As a child and young adult, new emotions are hitting you left and right. Remember puberty? But once you reach a certain age, new emotions are few and far between. I may not be as elderly as say, my sister Nancy, but I have seen a couple of years and a lot of experiences that have guided me to where I am. It seems that all of my experiences have led to and prepared me for the last couple of days.
As most of you blogger types know, Nancy has very recently undergone surgery to remove an ovarian tumor. It came on very suddenly and forced all of us to emotionally deal with it quickly. In some ways, I felt my denial was still present when she went into surgery. The whole thing seemed more like a play, unfolding before my eyes. I never questioned that she would be around for a long time, even as they cut her open to find God knows what. So when the surgeon came to the waiting room with the good news that not only had the cancer not spread, but that it might not be cancer at all, you would think that all I would feel would be relief. There was relief, to say the least, but there was also something else. It was like the totality of it all came over me, and I had to hold back tears, tears that had been waiting to spill over when reality hit. This was one of the most intense emotions I had ever felt in my life. The realness of it all hit me like a ton of bricks, while the relief spread over me like a happy blanket. I was experiencing the fear of my sister dying while relief flooded my body. Weird, huh? I looked around at my family and wondered if they felt the same. It was hard to know, and I wondered what emotion was read on my face by my loved ones. I also asked myself, “Have I ever felt like this before? Like my heart was breaking and leaping out of my chest with joy, all at the same time?” I have been blissful, elated, heartbroken, scared and slaphappy before, but not all at once! Did I invent a new emotion, at least in the world of Vern? I think I did!
The next day, I was excited to see Nancy at the hospital. When I arrived at 7 am, she was happy, alert, talkative and pain-free. She took catnaps and we reviewed all of the information that she had heard the night before, but couldn’t really remember. Her surgeon came in and discussed how well she was doing and we were all happy. Unfortunately, by afternoon the tide had turned. Nancy was experiencing pain that, over a period of 3 hours, went from moderate to quite severe. She felt the epidural wasn’t working, and by 3 pm, she was feeling everything. For her privacy I won’t go into details, but I have never seen my sister, the strongest person I know, seem to be in so much agony. The nurses were doing everything they could, but the anesthesiologist just wasn’t responding. They were paging her every two minutes (I was listening to their phone conversations!), but they couldn’t administer anything without her. I felt such compassion for Nancy, anger at the anesthesiologist and frustration at the helplessness of the situation. On the advice of my twin, I finally told the nurse that if the anesthesiologist “didn’t get her shit together and help my sister” that we were leaving the hospital. That worked and within 10 minutes, her pain had subsided and she was comfortable.
I, unfortunately, was not. Sweat was pouring off of my body and I could feel my whole being shaking, like Starbucks had taken the place of blood in my veins. The drama was over, but I could’ve battled the entire American medical system if I had to. Less than 24 hours after Nancy’s surgery I was again feeling something I had never experienced before, emotions so strong that my entire body was physically reacting. It was massive adrenaline mixed with powerlessness and a dash of relief. What was I going to name this new emotion?
After I left the hospital a couple of hours later (Nancy was sleeping like a baby), I couldn’t shake those feelings. My hands shook for hours and my brain was clouded. I couldn’t believe all the emotions I had felt in the last day, especially since many of them were new to me. I felt like a child just taking the training wheels off; excited that I had conquered something, but also preoccupied by the sting of a skinned knee. Hearing the news out of surgery was one of the happiest days of my life, but the hours where I watched Nancy suffer were definitely my worst.
I am so thrilled that Nancy is recovering and doing better every hour, but also very sad that she has to go through this challenge. I know that my life is better, not only because I have my sister, but also because I have developed emotionally as a person. Nancy, as the intelligent sister, will rest assured that she continues to teach me things that I could never have learned without her. But look out (Nancy and everybody else), because you never know when new emotions will pop up in your life and change you forever.
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