|Santa Mouse, a long-lost remnant of my childhood, finally returned.|
|Our tree, 2016|
On December 18, we held a little "holiday open house" which was mostly family, though a friend of my husband's also showed up. We had invited other folks but everyone had other plans. It is hard to do get-togethers this time of year.
The "holiday open house" was nice, with my husband's friend and his wife, my father and stepmother, my brother, my sister-in-law, their two children, my mother-in-law, and my nephew's girlfriend all joining in for food and conversation.
After everyone else had left, my brother gave me Santa Mouse, which I had given up on ever seeing again. I received two other Christmas mice this year, too - one from my dear friend B. and another from my aunt.
On Monday, December 19, the timbre of our holiday changed. My physical therapist felt a lump in my stomach that she'd not felt before, and it hurt. She's been rubbing on my belly for 16 weeks because of chronic abdominal pain, so of course she would recognize any change immediately.
I happened to have a doctor's visit already scheduled for December 20, so I asked my physician to check it.
My GP is not one to send you off for tests, so when she told me she wanted an ultrasound, I panicked. My mother died of pancreatic cancer, so of course my brain went there first. Too high for the pancreas, my doctor reassured me. But she never said what she thought it might be.
The internet indicated it was either a hernia, fluid build-up in my abdomen, a bulge in the stomach aorta, a cyst, or a tumor. Doctoring by internet is probably not a good idea, really.
Worry led us by the nose for the remainder of the week. My friend T. came by on Thursday and she could feel the mass in my stomach when she hugged me goodbye. That was scary, that it was so noticeable.
I was a nervous wreck when I had the ultrasound on Friday morning. Worse, since it was the holiday, I expected it to be December 27 before I knew the results.
That's a long time to wait.
I told only a few people there might be a problem. No need to worry folks, after all. Christmas Eve came and I was home alone, with the firefighting husband out saving the city from the ashes of itself.
A friend called, and another dropped by unexpectedly. I hadn't seen B. in ages and she's had a rough time. I was so pleased to see her, and I was pleased with myself for keeping my mouth shut about my testing and worries. She has enough to worry over.
My brother came back, too. He had one of my husband's Christmas presents in his truck, and he dropped it off. We also exchanged gifts, a tradition. Brother and sister always opened the present from one another on Christmas Eve, a ritual created to shut us up, I think. But it's a tradition we have preserved.
Santa woke me around 4:30, stumbling around in the living room (not really, I'd had a bad dream), and after I checked on things and went back to bed, I woke about 6:30 a.m. My husband arrived home a little after 8, and then it was time for our Christmas.
We had a very pleasant hour opening gifts, each of us taking our time to examine what we opened and to express our love and joy with each other. No matter what the rest of the world brings to us, my husband and I manage to find our way back to one another in love and in friendship.
Late in the day we went to my mother-in-law's, where we had a fulfilling and delightful dinner of turkey, green beans, squash casserole, cheese ball, meat balls, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. Everything was good and we could hardly manage dessert, which for me was carrot cake and for my husband coconut cake with boiled custard.
Then again we opened gifts, with my sister-in-law complaining as she does every year about how we weren't supposed to buy anything (yet they always buy us something and we buy them something). I finally told her I was 53 years old and nobody was going to tell me what to do. Sometimes I can be mean.
At any rate, I received some nice reading material, dish towels, and gift cards, which are always welcome. Hopefully everyone was happy with the treats we gave out as well.
Then we came back home, and as soon as I finished my shower, my husband was ready for bed. Apparently he'd had a rougher night at the fire station than he had let on.
Today my aunt visited me. We laughed when we both opened our gifts to one another and discovered we'd given each other coloring books. That doesn't happen often, and fortunately they were not the same books! We had a nice visit, and she left.
Alone again in the house, I read the paper and finally came back to my desktop. I discovered a message from my doctor.
The fact that it was email and not a phone call was in itself good news. I don't think my doctor would tell me anything bad in an email.
So I held my breath as I opened the test results. The mass in my stomach is likely a lipoma (non-cancerous fatty tumor) or a hernia, and it had been present on my CT scan in 2014. There was a little change in that it was a tiny bit larger, but otherwise nothing life-threatening.
My GP suggested I see a surgeon to see if surgery is warranted, but I think I've had enough of surgery for a while - I've had my belly cut open 7 times. If she will let me watch the thing and see how things go, that is my preferred way.
With that sword of Damocles no longer hanging over my head, I can relax now for the new year.
A Christmas miracle? Probably not, but certainly a load off my shoulders.