A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

God is in the Details

I've heard that God is in the details. Well, I confess that these days, I not only don't see Him in the details, but also in the enormity of life's challenges. Big or small, I don't see Him at all.

I was simply having "one of those days" today. You know what I mean...you've experienced them, too. Everything went wrong. Everyone got on my last nerve. I questioned God's judgment in creating humanity. Yes, one of those days.

It started with my husband backing out of accompanying me to the gym. Now, I know this may sound silly, but I'm constantly harping on him to exercise for health reasons rather than listen to him whine about his middle-age body. Plus, I wanted the companionship. But, he blew me off and I felt insignificant...that he didn't want to spend time with me. Have I become an "old shoe" after 8 years of marriage?

I headed to the post office, where I was the only customer...let me say this again, the only customer. Yet, I had to wait because the postal employee decided it was more important to bring out passport applications than wait on me...like, I'm assuming, he's expecting a rush on overseas travel in the midst of the shrinking dollar and the astronomical cost of fuel. Another employee finally waited on me, while Mr. Passport practically jumped over the counter to help his friend who had just walked in the door. Call me chopped liver.

After my postal experience, I went for a swim in which I struggled to breath the entire time and my legs cramped in the pool. It was a less than enjoyable workout. After that, I went to our new vet's office to pick up Riley's records and rabies tags they forgot to give us. I'll save you the boring specifics and just say that every interaction we have had with this vet has been a nightmare..they don't even use a computer. I waited 20 minutes for our file...until it was dicovered that the teenage tatooed receptionist with 9 inch fingernails didn't bother to write our name on our file, so she couldn't find it. I took my dog's records and told them we wouldn't be back. Ever.

My nerves were on edge by the time I got home and tried in vain to reach someone at the business office at the hospital to pay out-of-pocket expenses for my surgery. I had previously left 3 messages and this time, I kept being cut off by their computerized answering service. I finally gave up, realizing that if they wanted to be paid badly enough, they'd contact me.

Next, I had my over-the-phone surgery assessment, in which I disclosed that I suspected I have sleep apnea (since I quit breathing during the night and wake up gasping for breath). My admission about this stalled my pre-op tests until Monday, the day before surgery -- which messed up my plans for today.

Then, I was off to my two surgeons' offices for pre-surgery consultations -- this is where you sign your life away after they tell you that having surgery puts you at risk for paralysis and brain damage and death. After the day I was having, that didn't sound so bad.

During my doctor visits, I found out that I'm also getting my apendix removed (surprise!) and I will, in fact, have drains again in my breasts. Oh, happy day.

I love my doctors and their assistants, and trust my life (and brain and non-paralyzed body parts) to them. However, no matter what questions I pose, I can never quite pin them down in giving me the full scoop as to what to fully expect. Surgery, frankly, is a matter of trust. I don't even know my boob size. "You'll love it," said my reconstruction surgeon. What does that mean? Will I look like Marilyn Monroe or Twiggy?! I have no idea.

On my way home, I stopped by my favorite neighborhood farmer's market, only to discover from other customers that a home invasion had just occurred in the area. The cul-de-sac was roped off with police tape; police cars and a fire truck were parked along the street; and detectives with guard dogs were combing the area. Just what I needed....a suspect on the loose in our neighborhood to top the day.

At this point, I was ready for a glass of wine or a double-dose of prosac...or both. I was also thinking of filling my pain medicine perscriptions early and taking heavy doses of percoset.

And then, while I was wrapping up my purchases, a teenage girl with her dad passed by me and walked out the door. Suddenly, the girl came back inside and said to me, "This may sound really weird, but I have to tell you that you're beautiful." I was stunned. Here I was -- no makeup, "goggle eyes" from swimming earlier, with my naturally kinky-curly hair pulled back since I didn't bother to style it. I was feeling old and worn out and well, less than attractive in a chopped up body. And, then, a young girl tells me that I am beautiful.

It's not that I need to hear those words for my ego. It's the fact of her kindness...her reaching out and saying something nice to a stranger. If only she knew all I was facing and how her words softened my day. And I realized that none of us fully know what another person is going through...and how much our words may provide comfort and encouragement and relief that is desperately needed.

I arrived at home, only to find my husband in a t-shirt and gym shorts with a flushed face. He had returned from a walk...exercising in the heat...because he knew how much it meant to me. And just for a moment, I saw God in the details.