Rather than looking for presents under the tree, I'll be looking for ways to thank all the people in my life who have shared a special moment, a smile, a virtual or real-life hug, a word of support, a laugh or a tear. These gifts are priceless. These gifts can't be found in a store or online, and don't go on sale for $9.99. These gifts are expressions from the heart that have the power to lift my spirit in a way that no material thing can.
11 years ago today I underwent a 10-1/2 hour surgery that gave me my life back. I was reborn at the age of 52 with the promise of less pain, fewer hospitalizations, the ability to eat again, the ability to live again.
My breaking point came at a family friend’s viewing. I vividly remember standing in front of his casket, looking down at this 82-year old man who had passed away, and wishing with all my heart it was me in there instead of him.
By late fall 2005, my physical symptoms began to dramatically affect my day-to-day life. I couldn’t continue to tell myself it was just stress or that I was “run down.” I began my quest in earnest to discover what was happening inside my body. It’s also when I discovered that even doctors don’t have all the answers.
It’s a story about a life interrupted by an insidious disease, and the discovery of how deep-seeded is this thing we call “Hope.”
It’s been 10 years since my now-ex husband announced with flat, dead certainty that he didn’t want to be married to me any longer – that our marriage was “done,” as if we were a pie baking in the oven. Done.
It took me several years to truly understand that what happened with my friends was not malicious or intentional; it was the unfortunate by-product of change. It was the natural shift that occurs when people are no longer moving in the same direction. Like a road that reaches a fork, I went left while they went right.
The wheel on the hospital gurney made a continuous squeaking sound as they wheeled me down the hall to the operating room. It was one of those incessant noises that would normally drive me crazy, but for some reason that morning I found it comforting.
Nothing prepared me for the physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue, and the ongoing insomnia I would experience when I became chronically ill. It goes well beyond the occasional night or two of no sleep. It’s so much more than being “tired.” It’s exhaustion at the cellular level.
I am not old…she said. I am rare. I am the standing ovation at the end of the play.