Wednesday, October 5th. Boob Mash Redux.

The second-look mammogram was quick, thank goodness, and I was quickly escorted next to what I like to call The Ultrasound Experience. They had very kindly warmed the gel/goo they use for EZ gliding of the ultrasound wand, and an extremely intent radiologist was using it like a computer mouse over my right breast.

He was paying attention to my boob in a way that few had before, almost like someone who suddenly found themselves really really interested in highlighting the Terms And Conditions of some product they were about to buy. Except of course, hopefully my breast was way more captivating than that, clinical considerations notwithstanding. He would not speak to me, outside of the basic introduction he’d mumbled when he came in. No eye contact, and I’d had to be the one to initiate a handshake which seemed to rattle him. Great.

But I could hear him. His inner refrain was startlingly clear to me. Surprisingly so, since as a rule I don’t usually take a lot of interest in reading people’s minds. I find it to be a very limiting and shallow use of intuition. If you think about it, it’s very distracting. Imagine going to a movie or the grocery store having to filter out the hum of the constantly inner monologuing crowd around you. I cope with this onslaught by turning the volume on that way, way down. It’s funny because it’s the number one worrisome assumption that people make about Intuitives. Over the years I’ve been asked about this so often — do I, can I, am I — reading people’s minds? Like, right now? —that I really should have a tee shirt made. “Relax. I’m Really Not Reading Your Mind. Really!”.

Plus reading people’s minds rarely offers any kind of truly useful information. Our mind chatter is mostly made up of a constant stream of ego-driven, fear-based directives that are arbitrary, negative, punitive, cruel, (and often the reason we seek a consultation from an Intuitive in the first place).

I’m much more interested in people’s hearts.

This poor doctor had a veritable committee weighing in on the task at hand, ruminating as he was on bullet-pointed instructions about how to comport himself during my exam. It sounded to me like he been to a couple of training seminars, and that the goal was to keep his poker face front and center no matter what. Not one inference or innuendo would be leaking out of him today, thank you very much. No findings nor suspicions would be revealed, not a single expression would cross his face. Not on his watch. He was coaching himself, too: Take a deep breath. Remain calmJust because The Patient is nervous doesn’t mean you have to say anything. Don’t show any expression. Leave nothing to misinterpretation and there’s nothing to worry about. Just concentrate on the task.

Seriously?? This sounded like it was from a manual. And his energy was nervous, scattered and frightened. Had he had a difficult experience with a patient before?

Better to let him know I wasn’t the enemy. God, his job had to be so difficult. So after trying to engage a few times verbally and getting “They’ll go over the results with you but it looks like a biopsy is needed” repeated to me twice, I stopped talking. I felt like crying.

Cue my dearly departed dead guy of a husband clearing his throat. Again. He’d been trying to get my attention a couple of times during the exam but I’d been trying to ignore him. I did not need to start crying right now. He was to my left, in a lovely glow of energy. His hands were trying to “wrap” themselves around my left hand laying at my side. “Look at me,” he said. “Look right into my eyes.” He seemed very concerned that I pay close attention to what he said next. I shifted my weight so I could see him more clearly.

“Listen to me, ok?” he said. “You are fine. You are going to be ok. Say that with me. Focus on my eyes and repeat it. I am fine. I am okay. I am going to be totally okay. I am fine.” Tears filled my eyes as I mentally complied. I felt a little silly. A chuckle caught in my throat as I imagined the poor radiologist’s reaction if I’d said it in my out-loud voice.

Somewhat buoyed, I continued my mental convo with the hub. “Ummmm, Honey? You’re dead, remember? So is there like, someone else I can talk to over there? Someone who remembers what it was like to be human and freaked out? You just got sprung from Gastric Cancer Jail. If I were you I’d be feelin’ mighty fine too.”

He beamed at me.

I am fine. I am okay. I am going to be totally okay. I am fine.

The ultrasound complete, I wiped a tear as I got up from the table, and as I went to get dressed I caught a last glimpse of my husband out of the corner of my eye. He winked at me. He did that thing where he pointed two fingers at his own eyes and then immediately at mine. “I got you”.

I am fine. I am okay. I am going to be totally okay. I am fine.

