Grace Under Pressure Before a Double Mastectomy

The closer I get to this surgery (now T minus 6 days), the harder it is to handle my stress. I lay awake at 2:30 in the morning counting off the things that need to be done before I have limited use of my arms, and attempting to avoid thinking about how afraid I am of anesthesia.

When I wake up, my dread feels like it’s sitting on my chest, making it hard to breathe. I’m living minute to minute, trying not to break down in tears. It takes 16 minutes to drive my daughter to school, during which I’m trying to find the joy in her singing instead of letting the noise totally overwhelm me.

Because right now, I am easily overwhelmed – and it’s not just the noise. The cluttered state of my small house is hanging over me like a black cloud. I am obsessing over getting a storage space and moving the excess out as soon as possible. There’s too much stuff to do and not enough time to do it in, and I’m fighting the feeling that I honestly have no idea what I’m getting myself into, so I’m probably missing something necessary on my to do list.

Distractions help a ton, and my friends have been doing a great job (especially my friend Liz, for whom I am eternally grateful). But as soon as I’m alone — which has been inevitable, because I am still a single mom, technically — the anxiety comes rushing back immediately. I’m a relatively independent person, so my clinginess to other people is hard to get used to and is making me feel insecure. The good news is that my mom came last night, and Bear is here, so I won’t be alone again (even if it requires handcuffing one or both of them to the coffee table, which I’m not above doing).

People have been genuinely wonderful to me. Yesterday a co-worker sat me down, looked me in the eye, and asked me what he could do to help me. And he meant it.

So I did the only logical thing – I cried.

My reason for sharing this emotional roller coaster is not to garner sympathy or pity – in fact, I really really don’t want either of those. I just want to share what this experience has made me aware of, which is that we truly have no idea what other people are going through.

On the outside, I look totally normal – just another working mom dropping her 7 year-old off at school. To most of the other parents, I look the same  as I did last year. For those who know what’s going on, I look like I’m handling it all surprisingly well. Obviously that’s not entirely true.

I am choosing to share this experience, but a lot of people don’t tell anyone; they keep their struggles inside or only share with a small group of people. It’s a reminder to me, and hopefully to everyone, to be kind to everyone you meet.

Though full disclosure: if you make eye contact, I might start crying. Don’t be alarmed.

The bouquet of mini roses in the featured image is from my wonderful group of bees, who have totally lifted my spirits. Thanks guys.

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