I will be honest, I did not write this at 3am on Tuesday. I knew I would be rushed for time and did not want to try to make sense in the middle of the night. So I am writing this throughout the day on Monday. This will most likely be my last post before the surgery (unless I decide to add some final thoughts Tuesday night). I have to admit, I am feeling a bit detached and unfocused. There is a sort of unreal quality in my life right now. It is like, well, like this is the end of before and Wednesday will begin the after.
Before, I am a strong, healthy woman who is a grandmother, mother, girlfriend, human companion to our dogs, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and supervisor. I work out regularly and love weight lifting. I am a girly girl – I love all things traditionally associated with being female (e.g. pink, jewelry, shopping, pretty, soft). I also love my strength. I have scars, from injuries and surgeries, but they are either hidden by normal clothing or not noticeable. I still cry at coffee and greeting card commercials and military flyovers (especially the broken wing formation). There are many more facets to me. But the one other before is – I have a thoracic aortic aneurysm that needs repair so that I can hang around for another 30+ years.
After, I will be different in two ways that are immediately apparent. One, no aneurysm. Two, I will have a visible scar. I have heard many opinions about how to view the scar and have begun to work on accepting that it is testament to my strength. I spend a good deal of time in the gym, hanging out in the free weight section mainly with men. These are men who lift heavy weight and while I may not lift weight as heavy as they do, I have earned their respect. My love of the iron has convinced them that I am strong. I am working to recognize that this scar will not be a blemish on otherwise perfect skin. Instead, it will be a message to all that I am strong and healthy. I hope to also, through my comfort with my scar, model acceptance and self-love in my choice to not hide it beneath high-necked clothing. One side note, someone actually said to me – “you know, they make bathing suits that are cut higher at the neck”. None of that for me. While I will use extra sun protection (overexposure is really not good for new scar tissue), I will continue to wear all of my clothing and will work through others’ responses as they occur. And when I work out at the gym, I will not hide my scar. I will show others (men and especially women) how important it is to never give up, to be strong, and to accept our bodies for what they are and what they can be.
I am dreading saying goodbye to the dogs. Our Maltese has sensed that something was up for a while now. During the past week, she has appeared even more concerned. If you don’t know what I mean, that’s okay. It’s a dog lover thing. Anyway, she and our Shih Tzu will know when we load up the car. Of course we will give them a treat to chew on for a few minutes after we leave, but then they will be home alone much of each day. We have someone coming in to feed, water, and walk them. He will likely play with them too. But that doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Six days is a long time, even if dogs don’t really have a sense of time. That may make it harder or easier. Easier if it just feels like we went out to the store (unlikely). Harder if each day feels like forever. It may be hard, but I will work not to dwell on this for too long. Before long we will be home and they will have me full time for several weeks.
I could go on about this and that for a long time. But in the end, it is important that I say the following. While fear and doubt have crept into my mind once in a while, even the thought “what if something goes wrong”, my thoughts are positive, my confidence is high, and I feel lifted by the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes of so many wonderful people in my life. The image below was sent to me Monday night and was the perfect sentiment (thank you Tammy). I know that the surgeon will be guided by skill, knowledge, and experience and I will be healed through my own determination along with the light and love offered by friends, family, and even strangers. For now, I will just say…see you in a few days.