Yesterday was emotional for me. I kept thinking about the idea of independence and what it means to be free. It’s a glorious, miraculous, beautiful, scary thing to be free. But I am not. Not truly. Not anymore.
Some of my fondest memories are of driving home from college for long weekends and holidays. That six-hour road trip meant hours of quiet reflection peppered with my favorite music and stops along I-35. A girl and her car. Nothing better.
Even now, after 14 years of marriage, my hubby wubs knows I need the freedom to hop in the car, go to a bookstore, a friend’s house, a coffee bar, or even – up until recently – out of town.
The 30-minute trek to work every day is not easy. I am acutely aware of each mile that separates me from safety. With Meniere’s Disease, driving can be scary. Attacks sometimes come suddenly. A once-clear road appears blurry and the traffic melds into a kaleidoscopic crayon soup on blacktop.
Thank God, my attacks have come in “convenient” locations: work, home, a friend’s house, in public but surrounded by friends. I haven’t experienced an attack while driving. Yet.
That “yet” shackles me to fear, keeps me from true freedom. No key exists to release me.
A couple of weeks ago my mom was experiencing stomach pain – bad enough she had my dad take her to the ER. She’s a tough, strong woman, so I knew the pain was excruciating. Doctors ran tests and found tumors on her ovaries. They loaded her with hydrocodone, sent her home, and scheduled her for a hysterctomy. Like most of the women in my family, she is allergic to hydrocodone. After dry-heaving for several hours (and exacerbating the pain), mom had dad take her back to the ER. The hospital admitted her and rehydrated her, then took her into surgery. When the docs opened her, they found cancer on her ovaries. Two of the tumors had burst spraying cancer into her abdomen. After tests, the oncologist said it is stage three ovarian cancer.
She sees her doctor today for the four-week post-surgery check-up. Tomorrow she gets her portacath. Monday she starts chemo.
I want to be there. Would give anything to be there. But I can’t go. It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive and one I can’t make alone.
Independence: America = 1; Me = 0.