Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Surgery Day

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Day of surgery. All cleaned up and antibacterial wipes done. My last food, eaten. I can have liquids until 11:30am. Kayla is nervous for me and she throws up right after she wakes up. It’s a beautiful day. It reminds me of the day Kayla was born 11 years ago.

As nervous as I had been the night before – to the point of a drunk, anxious, spinning feeling to anxious coughs – like asthma after running in the cold – I wake up this morning and command the enemy to leave me in the name of Jesus. No more spinning and a supernatural peace envelopes me. I post the following to my Facebook group:





I talked to Rachel last night and she said, “You have had your body sawn in half and a baby taken out, so how bad can it be?” Good point. We talked about lots of other random things and it was a good diversion.

Trying to stay calm this morning. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

Surgery day is long. We don’t leave the house until 11:15, arrive at the hospital at 12:15pm and I go right in. They take me back for the needle insertion to mark the non-cancerous breast lesion. In the first room on the wall there is a yellow day lily painted on silk and embroidered in small circles, almost like quilting. I didn’t think about it much at the time.

Next, they take me into the mammogram procedure room. The doctor is very nice, and the needle insertion goes quickly. They were going to make me stand for it as they needed to take several mammogram pictures before and during to ensure they put the pin in the correct location. Instead they found a sitting gurney chair and used that. And yes, there was a needle sticking out of me, while I was awake, before surgery, taped down until they put me under. So weird.

I prayed quietly as I waited for the doctor and sang, “I love you Lord”. Then I looked at the picture on the wall – a white flower painted on silk with embroidery (same artist as the lily in the other room). I looked at the tag – white trillium. Suddenly I remembered the yellow day lily Rachel texted me that morning. The first in her garden this spring – she said, “I think this is for you.” The same type of lily and same color as the picture in the first room.

My eyes refocus on the trillium in the mammogram room I’m in now. I hear God speaking into my mind, “A gift for you, from me. You are right were you should be.” The flower swells off the wall as tears fill my eyes. Wow, just wow.

Ever since I learned about trillium, the pretty white flowers that grow mostly in northern Michigan that turn a beautiful shade of lavender, I’ve wanted to see one in person, near my home. I was privileged to see tons of them in Petoskey when my sister lived there. About three years ago, I was driving to pick up the kids from school and as I passed a small forest on the way, God beckoned me to look into the forest and said, “there are trillium there”. I could see them a bit from the road and after picking up the kids, we circled back and got out of the car to investigate and take pictures. There is no way I would have seen the trillium without God’s nudging.

After the needed is inserted, they wheel me to surgery prep and I was the only patient there. The nurse who did my IV was excellent – hardly a mark and no bruise. All of my blood pressure checks were normal – first time since I was diagnosed. Next, I meet with the doctors. The plastic surgeon draws funny lines all over me. He sees the needle sticking out of me and asks, “Who are you, Jane of the jungle?” I laugh.

The anesthesiologist gives me a small patch behind my ear to prevent nausea as a dear doctor friend recommended. He also inserted a nerve block near the lump removal site. This administers pain relief for about 18 hours after the surgery. I have never heard of this. Thankfully they sedate me during the insertion because, yeah, I see now on my upper chest where the block went in and no thanks! That would have been very painful to experience awake! I then see the surgeon briefly.

They wheel me back to the O.R. I see the table waiting for me and the lights, but they aren’t on yet. Then I wake up in the recovery room. Jerry and I and the nurse are the only ones there. I drink juice and eat crackers and feel nauseous but go to the bathroom and start to feel better. The nurse takes out the IV, I get dressed with Jerry’s help and we leave at 8pm – the sun still shining. I put the chest seatbelt behind me on the way home.

Dawn picks up my prescriptions and Laura watches the kids and they had a good day. I stay up for a while to get the pain meds going, update a few things on Facebook, answer text messages, and then go to bed. Surgery done. Now, time to recover…


Facebook Fast – Thirty-One Days

I wake up blurry eyed and foggy and fumble to turn the alarm
off my phone.  Before I even sit up, let
the silence sink in, or turn on a light, I login to Facebook.  What am I missing that happened in the five
hours since I last logged in?

