Friday, June 14, 2013

That Great Big Joker In The Sky: Thanking God

There is the belief about God having a sense of humor....And it makes me certain that this God is Irish, because this sense of humor of his shall we say, is dark, perhaps teetering just at sadistic.  Much like Frank McCourt’s humor, these God-given moments can provide tear jerking laughs, the laughs that come so hard you cry in the depth of the darkest times.  Anyone familiar with Angela’s Ashes knows it was not a comedy, but there were times throughout reading that I never laughed so hard at the careful turning of words, and frozen moments in time that were otherwise tragic, except for the glint and devil in the eye of the storyteller and his gift to seize the comedy of life, and death, and all that comes between through careful manipulation of words and tricks of the light that shines upon them.

This was the year I was going to pull it all together.  Stand up after a divorce fashioned not by God, but some much darker being.  This was the year I was going to take stock in what I had, give gratitude, leave a few kind gestures at the altar of survival, perhaps a lamb chop or two, a few sprigs of black cohosh,  maybe a few family photos, from a family I barely recognize anymore, or the fender of my minivan.  Maybe I’ll leave a joke from a friend who hails from Mexico, all in the timing, delivery, thank you Mr. Garcia!....  Gracias........DeNada!   Each time he says this he laughs heartily.  “Thanks”  (ever so sweetly stated, followed by a long pause)  “For Nothing” (loudly growled).   Delivered any other way, “Thanks, It was nothing."

I was going to look forward, only.  I had spent way too long in a place I never wanted to see again.  I was running like those long ago, forever engraved last images of children and families running from Cambodia as the last U.S. servicemen and civilians left, long ago on the news channels of my youth.  Did they look back?  I imagine not for a very long time.  Survival is like that.  Looking back may cause you to perish, misstep, lose your space on that helicopter toward freedom. 

I ran until I could slow my step, catch my breath, take a few long strides and start to walk. I had to correct a few stumbles and stops, in calm and comfort, and look around, you know, smell the roses, breathe in the fresh air, and take stock in where I am, who I am spending time with, and where I want to be headed.  Deep full cleansing breaths.  Smiles.  First one or two, now many, often, frequently.  Get my footing...SLAM! Smack! POW!  Right into the brick wall of....What?  How???  psssst...cancer...psst don’t look now but you’ve been growing yourself a well nourished batch of it right there smack dab in the middle of your face!  Two different types of patches as a matter of fact.  Seems my internal being, neglected to get the message across loudly and swiftly.  What with all that new breathing and smiling and oodles of warm friends that were growing all around me.  And thank God for warm friends!

This slam to the schnozola reminds me that God is a regular old joker.  That I can pretend to think I have some control over my life, over what I wish to see and not see, but he’s got the last say, or the first say, or some long list of obstacles and hurdles with my name stamped in big BOLD writing waiting to unfold and reveal themselves to me.   It reminds me of those catchy little phrases that we hold on to, to push us through these times, “God only gives you what you can handle”.  UNCLE!  I give!  I’m not really that tough, it’s an act, an Irish thing I have going with stoic aplomb.  It’s all Blarney!  Do I start honing my hidden damsel in distress?  Do I even have one?  Is it near my inner child?  It couldn’t be, my inner child is taking up a great deal of space skipping and leaping and twirling myself right out of cancer, and all the other struggles that have presented themselves of late.   “When one door closes, a window opens”, or something like that.  I always mutter to my smart ass self, don’t let the screen door hit you in the center of your big, smart I can’t always see the window that opened and I don’t know why I now need to crawl out of it or into it, I much prefer the front door with a big brass knocker, alerting you to my arrival.  Pour me a tall one!  I’m going to sit for a spell!

Fortunately, and I say that with a shit eating grin, because only I and my Irish forebears, (and everyone else that rallies themselves out of these very larger than life-sized struggles), can see them somehow as fortunate manifestations of a God with a sadistic sense of humor.  I remember watching the footage post Katrina when some survivors in New Orleans, lost everything and said earnestly, Thank God we’re alive!  No one thanked God for Katrina, or cancer, or other dark disturbances that abound.  It may sound as though my faith and my fury are somehow ready to duke it out, but, fortunately, ahem, my faith is bigger than my fury. It is a faith made from eclectic gatherings of twigs and strings and spiritual flotsam collected in and out of traditional religious teachings, universal energy, the transformative power of love, good friends, a sunset, or a hot bowl of chicken soup.  It is strong nonetheless.

