Do you see what I see?
I'm talking about visualization. Certainly, there are those who simply see what they want, then go after it. For instance, my friend Kat, whom I've known for more than 30 years, decided she wanted three kids, two years apart, starting when she was 30. Benjamin is 7, Julian 5, Lily 3 … Kat will be 38 this month.
That's just for starters. Churches, even, have jumped on the bandwagon, with pastors telling parishioners to envision -- and then verbalize -- what they want. Not as in prayer request, but as in visualization. Maybe this makes it easier for God or something, maybe He doesn't have to work so hard if we visualize, since there's that psychic connection between Him and us.
Of course, skeptics call this the "name it and claim it" school of thought, or the "gab and grab" type of church.
But visualization is a terrific tool for so many people; they can just see it – see the promotion, see the kids, see the family they want -- then go toward it. Even my spiritualist said, "If you can see it, you can have it."
Of course, that was never how it was with me. I can write about whatever I'm thinking; I'll talk to you until you're imploring me to shut up. But mental imagery? I just don't see it.
In job interviews, they'd ask "Where do you see yourself in five years?"
Gosh, I'd think, I just hope I'm alive and my son is speaking to me.
That always went over badly; I flubbed that question in every interview. I'm a very truthful girl and never mastered that one.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Sportswriting sounded good, but I didn't see that; I was simply very good at it. For various reasons, I'm out of the journalism world, at least where sports are concerned.
Speaking of sports – is that how you folks do it? I know professional athletes visualize; I've read countless interviews with runners, for instance, who say they see themselves coming across the finish line first, beating such-and-such rival – it's ubiquitous in the sporting world.
I ran the 880 as a freshman and sophomore in high school. Now it's the 800, because we're dealing with meters; back then we were still in the land of yards. My dad told me to see myself winning the race. But I couldn't. Maybe I was afraid of confusing "work" with "wish." Those four-letter words, you know – maybe I worried about the danger of thinking if I just wish for it, I don't have to work for it.
Now of course, is now.
The Cushing's Syndrome was coming back -- my cortisol level was up and my cheeks were starting to look puffy again. It was sometime in the end of June and I was at Amy's, holding her new baby. "Have you talked to the Cushing's?" she asked.
I gave her a blank look. No, of course not.
"You could tell it what you'll stand for and what you won't … I see it as sort of a Where the Wild Things Are character."
Later that day, I sat in a quiet place and conjured up the Cushing's. To me, it was like a Sponge Bob character, but with no defined outline. It was lumpy, a la Jabba the Hut -- pockmarked, an ugly pinkish gray. And sullen, with yellow, red-rimmed rheumy eyes, filmy with gunk in the corners, a vague shade of light brown.
It stood facing me sullenly, sulkily defiant, eyes downcast.
"Look at me, you son of a bitch," I said aloud. It met my gaze.
"Here's what I will stand for: increased running speed because of the hormones." I thought that was fair (and practical).
"Here's what I won't stand for: this face nonsense. Let my face go." And then I gave it the crux of my monologue: "You are not serving me anymore. Get out. Now. Your time has come and gone."
I did this whenever I remembered -- which was usually at least once a day. Less than two weeks later, the Cushing's was gone.
This does not mean there's a direct correlation between my visualization and the disease absenting itself. The outcome could be partly due to the subcutaneous Sandostatin (peptide) shots, the increased Ketoconazole (adrenal suppressant). Call on God, but row away from the rocks. That's (the rowing part) another column.
But I'm certain it didn't hurt the process, my mental steps.
In Switzerland, I didn't sleep much the night before the procedure. Sometime in the wee hours I awoke with such a visual, I grabbed my notebook, scooted out of bed and crept quietly into the hall, where the lights came on in some kind of motion sensor. I propped myself against the door and started scribbling, trying to articulate the picture in my head.
At first the cancer was like a Dementor from the third Harry Potter movie, unable to be captured, evil and black and intangible, like the Grim Reaper but scarier. Imagine the most terrifying spectre of a child's imagination, one that freezes you in fear, your eyes so wide open they can't tear up, where you can't breathe and your face is expressionless because the muscles have stopped working.
But after the thing was caught, it sort of just flapped around half-heartedly, disinterestedly. It didn't mean to scare me.
I told it what I could stand and what I would not. I even thanked it for what it allowed me to do – slough off some fears; let go of old anger and pain; learn to be loved; adopt a different way of being and looking at things … and it was silent, almost penitent. Foolish.
Then I envisioned each cancer individually, and I put it in present tense, imagining it happening that instant. The liver lesions come off like scabs, those satisfying ones that should slough away anyway where you sort of peel off an edge and the rest comes away with no mark, or only a freshly pink area that is mostly healed.
They wash away in my bloodstream.
The large liver lesions explode; they're craters already and they detonate their area. But then the liver smoothes over, the striations symmetrical and unmarred.
The massive tumor at the cardiophrenic juncture -- where the heart and abdomen come meet -- shrinks with a slight sucking sound, down to nothing, then disappears. Random cancer cells light up throughout my abdomen, neon green with surprise, then fade and blend in with the rest of my cells.
That's my visual. You don't have to get on board; it feels like asking you to clap for Tinkerbell.
But here's the thing: In terms of those three -- the liver, the tumor and the cancer cells -- how I envisioned it is how it is going to be.
Sorry, that was vague. Dr. Wild, who administered the treatment in Switzerland, said all the cancer cells took up the radioactive material, so now it's reconfiguring the DNA. In a sense, it's exploding the cancer lesions on the liver; they should wash away in my bloodstream.
Further, he said, "If you're lucky, the tumor will shrink."
Prophetic? Practical? Whatever, I'll take it.
This is the race of life. This is what works. It's not such a bad picture, you know?