“And my life, which is my body surely, is also something more— isn’t yours?”
— Mary Oliver
Today I had to wake up early in order to head to traffic court. After almost 2 years of flying under the radar (I mean, of driving the speed limit) I got a speeding ticket. Now, for those of you not as seasoned as I in the area of speeding tickets, let me just say it’s worth it to take the time to go to court. While your fine will stay the same, the number of points will almost always be reduced.
So, as usual after getting a ticket, I have been trying to be more conscious of my speed as I’m driving. It seems I have no will power to regulate my speed so the only way that I can guarantee I’m not more than five miles over the posted speed limit is to put my car on cruise control.
Even though it seems as if I’m barely crawling along, I am always amazed to see that I arrive at my destination in a timely fashion. And I do know it’s easier on my vehicle.
I think I drive like I live my life. I often make jack rabbit starts, speed through my days, go from one appointment to the next. If there were speeding tickets for how we live, I’m sure I would have a whole trunk-ful by now.
But I believe somehow our bodies conspire with the universe in a sort of cosmic cruise control enforcement to at least get us to pay attention, to slow us down, remind us to breathe. Over two years ago after my annual physical exam, I was notified that my pap smear came back abnormal. This led to having pap smears every three months to monitor that. My last test revealed a change from abnormal to cancer cells- severe dysplasia (I only wrote that to ask- why is it that in humans dysplasia means cancer cells and in dogs it means hip problems???) While my doctor is confident that the biopsy procedure used to diagnose this also got all of the cancer cells, I decided to have a hysterectomy. This will greatly increase the chance of the cancer not returning.
My surgery is scheduled for August 3 and the recovery is typically about six weeks. During that time, I will be on cruise control. In my recovery I hope to rest, to read, to reflect on how our bodies are surely us, as Mary Oliver said, but not all of us. And it is also a reminder to me to pay attention, to honor my body, to take good care of it, for even if it isn’t all of who I am, it is me.
I am not oblivious to the fact that this cancer was caught and treated in a timely fashion, because the abnormalities were monitored for over two years, and all of that was possible because I have the luxury of health insurance. For many uninsured women, annual exams are a luxury they can’t afford. Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated if caught in time. For many, the difference between detecting it early or having it progress into invasive cancer is having health care coverage. While I don’t believe the Health Care Reform bill that has been passed and is to be implemented soon is 100 % perfect, I do think it goes a long way to insuring that more women will have the opportunity I’ve had to be an active partner in my health care and to have access to basic services that could save their lives.
So beginning August 3, I will be on medical leave for a few weeks. I’m one of those folks who likes to suffer alone so don’t really need a lot of visitors. My girlfriend is a fabulous cook, so I won’t need meals. I do have Skype and would love to touch base with any of you who have that as well. I can’t guarantee what my hair will look like on the video call, though. It has a mind of its own and attempts a coup every night while I sleep. Fortunately, I already had a great line up of guest speakers for the last four Sundays in August so that’s one thing I don’t have to stress about. And I also won’t have to stress about how the church will get along in my absence. We have a newly reconstituted Caring Team headed by Charles Peterson. So if you need assistance of any kind, All Souls will be there for you. You are a wonderful, committed, caring congregation and I know you’ll continue the mission and vision of All Souls even while I’m on cosmic cruise control.
I am so grateful for each of you!