Saturday, March 10, 2012

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat,..."

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a love sickness." - Robert Frost.

Life has been, well, busy - details in previous blogs. I try to put on my oxygen mask first, I really do, but something always falls through the cracks. Things like mammograms. 

Mammograms, with ultrasounds that I'm suppose to get every six months, mammograms that my gynecologist sends me sternly worded letters via registered mail to go do - Now. Reminders that kept getting bumped by my more immediate needs. I had good intentions, I was going to book the tests, I was, as soon as I had some time. I need to go for the extra squeezy scans, and 30minute ultra sounds, and I just never found the block of time. That is until last Friday night.

It had already an emotional evening, and was past midnight when I was going to bed for the fifth time, and that's when I found it, the lump in my right breast, cozied up near the lymph nodes. One of the advantages of going through very stressful, emotionally draining times is that there is little energy left for panic, or guilt about lumps that you don't think were there last week? month? I looked up at my bedroom ceiling and said "REALLY?" to no one in particular.

I went to bed, too exhausted to obsess. Before I opened my eyes the next morning my first thought was "I have a lump in my breast". I checked, yes, it was still there. I spent ten minutes staring at the beige ceiling wishing I'd painted it, then I could have a colour to stare at. I thought about pretending I didn't find anything, that it was just another cyst, that I shouldn't waste anyone's time. Then I sat up and called my doctor. I told them I found a lump, they said come in this afternoon. 

I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and thought this how someone with a lump in her breast looks. I imagined myself without breasts, scars running across my chest; I imagined myself without hair. I have a lump. That thought permeated everything I did that day. I asked one of my kids to unload the dishwasher and added in my head, "and, I have a lump". My brain shouted it to each person I saw, "Dry cappuccino please - did you know I have a lump?". I was fascinated how everyone was acting like it was a perfectly ordinary day. I thought about the months I let slip by without getting that mammogram. I told myself I had been too busy, but that was only half true, I was tired of being poked at, I just wanted to go for a spell where I didn't have to wear a damn hospital gown, where I wasn't a specimen.  Then I thought I won't see my kids get any older than adolescence, and I hated myself. 

Soon enough I was in my doctor's waiting room, then after being weighed and measured I was laying down in paper gown that opens in the front being examined by my doctor. Dr. Fitzgerald is the first doctor I've had who is younger than I am, and we joke around a lot, he's seen me through a major car accident, liver failure, pneumonia, hip surgery... and we always manage to find some bit of humour to break things up a bit, so when he said you need to see a surgeon right away I thought he was joking and actually started to laugh. Then I saw his face. 

So now I have been for the mammogram, all eight views, with stickers attached and the lump marked. I've had the ultrasound that mapped it's location and size. I spent two hours in freezing rooms wearing a paper gown while technicians spoke encouragingly to me. Now I wait. On Tuesday I see the surgeon. On Tuesday I will know what my next step will be. 

Until then I think about my body, my breasts. I remember  the touch of a lover's hand and wonder if I will feel that again, about the years of nursing my children, about what makes me beautiful and what makes me a woman. 

Corpo de Mujer

Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos,
te pareces al mundo en tu actitud de entrega.
Mi cuerpo de labriego salvaje te socava
y hace saltar el hijo del fondo de la tierra.

Fui solo como un túnel. De mí huían los pájaros
y en mí la noche entraba su invasión poderosa.
Para sobrevivirme te forjé como un arma,
como una flecha en mi arco, como una piedra en mi honda.

Pero cae la hora de la venganza, y te amo.
Cuerpo de piel, de musgo, de leche ávida y firme.
Ah los vasos del pecho! Ah los ojos de ausencia!
Ah las rosas del pubis! Ah tu voz lenta y triste!

Cuerpo de mujer mía, persistiré en tu gracia.
Mi sed, mi ansia sin límite, mi camino indeciso!
Oscuros cauces donde la sed eterna sigue,
y la fatiga sigue, y el dolor infinito.

Vente poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada - Pablo Neruda, 1924   

Body of a Woman - translation

Pablo Neruda
Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like a world, lying in surrender.
My rough peasant's body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I was lone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and nigh swamped me with its crushing invasion.
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of the breast! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of the pubis! Oh your voice, slow and sad!

Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road!
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst flows
and weariness follows, and the infinite ache.


ProfessorMomofThree said...

{{Hugs}}. Please keep us updated. Hoping years of nursing provided the insurance it's said to...

Callooh said...

thanks Cheryl.

let's hope, but it's also suppose to protect kids from asthma, which two of my children have...

ProfessorMomofThree said...

Yes, and it's also supposed to protect from IBD (A was diagnosed at 3). (And the IBD argument -- and a diagnosed 3yo -- failed to remotely persuade a NICU doc B had... sigh. Thankfully, nothing diagnosed in B or D yet.)

Hoped to send you real-life hugs today, but didn't catch you.