Staring into the Eyes of Fear

Last week, I endured the scariest experience of my life, something I would never wish on anyone, regardless of my saucy opinion of you.

I survived surgery.

I know, I know. A few of you are going ‘eh, she had surgery, so what.’ But please understand my mindset about the whole ordeal. In my 41 years of life, I’ve been amazingly healthy. I’ve only been admitted to a hospital twice in my life, and that was to bear my children.  The first time went swimmingly. After a few hours and some profanity, I shot Little Woman out my vagina without incident. Dude, however, proved to be a bit more difficult, wrapping that cord around his neck ten million times and refusing to come out.

Eh, typical stubborn Italian!

So there I am, rushed off to the OR for an emergency c-section, drugged out of my mind and in fear of my son’s life. They could’ve easily said, “I’m sorry Mrs. Scalzo, but we need to remove 2 of your limbs and perform a complete lobotomy” and I would have been ok with it. Meh. Whatever, just save my son.

But this was different. There were no children in harms way, no life-or-death situation to deal with. I had gallbladder stones causing issues. The surgery was completely elective, totally up to me. I could live with these stones for the rest of my life without incident. Or one day, without warning, I could have a full blown attack, possibly while driving with my kids, perhaps causing a major accident and leaving me completely incapacitated to take care of my children or myself. I envisioned it a million times and each time it gave me the shivers.  So I eventually worked up the nerve to call the surgeon to book a date. Boom. Done.

Yet in the weeks leading up to the surgery, right up until the actual moment, here’s what was going on:

*I’m going to die. In the event that I shall have some weird reaction to anesthesia, I informed my hubby, in detail, of the type of service I wish to have. This would include an open bar, Portillios hot dogs, random readings of my blog posts on the podium and laugher. Lots of laughter. Don’t cry for me Argentina, I want you to laugh about all the silly crap I’ve done. Oh, and while I’m lying quietly in my casket, bury me with pictures of my family and a few bottles of my favorite wine.

*Crap, I haven’t seen Paris. When you’re faced with your own mortality, you quickly realize the things you’ve always wanted to do yet never got around to. Like drinking ridiculously potent espresso at a sidewalk café in Paris. Or roaming the hills of Ireland, enjoying a pint (or 3) of beer afterwards. Or shop the streets of London. And the list goes on….

*I’m not ready to let go. See bullet point #2. As routine as my surgery was, I still was expecting the worst. As most of you know I’m a drama queen, so excuse my extravagance.

*Facebook is fucking fabulous. I spent weeks spewing my fears, thoughts and ideals to all of my unsuspecting friends online. And to my surprise, they comforted me in a way I never expected. Sure, I couldn’t see nor touch them, but I can feel them. And that meant more than anything. Their words became the beacon of hope before, during and after my surgery.

*Anticipation sucks. Anticipation can suck your soul and bleed you dry. The unknown can induce such fear to the point of madness. As I was wheeled away into the OR, my hubby gave me a quick kiss and said ‘I love you.’ In our years together, I have never seen any semblance of fear in his face, until now. I couldn’t respond to his affirmation, for fear of breaking down myself. I waved him a quick good-bye and realized, in that moment, I was all alone. When they wheeled me into the OR, I looked around at all this silly people running around in scrubs, counting instruments and reassuring me that everything will be ok. As I hopped my ass onto the operating table, I almost lost my shit. I actually started to tear up and wanted to call Time Out. Somehow, I think the anesthesiologist sensed my fear and quickly engaged me in small talk. I dared her to make me laugh by telling me a joke and dancing a jig. She agreed. And then I was out. Boom. Done.

*The Aftermath. Two hours later, I painfully hopped my ass into street clothes and was on my way home. Hubby took the following 4 days off work to help me, bless his precious soul. Yet what happened between us was a complete dichotomy. As the matriarch of the family, I suddenly became a pheasant. I couldn’t move, eat or pee without assistance. To lower my maternal wall and allow others to help me with everyday tasks was a huge undertaking. And they did so without complaint, without question. Little Woman took care of the dishes in the sink. She vacuumed the house. Dude stroked my face, covered me in gentle kisses, asking to see my Boo-Boo’s at the same time. My hubby would wake at any time of the night to help me out of bed just so I can pee. He would lay next to me while I slowly introduced my system to solid foods. One night, he actually endured a 6-hour chick-flick fest of my favorite sappy movies…now who does that?!?!

A Rock Star, of course. And that he is.

For the first time in a long time, I put my health and well-being in the hands of others. It was a huge leap of faith, but I will be forever grateful of the outcome. I’m still here. Boom.

Sometimes, we just need to take a deep breath, hold out our hands and…..jump.

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