Healthy and recovering
The nurse brought me a full tray of breakfast: French toast, a boiled egg, diced fresh fruit. But all I wanted was ice cream, plain vanilla ice cream. I pushed the breakfast tray towards my husband, who had wrestled for comfort throughout the night, next to me in a tilted, malfunctioning lounge chair. The man I married 32 years ago had walked through hell with me. I wanted him to get a decent breakfast and hoped the nurses’ station had just one Dixie cup for me.
I’m not sure if by that point, my head had already been released from the helmet of compression bandages that had kept me miserable all night. They odyssey of my earliest hours in surgical recovery remains a blessed blur.
Wear your sunscreen, people! I didn’t, or at least not enough to prevent an invasive tumor from taking the side of my nose and part of my cheek. “What’s this?” my dermatologist had asked, fingering the waxy bump that I had already noticed myself. Next came the biopsy, which my doctor assured me in advance would certainly show something bad.
My four surgeries, including a final one soon to come, removed all the malignancy and rebuilt the wounded part of my face. I will look essentially the same after all this is over as I did before it began, except for some tightened skin over one cheek. The hospital nurses joke that women like me, on the downslope of middle age and having gone through this, often ask for a similar face-lift for the other side.
But not me. I do not want to backtrack over a single inch I put behind me in this particular bend in the road. I liked my slackening face just as it was. I will like my newly arranged face more and more as the scars soften and fade.
People have been so kind. Flowers arrived. Candy arrived. And then Donna decided I had enough of those things, and made me dinner. She arrived with a meatloaf — still warm — with redskin potatoes and peas, enough for a first night’s dinner and leftovers for a second night. She said she was worried I wouldn’t like her cooking, since I am so conversant in food. First of all, the food was delicious. And just as hunger makes everything taste good, the kindness with which it was delivered made Donna’s meatloaf a feast.
Tonight a friend is coming over, and we will likely open a bottle of wine. I’m not sure I’m entirely ready for intoxicants, but I might have it in me to finish half a glass. I’ll be glad for the company. I’ll put out some light nibbles and my friend and I will talk the night away. I am healthy and recovering. Everything is going to be all right. Nobody gets through this life without a few battle scars.