Things That Don't Suck
'Things That Don't Suck' by Andrea Gibson
Love Continues To Save Me

Love Continues To Save Me

Meg the miracle worker

I’ve been immunocompromised for most of my adult life, and because chemo has further impacted my immunity, I have been pretty quarantined since the beginning of the pandemic. I haven’t eaten inside of a restaurant in two and a half years. I wear an N95 in public places. I covid-test anyone who steps foot in my house. I imagine that sounds quite extreme to some, but covid, cancer, and chemo are a threesome I’m not masochistic enough to long for. Last year, I caught the common cold from a friend who had a one-day sniffle. When it made its way into my body, I coughed myself into oblivion for eleven nonstop weeks. People say Fuck Cancer. I say Fuck the Common Cold. 

While some cancers require a scan to confirm disease, ovarian cancer can be monitored fairly accurately with a blood test. I say fairly accurately because the test can sometimes be falsely spiked by inflammation in the body. Every three weeks, prior to chemo, I do lab work. That means every three weeks Meg and I wait to find out if my treatment is still working. A month ago, my cancer marker rose by a few points. Because I had injured my sacrum lifting weights several days prior, we hoped the spike was from the sprain, but we were concerned that wasn’t the case and had to wait another three weeks to find out. It was in that window of time that I became a walking PLEASE HUG ME sign. 

After my hug-parade I found myself not feeling well. Though the chemotherapy I’m currently doing is far more gentle than my past treatments, it can sometimes make me feel cruddy—but not as cruddy as I was feeling those days. “Baby, I’m aching all over and I’m absolutely exhausted,” I said to Meg one night at dinner.

“Want me to try to take it away?” she asked. 

Now here’s where I get woo woo on you, friends.  Though Meg doesn’t in any way think of herself as an energy worker or a healer, for the months prior to this moment every time I had a stomach ache or a headache or a sore neck Meg would rest her hand on that part of my body, focus on moving the pain out, and my pain would go away. I know that’s hard to believe because we didn’t believe it either. Each time it happened, I’d say, ”It’s a coincidence. It’s got to be a coincidence.” Coincidence or miracle––I didn’t care. I was just grateful to not be in physical pain.

So at the dinner table that night, I said, “Yeah–please take the ache and exhaustion away.” Meg rested her hand on my shoulder and burst into flames. (Just kidding. Had to see how wild you’d let me get.) Meg burst into a sweat, her face so red she looked like her insides were on fire. “I’ve never felt anything like this before!” she said. “I feel like I’m taking something massive from you.” She kept her hand on me for another ten minutes then asked, “Do you feel better?” I did. I felt so much better. Meg said she had done something different this particular time. She had asked that whatever pain was in my body be put into hers. Now, I have people in my life who are actual energy workers. They are exceptional at what they do and their work has transformed my life in countless positive ways. Though I’ve never quite understood how it all works, one thing I do know is no one should ever ask to take someone’s pain into their own body. I shared that with Meg and she said,  “Oh. Ok. Well too late now.” 

Hours later, around 4am, I woke up and saw that Meg wasn’t in our bed. Concerned, I paced the house groggy-eyed until I heard her yell from the basement in tears, “Baby, Don’t come down here. I have COVID.” Later I found out that when I fell asleep, Meg stayed awake for hours tossing and turning in incredible physical pain, feeling like she was inside of an oven. She couldn’t make sense of it until many hours later when she Googled “covid symptoms” and took a test, which registered an immediate positive. She bolted to the basement terrified and confused. Confused because as safe as I am, Meg is a hundred times less exposed than myself. I pick up tea from the coffee shop almost daily. I’m constantly in hospitals and doctor’s offices. I had attended my friend’s concert without her. I, in general, need far more social interaction to thrive than Meg does, and because she’s currently finishing a memoir, she is more of a hermit than ever right now. The previous weeks she had been around almost no one besides myself and our dogs.

In addition to her confusion, Meg was terrified because we had kissed her before I fell asleep. She’d been in bed with me for hours, breathing only a few inches from my face, before realizing she had an infection my immune system might have a very difficult time fighting. Considering the severity of my exposure we both assumed there was no way I wouldn’t catch it. But for the next ten days, as I dropped off tea and vitamins and soup at our basement door, Meg kept testing positive, while I continued to test negative. Mid-fever, with her throat too swollen to speak, she’d text me from the basement, “The only thing helping me through this is imagining I got covid so you wouldn't have to.” 

A few days after Meg tested finally negative and was symptom free, I did my blood work again. We both sobbed with joy upon learning my labs looked great and my treatment was still working. Returning to each other’s arms after that many days apart during what was one of the most emotionally vulnerable times since I was diagnosed felt like its own miracle. I suppose we will never know what exactly happened–why I didn’t get covid, and why Meg did. Or maybe I mean other people will never know. Because I know what saved me from that suffering was the same thing that saved me from so much pain these past years: Meg’s love.

Andrea 🖤


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Things That Don't Suck
'Things That Don't Suck' by Andrea Gibson
A quest to uncover what shifts, when we shift our attention
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