My fiance's family was having a get-together on the beach this past weekend, and I decided to drag my exhausted, busted-footed self down there. But I had one serious problem: the only way to make it back in time for my radiation treatments was by air. And I'm so afraid of flying that I haven't gotten on a plane in more than seven years.
But when the moment of truth arrived, I took a bit of Ativan, did my breathing exercises, and suddenly I was lifting off from the place where I've been in treatment for eight months... flying over the house where I survived chemo. Nothing was going wrong. Up, up I went, and no part of me dissolved from anxiety.
It was overall a pretty decent flight. When I landed, I told the flight attendant that it was my first flight in years. As I was being wheeled down the airport hallway toward the car (I rode in wheelchairs a lot last weekend), she ran up to me with a pair of silver-colored plastic wings. I stuck them to my shirt and was glowing for the rest of the day. FLYING!
And then it was time to meet most of my fiance's relatives. The first thing we did was to sit on the porch overlooking the ocean and wait for dolphins to swim by, which erased my nervousness. We had a geeky internet video party! An amazing aunt wheeled me along a boardwalk and asked me to tell her all about birds! (We saw white and glossy ibis, tricolored and little blue herons, great egrets, skimmers, and so many gulls and turtles... and I really should cut this list short here.) Everyone was fun and very welcoming.
There were a few awkward moments. I wanted to go swimming, but I haven't bought the special bathing suit that I need. Why a special bathing suit? I've been pretty obfuscatory in describing my recent surgery, but I think I'm ready to spell it out now: I had a mastectomy. For the uninitiated, this means that I lost a breast.
My ladies were never all that large to begin with, but you'd be surprised how few things fit when you have a tangerine in one front pocket and nothing in the other. Still, at one point I just said "screw it" and went swimming in my old suit. It was wonderful, and nobody batted an eye.
Not too shabby for a first post-diagnosis vacation.