Monday, August 8, 2016

I'm back, and so is my cholesteatoma

Sadly, it's true.

I have been missing my blog and intending to get back to it, so here I am. I learned this week that my cholesteatoma has returned and I need to have a fourth and final surgery: a modified radical mastoidectomy. As my friend Brad so aptly put it, it is another round of suckitude.

I suspected something might be amiss in my ear, because I'd had some ear pain a month ago and I could tell my hearing had worsened. Well, the reason for that was an enormous ball of hard wax. It took my ear surgeon 15 minutes of extremely painful digging around in my ear, followed by a strong sucking machine, to get that sucker out. And once it was out, he saw that the cholesteatoma had come back with a vengeance and was infected. Just lovely.

Even though I'd tried to brace myself for bad news, I teared up in his office, much to my embarrassment. The surgeon had planned to do a modified radical at my last surgery three years ago, but decided at the last minute to take a less invasive approach. I asked him, again, why he had decided not to go full bore, and he said my anatomy is complicated. Isn't that reassuring?

I was feeling very low and emotional after hearing this news first thing on a Tuesday morning, especially on the heels of news the previous day about our company's financial performance and my uncle having a stroke. I returned to my office and couldn't keep myself from crying. Suckitude.

The bad news forced me off to the gym--I figured I needed to work off the stress. That helped a bit. And then in the afternoon, I received this beautiful pick-me-up from Mike and the boys:


The next day I continued to feel puny, so at lunch I set out for the river. I've been rereading The Bell Jar for my book group this month, and Sylvia Plath (as Esther) describes her love of baths:

“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them. Whenever I'm sad I'm going to die, or so nervous I can't sleep, or in love with somebody I won't be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: "I'll go take a hot bath.”

Well, I am not a huge fan of baths. But walking to any body of water (river, stream, lake, or ocean) is a curative for my soul. As I was standing out on the boat dock in the middle of the Willamette River, I could feel my resilient self rising again, realizing I just need to get through this. What can't be changed must be faced. I recalled hearing my mom describe how low maintenance and blase I was as a small child as I had surgery after surgery after surgery. I guess it's in my nature. 

By the time I returned to the office, I felt strong enough to call the surgeon's office and schedule my surgery for September 23. I have to schedule both a CT scan and an MRI before the surgery...I will try not to complain too much about that, as I suppose it's important for the surgeon to know where he's cutting.

I also discovered on my desk this lovely green stone, which my friend April gave to me...when I went to the beach with her and several other women in May, she had a bag of these beautiful stones and each one of us chose one out of the bag. When I saw "courage," I thought, "hmm...wonder why I need courage." Now I know why I needed that stone. Divine chance. 

 A brief visit with close friends filled with laughter, combined with messages of amazing support from friends and family, and I feel encircled with love and courage.

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