cerfolio

The Untold Ending

If you read my blog from beginning to end, you would realize a huge chunk of my story is missing. I never wrote about leaving the hospital. 

Every time I think of the last 5 days I spent in that jail, I tear up.

I couldn’t write about it. I couldn’t even speak about it.

I couldn’t find the words to express freedom and joy. How do you describe something that is just so damn sweet? How?

For those of you that know me, and even those who do not, you know that I’m very open. However, speaking about leaving the hospital has been something that I’ve kept to myself. It was such an emotional time and I will never be able to explain it perfectly, but I guess this version of it will have to do.

Here goes…

The untold ending that brought a new beginning:

                                        

13 DEC., 2013

It’s been a week since surgery. We haven’t heard a word from the pathologists.

Cool.

                                        

15 DEC., 2013

It’s 6:30 a.m. and there’s a knock at the door. Ah, they’re on time – as usual.

Every single morning at exactly 6:30, two or three of Cerf’s nurses check up on me. It’s SO early and I wish they’d let me get some damn sleep, but I quickly open my eyes hoping to see my man, Dr. Cerfolio, with the rest of his crew (I haven’t seen him since surgery. He went to complete his master’s degree in Orlando, FL, but he’s back – finally!). 

He’s not here though. I feel sorta sad but I get over it quickly. There are greater matters at hand.

“Any word on the pathology?”

Silence.

“Not yet.”

                                        

16 DEC., 2013

It’s noon. There’s a knock. No one walks in or opens the door.

Weird. 

Dad gets up and does the job.

Cerfolio and his ENTIRE team are standing by the door. Casual.

I can’t read his face, and for the first time since I’ve met this handsome, Italian man, he’s not smiling.

“Well… We still don’t know what it is… We will probably never know… But, what I can tell you is that there are no signs of malignancy…”

Dead silence filters the room. We’re just listening to him blabber on… Or hearing would be a better word to use. I pick up faint mumbles but nothing is clear or makes any sense.

Mom nods.

Dad nods.

Aunty Christine nods.

“Teresa,” Cerfolio calls my name and I snap back into reality. “You can leave the hospital tomorrow and continue life as usual.”

I have no words. I just nod.

He swoops me into his arms and whispers, “I love you. You have to tell everyone your story. You have to tell them.”

I nod and I hug him back. He gives me a kiss on the cheek and leaves.

As the door shuts, the silence breaks with mom and dad’s cries. They just tightly embrace each other and cry.

I silently sit and watch them. I don’t know if to smile. I don’t know if to cry. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t even move.
There are no words to describe this.
There are no words.

Aunty Christine starts choking back her tears and does a really cute dance…Well, that does the trick.  I begin hysterically crying. Bawling is a more appropriate term.

Dad looks puzzled. “No smiles? You should be smiling!”

I can’t even look him in the eye. I keep crying. I’m struggling to catch my breath.

This feels surreal. Up until minutes ago, I thought I was dying – I genuinely thought there was no hope for me. The past two months have been a complete and total nightmare. A never-ending, dark tunnel. And FINALLY, there is an end to this shit and there’s a light somewhere.

My parents call my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts, my cousins. The phone doesn’t stop ringing. They must have spoken to 30 people so far, and I still haven’t stopped crying.

Relief. Relief. What a freakin’ relief. 

I am crying because I am happy. Happy is an understatement. The fact that I don’t need to count my days is such a relief.

***

I finally catch myself a few hours later.

photo 1 (6)

Dad has taken it upon himself to break the law because, well, why not? This is definitely a valid excuse to drink!

Homeboy thinks he’s cute. He smirks and takes a swigs out of his “Starbucks” cup.

He has everyone laughing, which is liberating – finally, a genuine laugh.

I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks although you would have never known that I was sick or upset. I had a smile on my face 24/7. I put up a front for the people that loved me the most – my family and Jeff. I couldn’t look weak. I had to be strong for them. I needed to be strong for myself.

photo 5 (2)Every tear I saved over the past two months came rushing out earlier today.
The world is whole again.

I watch mom, dad and aunty Chris laughing. I’m finally able to smile again and actually mean it.

Life is one funny roller-coaster ride.

                                        

17 DEC., 2013

Today’s the big day. I’m moving out.

UAB has been home for 12 days. I have had impeccable care from both my parents and my nurses. I really couldn’t have made it without them. As much as I want to leave, there are so many memories and friends that I have made here. I’m going to miss this place.

