Tumors & Insomnia


Two binders sit on my shelf, side-by-side. One with the word “Tumor” emblazoned upon its spine, the other labeled “Emotional Tumor.”

The first binder details the tiny tumor that’s perched, quite literally, inside my head. It doesn’t bother me so much, this 1.4x 1.0x 2.7cm mass. It needs to be treated, but the treatment is fairly straightforward. In less than 30 days, it will be taken care of, with a 95% probability of never bothering me again. Sounds promising.

That is when you’re not lying awake anxious, wondering about the black hole that lies within the missing 5%.

In comparison, the headache in my second binder has no end in sight, is relatively unstable, and seems to multiply every attempt I make to move forward. That would be my divorce / custody binder I’m referring to.

It’s hard to say which stress outweighs the other. Usually it’s a tug-of-war fueled by which, in that particular moment, has the most pressing immediacy.

situation: battling insomnia that’s come back to rest in its familiar place

song: In the Long Run, The Staves


“Close Your Eyes”

blue eyesHe walked into the surgical suite hand-in-hand with the anesthesiologist.

Lifted onto the table, he was wrapped up warmly in a blanket.

I stood by him so I could look into his beautiful eyes and soothe him. I held his hand and told him he was going to be ok.

The lights, so bright, they bothered both of our eyes. I told him to close his.

I know how hard that is, to close your eyes, because then you can no longer see what’s happening, you hate to give up what little control you have left.

I smelled the anesthesia. I hate that smell.

It’s one of those scents you can’t describe until it’s there and then you know exactly what it is.

Like chemical bubble gum in a plastic air mask.

I was worried that if I leaned in too close to him, I might breathe it in too and pass out right there on the floor.

Just the thought of that disoriented me for a second, because my mind immediately sprung into panic mode, thinking about what might happen if I couldn’t be there for him.

He tried to fight it. He wriggled and wrestled to get away from it. I tried even harder to keep his eyes trained on me, to stay in his sight so I would be the last person he saw.

I always think about that when I go under.

It’s the nurse who holds my hand or rubs my arm or looks into my eyes to assure me I’ll be ok, that she’ll be there when I wake up.

That’s the last thing I see and the first thing I remember when I come to.

It’s comforting. It’s better than the bright lights.

“You’re going to be ok,” I whisper into his ear.

“Mommy loves you.”

Kiss on the forehead.

He’s out.

I walk away on rubbery legs.

Breathe. Repeat.

Then wait in anguished anticipation.

And pray that my baby will be ok.