Today, I had surgery. I’m writing this from my bed–a fact that kind of amazes me. For one, I’m at home mere hours after a difficult procedure. And I’m actually coherent and not shrieking in pain. I’m not even on heavy drugs, and I can walk just fine.
But there are other unpleasant things.
Like my neck and shoulders and jaw are absolutely killing me. The side effect of being intubated with my head stretched downward across giant pillows. That’s the worst pain I’m feeling. Oh, and the throat–my poor throat. It feels like I have pneumonia–with all the gunk and the raw everything…and that cough that makes me hate everything. The actual thing they operated on? None of the normal symptoms, at all. That feels normal and fine. I am, however, wincing at not-normal symptoms that are from having a tiny pelvis. My body doesn’t play nice with modern medicine. Hence, my anesthesiologist using an ultrasound to find a good vein for an IV after several failed attempts and many painful bruises.
I’ve been here before. The bruises will heal.
But some parts of my body feel alien and delicate–like touching them will make them fall apart. I’m afraid to look.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see a specialist to see what might be causing a problem I’ve been having. Oh, and I needed an annual exam. In my gut, I knew it was my thyroid meds. I knew it because that’s when it all began. When I’d skip a day, it’d stop. But that sort of thing wasn’t normal. And I have a family history of very bad things–that, left uncaught for too long–eventually killed my aunt. After many battles. It transformed from one thing to another. Only to go away–till we all sighed in relief for a while–only to come back as some new thing. And eventually, it stayed.
My aunt with the red hair, who used to make me tortillas–who taught me to make enchiladas–who we visited in summers…driving Daddy’s blonde station wagon. The subject of so many pictures. The only family I ever really knew other than my parents. Who I was like–in almost every way–according to Mama. One day, she was gone.
So, I get the concern.
But–in my heart? I know I’m not her. That’s not my story.
There are other things, too. My Mama had this procedure right before she conceived me. When they told her she’d never have a baby. That it was broken…and then this happened…and then I happened.
So, I knew about this procedure–though Mama certainly didn’t say everything.
Selective memory–when it comes to pain–runs in our family.
There were reasons to go here. Mine was not done for her reasons–more to diagnose and alleviate symptoms. I still have days to wait before I’ll really know anything. Answers I’d always needed. Things I just wanted to know. It was a God’s honest relief when Dr. M suggested it. Because I need to know this thing. Oh, and yes–let’s rule out the big bad scary. That too.
I was terrified. I Googled. (Don’t Google).
I like to know things. It’s my way of tricking myself into thinking I’m in some kind of control–when I, clearly, am NOT.
I did it for years when my gall bladder rotted. I did it when my Mama got sick. To comfort myself. Prepare myself. Rationalize. Find ways to postpone. To cope.
I’d had surgery before. But it was different.
I had been in absolute, utter, horrible pain for over a week. I’d been vomiting for two days, non-stop. I only sought help because I legit thought I’d die. And lo-and-behold–had I not–I would have. The surgery came in the nick of time–like God had planned it that way. The best doctors and the best nurses and everything just fell into place. It was an easy surgery as surgeries go. No issues with anything. Even my troublesome veins cooperated with little fuss.
I had no time to be scared. To overthink all the things and freak out about all the things.
Knowing–this time–was awful. More so because I had done this before, too. With her.
The last time I had to be at a hospital before dawn was the day of her surgery. When they stopped her heart and tried to replace that valve. When that didn’t work. It was a different hospital, but they’re really all alike. That room where all the people gather, all terrified and awaiting their fates. Where the exchange happens. And they ask questions about advance directives and life-saving measures.
Then, they whisk you off to some other room–where they prep you for surgery–along with all the others being prepped for surgery. It’s a flurry of medical histories, blood draws, EKGs, heart rate checks, and the exchange of street clothes for gowns that don’t ever close. I was alone today, but then, I was with her. I had to be her ears, after all, as I always had been. I was the one repeating the things people told her–in ways she’d understand. And then, the introductions. Of anesthesiologists you’ve never met–who are now critically important to your survival. You hope you don’t get a yahoo. And medical students who walk in just as the EKG tech exposes your boob. And smiling others all there doing something you don’t quite know.
And then, you’re whisked off somewhere–and someone else is holding your shoes.
Being the one in the bed, after being the one holding the shoes, is hard and comforting–and surreal.
For years, that moment with her tormented me. That last moment I saw my mother alive without a machine driving her. That whirlwind where I forgot to tell her goodbye. For years, I’ve wondered what she was thinking. Was she scared–as terrified as I was? What did they do to her after I saw her disappear?
Last year, when I had my gall bladder surgery, I learned about that. That last part of ORs and anesthesia and breathing deeply. But I learned something she didn’t. I learned what it felt like to wake up–to be well and happy–totally high on morphine or whatever the Hell they gave me. Still here.
I didn’t learn about the weeks of fear. Of the unknown. Of what happens when things go wrong.
These few weeks, I learned that. Of the obsessive need to know everything.
And then, last night, I prayed to God and to my parents–to her–to help me be alright. Because I still have so much to do. And there are people who need me. And I am too young for this bullshit.