One of the kids asks me a question, but I don’t hear them as
I scroll through the newsfeed – blue and white glow discoloring my face.  She asks me three times more, “Mom, mom! Can you
hear me?  You need a time limit for your
phone, just like you give us.”  I hear
her this time and put it down.

It’s October 1 and I’m reading the latest rant over
the government shutdown and Obamacare as my federal government employed sister
sits at home wondering her fate.  Suddenly,
a wave of anger envelopes me.  Livid that
I’m wasting time reading garbage from arm chair “politicians” insisting on an
opinion they know nothing about. 

I leave a couple of posts on groups and my wall that I’m
logging off – for the whole month of October. 
I sign off cooling my heels over ice water. 

Oh, I’ve logged out before for a whole month – did it just
last June, but it didn’t lose its hold on me. 
I logged in ravenous consuming Crackbook oblivious to the dissatisfaction
and frustration that continued.
trudged on for more than a year, unchanged and unrelenting.  I meant to write about it back then – to share
with the world the revelations uncovered from a month “disconnected”.  The truth was the epiphany never came.

This time was different. 
The first couple of days, I pondered my struggles with the blue and
white frames.  I remember signing on for
the first time over four and half years ago under the guise from family and
friends to stay “connected”.  It was fun
finding old college friends and grade school pals that I had not spoken to in
over 30 years.

Months go by and our third child is born.  While I wish I could remember vividly the
times I snuggled close and gazed into her perfect sweet face, I barely
can.  The memories I recall are thumbnail
pictures scrolling by, blue letters, red notifications delighting me.  I’m ashamed at these cheap excuses for

When I stopped working to be home with our kids, I craved
any type of adult interaction.  My phone
stayed logged in, I stood at my laptop in the kitchen until my legs ached,
relentlessly scrolling, devouring “social interactions”.  In reality I was feeding my addiction,
barking at the kids when they interrupted me, recoiling at my shallow
existence.  I was terrified to admit it –
I envisioned the audience at a 12-step meeting. 
I stand trembling before them.  “Hello,
my name is Jennifer and I’m a Facebook addict.”

The vision fades and I step away for short bursts…a week
here, a week there, holidays, birthdays, many Sundays.  But I always wake up the next day and I log
back in – as if I had never left – returning to where I left off. 

After the first few days of this fast, I get an email from
my “dealer” – I am missing notifications.  Sorry Crackbook, I can’t do that.  I delete the message.  Again, an email – two days later.  I ignore it. 
After day five, I get an email  On day eight, I unsubscribe.

By day 15, I don’t think about Facebook anymore.  I have a big announcement I want to share, so
I login quickly to post it.  I do not
look at notifications.  I do not look at
the newsfeed.  I realize in despair that
I don’t ever want to login again and that soon I will have to decide how to
manage this.

The world seems brighter and calm and there are no
distractions to keep me from reading a book or playing a game with my children…some
of them old enough that they have stopped asking me to do those things.  Is it because I hardly reciprocated?  Because I wasn’t listening?  I shudder at the thought.

My eight year old asks me to sit with her and talk.  I’m floored and honored and my phone is not
on my person and I do not hear it and I am fully here with her in this
place.  I hug her and count her freckles
while I tell her that I will always listen and for once I really am and please tell
me God that I have not missed too much!

October 31 rolls around and I wait.  I do not login until nearly 11pm on November
1.  Most of the notifications are not
worth reading and I can’t get past the second item in the newsfeed.  I start hiding things like mad in a desperate
attempt to focus on those people that drew me to this “connecting” tool in the
first place.  I don’t login again for a
couple of days and I don’t think about it and I’m not drawn in and is this what
normal life is like?

I close up my laptop having spent just a few minutes – but a
few minutes more than I wanted.  I walk
out into the living room where my sweet four year old is singing and dancing
and I take her hand and join in.