Stunned Silence

February 24, 2012
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That was the noise reverberating through the examination room as I sat with my Converse clad feet hanging off the side of the table.
I stared at the man in front of me, a small, wrinkly old man; his latest words from just a moment ago had been,

“Well, it seems you have a tumor, miss.”

Stunned silence.

I sensed my mom stiffen beside me, my own heart constricting, making it hard to breathe, tumor?
Dear Lord, please don’t let my worst nightmare becoming true.

“But the tests came back and it’s benign.”

Stunned, relieved silence.

My heart is hammering in my chest, I want to hit the man for his prolonged wait it giving me that little bit of news.

“It’s a very rare bone tumor; it’s good that you caught it when you did, if it continues to grow it will snap your bone in half.”

My mom looks at me and I at her, neither of us had ever imagined this would happen, it was only a lump, a lump on the middle finger of my left hand, but a tumor, and one that could have broken my finger?
I don’t know what to think, my blood is rushing in my ears, I feel dizzy.

“So, we’ll need to get a surgery date set up so we can get in and remove it, you’ll get a bone graph to replace the lost bone.”

I sit in stunned silence as the doctor describes what will happen; the tumor on the bone will be scraped out and replaced with new bone from a donor.
After a little while longer my mom and I are walking through the halls back to the car after setting a date, neither of us says a word.
As we reach the car we sit in stunned silence for a few moments, then mom reaches over to clasp my hand in reassurance.

“At least it’s benign”

Two weeks later I am sitting in the waiting room outside of the surgery wing, clad in only sweatpants and a t-shirt. My mom is a source of strength beside me as my heart pounds and my leg jumps up and down, thumping my nervousness onto the floor.
It’s quiet, it’s only six in the morning, the hall is deserted; only one nurse walks by in the thirty minutes we’re waiting, I wasn’t scared, but I was.
A nurse walks up, tall and blonde; she’s pretty, she has kind eyes. She leads us back to a room where I change into a gown and then lay in those beds with the rails and wheels, behind a curtain in the final waiting section before I go in.
My mom waits beside me in a chair, we both have books, I try to read, but the words describing Joan of Arcs’ death swim before my eyes, I can’t concentrate.
After almost thirty minutes another nurse appears, short and brunette, brisk.
She says she there to insert my IV, they try, twice, it doesn’t work. It’s painful, the needle trying to puncture my vein, but I am too much like my mother, our veins are very small.
Another nurse has joined the short, brisk one, they converse for a moment, they’ll wait till right before surgery and use a mask instead.
Another fifteen minutes pass before a doctor appears, I am wheeled to a section where I am adorned with a hair net, the brisk nurse explains the IV situation, the doctor smiles and says that fine. The rails are pulled up on my bed and I am wheeled down the hall, leaving my mother behind, she smiles and says dad will be there when I wake up.
My heart feels as though it will burst from my chest as I am carted away, I feel like a victim in a horror movie set in an abandoned hospital, I felt like a patient in an ER episode, it was so surreal.
We reach our destination, a cold, white, sterile room, something I always hated about hospitals, the incessant white and the offending sterile smell.
Goosebumps rise on my arms as two doctors lift me from my bed to the operating table, my heart beats faster than I thought possible. There are three doctors in the room, a woman hidden behind a mask leans over me and attaches electrode to my chest, for the heart monitor, my brain tells me.
A tall, handsome eyed man leans over me and places a mask over my face, breathe deeply three times, he tells me.
I do, the air in the mask smells….rubbery, I fight panic at my vulnerable position and the constricting mask, I don’t even have five seconds to bask in my fear as the gas takes hold. The last thing I see are three lights shining above my head, then nothing.

I woke alone in a small room, another blonde nurse to my left, my mouth is dry and scratchy, my tongue like sandpaper.
My vision was blurry and my hand throbbed, the nurse noticed I was awake; I was barely able to croak out “water”, I don’t even remember getting it before I passed out again.

I had no idea how long I was out after that, but I woke again back in the room I had been before, my mom and dad sitting by my side. My head and my vision were both still fuzzy, I turned my head to the side to look at my dad, no tears, no crying, no more fear, only one word…”hurts.”
And then I was out once again.
Waking what felt like only small amount of time later a nurse came in and says we could leave as soon as I was ready. My dad stepped out and my mom helped me dress, the thick, white wrapping around my finger was a hindrance, right in the middle of my hand, it made it difficult to put on my shirt, my limbs felt heavy, I felt like a robot. With heavy lidded eyes I allowed my dad to support my shaking limbs out to the car where I don’t even remember putting on a seatbelt. The hospital was only ten minutes from our house, it felt like ten seconds to my still sleepy brain. Before I knew it I was being helped into my room, into my bed, where I slept off the remaining anesthetic for the remainder of the day.

The dressing on my splinted hand stayed on for three weeks, the stitches for a week less, they itched. Three days later I was adapted to the constant pain and throbbing and became angered at the thing, I wanted it off.
Three months later I sat on my bed swinging my feet and gently rubbing my finger over the thin, red, twine-like scar as I contemplated the events leading to it.
I learned a lot from my experience that day.
That I had amazing parents who were [and are] amazing support, I had my Pastor who wanted to come and pray with my parents and I before I went in for God’s blessing and watch-care over the surgery, much to my disappointment he hadn’t been able to make it.
I learned to trust in myself and in God, who was [and is] my constant strength, He was by my side and watching over me that day, and in the fact that the tumor wasn’t cancerous.
I sat there thinking how my life would be now if the tumor had been malignant, what would my life be like?
I shook my head and banished the thought, for it hadn’t happened, and it did me no good to dwell on what could have been, but was not.
Now, today, I sit with my feet crossed under me, gently rubbing the thin, white scar, I find myself doing this when I am nervous, a tic that I absolutely hate.
Ever since that day I have hated hospitals even more than I already did, I hate the white, sterile halls, the mask clad doctors wandering between rooms, the endless supply of needles waiting to jab you over and over.
As I sit here I smile, it was really a rather small thing, admittedly there had been a very good chance I could have gotten cancer, but I didn’t. I could have waited longer to go get it checked and gotten a broken finger, but I didn’t. I got over the fact they said the surgery would only take thirty minutes, when in fact I emerged two hours later instead.
I smile because God was watching over me, so now……now it’s grateful silence.

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I_Will_Never_Lose said...
Aug. 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm
Thank God it wasn't harmful.   It's nicely written. Usually, when people our age attempt to write a true story, they botch it completely. That's the opposite of what you did.   I think I understand why you never told me the reason you left for a while, at least.
Skyye replied...
Oct. 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm
Thank you, I appreciate the comment :-)   And this was actually a really long time ago, there were different reasons I left 
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