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"It’s brought up a deep, primal desire in me to live or die and it’s brought up very clearly how very fleeting life and the human experience is."
There’s something so very fundamental that shifts inside you when you face your own mortality. I’m not talking about the cognitive knowledge that you will die someday, we’ve all thought about that, but the instant reality that this could be it, that your time is finite and you have a choice whether to fight the good fight or let it take you.
I have certainly always hoped for a peaceful, pain-free death surrounded by loved ones, preferably in nature at a nice ripe old age, but a couple of weeks ago, the word tumour entered my consciousness and my reality as a 41-year-old fit and healthy woman came crashing down.
I went to the doctor after experiencing severe period and back pain and heavy bleeding. I never go to the doctor, partly because it’s too expensive, but also because I tend to trust in the ability of the human body to overcome anything. I don’t even take paracetamol for headaches unless I’m really bad. The doctor probed me and took blood and 24 hours later the nurse called with the results. All I heard was “tumour markers” and I went into a shock. I don’t remember the conversation that followed or how I got home or what happened next. I do remember my 11-year-old telling me to concentrate on driving because I had “spaced out.” Google search brought up a variety of things, ovarian cancer being one of them. Since most of my pain was in my ovaries, I expected the worst.
Long story short, the tumour markers were a sign that something was wrong and an internal ultrasound showed three uterine fibroids or non-cancerous tumours; one that is 6cm in diameter and that I can feel when I lie down. I don’t know yet what this means; whether the fibroids are manageable or if I will have to have surgery to remove them, or uterus or both, or whether there are nutritional, energetic or hormonal treatments that I can investigate.
But what I do know and what it has brought up for me is the fragility of the human body as well as its enormous strength for healing; and more so, my own fragility and enormous strength. It’s brought up a deep, primal desire in me to live or die and it’s brought up very clearly how very fleeting life and the human experience is. Interestingly, I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita at the moment and in it, it clearly states how and when we die is a choice that our soul makes in that moment.
There is an enormous sense of empowerment about this. I felt the power within me to choose to live or choose to die. This whole experience has left me emotionally fragile and the smallest things that I can usually deflect with a deep inner strength, now cause me to collapse into a blubbering mess of emotion. I feel so vulnerable, raw and wide open but I know myself well enough to know that everything will be okay.
I know myself well enough to know that all I need to do is focus on the breath.
I know myself well enough to know that I am strong enough to handle anything the Universe throws at me.
But just not today; today I feel broken, emotionally tired and sad. I just want someone to hold me
in their arms and be the strength that I’m lacking and tell me that everything will be okay.
The thing about health issues is that we have very little control over them except in our diet, exercise and mindfulness. But the reality is none of us know when our time may be up, none of us know exactly how we will die or when, none of us know if a routine procedure will go badly, or if when we are under anaesthetic we might decide that life is too hard to return to.
This whole experience has, and is, taking me to a place of surrender; of my life to what will be. I have no control over a surgeon or how a procedure goes, but I do have a choice in how I respond to the events in my life. I cannot do everything on my own, I need support. I don’t have to be an island.
One day, I will die.
I know this.
I have felt this.
And I have changed because of it.
And that is a good thing. Because just when you think you’ve mastered life, the Universe throws you a reminder that there is so much more you need to learn about yourself.
And I still have so much to learn.
Hug someone you love today and tell them how you really feel.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2016
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