane frustrations of a gajillion doctor's appointments, today we're going to go in a positive direction.

A few weeks ago I went on "vacation" to Wisconsin. We went with a friend to see another friend (and her parents.) It's a short drive up there, just about three hours, and the country is simple and comforting. Lots of corn. Lots of fields. Lots of cornfields.

We even took pictures in the cornfields.

We also made meals together, and drank coffee and tea together.

We went to High Cliff Park and had adventures on the rocks.

We made mountains of food and had friends come over from near and far for a Friday-night barbecue. We sat around a fire pit drinking gin and tonics, munching on overzealously-prepared s'mores, laughing about life and laughing at each other.

It was, in every sense of the word, good. It was a good vacation.

But there are exceptions. And a part of me wants to mention the bad exceptions, because they happened, and they're small but important. Like when I got really dizzy for about an hour and had to lay down, and ended up taking a nap with Emily.

However, the "good" exception, that exceptional moment of goodness is where my heart really wants to be.

We were outside. It was nighttime. The stars were out.

It's a moment so exceptionally good, so overflowing with all the wonderful things that come from friendship and love, that I cannot even describe it here. It is so near to my heart that I cannot even find words worthy of giving.

It is the exception to all exceptions.

And that, my friends, is where God lives.

In those exceptional moments that tip the scales. He is there when things are exceptionally bad and there when things are exceptionally good. While the joy of the Lord is contentedness, quietness, and peace in the midst of the mundane, it can also exist in flashes of brilliance or despairing shadows.

These are the moments I don't write down. Sometimes I'm simply incapable of words. So much of our lives are captured in photographs and shared with immediacy as if they didn't happen unless someone else is aware.

But not every good thing has to impress others in order to be good, and certainly not to be exceptional. They are such exceptional moments that they deserve to exist only without tangible proof.

They go on uncaptured, except in our memories.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Outcome #2, Hospital #3


I have been waiting a while to post because I hoped I would have something concrete to say. I do, of course, but it's not the preferred sort of concrete facts. That sounds silly. Basically, I wish I could drop a whole concrete house on the blog but all I've really got is a couple of those holey concrete blocks that people plant flowers in or use for makeshift shelves with a couple of 2x4s.

So here are my concrete blocks: To sort of piggyback on my last post, I would like to present you with Outcome #2. All the cancerous cells are gone!

It was over a month ago now, but I had my biopsy. They forgot who my ob/gyn was, forgot the year I was born, and forgot what my diagnosis had been. After some necessary clarifications, we got started. It was short, but still incredibly painful, especially since my lovely doctor didn't tell me he'd begun the procedure. If you know me, you know how badly I react with unpleasant surprises. Even pleasant surprises are a coin toss. 

When it was over he told me to get an ultrasound, and after that it would be a few weeks before I knew the results. He also suggested that I have another surgery (the name of which I will not disclose, because it was completely unnecessary) and that I get an IUD for 18 months.

I made faces at him to express my feelings (which were equal amounts of disgust and amusement.) He wouldn't shut up about either, so eventually I had to say, "Yeah, I'll consider that!" with a big fake smile. For a "short" appointment, it could not be going any slower.

His suggestions, aside from being absolutely not what I needed, were ridiculous. I'm not dying, and have fairly good health (more on that later); I do not need another surgery (especially a surgery that often leads to more fertility problems.) And the IUD? Don't even get me started. (the short definition for an IUD: fancy birth control device that hangs out inside your body and can sometimes attach to your body and also lead to more fertility problems.)

I left the doctor's office feeling sour and frustrated, and very misunderstood. We went to Hansa in Libertyville for some coffee, and I avoided the ultrasound for another week. I had to get it done at a different hospital, but they were understaffed, so then I had to go to another different hospital. (In the list of hospitals/offices I would prefer to go to, we were now at third on the list.)

Fast forward 2 weeks: I've gotten the results from the biopsy. No cancer! Just waiting for the ultrasound. I thought about blogging then, but still wanted to wait for the full results. And... hospital #3 forgot to transfer my results to the cancer doctor. So I had to call... give them the fax number... and wait some more. I hated thinking about how those stupid ultrasound images had just been sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere in hospital #3, and no one had even looked at them.

Finally I got the call with the ultrasound results. Everything was normal! Along with being informed I no longer needed to see my gynecologic oncologist (hopefully I will never have to type those words ever again), I was told I could finally go back to my ob/gyn. I had no other directions, except to "follow up with her."

So my appointment with her is this comingThursday morning. I'm not sure what it will entail. It has been a stressful few weeks since I received the final results. In addition to taking a close friend to the ER twice last week, and taking her to/from surgery between those ER visits, I had my own trip to urgent care (on my birthday) and then this last Friday had my "urgent care follow up" with my regular doctor, only for her to tell me... to go see a specialist because my current predicament (sinus related, not cancer) is an anomaly.

Yeah, that's right. I'm an anomaly. I'm so weird she actually called me "darlin'."

I'm starting to feel like that crazy aunt/uncle that can't stop talking about their cataracts, or their arthritis. Don't assume I don't understand that those are serious issues--they are!--but only talking about medical maladies can put strain on a relationship.

I really don't want you to start thinking of me as your crazy aunt.

So I'm going to blog again tomorrow, about wonderful things, happy things. It doesn't mean my health is not a complete conundrum, or that I'm not deeply worried that my ob/gyn will also tell me I need 18 terrible months of terrible birth control... it just means my life is full of both the wonderful and the terrible and they both deserve to be shared.