|Winter Geese, Gallatin, MO|
The MRI tech forgot to put a blanket on me before we started, and I was too busy breathing and trying not to panic (I'm not fond of small spaces) to notice until about ten minutes into the procedure. By then, it was too late - if I had moved, we'd have had to start the whole darn thing over again, so I decided to just keep concentrating on breathing and staying still.
By the time she finished, my fingers were ice cold. I was shaky and close to passing out. I sat for a moment, then got dressed and went back to the waiting room to make myself a cup of hot tea with sugar. The volunteer had a chocolate bar in her purse, and donated it to the cause (thank you, Marta). About 20 minutes later, I was feeling close to OK again, and got in the car to drive on home.
That's when the pity party started. I was still cold to my bones, and not at all happy about this detour I'm on. Tears flowed freely as I drove.
But then my thoughts turned to Bronia.
Bronia was a Holocaust survivor I met several years back. The kids and I went to her house several times - to talk, and to help her out a little. A couple of times, she honored us by telling bits of her story:
She was taken from her home in Poland by the Nazis when she was just fourteen, and incarcerated in Auschwitz. As the war ground on, her strength waned and she grew thin and sickly. One morning, she didn't pass muster at roll call, and she was selected to go with a group from Auschwitz (the work camp) to Birkenau (the death camp). It was winter, and she was stripped and told to get in the back of a truck with the others selected to die that day. She got in the truck, and was sitting near the tailgate with a friend of hers. The guards left them there for a bit, and she turned to her friend and said, "Come on, let's go! I want to live!"
But her friend was frightened, discouraged and scared; she said she was resigned to her fate. She remained on the truck, and died that day. Bronia was not resigned to anything, so jumped out of the truck and buried herself in the snow. She was severely undernourished, naked, and it was winter in Poland. She knew the people who lived nearby wouldn't help; if she went to them, they would just turn her back in. So, she did the only thing she could think to do. She hid in the snowbank until sunset, then snuck back into Auschwitz. (The guards were looking for people getting out, not in.)
As I thought of her story, my tears stopped. Compared to what she survived, I only thought I was cold. And if she could go through what she did to live, I could certainly endure a case of the shivers.
"I want to live!"
P.S. I got an after-five on Friday afternoon call from the MRI center. Since it was good news, she wanted to ease my weekend a bit. (Thank you, Donna.) The scan showed one tiny additional bit of cancer, but it's right next to the known mass. They still can't declare my lymph nodes clear until after surgery, but the scan showed no signs of involvement, and the other breast shows no signs of the disease.
** Breathe **