Life changes; your perspective shifts. You blink, and when you open your eyes you find that the things that mattered, don't, and the impossible has become the thing you have to try.
My perspective shifted on October 23rd, 2006. Only it wasn't so much a blink as an utter knockout from anesthesia that I awoke from to hear the words, "It wasn't cancer. We'll get the final lab results back tomorrow, but so far everything looks good."
The saga really began less than a month earlier with a routine doctor visit. Annual check-up, every woman knows the drill, yada-yada. Not fun, but typically uneventful. Not this time. As she felt my neck the doctor (fresh out of medical school, looking all of twenty years old) said, "How long have you had this lump in your neck?" Lump? What lump? I don't know how it escaped my attention, further inspection in the mirror showed what to my eyes looked like a grossly misshapen neck, or at least a visible lump. Clearly I fail in the health self-awareness category.
"I'm sure it's nothing," the child doctor said. Still, she referred me to an ENT specialist, who fit me in the following week.
"Well, I'm a little stumped as to what the problem is, it doesn't seem to be your thyroid but I'm not sure what else it could be," the specialist said, "still, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about." So, off she sent me to an endocrinologist for an ultrasound of my neck.
Several days later I lay on the table in the ultrasound room. Now, although an excellent doctor, this man does not win points in bedside manner. He had barely touched the ultrasound to my neck when he jumped up, bolted from the room calling to his receptionist, "Get me Dr. X on the phone, NOW." Gulp. There I lay for what seemed like forever. Finally he came back in, having determined his next step. "There's a large mass in your neck, we're going to do a needle biopsy."
O-k. Needles poking into my neck. Fun. Let me reassure anyone who may need that done in the future, it's not so bad. Let me also offer this bit of advise: if you have longer hair, pull it back in a ponytail or make sure it is all tucked securely under your head, because having the nurse unintentionally leaning on it, making it feel like every strand is going to rip out of your head as she holds your head still and not being allowed to talk or move to tell her that? MUCH more painful than the needle.
Several days later. Phone call. Please come back in to talk with the doctor. "The biopsy came back showing signs of cells that can sometimes be cancerous; the only way to know for sure is to take it out." And just like that I was scheduled for surgery barely two weeks later to remove the mass along with half my thyroid.
And two weeks later I woke up to find that it WASN'T cancer. Reprieve. Suddenly life stretched out in front of me filled with endless possibilities and I knew that I was not content to continue on the path I was on. For years I had plugged away at a career I hated, I had dropped my children off at daycare and wished in the secret part of my heart that it could be me caring for them all day. And it was no longer good enough for me.
Quitting work seemed impossible; mine was the main income and my husband is a social worker (interpretation - overworked and underpaid). But I had to do it; I had to dare to live the life that I knew I was meant to live. It took several months of planning, months of questioning, "Is this really the right thing?" But my husband was supportive, and about eight months later I turned in my notice and I have never looked back.
You blink. Life changes. Perspective shifts. When you feel yourself being called to something new, don't hold back in fear; don't cling to the way things have always been. Step out, take that risk. The way isn't always easy, but it IS where the greatest blessings wait.