Monday, April 8, 2013

"And it's too late, [boobie], now it's too late."

"How are you doing?"

Lots of wonderful people in my life have been checking in on me, sharing interesting/helpful articles or websites, offering to do this or that, and I have felt overwhelmed by the love. Even little Klaus is being a sweet, good dog almost 100% of the time. (Good boy, Klaus!) I'm feeling pretty blessed these days, frankly.

And what is the answer to the above question, you ask? Usually it is, "I'm fine, right now. Five minutes from now, who knows." And it's true. For the most part, I'm doing fine. My coping mechanisms are in full gear, and for the most part, I am doing fine. But one little thing can set me off. For example, today's mail: one sweet friend sent me a card with a coupon for a massage inside. Her note said something about how much stress I'm going through, and she hopes this would help me take care of my "beautiful body"... and I totally lost it. Then my parents sent a bunch of stuff from home, including a card from the daughter of my recently deceased childhood piano teacher. The daughter mentioned in her note to my parents that Mrs. Comstock had really enjoyed teaching me. "We found this next to her bed," she said, and enclosed a picture of a little poem I apparently wrote in middle school about how music is part of God's beautiful creation. I had framed it in a homemade frame and given it to her. She kept that by her bed all these years!! Said picture of framed poem is now soaked with tears. ComPLETEly lost it on that one, sobs and everything.

Perhaps the better question is not, "how are you doing?" but, "HOW are you doing?" You have seen some of my coping mechanisms - humor is a big one. Thank you to all who have contributed to my list of perks about no boobs - I have gotten some wonderful ones and you have brought me to tears and to giggles, even simultaneously. Or, I was very pleased with myself when I finished my pastor report for the church council tonight with, "I'll keep you abreast of any developments in my surgery plans." I'm hilarious. Or, I've been listening to music and thought some break-up songs might make a good soundtrack to the farewell process for my boobs. Check it out, from Carole King:

"Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time.
There's something wrong here, there can be no denying:
One of us is changing, or maybe we just stopped trying.
And it's too late, [boobie], now it's too late
Though we really did try to make it.
Something inside has died [er, outgrown its welcome]
And I can't hide and I just can't fake it."

If that's not a worthy farewell to boobs, I don't know what is!

So yes, humor has helped me grasp the inevitable. I used it to get through Hodgkin's, now almost 14 years ago, and I'm using it now. I think what it also has done is help me remove myself somewhat from the situation, so I can process it less emotionally. I now find myself able to talk about what's happening very frankly and openly without fully realizing that I am talking about myself and my body. When I actually think about what will happen on that operating table and what I will consequently see when I look in the mirror... then I feel that choking feeling bubbling up. I know I need to feel that emotion, and I do (Michael's wet shirts can attest to that) - just not all the time. But with a way to put that aside when I need to, I'm also able to think through things very rationally, consider the different scenarios, and sort through the options and consequences of decisions. All of this I need to do to feel secure in what is happening. Furthermore, this removal of myself from the dredges of the emotional is really allowing me to compartmentalize and get done what needs to get done. Don't worry, I'm taking it easy on myself, not pushing, yada yada yada. But I'm also not wallowing in a state of depression. I've got a life to live, man, and I'm gonna live it while I can! (I wish it would get warmer so I could have a last hurrah and wear all my more boobalicious shirts one more time!) So, I'm trying to find a balance between really feeling and processing the emotional elements of this, and reasonably sorting through the practical issues at play.

I will say, however, that as adept as I am at laughing my way through this... I'm still pretty pissed, and frustrated as heck. I had plans laid out so carefully for the next months of my life, with our wedding and our timeline for purchasing and moving into our first house, and how church events would fit into all of that... And it's all out the window. Can't a girl just look forward to her wedding, for goodness sake? I hate not being able to even make a plan B - I won't be able to until we talk to the surgeon on Wednesday. I can't plan anything else (for church, for instance), because I have no idea when I'll be out for surgery. Michael tells me one of the gifts that will come from this experience is that it will teach me that it is okay to let go and let things happen without my careful eye watching over them. Hard lesson, but he's right. People's lives will go on just fine while I'm stuck at home recovering, just like they did just fine before I was here.

But it doesn't change how angry I am about my situation. And I will admit to you, God and I are not on great terms right now. We've started to speak again, by necessity as much as anything. But God is not my favorite person these days. Leading worship on Sunday was not the easiest thing I've ever done - it felt forced, to say the least. But I have also noticed that God has tried to make clear that on God's end, the lines of communication are still open. I have seen this in the many wonderful expressions of love from you all. I have seen it in the random strangers who have been so kind, like the lady at the Honda dealership, whom I've met once before and who, when I told her I needed to change my car's appointment to work around doctor's appointments for this new diagnosis, told me she is sending hugs through the phone and holding me in prayer. And not surprisingly, I saw it today as I read through the scripture for this coming Sunday - Psalm 30 gets me every time. I should probably write a whole blog just about that. It might end up being my sermon for Sunday... For now, I will leave you with just this line, which has spoken to me in many distressful times in the past and left me crying alone in my office this afternoon:

You have turned my wailing into dancing;
     you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

Dear God: please hold up your end of the deal. I'm ready for some dancing. Amen.


  1. You rock, Johanna. And I will never listen to Carole King the same way again!

  2. do rock!
    I think dancing should be required right now.
    Turn your thermostat way up, don your favorite boobilicious tops, and DANCE like no one is watching.
    This can and should be repeated often. :)