Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Me and the Big C

One of the side benefits to going through fertility treatments when you are over forty is that you are given a complete physical rundown. I have been through every medical examination possible, and I'm healthy as the proverbial horse, bee"aitch.

On one of my last exams, my doctor saw a little something on one of my internal organs that He Did Not Like. No sirree Bob, he did not like that thing that he saw. That's how he kept phrasing it to me. "We're not sure what it is, but I don't like it. It's got to come out before we do anything else. I just don't like it." Okey dokey, so two hellish, worry-filled weeks later, I had some fun surgery and they took out the Thing That the Doctor Did Not Like. The surgery was top-secret; I didn't want input from friends or family or frankly anyone. If it was cancer, it was cancer and I would deal with it. If it was not cancer, then I would deal with whatever it was. My siblings and siblings-in-law have a longtime history of saying the well-meaning, wrong thing to me in times of crisis and I just didn't want to deal.

It was not cancer. Thank God. It was something benign, but it was good that it came out. And now we are pressing the restart button on my fertility treatments. Here we go again.

If you've ever gone through the medical exercise of thinking you might have cancer, you probably can identify with some of what I felt. Or maybe it was totally different for you. I really would rather not have to lop off parts of my body or organs, or blast radiation through myself, or push poisonous toxins through my system. And I really, really would rather not die right now. I am finally in the loving, supportive relationship that I've waited all my life to find, and I feel like I have a lot of life yet to live with my husband. I was worried. I was nervous. I cried some. Actually, I cried quite a lot. And I viewed the world with a different lens, a sort of bluish filter on my life. Random thoughts flitted in and out of my troubled mind, some, I realize a little nuts, most, pretty narcissistic. Would this be the last summer I could ride my bike? Would I really have to accept the possibility of never being a mother as fact? Whom would I leave my engagement ring to? Who would want all my stuff? Will my husband remarry? If I have cancer and it's advanced, should I bother with treatment? Have I been good enough to other people? Have I left any sort of mark on this world? Will anyone miss me? Will I see my father in the afterlife? Have I been a good Jew? Will my hair fall out?

My husband dealt with the whole episode in complete and utter denial.

"You don't have cancer. Shutup."

"I might have cancer."

"You don't have any freakin cancer. Stop talking about it."

"What will we do if I have cancer?"

"If you don't stop talking about having cancer, I'll kill you and then you won't have to worry about having cancer."

Etc. Naturally, he was pleased as punch about being right about my not having cancer. He did some major Itoldyousoing. But I recognize his denial for what it was. I don't think he has the emotional tools to deal with the possibility of his wife being ill. It's all he can do to deal with my infertility. He is stretched to the limit. I think that comes with living a very straight, honest life, as he has. You start to believe that because you've never done anything too wrong, nothing truly, truly bad can ever touch you.

Or maybe I'm analyzing this to death.

Another by-product of thinking I might have had cancer was that I realized on some very deep level that I really and truly do believe in God. It's not that I didn't know this before, but I always had nitpickings of the possibility that I was wrong. But then I started to search myself, and I realized that I really do believe. One would think that this would be a relief, but mostly, it just makes me feel more isolated, because it makes my relationship to God more important and more private and intense. Does that make any sense?

So thank you God, thank you God, really, thank you God, WebGirl does not have the Big Cee. But I still have the Big I. Maybe facing down my own death on some level has made me more prepared for the possibility that my infertility treatments might not work. Maybe this experience has made me realize that no matter what I do, no matter how good my doctor is, no matter how advanced the science is, no matter how amazing the drugs are, whether or not I will have a child is really not in my hands at all. Maybe.