…The Doors hit from 1967 was blaring in the operating room as I lay down to have epidural steroid injections in my back. It was a good thing that the music was loud so it would drown out the sound of my heart beating against my chest. It’s been seven months since my last procedure. I usually have the injections every 3 months but thanks to COVID…well you know the drill.
I didn’t sleep well the night before and was feeling extremely anxious. I don’t do well in “hospital” settings since being diagnosed with cancer. They call it white coat syndrome, but in my case it’s the coats, the masks, the sights, the smells and the anticipation of pain. A lot of pain.
“Do you suffer from high blood pressure?” the nurse asked as she looked at the readings on the machine.
“Only when I come here,” I said jokingly, trying to breathe and not start crying. I could feel the tears forming in my eyes and prayed they didn’t topple over and start running down my face. I knew once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I felt nauseous and clammy and very shaky.
“We’re ready for you now Patti. Follow me”, the nurse said as she made her way towards the operating room door.
There is something very surreal about walking into an operating room and having to climb up onto the table to await your fate. It’s like walking to an execution, your own, but with hopefully a better outcome. As I lay face down on the table, trying to find a position that was “comfortable” and that I could still breathe with my mask on, I tried to calm myself. With my face pushed down into the operating table I could no longer see what was happening around me and was feeling very exposed and very vulnerable. I could hear the surgeon, technician and nurses talking. I could smell and feel the antiseptic solution being rubbed over my lower back. And with that, I knew what was about to happen.
Breathe, I kept telling myself. You are going to be ok. You’ve been here before. You’ve been this anxious and scared and it didn’t break you. Focus on the music and not the pain.
You know the day destroys the night Night divides the day Tried to run Tried to hide Break on through to the otherside Break on through to the otherside Break on through to the otherside
As the first needle went into my spine I felt my body tense. With each manipulation of the needle; with each injection; with each shooting pain, I just tried to breathe and focus on the music.
Fu#k I wish I could break through. To be on the other side of this journey. To be without pain. To be free of anxiety and doubt and fear. To be someone that is strong and self assured. To be someone I am not!
Yesterday was a bad day. We all have them. Some of us a bit more than others but we all have them. Today will be better. And hopefully the day after, better still. I can’t focus on the bad days. I have to cherish the good days. This year, 2020, has been a rough year for us all. With Covid-19, isolation, fear, anxiety and despair has affected us all. It has tested our resilience and it has left an indelible mark on all our lives….much like dealing with cancer.
Together we will get through this. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s scary. But we will break through to the other side!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.