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Four Glitches & A Tumor October 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.

“You have a parotid gland tumor.”

The doctor’s words hung in the air as we reviewed options:

(1) Have surgery to remove the tumor, or
(2) Do nothing and allow the tumor to grow, possibly impacting facial nerves.

As a medical malpractice attorney, I knew all the things that could go wrong during surgery. But as a litigator, I relied on my facial nerves to convey subtle nuances to the jury.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, we opted for Door #1.


Glitch #1: The surgeon we hand-picked wasn’t available for at least 2 months because he was moving from one teaching hospital to another.

My husband and I decided our preferred surgeon would be worth the wait . . . as long as the tumor wasn’t malignant.

Glitch #2: Due to the tumor’s proximity to facial nerves, the surgeon couldn’t perform a needle biopsy.

Great. We agreed to wait it out “in the dark.” Odds were in favor of it being benign, but . . .

Once home, the initial numbness began to wear off, replaced with worry and anxiety. I tried to calm myself by making plans.

“I’m going to have to call everyone I know before going under the knife.”


“To say good-bye . . . just in case.”

So much for calmness. Blind hysteria set in and I started to cry.  My husband allowed the scene to register and then he . . . grinned. He grinned! There I was, on the verge of imminent disaster, and he was laughing at me.

This was NOT the kind, caring, and compassionate man I had married.

I made a mental note to rewrite my will and change the beneficiary of my life insurance policy from him to someone else.

Anyone else.

Well, anyone other than my surgeon; I didn’t want to create a conflict of interest for him if he had medical malpractice insurance premiums coming due.

I glared at my husband and ex-best friend. “What are you smiling about?”

He didn’t even blink. His grin never wavered.  Proof that my tumor had already destroyed facial nerves essential to glaring, staring, and/or giving someone the “stink eye.”

Ignoring my ire, he spoke. “I just took what you said to its logical extreme.”


“You should probably call everyone you know every morning.”

“What for?”

“To say good-bye . . . just in case.”

“What are you talking about?”

His grin grew two sizes as he said, “Well . . . you never know when you’re going to be hit by that proverbial bus.”


I looked at his Cheshire grin with simmering resentment, annoyed that he had full use of his smile muscles.

Then his words sunk in and I burst out laughing.

“You’re right! I could die tomorrow on the way to work. Or next week by running into a brick wall. Or the week after that while caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“Exactly! Why get worked up now over surgery that’s not even scheduled?”

As we relaxed into the moment, I knew I would be all right . . . no matter what happened. Instead of dwelling on the “black cloud of uncertainty,” I had the time of my life that summer.

Aah . . . that’s better!

To be continued tomorrow . . . Four Glitches & A Tumor ~ Part 2.


1. Rainee - October 21, 2014

Can’t wait for the next installment …

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Thanks, Rainee. Coming right up . . . tomorrow.

2. Jill Weatherholt - October 21, 2014

Your husband is very wise…I never end a conversation angry or upset with someone…you just never know. Can’t wait for part 2!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

He is wise, kind, and compassionate . . . most of the time. You seem the same ~ good not to leave angry.

3. Silver in the Barn - October 21, 2014

Going through life with somebody like your BFF helps you cope with just about anything, doesn’t it? Eager to hear what’s next in glitch 3 and 4.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Thanks, Barb. I wrote this piece for the Ordinary Guru contest (which seems to have fizzled), so I decided to share it here. BFF is my Ordinary Guru.

4. livelytwist - October 21, 2014

Aw, they say worry is like a rocking chair that goes nowhere, and yet we like to sit on it. I’m glad your ‘ex’-best friend was very supportive. Your story reminded me of times when I’ve been very afraid. I look forward to the next part.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Thanks, Timi. I love that expression about the rocking chair ~ never heard it before.

This tumor was one of the most valuable life lessons I’ve had. BFF helped me learn what needed learning.

5. suzicate - October 21, 2014

Don’t you just love have someone to put us back into perspective, even when it seems like it’s at our expense? I love having someone to balance me, and I admit I often get angry before I see the light!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Yes! Sometimes NOTHING needs to change but our perspective. Once we get that, we can makes the SHIFT on our own. Until then, it’s nice having someone else around to point the flashlight in the right direction.

6. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - October 21, 2014

Ack! I need resolution!
But, while I suffer waiting for the next installation, it sure sounds like you married the right guy! The interaction warmed my heart!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Thanks, Kate. I agree. He’s been a grand life partner. BTW: These events took place in 1995 . . . I survived!

Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - October 21, 2014

Okay, that does make me feel better! 🙂

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

I realize now, I should have hinted at the passage of decades since this Life Lesson.

7. katecrimmins - October 21, 2014

It’s great that he grounded you but it’s also great that you were able to stay grounded. When I got my diagnosis I was good most of the time but there were a few of those 3 a.m. sobbing sessions that only my cat Jake could work me through. The rest of the time I was sensible and understood that statistically (and logically) I was good. For me it was a roller coaster and come check up time, it still is.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

After the initial shift in perspective, two things helped me:

1. I viewed the tumor as benign (or “Innocent until proven guilty”). That’s not always an option once a biopsy is done.

2. I decided that, if I was going to die, I was going to enjoy myself until I breathed my last.

Since I wasn’t in pain AND it was summer, I lightened my case load (with the court’s approval) and relaxed. I learned to make the most of the moment ~ a habit that’s stood me in good stead.

8. Grannymar - October 21, 2014

I have been missing for a few day and came back to this! You had me worried for a few minutes, Nancy. Your BFF is a real gem, wonderful to have around when you need reassurance. I look forward to the next part.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

He is a gem, GM. We help each other to shift perspective when the muck and mire threaten to suck us under.

9. NancyTex - October 21, 2014

Even the most grounded, logical and rational among us would struggle with the emotional side of facing such a surgery. Your BFF did you a great service by helping you in off the ledge without too much blatant mocking. 🙂

Since I know you’re still around and blogging, I am confident this story ends well. (Which makes me very happy!)

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

The story does end well ~ thanks for your vote of happy! :mrgreen:

I think an immediate re-action to “bad news” is fairly normal for most people. But a quick shift in perspective helps ~ once we really grasp that we COULD die at ANY time, we realize how pointless it is to try to drive past our headlights.

If we’re OK now . . . we’re OK.

NancyTex - October 21, 2014

Amen to that.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Sometimes we’re so busy “beating our head against the wall” that we don’t think how good it would feel to JUST STOP.

10. valleygrail - October 21, 2014

Well you are my candidate for cliff hanger champion!! I am on tenterhooks, here! Is it tomorrow yet? Is it tomorrow yet! Oh man! I hate waiting!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Sorry, VG. Life unfolds S~L~O~W~L~Y sometimes. At first, I was impatient for the surgery to be “over and done with.” Then I relaxed into the moment and enjoyed life.

I ended up having one of my best summers EVER b/c I knew I COULD die.

11. thecontentedcrafter - October 21, 2014

What a great husband you have – a real everyday guru! Isn’t it amazing how our minds go straight to the worst possible scenario and stick with it. I think it was Mark Twain who once said ‘I have worried about many things in my life and some of them have even happened.’ And what a cliff hanger – I shall wait patiently for tomorrow to come – I’m pretty sure it works out okay in the end!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Thanks! It does work out OK in the end.

This was the first time I realized we could CHOOSE to let go of the “worst case scenario” right away and assume the BEST ~ it made such a difference when I decided NOT to stick with certain doom and gloom.

thecontentedcrafter - October 21, 2014

Isn’t that so cool! I think once we have that first epiphany it is easier to make the choice to not live into the worst possible scenario – as long as we remember there is a choice …. Like you, I am certainly grateful for the people around me who remind me I have that option!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

I try to share the choice with others (my way of “paying it forward”) but many resent being encouraged to focus on a brighter horizon. Perhaps Ego views worry as a badge of courage and trials and tribulations as a badge of honor?

12. Don - October 21, 2014

Waiting with expectation for part 2.

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Make the most of every moment in the meantime.

13. Sandra Bell Kirchman - October 21, 2014

Hope the outcome is worth the wait for you. I’ve been waiting for 11 months, but am pretty sure my outcome will be okay. Your BFF is a keeper!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

He is. Glad that you are focusing on a positive outcome, Sandra. It makes sense to do that AND enjoy ourselves while we wait for life to unfold.

Even if we’re wrong, we’ve enjoyed the wait far more.

