I’ve been waiting until after the weekend to talk about this because my mom certainly doesn’t need anything else to worry about right now, but it’s just too crazy to not share here on the “story of my life.”
Last Tuesday I went to the dentist because of some pain I’d been having in my jaw and back behind my bottom right teeth, where my wisdom tooth used to be—five-plus years ago I had my wisdom teeth removed after dentists discovered a cyst around the bottom right one. My surgery was scheduled immediately after that discovery and all 5 of those bad boys were removed (the four teeth plus the scary cyst).
So a couple weeks ago, when I began to have pain and swelling in that same spot where I once had the cyst, I was pretty concerned and set a dentist appointment right away. And then I worried. And worried and worried and worried. Because before my last surgery, doctors had warned me that there was a small chance the cyst could contain cancer, and they would have to biopsy it. Well, nothing came of that, but of course your mind goes crazy on you, especially after watching all that Edd and my family has suffered.
I waited the couple of days for my appointment and then went in, at which point x-rays were taken and my dentist proceeded to SCARE THE LIVING HELL OUT OF ME and basically say, “oh my gosh, you have an enormous cyst and need to see an oral surgeon, like, TODAY, because basically you might either die or have to have your jaw cut out and your face reconstructed.”
Ummmm, whaaaaaat?! (and OK, so those weren’t his EXACT words, but it’s what I heard in my head.)
While quietly coming to terms with my untimely demise (AKA having a near inward panic attack), I headed over to the surgeon to discuss my death and/or facial reconstruction. I had 3D x-rays taken, which clearly showed what would appear, to the untrained eye, that I have an enormous hollow gunshot wound to the face/AKA a giant hole in my jaw (which is actually a bone cyst).
Long story short, I was wildly relieved to be told that I’m probably not going to die or have half of my face cut out, and this cyst is likely something called an OKC cyst, a type which is likely to recur if you don’t get every teeny bit of it out the first time. My surgery is set for TOMORROW (Tuesday!) and it will be similar to having a wisdom tooth removed.
So. What have we learned here today, kids? Well, not to mess around when you have pain and feel like something might be wrong, of course, but let me also tell you a little bit about what went through my head during the moments between when my dentist gazed up at my x-ray and said, “I have bad news for you,” and when the surgeon told me, “don’t worry, everything will be OK.”
Here is the progression of thoughts that were bouncing around in my head: “How am I going to tell my mom if this is something really serious? And poor Matthew doesn’t need the stress of a dying and/or disfigured wife… Well, at least if I survive this, it’s the right side of my face that will be effed up…. That’s my ugly side. Also, if I die, the plus side is that I’ll never have to live without Gracie and Cooper… I was dreading that anyway… holy crap, what if this is really cancer. What if I really die…”
And I can’t even describe to you how real my fears were in that moment, how unknown the future was to me, how many crazy scenarios were playing out in my head. And you know what? I wish I could bottle those feelings and give them to each and every one of you. It would be a gift, and as odd as that sounds, I completely mean it.
When suddenly faced with your own mortality and the very real possibility that you won’t live to be 90 like you planned, or maybe not even to 30, it’s like every priority in your life falls magically into place. You see, with absolute clarity, the blessings in your life and how you take them for granted. You see, with painful clarity, the flaws of your character and how easy it would be to turn them around, if only you were given a little more time. Everything that’s important steps forward and everything that isn’t steps back. And I wish I could give that gift to you, and I hope that I can hold on to it. It really is a beautiful thing.
Now I know I’m not completely out of the water yet, and of course I’ll give you an update as soon as I can tomorrow or Wednesday (Twitter peeps usually get first updates, so follow me there if you’d like), but I just wanted to share all this with you before going in tomorrow. I seriously urge you to take a few moments and just try to simulate that feeling of realizing you could have very little life left, and what would that mean? What would it change?
Hope you all have a really nice Monday. Sorry for the “heavy” post so early in the week, but it needed to be said. :) Now here’s a completely unrelated cell phone picture that might make you smile: