Chicken and Waffles

I made a trip downtown Atlanta (Midtown) today for lunch with friends. Any other day, place or companions and it would have been just another fabulously fun girls lunch. Girls lunches are great. Afternoons (or late mornings in my case) that you look forward to with girly excitement; you’re finally taking time for yourself and wearing somewhat “cool” clothes, eating without the kids, and eating something you didn’t make from your refrigerator. This day was special.

It was a familiar trip. I had been at the hospital less than a week ago for my MRI, but this was my very first trip there as a visitor and not a patient. I had not even thought of that until I was waiting to valet the car, cursing the boondoggle of cars and eager to get inside and plan our lunch attack. I realized I had no blood to let go of, scans to get or box to check. I laughed.

So three girls met, hugged, laughed and planned our attack. We met as friends; labels gone. Gone were the labels this afternoon of patient, nurse and fellow board member. An important distinction that felt very good. Fun and food was the priority.

I worked out this morning and burned a few hundred calories in anticipation that we would go to Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles. Yes, that would be “The” Gladys Knight and yes… they make waffles and fried chicken served on a plate together. I had seen the food and place featured on Food Network and oddly enough it had really sounded good. We went, we had, we conquered. Damn was it great.

As a patient, I am constantly thinking of those who started this journey with me and I feel privileged. I know how lucky I am in comparison to so many other Brain Tumor patients, how well my “medical” recovery has gone and how I have attempted to paste our lives back together. But this is still a total nightmare, so don’t mind me if I want to smack you for reminding me of the above. It is my parents nightmare, my husbands, my children’s, my friends and my own nightmare. Nevertheless, my outing today afforded me the amazing opportunity to see past the entirety of the nightmare and focus my perspective back toward the gifts that this train wreck has given to me. After lunch I saw Wendy again, and that was special.

Wendy was my pre-op nurse. By the time I got into the room with her at the hospital a week before my surgery, I had been to radiology, had blood work and sat in a waiting room full of people (who by the look of them, defined why the process took so long) and watched the clock.It was Wendy who told me I would go to the ICU after surgery. I had no idea, it had never occurred to me. I never asked the question. Now why I thought having my head cracked open and a tumor cut out equaled a free pass to a normal room is admittedly delusional. We connected. She was compassionate, patient and calm and I totally lost my shit. Wendy is one of the first people I think of when I think about the beginning of this journey and I think about how she believed in me. Wendy came and saw us while we waited for me to be taken into surgery and she came to see me before I was discharged.

I had not seen Wendy since August 20th, when I was discharged.Seeing Wendy today, hugging her, thanking her and telling her how much I appreciate what she did for me was a gift. A gift far better than Chicken and Waffles.

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