14. Barb - October 21, 2014

Men can be very practical and down to earth, whereas we let out emotions run amuck…….that’s why we love ’em, they keep us balanced!

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Here’s to balance! Even if we need to lean on others to maintain our equilibrium from time to time.

15. Val Boyko - October 21, 2014

He is a keeper that’s for sure!! Love him 🙂
Sounds like this was in the past…. and you are here to tell the tale.
Looking forward to the next episode!
FYI – My mum starts chemo tomorrow for dealing with the residual of an unusual malignant parotid gland tumor that was removed in August.
No hysteria, just Scottish pragmatism to get it dealt with!
Val x

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

Best of luck to your mom. Pragmatism beats hysteria any day. When we stay calm, our immune system functions more efficiently.

16. sufilight - October 21, 2014

Nancy, thank goodness this is over and not what you are experiencing right now. I was getting concerned! Your husband sounds like a well-grounded man which is needed in moments of crisis. When I have had my challenges now and then, my s/o Phil’s ability to remain calm and provide wisdom while not showing fear has helped me during times of challenge. Will be sure to catch your second instalment of the story. 🙂

nrhatch - October 21, 2014

I’m glad Phil’s there for you! It’s great to have a partner that compliments our strengths and bolsters our weakness.

We are a good team. We take turns remaining calm in moments of crisis. When BFF’s sure “the sky is falling,” I point out that it’s right where it should be. When my mom was here (and I was losing my mind), he helped me keep my head above water.

Two weeks ago, I dropped a glass in the kitchen. It shattered and sliced my foot open. When BFF saw the pools of blood under my foot, he was quite “shaken.” While he cleaned up the glass, I stayed calm, iced the wound, stopped the bleeding, and avoided stitches. Yay! Keeping my breathing slow and steady kept my blood pressure in check, which helped stem the tide of blood.

Here’s to relying on our partners and ourselves.

sufilight - October 22, 2014

OMG…At least he didn’t faint, and congratulations for keeping your cool. Amazing how remaining calm made a difference with the outcome.

nrhatch - October 22, 2014

So true. After the bleeding slowed, I hobbled across the kitchen and sat. As soon as I sat down, the edges of my vision got dark; sweat poured off my forehead, cheeks, and the back of my neck; I couldn’t hear Bill because of a loud roar in my ears.

I stayed focused on my breath ~ breathing in and breathing out. Within a few minutes, my vision and hearing returned to normal and I stopped perspiring.

The rest of the evening, I felt cool, calm, relaxed, and happy. Very surreal and peaceful ~ it felt like I had earned a Gold Star.

17. jannatwrites - October 22, 2014

So true. We always think we’re going to be around for so much longer, but we really don’t know that!

nrhatch - October 22, 2014

Exactly. We don’t know.

When faced with health issues, the inherent uncertainty of life may be more fully revealed . . . but uncertainty is ALWAYS there.

18. Four Glitches & A Tumor ~ Part 2 | Spirit Lights The Way - October 22, 2014

[…] from Four Glitches & A Tumor . . […]

19. Silver in the Barn - October 22, 2014

Nancy, how did you know in the first place that something was wrong? What symptoms did you have?

nrhatch - October 22, 2014

I could feel a lump along my jaw line . . . like a marble. My doctor told me it was a swollen lymph node at first. On my next visit, he said, “That’s a parotid gland tumor. I’ll refer you to a surgeon.”

20. ericjbaker - October 22, 2014

Part 2, here I come.

21. diannegray - October 22, 2014

Life can change in an instant, Nancy. No wonder you chose him to be your personal guru/husband 😀

nrhatch - October 22, 2014

He’s a KEEPER!

22. reocochran - October 24, 2014

And normalcy returned… I am sure I would have taken a fly swatter or something that would not hurt him, maybe a water pistol and shot him with a big burst of cold water. Don’t tease me when it is something serious! But, you were able to forgive him and not change the paperwork… Whew!

nrhatch - October 24, 2014

You’re right. He’s still in my will! 😎

23. beeblu - October 24, 2014

Absurd comedy when you want sympathy. You gotta love that BFF of yours. 🙂

nrhatch - October 25, 2014

I do! He makes (almost) every day better ~> and when he’s being a Grumpy Gus, I help him to shift his perspective from GRAY to YAY!

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