Usually, I can see them coming.
I'm a conditioned audience member. Throughout my childhood, television was a third parent to me. By the age of five I had learned that most of life's problems could be fixed in twenty-two minutes of TV if I was willing to sit through eight minutes of Nabisco, Duracell, and Playtex 18-Hour Bra commercials. No matter how much trouble Bo and Luke got themselves into, by the end of the night everything would be fine in Hazzard County. I knew that no matter what life threw at him, nothing kept Alex P. Keaton down for long, and whoever it was that shot the guy from I Dream of Jeannie would eventually be found out and justice would be served in Texas.
As a child, I liked this predictability. There was no Wikipedia or Google to help me through the suspense of drama back then (I read all spoilers, all the time, without fail) so it was nice to be able to rely on the consistent exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution pattern that all stories on television seemed to have back then since I had no means of finding out what was going to happen before it did.
I still find comfort in these types of shows as an adult. I've been known to night-marathon The Golden Girls (if you say that you haven't, you are a liar) on the rare occasion I'm sleeping somewhere that has cable. But as I've matured in age, I have begun to gravitate to shows where I can't predict what's going to happen. Stories where characters are more three-dimensional, not so easily classified as heroes or villains. Shows with that perfect plot twist that I didn't see coming but makes everything so much more interesting.
I admire writing like that. I want to write like that.
However, I'm not really a fan of life being like that.
When I first went to have the tumor in my lower jaw removed, I didn't give much thought to there being reason for worry. There was no way for me to predict that there would be--no foreshadowing, no scary music... no warning before the beginning of the doctor's appointment that this episode may be disturbing for sensitive viewers (a clear sign to me to turn the channel). There were just words (really yucky ones like ameloblastoma) and a prescription for a CT scan and then a lot of waiting.
When my doctor told me that my tumor was rare, it didn't matter to me. It didn't matter to me that I am one in two million people to have this. It didn't matter that of the one in two million people who have this, barely any of them are white, women, or in my age range. It didn't matter to me that it didn't make sense that this would happen to me statistically. All that mattered was that it was happening to me.
To me, there are no odds. There just is, and is not. And in this case, there just is.
I prayed that of the options the doctor has laid on the table for me, my CT scan would prove that I'm best case scenario. That my treatment would be the easiest one possible. Others were praying this for me, too. Lots of others. More than I probably know.
I was confident for good news today. I believed that I would go to my appointment and be met with a smile by my doctor and that he would start by saying, "It's not as bad as we thought."
That was the plot twist I wanted.
It was not the one I got.
On September 17th, I will undergo a surgery where four centimeters of my jaw (bone, tissue, nerve) will be cut out of my body. Replacing it will be a titanium plate that will be screwed into my remaining jawbone. If all goes well, while this is being done, a second surgeon will be cutting off four centimeters of my hip bone for use in reconstructing my jaw. This surgery will result in the permanent sensory paralysis of the left side of my lower face (inside and out) and mouth. The incision will need to be made on the outside of my jaw rather than the preferred inside (thus, scarring).
Oh, and all of this is going to hurt like a swear word.
Of the options the doctor had laid before me (this is bold so that you read this sentence in context), in all three categories, I was once again, worst case scenario.
Now, I know that this could be worse. In so many ways, health and beyond, I am blessed in this life. Even in this season, I am blessed. I don't doubt that at all. But, I am also human, and words like "permanent paralysis" of any part of the body is difficult to swallow (maybe there's a pun here, but it was unintended; however, if you need to laugh, go ahead).
To know that a kiss will never feel the same again is hard for me. I'll never be able to feel my daughter's hands on my face or know whether or not I got all the ketchup off my cheek without a mirror. I could go on here, but making a list of sadness isn't going to help me or you cope any better, so I'll stop.
And anyway, I'm okay.
Really, I am. And if you know me personally, that might surprise you. I know me pretty well, and I'll all but shocked by it. But, I truly am.
It's strange, I know. Ever since I found out about this, I've been praying for the best case scenario. I've been begging others to pray for me, that somehow I might get that miracle and be spared this season of my life with all its pain and disfigurement. I've read so much throughout my faith journey about suffering and God and how its such an impasse for so many people. How could a loving God allow suffering? Especially a God I am a follower of?
God didn't spare his own son (Jesus, for those of you new here) of suffering, even though he asked (through tears and begging so intense that HE SWEAT ACTUAL BLOOD) to be spared of it. In fact, Jesus got an infinitely worse case scenario dealt to him than what I'm going through (Google it).
Jesus didn't want to do any of that, but ultimately he relented to the will of his father. And all that pain that Jesus felt going through what he did on the cross--God used it all for good (Google this too).
My pain will be much less than this. My suffering will not compare. But, I truly believe this with all my heart-- it will not be in vain.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
If I allow him, God will use this season in my life in ways that I cannot imagine. And that is the plot twist I am excited for.
Thank you for all the continued support. Your prayers are felt. And next time you see me, I could probably use a hug. Unless you're a creeper.