The verdict: wait and see
As this point the doctor is not really sure what her condition is and what caused the debilitating pain, but instead of continuing to prod and poke around and incur further expense, his advice was to be patient and observe any further changes or developments. Since the pain has subsided and there are no other symptoms, he said to carry on with life. We can do that.
So to not incur any more cabin fever, and to help her take it easy, she will go spend a few days with her mom, and not be tempted to lift any cases of wine or heavy dish racks that could have spurred the onset.
As her husband and as a writer, I find that putting my thoughts into words helps me as much as it helps anyone else. When faced with situations beyond our control, I believe it is human nature to reach for something of which we can be in charge. Doing so helps us with our grief and fear that develops as a result. It’s not uncommon to feel the need to clean the house, organize the garage or wash the car because these are ways we can begin to feel in command, while our world continues to cycle out of control.
Over a year ago, when the doctor gave us the devastating news that Karen had cancer, my first impulse when I got home from the hospital was to write about it. I later reflected on why that was my reflexive response, I believe I did so because I needed something to control. I was not able to control the story as it unfolded, but I could at least control the reporting of that story. I was not in authority over the circumstances, but I did hold authority over the words.
Fast forward a year later, when the CAT scan last week showed a suspicious thickening in her abdomen, the levee broke. Fear came flooding in. Frightening thoughts eddied in the flow. I thought we had beaten this. What do I do now?
This time, my first inclination was to go to the grocery store. I am a chef, after all, and food is what I control on a daily basis.
I must have spent two hours there, walking slowly, deliberately through the produce section, past the butcher counter, studying the different colors, shapes, proteins, and the ideas that transpired. It was an oddly calming exercise, and I gave myself the permission to be there while Karen rested in her narcotic-aided sleep.
I spent more than normal that day, and gave myself permission for that as well.
Life pulls us back and forth between these two poles of submission and control. We seek mastery over our domain, all the while knowing that the domain is fragile and tenuous at best, and could be pulled from our hands at any moment. But the tree planted by the water survives the storm. The house built upon the rock remains standing. Likewise, the roots of our soul must stay deeply grounded if a sustainable life is desired.