Maybe it’s genetic. My dad is 5-Star General list-maker - I am like, a Lieutenant or something. We make little lists for everyday things (pick up dry cleaning, book doctor appt, go to Target, etc.) We make lists of things we want and/or need to do "sometime" but who knows when (buy a new toaster, insulate pipes, clean out that closet...) We also make lists of the things we want to experience and/or accomplish at some point in our lives.
In the past few years I have often told myself that I will get to all these things "when I feel better.” Except that for almost five years my life has been filled with these medical mountains I keep climbing and conquering but there always seems to be one more in my path.
Despite beating melanoma and finally getting my MS stable, I’m still in horrific pain every day with this ruptured, herniated disc in my neck that has been hanging out with me for two years now.
So I’m scheduled for neck surgery one week from today, Friday the 4th. My second major surgery in less than 8 months with a 4-6 week recovery period, assuming it works, which I believe it will.
I hope it will.
Actually - I’m terrified that it won’t work.
Okay, and yeah - I’m scared out of my freaking mind about having a neurosurgeon open up my neck, and be so close to things like oh, my vocal cords and these things called laryngeal nerves and well, my spine!
So, you see, all this stuff I have on these lists, well, they're just going to have to wait until when I feel better.
Then the cynical side of me can't help but think that this IS my life now. I may never really be, nor ever really see myself as "healthy" ever again. So what choice do I have?
On the days when I am scared, tired, in pain and feeling hopeless, I guess I have to find the courage and energy to do the things that I care about and to make the best of them in spite of feeling not-so-great about 50% of the time. It sure as hell isn't what I imagined my life would be like but here I am.
And much like going back to school at age 29 with MS, each list item is terrifying because it means making yourself vulnerable and facing failure – again and again and again. It means leaping into the unknown and having faith that somehow you will land on your feet, or at the very least someone will reach out a hand to help you up after you’ve fallen flat on your face.
"All of our dreams can come true; if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel "better" yet. I may never feel “better.” And still the world goes round.
I guess that means I am just going to have to be a little more creative in accomplishing my goals. And every so often I just have to scream, "To hell with you MS!" or "Screw you Cancer!" and go ahead and do what I want to do.
I owe that to myself. That's my responsibility to myself. As an old friend once reminded me, "Responsibility is the ability to choose your response. You choose how you react to your life." He was right.
Underneath the pain, the diseases, the depression, the anger and fear, I do have the ability to choose how I respond to these mountains and roadblocks put before me. I don't always choose correctly. But even on days when I'm certain the Universe is never going to tire of beating me senseless over the head, at the very least I can remind myself that I am not as powerless as I may feel. There are still things I can control.
Today I choose hope. I hope this surgery will give me a better quality of life with less pain. I hope this will be my last surgery for a very long time.
Forever would be best.