“I am afraid”, I whimper from under the oxygen mask to my husband. He stands before me gowned in blue with a scrub hat and mask on… his hand wearing a latex free extra large glove.. I dreamed of this moment.. I hoped it would be him beside me as we gave birth to our first born, instead I was about to go under anesthesia for over the twentieth time in under two years since the horrid trauma.
My stomach would be cut open, but not to retrieve our new born child. It was about to have many small incisions made in an effort to try and save “Clyde”… my right kidney.. Bonnie and Clyde had lived pretty well in their home of my body for most of my life. Then came October 8, 2011 and they began working harder. Clyde seemed to have been effected with the greatest force and slowly, he was losing his battle to live. In an odd way, knowing my kidney was dying was much like accepting the knowledge that the baby we were trying to create two years ago also lost his or her ability to live.
I dreaded all appointments and procedures for Clyde. He was suddenly that baby I needed to keep. I had begun getting ill. Having some back pains, and over all getting some blood pressure elevation. Since I struggle with tremendous PTSD,we were unsure how to pin point it, so it wasnt until I became quite ill that I was put in for a scan of my kidney.. Bingo.. 20% working..
The first call was crushing “Colleen, your kidney is dying. I think the scar tissue is closing off its ability to do its job and if we dont do something soon, we will need to just remove it”. So, I opted for a ten inch stint to be surgically placed in my kidney that went through the ureter and into the bladder to see how my “function” would change, or if it would. I kept the stint in for about four months. It was brutal. Any chance we could attempt to make love which was already badly slashed was now spat upon.. Every jogging step hurt, as did laughter, sneezing, all of those “belly moving” activities.
I said “I cant take this”, and continued running, cycling, and swimming.. with the permission of my surgeons and crossed over ten more finish lines in those 4 months.. Still unsure of the path for Clyde.. still unable to be whole as a wife, and still struggling with the loss of the child we never conceived.
So there I was laying on the OR table, with nurses holding various parts of my body. Husbands sweet eyes looking upon me, and the anesthesiologist telling me to just “breathe deep”. ”Please dear God, let me wake up.. Regardless if I keep this kidney.. let me wake up again.. let me recover, let me continue to be a wife, a daughter, a friend, and hopefully just hopefully a mommy someday”.
It was almost seven hours later. Just like being in that coma, seven hours of my life were taken and I simply closed my eyes.. Terror began setting in.. As I began to focus, their stood my souls mate. ”Your here my Colleen. So is Clyde. They took care of the blockages, the surgery was a bit more intensive as they planned, but everything worked out well.. rest my love.. I am here”. With that, I closed my eyes feeling his hand on my heart and awoke again an hour later.
Beep.. Beep.. Beep… “Colleen, how are you sweet heart?”, a nurse gazed with big brown eyes into my soul as she held onto my fingers. ”You sure are a strong woman, a light to all of us…” eyes closed… Beep.. beep..beep.
Another hour later.
“My Colleen, how are you? I am here.” Sweet Husband was still standing over me. Finally, I spoke. My body screamed in pain, chemicals danced throughout every cell, but not in the way I love.. (more in that dub step way).
I craved water.. cleansing.. “Dear God, please.. go down into my roots.. make me strong..”
I began visualizing the willow tree that I loved since childhood. Feeling the swaying limbs brushing over my body,lifting up my hair.. breathing in the clean air filtered by the beautiful and tiny silver leaves.. and embracing the way my body contoured into its sprawling roots that climbed above and below the ground..
When I was in my early to mid twenties I connected with my “adult willow tree”. It was along the side of the road enroute to one of my favorite hikes on Camels Hump Mountain. Throughout the seasons I would drive past this tree that stood on the side of a country road by a large barn and farm stand.. it was tall, and graceful, beautiful, strong.. and with each season is seemed to sway in song.. rather unwavering. Until one season, I drove past and it had been chopped down. Apparently due to its sprawling root system, it became too invasive. It was shortly after that I knew my first tattoo would be that of a willow tree.
The next several days and nights were spent with my husband glued to my side. His eyes were tired, his face quickly became withered. He was worried but always putting his best foot forward.. Night after night, I awoke screaming in pain and panic. Reliving every second, every smell, taste, touch, through the new wounds that were freshly made upon my body.
I am here.
In those four plus days, many nurses came in to tell me what a gift and miracle my life was. Sometimes I accepted with a semi- smile. Other times I would just cry and ask them for a hug.
“Why God, do we need tragedy to seek your face.. please help me seek your face with every sway of the willow trees branches.. help me come home to your love.. help me come home to truth, light, my husbands embrace.. to lose the “religion” of religion.. and hold onto truths.
The truths I know now, are that our bodies are temporal.. and we need love. We crave love. As much as we need to receive, we need to give. Love makes the literal and figurative holes in our body blossom….
Yesterday I gave myself a sponge bath while staring at my cane handle in the mirror.. and my naked body. I felt my throat well up to cry, and I let it out. As I stared at these new holes I thought.. “may the old, ugly, and painful memories flood out from within… may I bathe these new wounds with my own love.. and let them grow”.
The year ahead of me will hold many more surgeries, many more tears, and many more times that I will deeply look into my own soul for a clean and renewed heart.
Clyde, thanks for sticking it out buddy.. Bonnie and I thank you.. I promise we will all go for a run sometime soon. In the mean time, Your in the best temple I can provide you.
Gratitude and Perseverance,