And it calmed me down–allowed me to surrender and race toward that inevitable…and put up with the missing paperwork and the IVs that wouldn’t go and the difficult intubations.
And I got it. In some small way. I understood the things I observed in her those days when she was dying.
And I realized she was okay. She accepted it all. She forgave all the shortcomings. And she went in with her eyes open.
I know this because–today–I was kinda convinced I’d die. Because that’s what those places are for me. I knew better, maybe. I hoped. But that part of me that lost her wasn’t listening to the statistics. All it could remember was everything that went wrong.
This was the place where you don’t get to say goodbye.
Waking up today–more like gasping awake–was a little like being reborn. Man, it sucked. I felt like an old man and a child at the same time. Just trying really hard to breathe. It was some surreal dimension where, like a baby foal–twenty minutes after coming out, I’m dressing myself on my own and walking to PACU. An hour later, I’m stuck in Colorado Boulevard traffic–buying chicken soup.
We are all such fragile miracles. And I am so grateful for all of it. But especially the lessons I could never expect about the people I loved so much.
So, I’ve kinda been bad about checking in here lately. Not because I lack things to say, really. I just sort of lack the desire to say them publicly, at times. Which means you didn’t get to read my thoughts on various controversies lately. I wrote them, but they’re tucked away somewhere only I know. In the end, I question the utility of talking online especially when it comes to things like this.
It’s been a bit of a trippy few days. I finished up my last class and somehow kicked its ass. I decided to put off my last-last class until October–for another interesting reason. Work has been amazingly busy, and I’ve been trying very hard to usher change in–with little success and lots of aggravation.
Other things have been going better. Today, I made another change that I think will benefit me, but it too will require patience and time.
So that’s pretty much why I’ve been scarce. It will, hopefully, get better.
And oh, yea: surgery! This Tuesday morning. If you’re a praying sort, prayers and happiness on high is appreciated. If you’re not a religious sort, good vibes are appreciated. Or you can send ice cream. I’m alright with that, too.
I’m a little nervous (Google can be evil), but I’m hoping this will significantly help me feel better and move me in a stronger direction. The associated tests and risks terrify me, but I’ve made it out alive before. Knowing is always better than not knowing, and I trust my doctor to do a great job. Unfortunately, it’ll likely be a while after the surgery before I can celebrate–even if I manage to avoid organ harpooning–so I might be a bit anxious for a while.
I get almost a week off out of the deal, so I’m sure some photos of our recent trip to Mount Evans will land here as soon as I’m not in dire pain. If there’s dire pain. Which there may not be. At worst, I might be uncomfortable for a couple days. And I’m not supposed to lift things or stress out about things.
My job for the next few days is to guzzle water and not think about my tricky airway.
It’ll be okay–even if it’s different than what I hope it’ll be. It always is.
Happy Labor Day to all. Hope you’re beachside or adventuring or sleeping in. And if I don’t get to catch you up next week, for whatever reason, it’s been interesting. Thanks for making this place a soft place to land.
Better and bigger things to come. Fingers crossed.
Hey there. So, I’ve sorta been away for longer than I anticipated. I took a brief FB/Twitter/blog break for my birthday. It was nice. Almost too nice. I contemplated going away for good. But I do like y’all, and I have my hermit moments that I probably need to overcome. In any case, I’m rethinking the how part and coming back a changed woman. A while back, I used to do this snapshot thing every week. I’m not sure why I stopped. But I thought it might be a good thing to resurrect. Without further ado, here’s my life this week–as a newly minted 36 year old. (Ack).
In case you didn’t know, I’m in grad school. So, um, yea–I read boring things. Namely, these three texts right now.
When I’m not knee-deep in APA style, I’m trying to diagnose myself and my kitty Rilly.
I’ll be more interesting in October.
Masters of Sex is back in full swing for a second season. Things have been a bit rocky for Bill Masters. He’s adjusting to life with a new baby and an increasingly controlling wife, new situations with work–all in the name of preserving his study, race relations, and his ongoing interest in Virginia. It all makes for a fascinating look at humanity–all through the lens of sex and relationships. It’s hands-down one of my favorite shows.
Now, of course, you need to start from the beginning. But, if you want to see what this show is all about, please watch “Fight” from Season 2 first. It really digs into these two characters and also really tackles some tough subjects like what it means to be each gender. You really get to see both characters struggling with the idea–trying to find definitions they can live with. I couldn’t find a great clip to share, but here’s a boring sneak peek at this episode.
So, we recently got a TiVo, and it makes life a little easier–especially when it comes to recording new TV shows. Since my undergrad days, I’ve gotten in the habit of recording all the new shows and then watching all of them. Sometimes, this works out great. Other times, you’re watching New Girl and hating doe-eyed girls you used to love. (No matter how hard I try to like that show, I always end up turning it off 2 minutes in).
