It's funny. There are so few moments in our lives where we can pinpoint the exact day, hour, minute that changed the course of our lives.
We remember the big things; our birthdays, graduations, weddings. But making that left instead of a right, zigging when we should have zagged, those moments go unnoticed at the time, and sometimes disappear for good without ever being acknowledged. Sometimes, we know the moment happened, because we feel the after effects, but we never know when it happened.
I don't know the exact moment that it was set into motion, when that little seed was planted or began to grow, but I do know when our lives changed, when my life changed.
When I think about it, it's never thinking about when my life changed, that's not how I refer to it, how I think of it. It's almost as if I don't want to give it any recognition. Instead, I look beyond it, around it.
I remember the last time my life was normal, felt normal. I remember the last time I didn't feel so afraid, or so angry or so overwhelmed. And then, then I remember the moment our lives changed.
On February 23, 2010 at approximately 2:45 p.m. my life, our lives, were changed forever.
I remember it as though it was yesterday. He had not been feeling well for quite some time, for months really, and after rounds of antibiotics to cure what the doctors thought was diverticultis, a trip to the emergency room, and a CT scan, a colonoscopy was scheduled. It was scheduled for Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 2 p.m.
My husband, like most men I know, doesn't do well with needles, or tests, or hospitals and so going to the hospital was ranking at the top of his anxiety meter. Despite having gone through the procedure myself years ago, my reassurances were of little comfort to him. So, when we arrived at the hospital, we were late, and I had to leave the car in the drop off/pick up area till I could get him settled in.
His was the last appointment of the day and so they were waiting for him when we arrived. He was quickly changed and set up with his IV. The nurses had told me it would take about an hour and showed me the post-procedure recovery room where I could wait for him. So when he padded down the hallway to the exam room in his hospital gown and booties, I went to go park the car.
I had brought some study material to read for a midterm I had the next day, thinking that I could make use of the hour I had to wait. I parked the car, paid the attendant and was making my way back when my friend J called me on the phone. We were talking as I returned to the recovery room waiting area and I saw my husband's gastroenterologist walking down the hall in my direction. Admittedly, I was quite surprised to see him. It had only been 10-15 minutes since my husband had gone in to the exam room for a procedure that was supposed to be an hour.
So, I called out to the doctor and asked him if there had been a delay in the procedure. He answered that there was no delay, that he was already done. J, hearing this and knowing it was about to go south, said she would give me a chance to talk to the dr and to call her back when I had a moment.
I asked him how the procedure went and he guided me into a corridor where we stood between two open doors and he told me that they had found a growth the size of an orange in my husband's colon. It was so large that it had almost completely obstructed him and had made it impossible for the scope to go past. The doctor said that he had taken some biopsy material, but that he thought it was most like a tumour. It looked like cancer.
I remember feeling completely numb, trying to pay attention to everything he was saying as he explained that he had asked a surgeon colleague of his to come in and give a second opinion. He said that he had arranged for the surgeon to see us that afternoon which as we all know is almost unheard of. I remember asking him what else it could be, when I finally felt it.
The words finally sank in. Cancer. Cancer?
It was as though I had been punched, full force, in the stomach. And I had been. I had been hit by a life wrecking ball; a wrecking ball the size of an orange that did more damage than those 10,000 kg ones they demolish mammoth casinos with, and in less time.
I burst into tears and my legs gave out beneath me. I was winded, gasping for air, unable to breath. My left hand covering my mouth in an attempt to harness the yelp escaping my lips. My right arm reaching out for the door frame for support as I crashed, collapsing to the ground.