Part One: in which I have a birthday near the end of October, and get many appropriate presents, and one randomly inappropriate present that everyone else wants…really really badly.
My birthday started well.
The two candles: my mom didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy to deal with the potential blow back of my real age. (Or my mom likes to remind me I’m really only two, and could grow up?)
Shaun gave me pajamas. With ZEBRA socks. Pink, fuzzy, happy, zebra socks.
And…the birthday gift that keeps on giving. Hudson. Thank you Shaun, Micah, and Lee Lee!
Bella, Daisy, and Alice got together and made me cry. On purpose. And I liked it.
My favorite things in the world. Frosting, Family, Friends, Familiars*.
Being loved is the best gift of all.
*Familiars: couldn’t think of a positive word for equines that started with an F. The only thing that came to mind rhymed with “trucking”. Hudson developed a terrible case of mud-less scratches that need a lot of staring, poking, soaking, drying, patting and rubbing of 6 different creams in a weekly rotation. Horses. I’m avoiding the word…”truck”.
My body decided to jump into the gift giving Fray. (Hey look, I’m on an F roll.)
Ta Da! Below is how Jane’s body sings “Happy Birthday to youuuuu.”
I couldn’t seem to make myself worry. Who the heck has ever heard of Elbow Cancer? Shaun Googled the crap out of it, and tried not to look totally freaked out in front of me. I pretended not to notice the stealthy Googling and I Am Not Freaked Out – No Really, look on her face.
Luckily, I didn’t have to pretend not to care about the lump.
It’s just a lump. I can live with a lump. Heck, Hudson lives with a lump.
Fine. Fine. I promised Shaun I’d go to the doctor. Then I promised the trainer, who poked the lump, said “I think it’s bigger than last week…?”. Then I promised Daisy, Bella, Carlos, and Alice I’d go to the doctor. Promising to take care of it bought me a lot of time to ignore it completely.
Denial. My favorite method of self-care.
Doctor said, “Huh”, looked me in the eyes, then back down at my arm, “only you.” She pushed on the lump. “Does it hurt?”
Oh goody, I can rack up another bullet point in Jane’s “Let’s Not Slice Our Body Open” PowerPoint presentation:
“Nope. Doesn’t hurt at all”, I say, “It’s fine”.
Doctor looks at me. “Lumps of unknown origin are NOT fine, Jane. Probably a cyst from synovial fluid. You sure you didn’t bump your elbow?” Pause. “Hard?”
Denial is so….passive. Suddenly remembering a blow hard enough to cause a lump the size of a golf ball is not passive. I’d be actively lying. Even if I substitute the harsher word “lie” for the innocuous sounding word “prevaricate”. Hmm…could I work with actively prevaricating…?
Maybe my mom was right: two birthday candles sort of sum up my emotional age. Don’t look at it, don’t touch it! It’s not THERE! It’s nothing!
Damn. Have to get it checked out.
I didn’t bother to take Shaun with me for the ultrasound. They’re not allowed to tell you results. The plan: I’d go, stay happily in denial, and pick up a latte on my way home.
Um. Yeah. About that. How many of us can read the ultrasound while our vet is still running the wand over our horse? Right. I knew instantly it wasn’t fluid. Solid tissue. I watched her do density scans.
The tech nervously leaves to: “check with the doctor that the films are clear and shot from the correct angles and stuff.” Even I know that’s technician-speak for: “Uh Oh. Must find DOCTOR.”
Denial is great. I shrug. Decide my body couldn’t handle all the frosting I was ingesting (whoops…my bad) so it helpfully created a nice frosting lump behind my elbow, where it wouldn’t be noticeable.
Heyyyyyy…It’s a buttercream tumor! On my funny bone! I can’t wait to tell everyone: it will be a piece of cake to remove. It has to go, because it’s on my Last Nerve! HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha….um…niggle niggle…ha?
I go back to my detective novel.
Dr. Radiologist comes in. “Can I…see…it?”, she asks tentatively, sounding nothing like the professional doctor she obviously is.
Oddly, she has the voice of a woman in Tiffany’s asking the saleslady if she could just look at a gazillion carat diamond ring.
“Uh. Sure”, I say, and poke my elbow into the air.
“Can I…touch it…?” she asks, in – I swear – the reverent voice of a woman asking to TRY THE RING ON.
“Sure?”, I say. She’s not going to try to take it, um, out of the box, is she?
I hear excited whispering outside the exam room door. “No it’s in there. Just wait. Maybe we can see it!! Shhhhhh!!! Did anyone tell Meghan…?”
My unusual lump started an epic odyssey of specialist surgeon visits, MRI’s, blood tests, and immediate surgery scheduling. Not a fatty tumor. Apparently a tumor so rare, most specialists never see it in their life time.
I don’t do immediate. I’m not good with ch*nge. I tried hard not to panic when the first surgeon said, “Let’s see, today is Friday…Sue call St. Mary’s and see if we can book an OR for Monday.”
MONDAY? As in Saturday, Sunday, MONDAY??? This whole time I’d been thinking…January…was doable.
I needn’t have stressed over immediate. The medical community was jazzed. I felt like I was…correction…I felt like my tumor was about to hit the talk show circuit, and possibly end up with its own Mercedes. I waited in endless green rooms, doing coffee shots and waiting for the signal it was time to thrust my elbow in the air in front of an all white-coated crowd. Wait for the collective gasp. Oooohing and Ahhhing. If I could have sent my elbow to the appointments without me, I would have. It started begging me for celebrity sunglasses, hip-hop style.
I was lucky. The best nerve trauma surgeon in the country (referred to in medical circles simply as: The God) swept in and said to the other bickering neurosurgeons, “Neener neener, sorry about your luck underlings, it’s MINE.”
I raised my hand. “Yes?”, he said.
“Uh. Can I come too?”, I said.
I was feeling a little unclear on the concept: does the famous tumor go in, and the (thankfully) unimportant mother of the tumor wait outside?
“Sure”, he said, and smiled a killer Hollywood surgeon-smile, complete with tooth twinkle.
Tooth twinkles: a sure sign that things are not what they seem.
…to be continued.
(Spoiler alert: I’m fine. We don’t need to worry.)