Last week I celebrated my 44th birthday. I was lucky enough to take a few days off of work, and I was giddy at the prospect of having FREE TIME to do fun things.
Long ago the boyfriend asked what I wanted to do for the big day, and I asked him to take me to the Orange County Fair. I LOVE going to the fair. Total Americana -- a cheesefest of ridiculous and tacky fun.
In some ways I was dreading my birthday -- not the getting older part -- getting older beats the alternative! My mom went in for a colonoscopy about two weeks ago, and unfortunately they found cancer. She was scheduled for a consultation the day of my birthday, where she would find out preliminary plans for removal and treatment. I kept hoping for the best possible news -- chanting "minimal and minor" to myself over and over again -- but trying to brace myself for the worst. Once you are on the worrying end of bad health news (for yourself or a loved one) it is hard to stop thinking about it.
The boyfriend and I were on our way to the fair when I received a text from my mom. She said she was facing very complicated surgery and a week-long stay in the hospital (?!?!?!?!?!), plus treatment -- most likely radiation.
Needless to say the news hit me hard. TEARS. It just sucks ass so much when you get bad news and you can't really DO much about it except tell your mom that you love her, that you have her back, and that you are hoping for the best. It is so hard. This will be my mom's second bout with cancer -- she had breast cancer about 30 years ago. She is 71 now, and she has to face it again. It just sucks.
We were just a couple of miles from the fair when I got the update from my mom. The boyfriend asked what I wanted to do, and I figured we were so close to the fair that we might as well continue on our way and make the best of a tough day.
Due to my nervous state worrying about my mom, combined with an atypical attempt to be semi/sort of/quasi-calorie conscious, I ate next to nothing all day so that I could eat a bunch of junk food at the fair. By the time we arrived in the late afternoon, I was really really hungry. We made our way in to the fair and stopped at a stand to get a bacon-wrapped hot dog and lemonade. We found a table, sat down, and started grubbing. I took a bite or two of the hot dog and washed it down with some lemonade. And then it happened. The hot dog bite was lodged in my throat. I couldn't breathe. I was sputtering. Tears were coming out of my eyes. Lemonade (or something else?) was coming out of my nose. The food wouldn't go down my throat, and it wouldn't come up. It all happened so fast and I didn't know what to do. The boyfriend was nom-nom-nomming away at his food and then it registered that something was wrong with me. I stood up in panic and didn't even have time to think JESUS H. CHRIST AM I GOING TO DIE CHOKING ON A FUCKING HOT DOG ON MY BIRTHDAY AT THE ORANGE COUNTY FAIR?!?!??!?!?! The boyfriend jumped up when he saw my panic-stricken, unable to breathe/speak face, and he grabbed me from behind and did the Heimlich maneuver on me. And out popped the offending object and I gasped for air and just stood there horrified and mortified, but happy to be breathing again (and hoping I hadn't ruined my dress with the MESS of it all). Of course there were a scrillion people around us that witnessed the whole thing. SO FUCKING EMBARRASSING. But hell, at least I lived to tell the story. Possible bonus to the whole stupid affair? All in all, my fair day calorie consumption ended up being nowhere near what I was anticipating. :[
Needless to say, the boyfriend was rather pleased with his performance and could NOT stop saying, "I saved your LIFE! I saved your LIFE today! This is the best day EVER!!!"
We ended up having a great time on my birthday, even though sadness and worry [and hot dog humiliation] kept invading my thoughts.
So...back to my mom. I am worried about her, but I am trying to keep a grip and hope for the best. I am mad she has to go through the fucking bullshit of cancer again. And I am pissed that colon cancer is yet another stupid health problem that my siblings and I have to worry about (in addition to breast cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer -- talk about winning the health lottery).
On a cheerier note, it has been good to keep in frequent communication with my mom. She is scared. She is worried. She is being honest about it all. And she wants to do whatever needs to be done to stick around on this insane planet as long as possible. Sometimes she wants to talk about her situation, and sometimes she doesn't. I guess we just navigate it as best we can. Somehow my mom and I have even found a few things to laugh about together (her truly mortifying enema stories had us both cracking up hysterically in horror, but I'll spare you those details). So the future is uncertain, and it is scary, but we are hopeful and just taking it -- I know it is cliche to say it -- one step at a time.