Thanksgiving-The Princess and the Toad
Boys and girls, I’m going to tell you a story. A story about a magical mystical journey. One day a beautiful, middle-aged, fairy princess became aware, that there was a toad squatting in her uterus. Perched on the edge of the hotel bed-her sentient self scanned her body searching out the pudgy polliwog for the 100th time. Ahhhh, there it was -bloating, pulsing, and demanding her attention.
“Honey.” The princess piped to her prince, who was reclining on the queen sized bed opposite hers, “I think I need to see the doctor.”
“What’s wrong?” he asked, more curious than worried.
“I have a toad squatting in my uterus.” He looked at her with a quizzical furrowed brow, the question-huh?-hanging unspoken in the air.
She continued, “It feels like a toad... it feels like a...” searching for an image, she held her hand up, clenched as though ready to throw a prizefighters punch. “.... a toad-the size of my fist.”
That afternoon the appointment with the doctor of medicine was made. The only time slot available was on the day after Thanksgiving, which would mean they could not dine with the royal family this year, but would need to race back to Minneapolis after their current business trip. How disappointing.
The princess teetered back and forth on their decision to abandon their carefully laid holiday plans. She didn’t want to spend precious vacation time with her legs dangling off the edge of an examination table when they should be firmly tucked under the holiday table of her mother, or sister, or niece. But, ultimately the prince prevailed saying, “If it were me we were worried about, there would be no discussion.”
And so, examinations were conducted, and tests were performed posthaste. Once concluded, the princess and her prince raced out of town to another speaking engagement, after their brief un-festive, un-holiday: she sticky with lubricant from the sigmoidoscopy, he jacked on caffeine from consuming his 4th cup of coffee as he waited for her release. Release from a hell referred to as a minimally-invasive-procedure, which in fact was more like being tortured by a boy with a stick. As they raced pell mell across the state-to their job near the home of the packers in the bay that is green-her portable communication device vibrated and sang. She answered it with a cheerful hello, and her world stopped turning.
It was the dutiful doctor with test results and recommendations. She used words like; cysts, masses, and fibroids. The princesses heart throbbed in her chest, the toad in her pelvis pulsed and oozed, and everything drifted into slow motion.
Thankfully she stormed the medical castles with blinding speed, as fast as the crack of a whip. It was the holiday season so elective surgeries were on the back of the burners. Doctors waiting rooms were open and empty. Schedules and operating theaters were vast wastelands with shining trays of gleaming instruments, unused, with no patients to cut or clamp. She slipped through the system like a skipping, skipping, skipping stone, until she woke from surgery 6 days later and began to sink.
Her wonderful magical medical maven’s face swam into view as her royal highness woke from her twilight sleep. Upon seeing the face of her doc in shining armor, the princess spoke one word.
“You know don’t you.” Surmised the savvy surgeon. Curiously she asked, “How do you know?”
“You said you wouldn’t see me until I had my staples removed.”, groaned the princess-the skipping stone pausing in midair, waiting to sink beneath the icy green waters of truth. Eternity lived in that moment, hanging suspended on the breath of hope, until it was dashed with four earth shattering words.
“You have ovarian cancer.”
The doctor said many other things... about ovaries swollen to the size of peaches or pears, implants round as freshly grown peas, and pomegranates bursting with tiny black seeds; The fruit and vegetable analogies seemed endless. All her royal highness could think of was her prince, alone in the waiting room hearing this same news in isolated agony, and she longed to hold him.
Clenching the sides of her bedding, she held on for dear life, as she was transported to her room. The gurney thumped along on its tiny wheels singing; grrrrr grrrrr bump, grrrrrr grrrrr bump as it slalomed through the halls. She stared at the ceiling; tile tile glaring light, tile tile glaring light. And, rounding a corner, without warning she heard his voice somewhere near. She called for him, or thought she did. Her words were like tiny puffs of air. As though in a nightmare, she couldn’t seem to create sound, she could only expel exhalations of whispered desperation. “Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul.”
A voice sliced into her reverie, “On my count; one/two/three.” Gently they lifted and slid her into her hospital bed. Tubes were adjusted, instructions about morphine pumps dispensed, and reassurances were given before the staff retreated- clearing a space for the prince. As the sea of scrubs parted he slid into view and gently folded her hand in his.
“I’m sorry, honey. I’m sorry, so sorry. I’m sorry.” The princess repeated over and over and over and over and over.
There’s a saying, something about not knowing, about waiting for results being the hardest part of coping with illness. And yes, this can be ever so true. But unexpected diagnosis is a special kind of hell. For the prince and his bride knowing, being blindly yanked into hell, and having hope slide between their fingers to drift under the cold water of a fear that would swamp them - that - that was difficult. It was a special kind of twisting, writhing, drowning-in-the-torture-of-truth. And this truth would change their lives forever.
The journey galloped apace, I must say. And life was seized with both hands. So that today, as the holiday of Gobble Gobble arrives two years hence: the princess finds herself joyously grateful as she awakens this crisp November morning filled with Thanksgiving - and a deep appreciation for life heretofore unknown.