I really don't know where this story begins.
Maybe it started last week when I spent days and days feeling in despair of the world. The dreadful things that people do to each other and to our environment overwhelmed me and dragged me down. I felt hopeless and teary and inadequate.
Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the fact that by the end of last week I was exhausted. It took everything I had to keep going and not to crawl back into bed. I was fitter than I'd been for years yet I felt tireder too. It didn't make much sense.
Maybe overcooking a batch of jam on Saturday morning should have given it all away. Early season blackberry jam is something I can practically make with my eyes closed. Literally. The moment the boiling mixture changes from sugary fruit into jam is something I can usually pick from across the room. I've done it hundreds of times and I don't think I've ever mucked it up before. And then I did.
Or maybe I should have stopped rushing around and spent time in the moment with my body when the left side of my chest started gradually becoming more and more painful as my Saturday progressed.
Very late on Saturday night, when I did finally stop and feel, I found an enormous lump in my left boob. And then I promptly lost it. I'm not sure I have ever been so terrified in my entire life. It felt like a nightmare coming true. I howled. I held myself. I lay in bed all night imagining the worst. Planning for the worst. Dreading the worst.
On Sunday morning as we walked down the hill to my parents' place I tried to fill my farmer boy in on the new plan: he would remarry but would have to make certain his new wife loved our girls before she had her own babies. He wouldn't listen. He wouldn't go there. I couldn't stop going there.
After I showed my parents, we made a plan to start the ball rolling with a visit to the doctor in the morning and then we sat up at the table and chatted and drank peppermint tea and tried to be normal. I have no recollection as to what we spoke about over tea, but there couldn't have been much normal. My stomach was churning, my head hurt from crying, the left side of my chest was in agony and I just wanted to go and hide somewhere dark in a ball and never come out again.
And then we came home and I crawled into bed. And Jazzy and Pepper crawled in with me. And I felt disgusting and terrified and then hot. So hot.
I have never been so happy to discover that I have a high temperature in all my life. All of a sudden there was a possibility that the lump was an infection, that the soreness was due to that infection, that if it was an infection it might not be anything else and that I might possibly be OK. Maybe.
An hour or so later I was ID-braceleted and hooked up to a drip, with a chart on the end of my bed - in hospital. Hospital. While I was there I had my boobs scanned, examined, discussed, measured, drawn on, touched, squeezed and the subject of two separate lessons to two separate surgical classes. And while I was there the red streaks on the outside of my boob slowly disappeared, the swelling went down and the soreness lessened, but the lump remained. Stupid bloody lump!
And while I was there it occurred to me that it wasn't the hospital food, the hospital noisiness and constant interruptions, all the tests or even the squeaky hospital bed that annoyed me most: It was the fact that I had a drip line permanently inserted into my right hand and couldn't crochet, and my eyes hurt and I felt too crappy to read. I was stuck in a bed or a chair next to the bed for three days and all I could do was sit there and stare into space, so sad. Such a waste of precious time. Imagine all the squares I could have made with nothing else to do but sit there and wait.
Eventually on day three, dressed in pyjamas and knee high compression stockings, after my bra had been undone at the back by one surgical student and lifted up at the front for an examination by another, I was told I could leave. There would be a course of antibiotics, there would be follow up appointments, ultrasounds, mammograms and a possible biopsy but in the meantime I could go home.
All the signs are leading to the fact that in the next little while the lump will clear up and go away. All the signs are looking more like an infection and less like cancer. But luckily for us, all breast lumps in Australia are treated seriously and suspiciously and this particular story wont be over until it is 100% clear and over.
In the meantime I'm just feeling overwhelmingly grateful. For home, for farmer Bren and my girls, for my parents and sisters, for family, for the best friends, for the medical/health system, for the kitchen garden, for my comfy bed, for the storm outside, for my life.