One of my fellow authors in the Fairfield Library Writer’s Group reminds me, at regular intervals, that “There’s not enough of Jane” in the piece I’ve just shared. “We want to know what you feel,” she tells me, with an encouraging smile. I know what she means. I often tend to write as if I’m reporting on an event. It comes from all those years of writing business letters to some man— always a man—about a contract or technical issue to do with airfoils or other parts of a jet engine.
There was never anything personal in such a letter. I certainly didn’t want it to sound as if a woman had composed it. I never wrote of feelings, of course, but also no descriptive words — just the facts. My standards of letter writing were higher than most of the engineers who attempted to communicate on paper. I would either correct their grammar, or cringe and let the poor composition go.
Today, I feel pulled to write about my fear for my daughter. I know I can’t write from a distance, because the emotion has taken over my being so much that my body hurts. Often, I push the distressing thoughts away. I need to keep my emotions under control so I don’t cry during a choir rehearsal or when I lead a business meeting.
Until today, I thought about her upcoming surgery about five times an hour. Now it’s more frequent. I manage to nudge such thoughts out of my consciousness because I have to hold myself together. Even so, I cannot stop them. I have a lot of work to do before Thursday, the date of her surgery. Too many people count on me.
Fear, Anxiety, Worry. I feel them all myself, but mostly for my daughter. When my emotions attempt to overwhelm me, I force myself to think of how this surgery will improve her life. She’ll be seizure free, her depression should improve and she’ll be able to drive. That alone will give her the freedom to go where she longs to, a job, to visit other people, to a store.The results of this nine hour operation, performed in an MRI machine, by two superb surgeons, should make her life truly new.
The incision will be small – only a drill through the back of the skull, to allow the laser into the brain. Her earlier surgery, performed five years ago, was before this new technique had been developed. This recent procedure has been done at Yale only three times before on patients with seizures, but I keep reminding myself that the same method has been used successfully in treating brain cancer. The MRI will more accurately pinpoint the location of the old scar tissue in her brain and the laser will focus on the smaller area that needs to be removed. If it all works out perfectly, she should be seizure free.
Thinking of this goal and how it really is possible makes my shoulders relax and sometimes a small smile creeps onto my lips. I desperately want her to have happiness and freedom to expand her life and be active in a way she now can’t, dealing with almost-daily seizures.
I contemplate this dramatic improvement, which I have every reason to expect will take place, but then concern about a possible bad outcome creeps into my awareness. Too much fear pushes aside the optimism I attempt to keep foremost in my mind and I inch closer to the precipice of panic.
As I think about my daughter, who I so hugely love, there’s no pressure on me to keep a calm demeanor. All there is before me is the time before the operation takes place. How many hours will I sleep, before she is sedated? How many breaths will I take before the operation begins? I don’t want her to read this until afterwards, so I’ll wait to post on my blog. I’ll wait until I speak with her in the Intensive Care room. I’ll wait until I hear her say, “Hi Mom” and curve her lips in that sweet smile I love to see.