The biopsy was scheduled for the next day. I was so grateful they could get me in fast. God I was exhausted. Since Mammogram Monday, I’d been forced into the role of moderator at the sudden colloquium that had been convened in my own brain. Evidently this was a “meeting” that was being live-streamed 24/7 on the Sooz Channel, Regarding Recent Developments. It was less studied and reasoned in tone, less a cautious wait-and-see airing of possibilities, and more of a violent fear free-for-all. Nor was it presented from a podium by a series of kindly, calm meditation teachers like myself who brought their own original meditation music which was piped in during the long breaks left for a relaxing pondering of Life’s twists and turns.

Yeah not so much. It was more like the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert I went to in high school where despite my best efforts I was sucked into the mosh pit and got socked in the face. Except instead of dudes and lady dudes just thrashing around for fun, my mind was filled with screaming assholes, heckling the main speaker (me), who was trying her best to calm things down.

I had not slept more than a couple of hours a night for three nights. Occasionally I would remember, “Oh yeah, my kids do really well when I cook them things like dinner”. Against the Punk version of the I’m fine chant, which was keeping up a steady drumbeat in my head — “GODDAMNITIMDEADIMDEADIMDEAD” — I was able to function, but just barely.

I really did try. To stay calm. And I really could not. At all. I continually slogged around in slow motion, distracted. I was doing the same things that I did every day while getting elbowed in the sides by the fearful thoughts all the time. Trying to walk a straight line while getting jostled and poked by scary questions every second it seemed.

A memory from almost twenty years before surfaced: my husband and I reeling with laughter watching a comedian do a bit on what happens when the Australian Parliament goes off the rails, procedurally speaking, which evidently happens from time to time. The normally composed parliamentarians swear and even threaten each other. My mind felt like that. In the face of this riot of fearful thinking, I would begin to sweetly but firmly, in my best kindergarten teacher voice, attempt to call the mosh pit to order and lead a centering mantra chant. The skinheads and punks would look up at me and snicker, and then BOOM, one of them would shout— “Pardon me, but the Right Honorable Member is talkin’ out of her ass!!”.

I felt completely blindsided. I was an Intuitive for fuck’s sake, and exactly what good had that done me?? And when was the last time I’d been blindsided by anything? It just didn’t happen to me much if at all. It used to be a joke with my friends and family, how hard it was to Stump The Psychic. Kind of a bummer actually, if you were into surprises, which my husband and kids were.

By the morning of the biopsy, I’d somehow had the courage to take a deep breath and do a scan on my body. I knew two things intuitively, for certain: whatever was growing in my right boob was not benign, and the — growth — I couldn’t yet bring myself to say tumor — was made up of two different kinds of material. One type, in the center, was concerning. It was activated, “angry,” and unstable. Malignant. The energy that came off of it scared the crap out of me. These cells felt like the biological equivalent of muggers, rapists, perpetrators of hate crimes. The other cells seemed to be making themselves into a casing of sorts, wrapped around the malignancy, but not symmetrically. These cells weren’t as aggressive but they weren’t supposed to be there either. The doctors would be focused on the gooey center mostly. Except this was not a box of chocolates.

This was my life. A life I was interested in living. I had helped my husband die, helped my children survive that loss, and cope with the aftermath, which was not pretty in all the ways aftermaths always are. I’d gone from barely being able to shop for groceries or cook to remodeling a house that was falling apart and traveling the world with my children. I wanted to show my kids what I knew to be true, that we were strong and we would not only make it but thrive. And so far, so good. My kids were still kind and hilarious and doing well in school, and I was starting to feel like myself again. Certainly, I would never be the same self, but that was beginning to feel okay. The light had returned to my eyes and to my world view again.

And now, this? This fuckwad of a bunch of cells that decided to go rogue three weeks before my 50th birthday? Just what I wanted. Instead of being an example of resiliency, I was now the poster child for Could We Catch A Fucking Break, Please, Inc.

I would not understand any of it, the circumstances nor the timing, for several months. But eventually the pieces would fall into place. Contextually it would not only make complete sense to me, but it would change me in ways I really needed to change.

In the meantime, I’d need to get used to mosh pit living. I was abjectly, consistently terrified. I, who had helped thousands of people learn about their intuition, live well, and find the meaning they needed to make lives worth living for themselves, felt bankrupt and confused. I’d thought the point of getting through my husband’s transition was to go on and live my own life, transformed.

But what if the point had been to get me ready for my own death?

I am fine. I am okay. I am going to be totally okay. I am fine.

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