The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Am Grateful For This Past Year

A year ago today, I was uncertain about what the future held for me. The only thing I was sure about was that I was having surgery that morning to remove a grapefruit sized tumor from my right ovary. Was it benign or was it ovarian cancer? Would I be able to carry on with my Journey to the Highlands or would I first have to journey through that horrible world of radiation and chemotherapy. And if the second was my destiny, would I come out the other side victorious and healed or would I not make it to the other side at all? I was scared yet somehow still unbelieving. It just didn't seem possible that this could be happening to me...but it was. The surgeon was a gynecological oncologist and that was my name on his schedule that morning.

I thought about my children. They are the light of my life and there was so much life for us still to share. I thought about my dream of moving to Scotland. So close but suddenly so tenuous. I had shed tears of fear, let my mind wander to the scariest places and played the what if game.

I had given the tumor a title to make it a little less scary. I called it my little invader. Chief Engineer Scott to Captain James T. Kirk: "Captain, we have an invader!" Then you would see several nameless crew members running through the corridors of the Enterprise to confront and capture the invader. I was the mother ship and I had my own invader. The doctor and his surgical team were about to storm my corridors to confront and capture the enemy (stupid, I know, but it helped). As I sat there on the bed, in my hospital gown, waiting to be wheeled away, I wasn't dreading the surgery. I wanted to get it over with and get on to the next step...whatever that next step turned out to be.

The next three days in the hospital weren't a lot of fun. This was the 5th time in my life I had had some kind of abdominal surgery. You don't realize how much you use those muscles until after you've been cut open. Those core stomach muscles are an integral part of every movement your body makes. Add to that one of my infamous migraine headaches and the whole experience was pretty ugly. Nikki was my angel. She had flown in from Germany and stayed 10 days with me. She helped me in and out of bed and to the bathroom; she cagoled me into eating and even kept up my blog.

As crappy as it was, though, it wasn't as crappy as it could have been. The pathology tests came back... and the tumor was benign. All I had to do was recuperate from the surgery. My future would not include chemotherapy, radiation, hair loss and cancer doctors....

As I look back on last summer, I think about how different it could have been. As it was, though, it was a wonderful summer. I traveled to Seattle, to Colorado, to Germany and to the Caribbean. I spent several weekends throughout the summer with Paul in Virginia and I moved back to Germany in October.

Living in Germany again has been an unexpected gift. So different from the last time. Not better or worse, just a different kind of experience. I spent a month in Berlin learning to be an English language teacher and made some wonderful friends there. I love my little apt here in Mannheim. I rent from Barbara and Peter who live downstairs and who have become friends. They invite me for Sunday lunch on a regular basis and we've spent several lovely afternoons hiking through the local forests together. I teach on Tues, Wed and Thurs. What a great job! It certainly doesn't feel like work. My students are great and are all very motivated. And I've become a regular visitor to Luisenpark. It's just beautiful in the Spring and is the perfect place for my walks.

The best part of living here, though, is being able to spend time with Nikki. She called the other day and said, "Hey Mom, I need to return those shoes this afternoon. Wanna meet me at Paradeplatz?" So we met up downtown and returned her shoes. We also went to the post office and the bank. Then we went to a cafe that we had discovered a few weeks ago where they have these wonderful salads. After that she went to her French class and I went to the grocery store. It's just being able to do the little things together that we are both enjoying so much.

Bert was gone last weekend so Nikki and I went to check out McClaren's Irish Pub on Thursday night. She slept at my place that night and the next morning we decided, on the spur of the moment, to go to Strasbourgh for the day. It's only about an hour and a half away by train and I hadn't been there since the last time I lived here. Nikki had never been but had really been wanting to check it out. So off we went! The weather was gorgeous and we had such a good time. We had breakfast on the train and played tourist once we arrived. We did the self guided tour around the Altstadt that the Tourist Information lady recommended, we climbed the cathedral, shopped and had dinner at an outdoor cafe. While we were eating, a summer shower popped up and caught all the shoppers by surprise. We watched them all scramble for cover as we sat there under the awning dry and comfy. On the train on the way home Nikki and I were sharing the earbuds to my iPod to listen to Shiehallion, a traditional Scottish band from Inverness. I started laughing. "Nik, do realize that we are two Americans, on a train in Germany, listening to Scottish music?" "On our way back from France!" she added. The smiles were pretty big. Travel will never get old to either one of us.

As I said, I am so grateful for this past year. And now I'm planning my long awaited move to Scotland......


Sarah said...

I am so happy for you, Connie -- truly enjoy every bit!

Nikki said...

Me, too! We are so blessed, aren't we? Who else gets to have their Mom as their buddy?

When shall we attend our first Weinfest of the year??

Love you!