8 March 2012

Recovery Road Trip

I was prepared as I could ever be. For two weeks, I’d been listening to my Guided Meditations at least twice a day. All my free mental moments were spent conjuring up images of  the happy places I’d been, and filling my belly with sunlight.

Plan A
Knowing that I couldn’t wear a wig or lipstick in the operating room, I’d painted my toe nails bright red so that I would still look like a lady. The night before, I’d gone to a yoga class, followed by a massage, and a last blast of guided meditation. My two brilliant wing men (wing people) Jim and Joanne were there to escort me to the hospital. And when I was finally changed into my cap and gown, it was Deborah, my all-time favorite surgical nurse on the planet, who was there to greet me.

It was only 8 am as she walked me into the operating room. We chatted a bit about her upcoming trip to Arizona where she has a time-share. I know she was doing this to keep my mind busy, and I appreciated her efforts. She also introduced me to the bodies in the room, none of who were recognisable behind their masks. Over in the corner Dr Escargot was texting on his iphone. (At least I hope he was texting – he might have been playing video games). But we’d spoken earlier that morning, and had already said our hellos.

Plan B
So I jumped up on the operating table, my mind filled with all my favorite places. Quickly, I tried to summon all my ‘magical friends and allies’ who were ‘proud of my courage’, and who were going to watch over my spirit. I also tried to think of what I would have for lunch, after I woke up and ‘calmly and comfortably’.  Then settling down, I tried to evoke images of all the places I love to be. My favorite rocks, deck chairs, birds, and lovely people.

‘Hey!’ said Deborah, ‘Have you ever been to Arizona? That’s a place you and Jim should go’. I told her that we had been there and liked it very much. She said that there’s nothing like the dessert to make the soul feel alive. Being wildly susceptible to suggestion I agreed. Although it did interfere slightly with the delicate tableau that I was trying to establish in my mind, I could picture the red sand and the rich blue sky.

Last Minute Plan
Deborah's cheerful face loomed over me. ‘You should think about the dessert while you fall asleep. You and Jim in a convertible going down the highway’.  Dammit! The whole idea was to stay in the country. It was all I could do not to go to France, and now someone was dangling the Arizona highway in front of me like a big dusty carrot. Also, the drugs from my IV were starting to kick in. The open road was looking pretty good.  ‘Will you come with us?' I asked Deborah sleepily. ‘There’s room in the back seat with Jed.’  She grinned. ‘Sure thing! I’m a dog person too. I’m definitely coming along.’

So there I was, off to Arizona. I didn’t think it would take too much to convince my magical band of allies about the change in plans, because apart from picky eating habits, they seemed up for pretty much anything. So much for careful planning. I was all set for a day with cocktails, lobster, and bird sounds, and I ended up in the front of a Cadillac.

Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I’m a terrible planner. But I make up for it (sort of) by surrounding myself with good people and beautiful places. And though this road wasn’t one I’d planned on, it must have been good, ‘cus I woke up feeling calm, and comfortable, and almost ready to stop for a Corona. Though I settled on an apple juice,  instead.

6 March 2012

Favorite Place

Cape Breton.
Most beautiful place on earth.

My surgery is tomorrow, and I’ve been getting prepared. Belleruth Naparstek, my new best friend, has been guiding me through some meditation. Her voice, which comes through my ipod, tells me that my body (intelligent & vital) and the doctors (caring, confident) will work together to make me strong and whole. In soothing tones she reminds me that bright new cells are lining up to do exactly what they’re supposed to do, and I am completely, and utterly safe. She neglects to mention if any of the doctors are incredibly handsome.

Then Belleruth encourages me to go to a place that I love. It is of my choosing, and can be real, or imagined. Once there, she invites me to look around, feel the sun on my face, enjoy the comfort of a warm breeze, or a cozy fire. The feel of a soft blanket,  the smell of the ocean, a pine forest,  the sounds of laughter, or birds.

This part of the meditation drives me a bit nuts because there are too many choices. At first, I settle down with Earl and Kathleen on the back deck of their house in Cape Breton, and listen to the crickets. The sun is indeed on my face. From the kitchen I hear fiddle music on the radio, and off in the distance, the sound of tires crunching on a gravel road. Earl is telling a story, and is chuckling. I am breathing deeply and with contentment. But wait!  There’s an empty muskoka chair on a dock in Honey Harbour. Dammit! I’m on the move.

I'll be back!
In a split second I go from Cape Breton to my cousin’s dock, where she is laying out lunch for four of our girlfriends, which we will eat while gazing out over the water. Belleruth tells me to breath more deeply, but I’m not even settled into my chair! Would I like a glass of  Proseco? Yes please, that would be lovely. Quickly I try to catch up to Belleruth. I experience the sun on my face, a bird, and the sounds of the popping cork. I await contentment.

At this point I’m supposed to be deep in my favorite place. I try to concentrate on the soft air, and the gentle breeze that blows around me. Is my hair blowing?  (Belleruth doesn’t mention whether or not my hair has grown back, or if I’ve been able to dye it, or if even Cosmo has been available for an an appointment). Perhaps I am barefoot, says Belleruth, and can feel the warm floor beneath my feet. Wait! Warm feet are a great idea, but why not go for warm rocks – the kind that slope gently from Kathy Morgan’s cottage in Go Home Bay. And just as I’m supposed to be going into deeper relaxation I’m zipping off again, where I quickly place myself down on the warm rock between my friends Kathy and Katie, and a delicious plate of cambazola.

Kathleen, Jim, Lobster
By now Belleruth is way ahead of me and is introducing my ‘magical friends and protectors’. Huh? I’m barely settled and have to start all over with the warm breeze on my face. I look for a bird. I haven’t even decided if I’m lying on a towel or directly on the rock, and Katie still hasn’t opened the wine cus she can’t figure out the corkscrew. I lean back and try to inhale sunlight into my belly. (Why didn’t I bring a screwtop?) I should be relaxed, but I’m curious about what Kathleen was making for dinner, and end up back in her kitchen just as Earl and Jim are about to crack into a perfectly chilled lobster claw.

I am not relaxed. Not at all. I have too many favorite places, and my ‘magical friends’ are getting hungry, and one of them is a vegetarian.  But I am happy and grateful that I have so many places I like to be. So I send the vegetarian back to Marilyn’s, and tell Katie to call me when she figures out the corkscrew. In the meantime, I stay in Cape Breton for a lobster dinner, and listen to the rest of Earl's story.