Thursday, April 29, 2010

the scoop, part six

Where was I? Oh yeah, simplicity. Hah!

When I realized that my life was SO FAR from the ideal of simplicity everything came grinding to a halt. I kept trying to write because I had this deadline looming, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. (Disappointing people is the worst thing you can do and you'll probably go to hell for it for crying out loud!) I kept on pushing and pushing even when my body started to push back. It started pushing back in the form of headaches and sleeplessness. My thinking became more confused. I would sit for long stretches of time staring at the blinking cursor on my computer screen, but nothing came to mind except a rush of tangled thoughts.

Then, little by little, breathing became an issue. I didn't notice it too much at first. I yawned all the time, and I thought, "Well of course I'm yawning more than usual: I'm not sleeping." But then I started feeling a constant pressure in my chest, like my ribs were crowding my lungs, and I began to breathe in big gulps of air all the time. It was the kind of breathing that someone does when they are swimming in choppy water and starting to sink under the waves. The way I was breathing reminded me of something

(something terrible from a long time ago)

but I couldn't think about THAT.

So I quickly distracted myself and kept pushing and pushing and pushing. And I kept getting sicker and sicker and sicker.

Eventually the breathing thing got bad enough to land me at my doctor's office. She explored a few possibilities and then sent me to get a chest CT. She wanted to rule out a pulmonary embolism. I went directly to the hospital and had the scan and they made me wait there until they could call my doctor with the results. I waited for a couple of hours and she finally called.

Her voice sounded tinny and thin to me. She said, "Well, you don't have a pulmonary embolism, but there were some findings. You have multiple lesions throughout your right lung that are different sizes and have different characteristics. You also have several lesions on your thyroid and one on your breast. You're going to have to have a mammogram and see an endocrinologist and a lung specialist."

None of that sounded very good to me.

I could go on and on with this next part, but I'll spare you. Let's just say that things were not looking very good, and for about a week and a half I thought I was a goner. But at the end of a lot more procedures and appointments everything turned out fine. Kind of. I was still breathing like a crazy person, but I wasn't going to die. And you want to know something? Thinking you're going to die has a strange way of putting some things back in order. But I still couldn't write and I still felt horrible.

My doctor thought that the breathing problems were stress-related and wanted me to see a therapist. As a person who counsels other people I knew this was a good idea and I dreaded it like nothing else. I made the appointment and we got to work gutting me. At least that's what it felt like. He fairly quickly started poking around in


(the thing in my history that I was hoping to avoid for the rest of my life or longer).

I gulped some more air and wished I was dead.

At some point (the order of all this is a little fuzzy to me) I ended up taking a leave of absence because I just couldn't keep going anymore and I thought a break might help. The leave started in mid-December and I was scheduled to return at the beginning of February. I thought maybe if everything else was out of the way I'd be able to write again (yes, I was still clinging to that hope) and maybe put my past behind me. But things didn't play out the way I planned.

Not by a long shot.


  1. Oh my, Terri!! What in the world?!

    It's amazing what your body will do when you're not getting what you need, and when stress piles on top of you like (pardon the cliche, but it works) a ton of bricks. Lesions everywhere, not getting enough air. Drowning. Your body was self-destructing.

    Makes my chest feel tight just thinking about it.

    I love that how as a counselor, you know the value of counseling but also dreaded it like nothing else. Ironic, but not. You know what it's about, you probably had a darn good idea of where it was going. And you had to deal with THAT.


    You're obviously still here, and writing about it now, so I'm still here waiting to hear about the steps that brought you to where you are now.

    Love you, lady.


  2. YIKES, Terri! The body's ability to stop. us. in. our. tracks. scares me sometimes. And the sensation of drowning . . . *shudder*

    I love that you're still here, telling us this story. I'm grateful for your life and your voice.

    Love you!

  3. kirsten & sarah: wanna know something weird? just the act of remembering this and writing about it got me breathing all herky-jerky. can't wait to get closer to now. "then" kind of sucked.

    thanks for listening. *cleansing breath*

    love you both.

  4. oh yeah, i remember that...


    you are such a gifted story teller mom. thank you for doing the hard work of sharing yourself here. it's blessing me and it's clearly blessing a lot of other folks as well. keep it up. I LOVE YOU.

  5. my breathing just got a little weird reading this. what a crazy and amazing time...

    love you t.

  6. danny: yes, that did suck. i'll never forget your presence when i was sick honey. you were so sweet to me. i got to see such a tender side of your heart (it's always pretty tender, but this was special.) love you so much.

    mia: thanks for all the ways you were there for me. and still are. love you.