Dad comes back from the hotel with my suitcase. I begin packing my things and I’m thinking, “I’m leaving the old Teresa behind and taking the new Teresa with me.”

I’ve changed so much. You can shake your head and be like, “Pshh. Two weeks is nothing. Teresa’s the same girl,” but I would totally disagree. Spending two weeks in the hospital changed my life in ways you could never imagine.

And the waiting game is a bitch. Waiting to hear if you’ll live or not is traumatizing. I’ve had so many emotions bottled up. Will I be able to associate with my friends in the same way I always have? Will I still be bubbly? Will I still be me?

Who can I talk to that can actually understand my situation? Sure, my parents and my aunt were with me, but no one will ever understand what I went through.

Life is no joke. You never know when the big guy up there will call your name. You really have to smile, laugh, fall in love, and enjoy the little things that make life worth living extraordinary. Every single second of every minute of every day.

I hug the nurses, I grab my bags and I’m ready to bounce.

photo 1 (3)

The nurse escorts me out of the hospital (on a wheelchair, that is). As she reaches the door, I glance behind one last time and smile. This place was way too good to me. UAB, you saved me.

But it is time to leave. (YAY!)

I step into the real world and I’m like a pig in shit. Literally.

We take all the little things for granted. My first breath is long, sweet, and filling. Fresh air is a gift from God. It’s a gift that I am even able to breathe with my own lungs.

Mom thinks its too cold and yells at me to get inside the hotel. I totally ignore her and continue taking deep breaths of fresh air.

I’m caught up in my own world. I close my eyes and lose myself in nirvana.

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Check-Up

Jan. 8, 2014

I’ve had a dry cough for as long as I could remember. After surgery, nothing changed. I still cough a lot. Most of the time phlegm comes up (TMI. I know). Otherwise, it’s been good.

I usually take a daily nap or two. I only take one or two Ibuprofen tablets per day (sometimes I forget unless the pain is actually noticeable).

Pushing yourself can be a scary thing when your mind is on a different tangent to your body. My body hasn’t been capable of doing much physically, but my mind hasn’t stopped running. I think this mindset is something I’ve adapted from CrossFit – the more you push yourself, the more results you see. This could definitely be a bad thing, however, luckily, I have only seen positive results. Or at least that’s what I think.

Tomorrow I have a checkup with my surgeon, Dr. Cerfolio, before heading back to school.

Some may say, “School?! What?! A month after having major surgery?!”

Uh, yeah. I’m a busy woman with things to do. Gotta get back on my grind.

My appointment with Cerf will determine whether or not I should or should not actually go back to Syracuse.

I’m praying for the best.

                                       

Jan. 9, 2014

Today’s the day.

I’m pretty excited to see the man that saved my lung (and my life).

He walks into the room and happiness runs through my veins. He’s such an amazing person. His smile warms my heart, and his hugs provide the greatest source of comfort – they’re so full.

photo 1 (5)

He’s also pretty handsome which can’t ever be a bad thing, right? The picture says it all.

His smile is plastered on his face. Literally. 

He’s at a loss for words… He pulls up my x-rays… Suddenly, I’m at a loss for words too.

Below, you can see the last x-ray I did before leaving the hospital.

lung 2

That white cloud of whatever-you-want-to-call-it on the right side of my chest is where my lung used to be.

Cerfolio spent 4 hours in the operating theater trying to save my lung.  He was only able to save a little bit of it of the lung. Now, there’s only one fifth of it left. Tell me if you can see it, because I definitely do not.

Fluid had accumulated in that space, and the x-ray led many doctors to think that I had developed pneumonia. They advised my surgeon to send me back to the ER to remove what’s left.

Cerfolio said no. The others said yes. Cerfolio said no again, and his way goes. After all, he does know best.

This is what my lungs look like now:

lung 1

Cerfolio knew that time and God would heal all. He knew. 

There’s not a lot left, but it’s there!

IT’S THERE. LOOK AT IT!

It’s a huge difference.

I look around the room. Every single person is smiling.

After such trying times, we deserved some good news. This is definitely good news. 

You need to see the two photos side by side.

photo 2 (5)

Do you see that?!

Some may say I’m lucky. I say I’m blessed.

Time to go back to school and enjoy my life in new and exciting ways.