#BlogSmallJoys — Elise Ondet’s story
This week’s #BlogSmallJoys post is by Elise Ondet, and it’s a really beautiful example of how sometimes the joys we find are in the strangest of places buried in what perhaps seems less-than-joyful.
On September 16th, I had a surgery. A fibroid the size of… well, which fruit has an 18 centimeter diameter? A watermelon? Anyway, a big, big fibroid. One of those that bring doctors and surgeons into your hospital room to tell you that they’ll remember this case. I had had this fibroid in my stomach for more than 2 years, when it was detected last December.
Having this huge thing in my body was weird. I looked pregnant, and the only clothing that fit was maternity wear. By the time my surgery came, I looked like I was 5 months along. Every week, people asked me how far along I was, or offered me their seats in the subway. Also, I couldn’t jump, run, I was going to the bathroom every hour, just like a pregnant lady. However, every month, a cruel reminder that I was not pregnant was back – my periods were crazy heavy. As in, once the iron depletion led me to the ER because I had almost passed out.
It’s an odd thing to have a baby grow into your body. It’s an odder thing to have something grow in your body that makes you look like you’re growing a baby, reminding you every day of how you felt when you were pregnant, but you’re actually not having a baby. For 9 months, it felt like my body was growing an alien and I was helpless at controlling anything.
I couldn’t wait for the surgery. I was terrified by the surgery.
You see, 25 years ago, at the same age than I am now, my mother had the same surgery. But there was an issue with her anaesthesia and she barely woke up. She stopped breathing and her brain didn’t get oxygen for 1 second? 3 seconds? 10 seconds? We will never know. For a little while, we didn’t know whether she would wake up. Then we didn’t know whether she would wake up with all her brain capacity (she thankfully did) or brain dead, or any stages in between.
I cried at night, I talked with my husband about how I wanted to be disposed of after my death (“do whatever you want, whatever you need. I will not be there, so I want you to do what will help you heal”). I talked about how I felt that my two boys still needed a mom, but had received enough love to last them a lifetime, to feel secure in the love I had had for them, if I ever were to die. I also revelled in the relationship I had with my husband, falling in love with him over and over again.
The surgery came. And went. Now two months later, I am alive and well. I can’t play soccer with my sons just yet, but I’ve almost totally recovered.
I want to remember. Mine was certainly not a life threatening disease, but I somewhat felt I was in those shoes. I want to remember how I used my terror to have important conversations with my husband, how we’ve opened up to each other even more than we had through our 17-year relationship. I want to remember how I hugged my children, kissed them good night as if it was the first time. I also want to remember the vulnerability I felt while I was recovering. I felt like a frail 90-year old for a really long time. Going outside my home was scary. But people were adorable, helpful, patient. I want to keep in touch with that vulnerable person to show more empathy around me. In our cities, with our busy lives, it’s easy to forget, oversee weaker people around us. I am hoping I will be more aware now.
I don’t want to say that I am thankful for my crazy hormones who grew such a crazy tumor in my body. But I am thankful of what I’ve learned through the process. I have now millions of small joys every day as it’s made me, my relationship with my husband, my children and my mother, stronger.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take this soccer ball out and see if, maybe, I am actually ready to do a few dribbles with my kids.