Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fight or Flight

I'm sitting in a Starbucks waiting for another call from the dermatologist.  Waiting to find out if I have skin cancer.  And the aching pit in my stomach, the bile rising in my throat, the tears pricking at the back of my eyes is the most horrific feeling I've experienced.

Waiting.  Waiting.  Last night I received the first call from them.  Why they called me with a preliminary report is beyond me.  The initials finds are "severely atypical vs. melanoma."  What does that even mean.  Cancer or almost cancer?  Waiting.  No answers.

Try not to worry about it, they said.  We'll give you a call tomorrow when the final reading comes through.


My initial reaction was to sob.  I was sitting in the car in a grocery store parking lot, worried about the unknown.  Helpless and alone.  Unable to drive, I called the fab hubby.  Thousands of miles away, and he's the only one I wanted to speak with.  He was comforting and calmed me down, soothing me with words I so needed to hear at that moment.  He knows me better than anyone.  The rational Heather, the nurse Heather, knew that this could be bad.  But what wife Heather, what mom Heather really just needed was to be told that everything would be ok.

I managed to get back to my apartment, intent on taking myself to a yoga class.

But at that moment, I had a strong fight or flight instinct, and I needed to just get out of there.  I get that "I need to get outta here" feeling when confronted with this level of stress.  Of course, I eventually bring myself back to 'fight' --- but right then, it was all flight.

I laced up my sneakers and headed to the beach run trail, headphones on.  It was melancholy, beautiful outside and the sun was setting over the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance.  View clear to Catalina Island.  Mountains to the south.  My "mellow" iPod playlist drifting though my mind, calming me as I deftly ran along the trail, urging me to sort my feelings.

Melanoma can be deadly, and I was scared.  As a nurse, I'm confronted with 'unfair' sickness and death in the ER frequently.  The cough that turns out to be lung cancer.  The young parent dying of cancer.  The car accident that claims an entire family.  I hold hands, I give hugs, I provide words of calm and understanding.

But now that person could be me.  The Universe is so unfair.  I've spent the last six months away from my family and now I *might* die?  What if I fought this and lost?  What if this has already spread?  I wasn't trying to be melodramatic - but I've seen it.  And I'm not ready for it.  And dammit, the Universe owes me nothing - I know that.  I stifled a sob and kept running.

The trail ends at at the bay, and I was forced to turn around.  Had I really run so far already?  I took a deep breath and returned the direction toward my apartment.  The sun was nearly gone, and I passed other runners and cyclists.  They looked so happy, so content.  I know I appeared a mess.  I felt a mess.  Disjointed, frightened.

I felt my rhythmic breathing and calmed my mind.  It was still unknown, the diagnosis, and even if it is the worst, there are options.  But that exposed moment when you realize you're not invincible, when you really understand you won't live forever is frightening.

When I made it back to my apartment, I felt a little better, or at least exhausted.  Turns out I had run 9 miles.  Huh.  I guess I still have it in me.

I thought today would bring me an early morning call from the dermatologist, but of course it's now afternoon and I've had no such call.

I don't now what's going to happen and I'm scared.  But it helps to write, and that's why I put this out there.

The 'flight' feeling is gone.  At least for now.  I'm waiting for that call because I know I'm ready to fight.  I just need to know what I'm up against.  Maybe it's nothing.  Maybe it's something.

But I just need to know.


  1. Oh Heather. I'm sending you hugs and love and prayers. And I could hop on a plane and be there for your surgery on July 9th. Seriously. Talk soon. xoxoxo

  2. Prayers your way. Hang in there sweetie.

  3. Sending you prayers as you wait and take the next steps ahead.