Surgery Eve — a lot to celebrate

I’m all set for surgery tomorrow. Dr. Kronowitz has literally drawn his “plan” all over my body with Sharpie pen. I love having my fat pockets highlighted with blue Sharpie.

Especially on the night of my 14th wedding anniversary.

That’s right. Alan and I have been married for 14 years as of today. Seriously, I’m not sure I could ever ask for a better life than what I have — and so much of that is because of him. He is, by far, the best supporter, cheerleader, confidant, caretaker, father, friend…..the list could go on and on. I’m very lucky that he chose me.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been looking for ways to move forward and put all of this behind me, and this week has helped me a bit. I think my mistake has been thinking that I need to forget about all of it and move on with my life when really, I need to own it — keep it close to me — and move on with my life. Sounds silly, but there is a difference. I think I might have learned that in the past two days.

I’ve struggled with having this stuff always on my mind (because it has been my life for the last two years and so life-changing, at that) and trying to not talk about it so I can move forward.

Yesterday, Alan and I had a belated celebration of his 40th birthday at a nice hotel in Galveston. As I was sitting at the swim-up bar at the pool, a friendly (and somewhat tipsy) lady started a conversation with me. It was her birthday, she said. I asked her about how she was celebrating. Ultimately, this led to her asking where I was from and then why I was all the way down in Galveston. Because I wasn’t prepared for this question, the truth quickly (despite my efforts not to talk about it) rolled off my tongue, I’m actually having surgery in Houston on Wednesday. My husband and I are celebrating his birthday and our anniversary beforehand.

She asked if I had breast cancer. I told her that I was on the tail end of treatment. Then she told me about how she spent a lot of time in the Medical Center in Houston because her little boy had Cerebral Palsy and was being treated at Texas Children’s. She said that his little 12-year-old body just gave out on him finally, and he passed away. We chatted a bit more about him and her experience there before I left to join up with Alan again.

Fast forward to this evening. We are not staying in the Medical Center area of Houston because hotels are so expensive. We are a little ways away. Alan and I got on the elevator with a couple who were play bickering with each other. He, laughing, said…

“It’s been a long day at the hospital.”

I had noticed he was wearing a hospital bracelet. He was also using crutches. So, I asked, “What hospital?”  He said it was MD Anderson. I told him that I was going there tomorrow for surgery. We had a very brief chat — exchanging stories very quickly. He has bone cancer. They are amputating his leg on Aug. 15.

I told him he’d been in my thoughts. I’m not sure if he believed that from some stranger in an elevator, but it is the truth.

I think both of these people have helped me to see how I can take these past two crappy years and connect with people because of it. Maybe I don’t have to forget and move on. Maybe I can embrace and move on, and in the midst of that, I can find ways to connect with people who are behind me on the path … or even those on a different journey path. The gift of being able to empathize (not just sympathize) is pretty important.

And, on the eve of my surgery, I feel so very grateful that I’ve made it through the past two years. I’m grateful that I’m able to move on with my life with trivial concerns about whether my boobs are symmetrical when others, like my elevator guy, are losing limbs.

I sure have a lot to celebrate.

15 thoughts on “Surgery Eve — a lot to celebrate

  1. I am so grateful to have you as a friend and an inspiration, Jen! You will be in my heart and thoughts tomorrow and during your recuperation. Just focus on powering through this procedure and recovery so I can give you a BIG hug when you head east next month! 😉

    I love ya, girlie! <3

  2. You are an amazing woman! Your story is inspiring. Keep sharing it. I know you touched those people today. I love you to the moon and back!

  3. Your gifts are many, friend. Your ability to write, speak, share, and love are inspiring. Empathy is one of the best gifts we can have and share. We all have it, you just have a stronger sense of it now. Good luck today!! And happy anniversary! You know I just love love!! 🙂 <3

  4. Hope all goes well for you Jen. Hope you have a speedy recovery. We are all thinking about you today., Love, Rob and Family

  5. Great post. (Wiping the tears from my eyes.) Love you to pieces, my sweet sister. Thinking of you today. Wish we were there.

  6. I love that smile of yours! Always looking confident in The Lord, no matter your circumstances. I’m certain He is well pleased with you, His trusting child.

  7. You need to think about writing a book sweetie. Your story and your attitude could really help people struggling with perceive. Love you and your amazing strength.

  8. I’m so glad this surgery is over and can’t wait to hear that you are peacefully recovering! Thanks for the updates and for sharing how you’ve grown these 2 years. What a wonderful and mature thing to realize the good that came of something so awful. Praying for you guys!

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  10. Jen – You probably don’t remember me but I was the woman who watched Kerry and Robbie the night you were born – Timmy’s mom from Freehold – I’ve been reading your journal and can hardly believe all these years have passed – You and your husband sound like incredible human beings – filled with such love and devotion to each other and to your family – I’m impressed with your brightness, energy and positive outlook – I think of you (your parents and siblings often) and only wish you the best – You are in my thoughts as you navigate your way – Pat Corlett

  11. Jenny, Ted and I’ve been on a trip and didn’t know you had surgery again. You’re in our prayers and our thoughts too. Take care and we’ll see you soon. You know, there’s a special place in heaven for husbands (and wives too) like Alan. You’re special couple. With love.

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