At about 5:45 this morning, I left the comfort of my recliner and climbed into bed with Dan and Boomer. I’d been awake for a little over an hour, feeling sad. I’d been crying, or on the verge of crying, the whole time.

I slept well (in the guest bed) last night, but when I woke up I was alone and reliving February’s failed spinal tap. I don’t know why. Maybe I had a dream that sent my wandering brain down that path? Or maybe it’s just one of those things that’s bound to happen to me from time to time.

Thankfully, Dan always knows how to make me feel better.


I don’t imagine many people get upset hearing a doctor say they’re not going to do a spinal tap after all. But the day before my brain surgery, I cried one of those embarrassing heaving-style cries in a hospital waiting room because a doctor told me just that.

I’d been wheeled down to the place where doctors performed X-ray guided lumbar punctures early in the morning. Other people were sitting in normal chairs, but because I was an admitted patient they just rolled me down there in bed and pushed me up against a wall out of the way. It was pretty early—no one in my family had arrived at the hospital to visit me yet.

I’d been waiting anxiously for probably 20 or 30 minutes when a doctor approached me.

“They aren’t going to do the spinal tap, Emily. The doctor has decided that it’s too risky because of the location of the brain tumor. The doctor doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”

Any relief that I might have felt about the procedure being called off was eclipsed by the words “it’s too risky.”

I immediately started in with that can’t-control-your-breath toddler sobbing, and the doctor grabbed my hand. “We’ve called hospital transport to get you back up to your room. It shouldn’t be too long.”


The medical receptionist came over to me with a box of tissues. “I called transport again. Someone is on their way. Can I get you anything?”

I took a fistful of tissues and shook my head.

(The neurology team ended up doing the spinal tap the next day. In my hospital room. And they had to dig. But the failed spinal tap experience remains my most traumatic hospital experience to date—even more traumatic than the brain surgery. Probably because I was entirely lucid and entirely scared.)


“What’s the matter?” Dan asked as I struggled to find a few inches of space not hogged by Boomer.

“I’m sad.” I explained my morning to him.

“Well,” Dan said, “I just had a horrible nightmare.”

“Oh?” I asked.

“Someone was in the house. Drinking out of my favorite coffee mug.” He paused dramatically and then added, “And I had to drink out of the small red one.”

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