Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Something's Happening Here

It's six in the morning and I've barely had any sleep. I probably had too much caffeine and sugar yesterday, but that doesn't entirely explain it. I'm having some weird kind of adrenaline rush, unable to sleep, tossing and turning. Finally decided to get up and eat something to settle my stomach, do something to occupy my mind.

But not before I did some girly push-ups in bed.

Why was I doing girly push-ups in the dark next to my sick girlfriend who sorely needs her sleep? I didn't wake her - she's truly out, but here's the reason: I didn't feel anything wrong. I was sleeping with my head turned to the right, woke up and I could feel my entire arm, right down to the tip of my forefinger. And it didn't hurt or tingle. It felt - almost normal.

Maybe not such a big deal, but it was a revelation in the pre-dawn haze for me. I haven't been able to turn my head to the right without experiencing pain or uncomfortable tingling for months. Over just the last two days or so I've been suddenly realizing now and then that I have complete sensation in my fingers. It took a while to sink in, because I've grown so used to numbness that it became normal, second nature. I expected to burn myself on the stove or iron because I couldn't feel it was hot.

So, what's going on here? My surgery is scheduled in less than a week and I am on high alert. All kinds of feelings from relief to resignation to abject fear are going through my mind as I get ready for the barrage of pre-op tests that start later this morning. Is my semi-panic leading to some kind of adrenalized, heightened sensation? Or am I truly, finally getting better? Will I need this surgery after all?

I feel a little foolish to hope I won't need it - afraid to be disappointed - but I can't shake this feeling that there has been marked improvement in my condition over the last few weeks. As I write this, my arm is starting to protest slightly - cramp up in the shoulder and elbow, tingle a touch in the finger. It hasn't been subjected to push-ups in... well, years, for real ones, but even girlie ones for some time because I've been babying it, and certainly wasn't capable most of the time, as it was weakened or throbbing due to nerve impingement. I've scheduled one last appointment to evaluate it with my orthopoedic surgeon and I don't know what to do with myself. How am I going to make it until that time? I am freaking out.

See, it's not just fear of the surgery. It's fear of not having it. For six months I've been dealing with this condition - not to mention the previous years of chronic lumbar episodes. The surgery is/was going to relieve me of it - the pain, the weakness, the tingling. It was going to let me be comfortable again, sleep again, be active again. Moreover,it was going to give me a break - a week or two being forced to rest my body and mind away from the daily grind to re-evaluate my situation, my life. Or just be really high on prescription drugs. It's become more to me psychologically, somehow, than just fixing a misplaced disc in my neck. It's become fixing something deeper - something inherently wrong with me that's been there for some time - the thing that makes me fat, makes me sick, makes me defective. It's become a fundamental change of me - not just from someone who's never been operated on to someone who's been cut and healed, but someone who has purged something and can start anew. It's taken on a whole new emotional symbolism that can't be boiled down to a two-inch scar and a titanium plate in the neck.

It seems like it should be a simple equation. If the doctors tell me I need surgery, I'll just have to get it. Suck it up and move on - nobody likes being cut, bruised and invaded. If they tell me I don't, I dodged a bullet, or maybe a pellet gun. I'm lucky and happy for a few days, and then, again, I go on with my life. But that's just not the way my brain works. For some reason, I've always been more... dramatic. Even if the results - back to the daily grind - are the same.

Well, I'll know in a few short hours - or a few long ones. Right now my shoulder is tightening up in a way that's making my stomach drop a little bit - "don't start dancing, just yet - you may have pushed yourself too hard and it just wasn't hurting you for a while 'cause you babyed it. The flaw is still there." We shall see. I don't know what to expect, am not sure if I should be hoping. But I do know that if I don't need the surgery, I'm going to have to figure out my next steps without the forced detour, the prescribed rest. I may have to take some time off and figure out what it means to suddenly be well and what I want to do with it. And I may have to take a few days off and party or collapse.

I'm scared and nervous, either way.

I definitely had too much sugar and caffeine yesterday.

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