He also had a suspicious growth on his arm that his previous doctor told him should be looked into if it ever became painful. Several months ago it did, and recently he decided to have it looked at. A dermatologist examined it, took a biopsy, and although it was benign it was the type of tumor that was growing rather large and there was a small chance that other areas of it might be malignant. She decided the entire thing needed to be removed to be on the safe side.
I went with him for its removal and he has a sizable scar from the wound. We almost forgot that the pathologist would be examining the rest of it for any suspect cells.
So yesterday when he was already scheduled to get his stitches out, we got a call and a message was left for him to call and talk to the doctor. Previously they had left the good news that the original biopsy sample was benign on our answering machine. It seemed rather ominous that they didn't leave a message telling us the results.
I immediately told Dave, who was at work, that he needed to call the doctor. There was an hour in between the initial call and when Dave was able to reach the doctor and call me back. I was trying not to freak out during this time...all we would need right now is for Dave to have to deal with cancer, chemotherapy, and all the risks that come with such a diagnosis.
Finally he called back and told me that the results showed that the tumor was a fast growing mass that had extended well into the fat layer, whereas they usually stay above that, so that indicated that the doctor didn't go deep enough to get it all. They have to cut into him a third time and go down to the muscle to be sure they got it all. (They've been doing all of this with local anesthesia in the office.) So next week he goes back for the third--and let's hope final surgery. Of course they will analyze that sample as well.
My short hour of panic gave me a lot of insight into what Dave has experienced every time I've received bad news about my heart or gone into life threatening surgeries. I've always known it was hard on him and worried about how he was holding up, but this was a good dose of empathy rather than sympathy.
Once upon a time, for about a year and a half, the stress of dealing with heart disease and not talking about our deepest fears drove a wedge between us. Each of us at different times almost gave up on our marriage. I remember looking at the classified ads at one point to see if there was an apartment I could afford, thinking my life would be simpler if I just lived alone and focused on my spiritual practices and path and was no longer a burden to Dave. I pictured him going on the be happier with some younger, healthy woman. We had stopped talking about our deepest feelings and as a result we were like house mates or ships that pass in the night. At times we even admitted our marriage was falling apart and we knew we needed counseling but could not afford it at that time.
Finally a crisis occurred and we found a solution to the funding needed for counseling, and we healed the damage to and distance in our relationship. This led to a renaissance of sorts, where we fell in love all over again. I'm not saying that these issues suddenly became less challenging, but we were no longer working separately to deal with them. Once we could talk about our fears--my fear of losing him for being such a burden, his fear of losing me to death, my fears of dying (especially in anything less than a state of grace, for lack of a better term), and our financial worries, we felt so much closer and could work as a team once again, better than the sum of our parts.
We often have to remind ourselves not to withdraw into our fears, to remain connected and open and loving even when we want to withdraw into ourselves. We both have introverted, hermit-like tendencies that we try to watch out for. The work of being open, revealing our minds, and giving way even when our egos scream that we are right, dammit, is well worth it and I have always felt is one way to progress spiritually. Maybe it's even the best way for some of us. How can we love God/Goddess/our gods if we can't bring ourselves to be open, vulnerable, and surrendered to our dearest family members? Marriage is excellent practice for such surrender and selfless love. I see it as sacred, or at least potentially so if conducted with that consciousness. Of course it takes a willingness on the part of both parties to do so.
From what I have read, every long term marriage goes through an ebb and flow in the level of intimacy and loving feelings. What makes some marriages succeed is the willingness of each partner to value the marriage enough to work at improving it during the hard times, to stick them out with the faith in the essential good will of the other party and their ability to get back on track. I think our high divorce rate is due in part to people giving up too soon because they get to that stuck, not feeling the love place and think it will last forever, that it's all over, not being able to see the renewal just around the bend if they can just let go and open up. I have always felt strongly that something as serious and valuable as marriage should not be given up so easily. I may have stayed too long in my first marriage, but I was at peace when I left because I knew I had tried everything possible to save it.
I am blessed now to have a partner willing to face his fears rather than run from them.
That has made all the difference!
February 2nd will mark our tenth anniversary.