Listening to Elvis love songs in the car, California skyscape and Ever's bright face in the rearview mirror, wind in my hair and dark blue chipped nail polished nails gripping the wheel. I recognize the joy in my life like you recognize beautiful artwork. I am not in it. I stand outside of it chewing the inside of my mouth, waiting to be taken in by my own life again.
The doctor turned the vaginal ultrasound and turned her old yellowed machine my way so I could see: one thickened uterus, one missing ovary, one ovary with a 3 centimeter endometrioma hanging off it like a boil, and another almost as large 'normal' cyst, simply filled with blood, instead of tissue and blood, like the endometrioma. The doctor pressed firmly above my pelvic bone, willing that other ovary to be seen, but she could not find it. What is more concerning, the ill ovary we can see, or the mystery ovary?
Next month, come back, she said. For free, this time. I'll look again during a different part of your cycle, and surely your uterine lining will be thinner, and surely this cyst- the 'normal' one- will be gone. As for the rest, well, you're fucked dear.
She didn't say that, but the doctor in my head did.
Endometriosis. Such a bizarre word, like octopus. Fitting for a bizarre disease that grows willy nilly all over your organs, leaving behind hot pulsing buttons, lesions that bleed like water dripping off of pipes, and scar tissue that builds thick and balky like the tissue of nails, twining guts together, piercing the lining of tissues so tender they never see the light of day until the body gives up the ghost. It hurts. It really, really hurts.
My old doctor, decade ago, thought I was a freak. When my cysts grew, I could feel them. I could feel the blood pumping into them. He would say, no- you can't possibly. But then he would do the ultrasound, and there they were, baby octupi, spitting out blood and swelling their bulbous heads into my pelvic cavity. Where it hurts most, you can feel the heat radiating from my body. If you press your hand there, you will feel it. It feels good to have a hand pressed on my swollen abdomen. I ask Lola, sometimes, to knead my belly like dough while we watch Ally McBeal. Just avoid the cysts. What an awful word, cyst. Fitting.
In the morning I wake to my right side throbbing and swollen, and Ever jumps on me, three years old, three, the number of centimeters my cyst is. Everkins is in a fantastic mood because I remembered that I hadn't been paying enough attention to her, which as a mother has never been my failing, but lately, with my job and this insane moving from house to house... after I realized her zipping crazy making was due to attention grabbing, I scooped her up after work and we spent three hours together, just her and I. Eating, ice cream, the park. She was glowing the way only the very young and healthy glow, like a sunflower, like the sun off of water. She was full.
Now that we live nowhere, the car feels like a home. We are in the car so often, and it is more familiar than the beds we are sleeping in. I slide Elvis in the CD player and the girls and I take off. The wind is dry and crisp, the sky is blue and my thoughts are simple. It is just the three of us. For the moment, I move my hand from my side and in the air, waving to the girls in the back. We slide down the street. I know what I have. I don't know how to make it real again, but I am good at not giving up.