Last night I looked at my husband and asked, “How can we be sure this isn’t some kind of mistake?” The truth is, I still find it hard to accept. I know that’s my coping mechanism, the way my brain handles a crisis. I put things in boxes and close the lid. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what’s unpleasant. This is that in the extreme.
We spent the day yesterday organizing and rearranging the boy’s room. Sometimes a slight shift of the furniture, a new display shelf, a box of things sent up to the attic can make everything else feel better. I want to rearrange the furniture in the living room, but it’s one of those rooms that I can’t figure out what to do with.
I need everything to be in its proper place. I want to box up the clutter, wipe all the surfaces clean. In the literature given to me by the surgeon, it suggests moving items you use every day to a “waist-high” location. I won’t be able to reach for anything and I won’t be able to bend. I can’t imagine where to begin on that one. It sounds like clutter to me. And clutter makes me nervous.
A few days after being diagnosed, I went to Staples and bought a three-ring binder and dividers. I made a section for each of my doctors, for the insurance company and added an envelope to hold the CDs of my mammogram, sonogram and MRI films. I sat down with the three-hole punch and a highlighter and put everything in it’s proper place. The binder comes with me to all my appointments — the binder and the journal I’ve been taking notes in.
It’s still about four weeks to my surgery date. Four weeks and nine medical appointments. It’s not easy to put all that in a box and close the lid, but it’s the only way I can move forward. I can’t think too much about any one piece of it. The only thing I can do is rearrange furniture and sift through the clutter, put my house in order. There is so little happening that is within my control, these little tasks keep me moving. As I add documents to my binder and carefully pack away the Christmas decorations, I see myself on the other side of this.
In the absolute chaos of this diagnosis, it is the only thing I know how to do.