Nov 02

From Bad to Worse…and Back

In Brief—A lump in a woman’s breast is about to change her life when, without warning, she watches helplessly as her favorite dog dies. A worry about her own health is suddenly complicated by an unexpected loss. Life is threatened by the entanglement of physical and emotional turmoil.


 A Life Goes Topsy-Turvy—

Umm-m-m, a warm bath feels good at the end of a productive day. She ooches down lower in the warm water and lazily focuses on the plot point that has had her stumped lately. Absently, her hands glide over her body…Hunh! What’s this? Lots of women have lumpy breasts, but she’s not one of them. Still, there it is, a lump in her left breast. Suddenly, the plot point that had her stumped evaporates from her mind. What could this mean?

A mammography and breast examination the next day confirm the lump. It wasn’t her imagination. A needle biopsy is scheduled for early next week. Can’t it be sooner? Is it wise to wait? All thoughts of writing disappear from her mind and are replaced by the worry about what the lump might portend. Maybe it’s…She can’t even think it. Thinking might become reality. Her normally taciturn husband is drawn into the darkness of worry. But the biopsy is soon.

The phone rings. It’s her husband. “It’s Amber, she’s hurt bad. Meet me at the vet’s.” Amber, their much beloved pit bull, bloody and fading, is dying before their eyes. Can’t the bleeding be stopped? Too late. Five-year-old Amber, that cuddly, gentle, sensitive little girl who has brought so much love into their lives, shudders once and is gone. For a while, the lurking lump slips from her awareness to be replaced by an unbearable sense of loss. Day becomes the darkest night. How will this unfathomable loss affect the growth in her body?

The needle biopsy shows that the lump is a benign papilloma, a milk duct that has gone awry. Unfortunately, papillomas like this one have a small chance of becoming malignant, so a protective lumpectomy is advised.

Minor surgery—a lumpectomy that preserves the breast—is performed and, with some minimal expected pain, the patient has had the worry of future problems lifted from her shoulders. Chest is more accurate. Several weeks pass, and while the physical pain has faded, the psychological pain of Amber’s loss persists, even though somewhat diminished.

Now the new worry is that the recently-obtained “Obamacare” insurance will fail to cover the surgical costs. Sure, the new insurance costs significantly less and covers more than their previous insurance, but is that enough to ensure that they won’t be saddled with additional costs? Despite what seems like an interminable delay that turns out to be only a few days, the good news is that with the exception of the expected small deductible and some inconsequential additional costs, the surgery is completely covered. “Obamacare” has come through. The insurance worry goes away, but not the pain of Amber’s loss. Not the boundless creativity that vibrated within.

The half-completed sequel to Familiar Magic and a new romance sit waiting, a collection of quiescent zeroes and ones resting in Kathy Contreras’ (aka K. Lynn Bay) computer waiting for her creativity to blossom again.

Have I neglected to tell you that this is a true story about my older daughter Kathy? Given the awards garnered and the gift of the writing talent possessed by this woman, the father in me compels me to nag from time to time. “How about that writing? Have you started writing yet?” Kathy’s responses offer tepid encouragement to my gentle nagging, but the image of Amber blocks the enthusiasm that existed before. I check Kathy’s web site, Flying Tiger Press—Where Magic Gets Personal, from time to time and am rewarded by signs of life, so I know that the fire is starting to burn a bit brighter.

Though the psychic recovery is slow, there is hope that memories of Amber will mellow with time and allow Kathy to pick up where she left off blessed and deepened by having shared the years with such a wonderful friend.

If you haven’t already discovered the trick, click on those highlighted areas above and discover for yourself the magic of talent and perseverance that have guided Kathy through a life that hasn’t always been a bed of roses. She is stronger today as a result of the problems life has brought her. As Richard Bach says in Illusions, “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

Some day soon, I believe that Amber will be nestled comfortably among the fond memories in the back of Kathy’s head as her words flow onto the screen and readers will feel the magic once again.



    • Linda on November 4, 2014 at 21:08

    Having read Familiar Magic, I can say that it left me wanting to read more and I am excited to hear that Kathy is beginning the sequel. It is very touching to hear your concern for her and the gentle encouragement and support you provide. She surely appreciates it and is taking the time she needs to heal. She has gone through so much in a short period of time. It must be overwhelming. It would be for me. Sending my good wishes and love to you all.

      • Don Bay on November 5, 2014 at 17:12

      Thanks for your kind and compassionate words. Kathy has been through too much since the beginning of August while her husband, Bob, has calmly supported her all the way despite his own pain. First, there was the lump, and then the unexpected loss of Amber that followed much too soon. With minimal guesses as to what Kathy must have thought and felt, I simply wrote what happened and how the events affected her and her husband. I am pleased to report that the recovery from the lumpectomy has been good, but the recovery from the trauma of Amber’s loss will take longer. Fingers crossed that the loss of their favorite family member will diminish in a few months to the fond memory depicted in this account. Keep that good thought.

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