A few weeks ago, during yoga, I got myself up into crow for the first time since June 23. After I did a little proud dance for myself, I started thinking about that class six months ago.
I had not been feeling like myself for so long (shortness of breath, weird pain in my ribs, night sweats) that when I woke up that Sunday morning with a swollen face, it barely phased me. Being tired and stressed explained the bags under my eyes; my swollen cheeks were a result of a salt binge the night before. A solid sweat at yoga class would solve my swollen cheeks and, oh look, my hands too, weird, and a good night’s sleep would solve my eye bags.
Off I walked to yoga and eased into child’s pose with a sigh of relief before the teacher entered the room. Except that my cheeks immediately started throbbing like I’d been upside-down for a solid few minutes. Huh. I sat up and looked at myself, really looked at myself, in the mirror. And was fairly shocked at what I saw.
My round moon face was so prominent that it hid not only my cheekbones but my natural appearance. My skin, leached of color, was covered with a light sheen of sweat. The dark circles under my eyes highlighted stress, worry, but most of all simple exhaustion. My neck was swollen, but not really noticeable because it looked to be in proportion with my face. My upper arms had lost definition and seemed more sausage-like. I couldn’t see the veins on my hands, and my wedding band felt tight.
I saw someone who was sick. Really sick.
Of course I suppressed that thought immediately. My sister has been battling Hodgkins Lymphoma off and on for six years, at that point on. Weird symptoms in my family had come to mean one thing, and I was not prepared to face that possibility.
I somehow stumbled through the class, unable to do poses that put my head lower than my heart for more than a second or two. The rush of blood and fluid to my head was simply too painful. I walked home and stared at the wall for a good portion of the day. The following morning, I called to make an appointment with my doctor.
Four days later, the ER doctor looked at me and my husband and said, “we think it’s lymphoma.”