My stomach is in knots right now because I’m killing time till I have to leave for the Breast Cancer Center and get a biopsy. I don’t think I have cancer. I’m actually nervous because I don’t want someone to shove a needle into my boob. And they found this lump last time I had a mammogram and decided it was benign and it’s probably still benign.
I guess I’ll be honest with you. I’m a little scared about cancer. Because there is a lot of cancer in my family, paternal and maternal, and my mom died with cancer.
Oof what a day I had yesterday. As I was dressing after a shower, I glanced down the hill at my babies, my Lil’ Hussies, the chickens whom you all know I adore. I saw no chickens, but that’s not too alarming since I’ve left their pen door open lately and let them roam. I did see a dog, walking along the creek. And then I saw a second dog, INSIDE the pen chewing on…something, I couldn’t really see. Whatever had happened, I missed it because I was in the shower.
And then I felt white hot, and my heart pounded so hard my knees shook, and I ran madly around the room, scrambling for boots and a jacket, saying “no no no no no,” and flew down the hill yelling, “Get out! Get out!” and the stupid dog knew instantly it was bad, and cowered and ran to the back of the pen. Then hen he had been chewing on, named GT, was huddled in a lump. I already hate dogs, and I’m scared of big dogs, and this was not so much huge but intimidating: a solid hunk of meat that looked like maybe a pitbull/bulldog mix. I chased and chased the dog, but its pure instinct was to go to the back corner of the pen, opposite the door. Well thank god the dog has good owners, because the ONLY way I got that damned animal out of the chicken pen was to wrap my arms around its middle and half-drag it to the door, and even then it kept breaking free and running to the back corner of the pen. All the while, my heart was pounding and I was frantically scanning the area for the other hens but not seeing any. I was hyperventilating, heart in my throat, still demanding, “Get out!” Finally, finally I dragged that stupid beast out of the pen and shut the door. The thing could have killed me – it’s one of those breeds of dogs. But again I say thank the gods for its owners who have raised a good dog. A good dog who now knows about my chickens.
I went to GT, lying amidst a pile of feathers. She was alive and bleeding, possibly a broken leg. I petted her and soothed her, but didn’t know what else to do and I needed to find the other chickens. I ran frantically around the pen, looked under the chicken house, looked up into the trees above hoping they were smart enough to fly up. No chickens. I was a mess, calling “My babies, where are my babies?” circling round and round the outside of the pen, among the trees, calling them. I felt literally sick to my stomach.
Thus began an hours-long drama of scouring the whole neighborhood. My neighborhood is mostly forest, so I did so much bush-whacking. I asked at the neighbors’ places for permission to hunt their properties, and one of my neighbors joined the hunt. We searched and searched and found three pretty quickly, both smart/lucky enough to have jumped inside fenced areas of my other neighbor’s back yard and also their rose garden. We went up and down the road, up and down the creek. My neighbor finally went home and I had to give up after finding three hens plus wounded GT. Then the old matriarch, Jamie, wandered in from the woods, a bit bewildered. She never dies. She is indomitable. Four were in good shape. I was missing three.
Yesterday was supposed to be the day I really got to work on my final projects for school. I have so much work piling up and I just found out my brother and his family are coming for the weekend from Montana and I’m SO excited to have them here and I’m thrilled that they want to visit. It’s just that I have one huge final paper due Monday at noon and I haven’t even started because I’ve got all these other assignments I’ve been working on…ugh. You know how it is. You’ve been in school. I was already so stressed out with school, and with the biopsy, and then my beloved hens were attacked by a stupid dog and I hate dogs. Anyway, my pulse was approaching normal again, so I went back to working on school, and periodically I checked outside and yes, one by one, bedraggled hens began appearing. By evening the last one showed up. I have all eight of the Lil’ Hussies back. I still felt sick and wasn’t able to eat all day.
I realize that my big One Year Later post is supposed to be March 12 – the Day the World Changed For Me and it’s now exactly a year later and that goddamned pandemic that rocked my world that day is still raging. Our new cases of COVID-19 in the US have dropped from the peak and have stabilized at the level we were at last summer, and last summer we were in the depths of a pandemic. Will it ever end?
It’s enough to make me fall apart but I am indomitable too.
The past 365 days I have been healthy and happy. I have learned so much in my classes. I have connected more deeply with some friends and reconnected with family – can you believe that? During a pandemic? I have made brand new friends who are today integrated into my life. I have loved and I have been loved. I met the most amazing, incredible man. I am deeply in love. I’m still pinching myself. Pedro has lived a life with tremendous challenges and we see in each other someone who understands. Long before we met we had both chosen to leave the pain behind us and find the joy instead. He’s a kindred spirit. He checked in with me yesterday all day about the chickens, and has messaged me multiple times since early this morning, worrying about me today. One Year Later and despite the world’s madness my life seems to be getting progressively better and I’m addressing each new catastrophe with grace when I can (albeit not graceful there for a few hours yesterday).
And viola. It’s done. I’m back and it was fine and I barely felt a thing. I will find out the results next week they said.
Guess what? They put a titanium marker in me to mark the spot they checked and now my left boob is bionic! I need a superhero name. While I was waiting for yet another mammogram, to check exactly where the titanium is, I messaged Pedro and told him I gave his name as an emergency contact. He wrote back “That’s great, thank you!” I was expecting him to say it’s ok that I gave them his name without asking permission, and instead he said thank you. He wants to know, even about the shitty stuff in my life. It meant so much to me, that ‘thank you.’
Guess what else? I came home and went out to check on my girls. They must have brains like goldfish because they were all happy and eager to get out of their pen again and roam free. I told them, “Don’t you know this is where the dogs are?” but they didn’t care. But better…GT was out there with them. It stands for Garbage Truck. You were wondering, I know. She came to me from a friend whose nephew named her. She is alert, and hobbling on a bad leg, and has no feathers on her back end. She’s a truncated chicken. Because of swelling probably, her poo isn’t coming out as it should, but I think that will improve and I have high hopes of a full recovery. I stood outside with them while they soaked up sunbeams and ate grass. GT laid down and ate her grass from that position, resting her bad leg. Then I coaxed them all back inside and shut the door against dogs.
What’s my message today? After I left the Breast Cancer Center my heart felt like it had dropped out of my throat into my intestines. I was so relieved. My lungs opened up and I started shaking. Isn’t that funny. It happens with me that my trembling tends to kick in once everything’s ok. Though pummeled, I was feeling so alive and thought of the indomitability of life. Viruses are amazing. You’ve got to respect what they can do – imagine that kind of power to take down enemies a million times larger. Chickens are amazing. People are amazing to have started with stone tools and today I had a 6-minute mammogram to double-check the placement of a titanium marker. And people are amazing to have capacity for joy and grace that we can all tap into. And love. How fortunate we are that there is love in the world.
It’s so much harder to face another spring – another one! – in a pandemic. It’s so much harder for me this time. But I am now bionic, and based on my past history I know I can get through anything. Writing to you guys is therapeutic. I am feeling better, thank you. I’ve been fielding calls from people who are checking on me. I’m actually hungry for the first time in two days, and that’s a good sign. I know my scheduled post went out this morning and I never post twice in a day. But I wrote that one a week ago and this one I wrote to you today and I’m just going to send it out. So there. ❤