The Thing About Tunnels

We’ve all heard the expression “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”  Personally, I have used it more than a few times to remind myself to hang in there when things stink.  It’s a pretty simple concept; what you’re dealing with is dark and cold and icky –like a tunnel. But if you look up and far enough out you can see light, no matter how far away it is. It might be small at first, but the longer you keep working through your troubles the bigger and brighter it will get. It may be really dark and really long but there is always a light at the end. That light, my friends, is your hope and your motivation to keep going.

Over the last 2+ years I have used this expression several times to cope with the nerves of a new doctor consult, MRI, CT scan or procedure. Last August, after we decided on the hyster I was clinging to this mantra. We had hit a wall and this was the only thing any of us (care team, family and me) had left as a means to alleviate some pain. Considering I had spent my favorite holiday (The Fourth of July) in the most insane pain I practically jumped onto that operating table, all with the mindset that this was my light at the end of the tunnel.

It wasn’t though, and the tunnel stretched out before me. A few months later I revisited my IR and schedule my 3rd (and last) Embolization. Surely, this was my light. Again, it was not and the tunnel stretched on farther than I had ever though it would. During a recent consult with my PCP I asked about several different surgical options. Should I have my ovaries removed? Will that makes this go away? Should I see a new IR would a different take on the veins and some embolizations make this more tolerable? What about forcing myself into menopause? Will that make this better? Will these things get me to the end? Back the things I love? All of the answers were “no”. And the ramifications of putting myself –and my family- through more surgeries were not promising. This pain is what it is, in the simplest form. There really isn’t anything I haven’t tried to make this go away. This tunnel I have walking through for the last 2+ years is no longer a tunnel, it’s my life.

What then, of the light I have been working towards? What then of the hope and motivation I had to just keep trying to make this better? Is it all for nothing? Is this my life now? A cold, dark and lonely tunnel that has no end?

No chance.

I refuse to live the rest of my life telling myself “it will get better”, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, I am so annoyed with this stupid tunnel that I declare that it doesn’t exist, and that PCS is just another part of my life, same as my job, my family and my friends. Just like my hair color or how tall I am. It doesn’t define me; it’s just another part of the broad picture of me. Some days I have a bad hair day, other days I don’t have anything good to wear, and other days I have a lot of pain. It just is what it is-nothing more, nothing less.

True, it dictates my day a little more than say, a bad hair day. I can’t just cover this up with a hat, but I don’t need to make a huge fuss over it either. I wouldn’t let dirty hair ruin my day, so why would I let PCS ruin my day? I wouldn’t.

The thing about tunnels is their walls make it really hard to see what you’ve already got. They force you into this lonely place, where all you see is the dark. If you can remind yourself, even when it’s tough, of all your gifts and blessings then you won’t have to wait for the light at the end of the tunnel to enjoy them again. You won’t have to wait, because the tunnel will be gone.

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