All the Lives and Another Surgery Too

At my tech job, we have meetings on Tuesday mornings. There is a trend that when our team lead brings in donuts, it means someone is leaving or some other bad news is abreast. He is trying to change this pavlovian training he has induced on his people by randomly bringing in donuts for no reason. Last week was one of those days. Although folks were skeptical in the boardroom they turned into sticky handed kids once the donuts were in the office kitchen.

There were a couple of donuts left later in the day that I was eyeing as I walked past them. Mostly in longing for the glutenous masses I shall never be able to ingest again. My gaze was caught by my co-worker and he cheered me on “Go ahead! You only live once!” I smiled at him with a chuckle and walked back in the direction of my desk. As I rounded the corner out of the kitchen, with a big grin, I had the distinct thought – “I have lived three times. At least”.

I was thinking of my cancers in that immediate moment. As I do have thoughts that, without modern medicine and the ability to have safe surgeries, I would not be alive. I am on my third life as if I were a cat. I have existed before cancer, through cancer and after cancer. There are differences there I would have never imagined.

Then, I also could ponder that I have been in three states of coupling/not coupled – a heterosexual marriage, a gay marriage and now single. All three states of being, unique in their own right and full of learnings and lessons. They are all three different with varied expectations, rules, perceptions, perceiving, and subcultures. It is also interesting to see how they overlap and can bend into eachothers spheres.

I have been without children, raised children and now parent to young adults. Three very different ways of walking through the world. I would even dare to say different wiring of the brain occurs with each phase. Science has proven that with neuroplasticity. I could ramble on again, about the longest break up ever which is the lead up to the empty nesting. Then I may also be able to experience life as a grandparent and all the perks that come with that. 

Even the maiden, mother and crone regarding the phases of my body. Before puberty, into fertility and now the change being post menopause after my full hysterectomy. To watch my skin change in the past two years has been fascinating. A slower fade, although it still feels too fast. Unlike my stretch marks that seemed to arrive overnight with the pregnancy of my first kiddo. That was a river of tears when I saw my body change in that way. Over the years I came to call my stretch marks my organic tattoos. Ripples like waves on my skin marking that right of passage for me. The stretch marks have been joined by my scar from my surgeries, a dashed line from pubis to sternum. One of the surgeries was when they removed the organ that was my children’s first home. (It is kind of funny if you think about it that way. Address: 1 Uterine Way, Kates Body, Michigan, United States. Directions would be “Take a right at the vulva, to go north.”) The organ that was my children’s home was accompanied by my ovaries that held my hormonal youth. Good bye my old friends. Hello my dear crone, I embrace your wisdom and crepe-y skin with wild relish as I am much more than the skin I am in.

Life is full of mini lives. I am excited for all the renditions moving forward. I am a living document designed to change and be rewritten. I surrender to the journey with a big fucking grin. 

That being said, finally after waiting through two rescheduled appointments I got in to see the surgeon who was recommended to fix my belly! Long story short, after my last surgery in 2020, my abs have completely separated. My scans have shown that my condition has been getting worse over the past 2+ years. I have been holding myself together by the elastic and velcro of a belly band. He said it is not a typical diastasis and he will need to do a little extra to sew humpty dumpty back together again but – IT IS POSSIBLE TO PUT ME BACK TOGETHER!

Waiting for the surgeon.

He is going to put in for insurance to cover it as I have discomfort of a constant stretching sensation at the midline of my belly, I can feel my intestines move (that is super strange), and if I don’t wear my binder my lower back is screaming at me. He is optimistic but I will not celebrate until I hear for sure. Either way, I am very excited to hear that I will be getting surgery to fix it this summer and I am nervous about the surgery. 

It is surgery and my third abdominal surgery. I am not afraid of recovery as I have an amazing community of people that will rally up to help me. I will be taking it easy for a solid two months. No driving. No lifting. No exercising other than walking. I will take absolutely no chances at getting re-injured. It is not worth it. 

My two other major abdominal surgeries were surrounded with big scary things called tumors. My smaller abdominal surgery was to reverse my ostomy so I was super excited and it was a pretty easy recovery. To say the least I was more distracted overall for those surgeries. This time around there is more room to think and hold space for what’s coming.

This surgery sounds like it will be a bit bigger than a bread box. To sew my abdominals back together they will also be making incisions on my sides to release tension to be able to pull my midline together. Then a temporary mesh will be laid over my midline during the healing that will eventually dissolve. The big news in all of this is that I will be losing my belly button!

The doctor asked: 1. if i had a belly button – my answer: yes, in a Picasso kind of way 2. how I felt about the possibility of losing my belly button – my answer: I am alive, I do not care. 

He went on to explain to me what he was planning on doing and why it would be easiest if we didn’t need to deal with that detail. I was a-okay with whatever he wanted to do if it fixed my abs.

Now I am contemplating what I can tell my grandchildren. I could tell them I was raised in a petri dish, or that I was an alien, my favorite – that I am GOD. I would consider the Messiah but they may even have a belly button if we were to really think this one through.

I don’t have a date yet but it will be this summer. My new surgeon is going to consult with another one of my surgeons (wow, I sound super fancy with all my surgeons) to make sure he is thinking about this process the right way and then I will hear back from him. 

Another change is coming. I am excited. I am apprehensive. I am thankful. I am full of gratitude. I am in disbelief. I know I will be well taken care of by my community. I will embrace whatever is to come. I am a very lucky human in all the lives I have lived and all the lives yet to come.

Side Note: My new surgeon does remind me of Mark Sloan from Grey’s Anatomy – “McSteamy” and very down to earth. He is an absolutely lovely addition to my collection. 

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