So fortunately, my skin cancer was extensive enough to remove the tip of my nose.  And I don’t mean the tip, like an itty bitty felt tip marker sized tip, but the tip, like the entire front end.  And the fortunate part is, I was able to have my forehead repurposed into a nose.  In a three part surgery that took place over 5 weeks, start to finish.  My nose was removed or at least the front end, a 1 x 3 inch wide slice of my forehead was partially removed and made into a trunk, while the remaining parts were stretched and stitched back together, providing another fortunate bonus, forehead wrinkle removal.  The flap was gently rolled like a nice piece of ham at a family luncheon, and one end was sewn on to the remaining parts of my nose at the flaring nostrils.   So, fortunately, my nose was removed, but was refashioned and regrown anew.  And well fortunately, the cancer was stopped from spreading any further, for now.

During the recovery stage, and after Googling every bit of forehead flap reconstruction video and article, I learned a great deal.  I can’t say I tried to tap the truncated stalk which I learned would be felt on my forehead since the tissue was still alive and nourishing my new nose tip, but I had a rather odd experience of my own.  Because, well, God and I both have a twisted sense of humor and so here goes: it seemed, well.... rather, phallic.  I know, it’s odd, but it was made with fore (head) skin and it was stalk like, ending in a bulbous tip. And the bulbous tip, well, was a little loose fitting at first...I know, the inner child, the ridiculousness of it all.  I suppose God only gives you what you can manage and then he helps you manage it in ways that are bizarre and unlikely.  It’s definitely odd, but you have to laugh, right?  And well it was rather funny, or just plain old twisted.

I’m in the final stage of recovery.  My stalk has been removed, my nose is starting to nicely resemble my nose.  I don’t think I will be stopped for indecent exposure any time soon.  My forehead has been cleared of all wrinkles, and my stitches will be removed next week.  My restrictions post surgery are a bit funny too.  God just has his hand in everything doesn’t he! That great big joker in the sky!

These are my restrictions: 

Do Not Drive a car or operate machinery such as sewing machines, lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, stoves, bicycles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and all terrain vehicles. 

OK lets go through this shall we?  Sewing Machines?  Really?  Who was on this committee meeting to determine these restrictions at the medical board?  The fashion police and representatives of the Duck Dynasty clan?  Sewing machines?  Why not?  Am I going to sew myself an ugly dress?  The likelihood of my nose getting caught in the threader seems impossible, even with the temporary swelling.    Stoves? What does that mean?  Is a stove considered operational machinery? Like turning the knobs?  I’m allowed to use my blender, and my washing machine has no restrictions.  Snow blowers and Snowmobiles? There’s no mention of the SkiDoo, but I don’t have one, yet.  There must be a restriction list for the spring or summer, or all destinations south.  I can apparently skateboard and operate the Tilt-o-Whirl, but I will be healed by the time the carnival rides come to town, another fortunate result of God scheduling in the skin cancer at this time I suppose.  So I won’t be carving a grizzly bear in any stumps in my front yard, I can’t collect the 8 pt. deer with my ATV, I suppose using firearms was not restricted, the NRA seems to have more power then God..., my Evel Knievel  jumps will have to wait a week or two, the weather does not hold out any hopes of snow and I won’t be able to mow my lawn for a bit.  Ah, I might as well sit back use my blender for some frozen daiquiris and toast to God Almighty and pray to the fashion police for saving me from sewing a dress or a nose covering snood.

I could further count my blessings that my post surgery medicine wasn't going to give me any 6 hour erections or cause small children to grow body hair and breasts if they came into contact with it, one commercial of late warns of a  mystery product for men that can cause symptoms of male features in a woman or child who comes into contact with the medication. Pleading with you to call your doctor if your female partner has male-pattern baldness, excessive body hair growth, increased acne, irregular menstrual periods, or any other signs of male characteristics.  I for one didn't realize men had irregular menstrual cycles, I always believed they didn't have any at all...go figure! And how unfortunate and ungodly!

I have one more week before I start training for the Warrior Dash.  A 5k run with obstacles aplenty to aim any bits of fury I have left in me and garner enough faith to carry me through.  Thank God for fire pits and Viking helmets!  And grace and speed in recovery.  Oh and Thank God for sunblock too. Put it on, frequently!  Take Care and Godspeed.

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