Recently, my experimental ways paid off. Truth be told, I probably would have tuned in to this show just based on the name. I wasn’t sure what all to expect. I actually thought it’d be a cartoon like The Simpsons. In any case, I really enjoyed Black Jesus on Adult Swim–and I’m shocked as Hell that I did. I don’t usually like comedy that tries to be “edgy” or “controversial.” Usually, they spend too much time on the controversy and not the genuinely funny. But Black Jesus is great–albeit cringeworthy. It plays with stereotypes–across the board–whether it’s religion, poverty, race, or gender. Everyone is fair game, and they do take it all the way. At first, I was really conflicted that I was laughing at stuff that normally, in another format, would make me really uncomfortable. I hate stereotypes–so, so much. But then, I realized I was laughing because the truth of the matter is that these stereotypes are alive and well in our culture. And seeing them in this light really shows how stupid they really are. It really makes you think about the stuff we all just take for granted and what it really means. And it does it by being absurd. A lot of people will probably be offended–and I totally get why. But I think it’s all in the name of getting us all to think about the stereotypes we’ve reduced other human beings to–and why. Give it a try. Maybe you’ll like it, too.
For the last several weeks, my late night TV binge has been True Blood. I know. I didn’t expect to like it, but it became a potato chip show for me. Once you start one episode, you’re 10 in by 4 am. It hasn’t helped my insomnia. I finally caught up a couple of weeks ago–just in time for the series finale. Seven seasons is a lot of vampy sexy whatever. I never did like Sookie or Bill. But I’ve always loved Lafayette, Eric, & Sam. I’m still hoping Sookie will stop chasing Bill and find her way back to my boy Eric. I mean–come on–look at him. The last season has been particularly bad, but I guess I can hang in there a little while longer.
I’ve had short hair for a while now, and I’m probably going to be growing it out for the wintertime. Short hair is so great for summer, but I honestly do get cold in the winter with it this short. It’s basically been this cut and sorta this color for the past several months. The last stylist I went to didn’t get it short enough (sigh), so I’m left with more of the in-between growth that I wanted to avoid for a few more weeks.
I’m thinking of doing something like this with a lot less blonde. Probably more of a strawberry blonde and maybe a few fun colors thrown in. Although I am really into browns for colder months. I probably won’t do this for a couple weeks, though.
As I mentioned earlier, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my presence in my own life–whether it’s here on my blog, in the real world, or on social networks. I’ve been a bit more of a hermit than I like to be, overall. With good reasons, of course. I haven’t felt really well in a while, and I’m still trying to figure that out. Plus, school and a demanding job kind of take up most of my free time. But I am feeling a push to be more social in a thoughtful way. In the meantime, since I am busy, a lot of my socializing has to happen online. But I don’t like how it’s been happening. So, I guess, if I want change–I have to be the change I seek.
I read this article recently, and I realized I absolutely “like” things to avoid saying something more; to people please; or “be there” for my friends. It’s a flimsy substitute for actual friendship. And welp–I’m better than that. So, from now on, if I do anything on Facebook, it’s going to require some thought and effort. If I can’t muster it, then I don’t need to act.
My love of tea, premium chocolates, anything involving almond milk or coconut oil, and avocado.
Ever new ways to be gluten-free and not suffer.
This stuff is magic.
Satsuma Perfume from the Body Shop
Cheap, colorful sundresses from Target.
Lacy nightgowns in pastel shades.
Many tank tops.
A very long vacation from school & work…not happening…2 more months of school & new project for work.
brand new stuff from a favorite local band who apparently wrote this for William H. Macy.
I’m way behind on photo-editing. This was from this past February at Wash Park.
Breakfast this week:
Overnight Oats + Chia + Dried Fruit + Pecans or Walnuts + Toasted Coconut + fresh fruit (mangoes, strawberries, peaches)
Lunches & Dinners:
Pesto Crusted Lamb Rack with Sun-dried Tomatoes, asparagus, and pepper salad, toasted pistachios, and roasted sweet potatoes
Cocoa-Coffee Rubbed Beef Brisket with mirepoix demi glace, horseradish roasted parsnips, and herb sauteed squash
Tropical Pork with mango-pineapple chutney, coconut cauliflower, and ginger carrots
Fines Herbs Airline Chicken Breast with roasted red pepper-caper sauce, sauteed kale, baked sweet potato
Spicy Old Bay poached chicken, mixed baby greens, celery, onions, heirloom tomatoes, & lemon vinaigrette
Rosemary & Garlic Top Sirloan with sauteed wild mushrooms, green peppercorn sauce, green onion mashed yams, & broccoli
Accompanying all meals: Wild Rice Salad with Dried Fruit & Nuts in an Orange Walnut Vinaigrette
Boar’s Head Roast Beef & Sausalito Turkey + Dill Havarti Lettuce Wraps
Lots of watermelon & pineapple
Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips with Guacamole
Lots of herbal tea, iced
Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly Pumpkin Pie Mug Cakes
Bissinger’s Banana Pecan Caramel Peruvian Pink Salt Chocolate Bar
TCHO chocolate bars
Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bar
My sweet kitties, always. Even the bad one.
Being here is pretty nice.
Several days ago, my roommate and I decided to do a cleanse. I’ve been feeling pretty crappy. My job and school was causing me a lot of stress. Which was causing me to eat things that my body can’t handle. I was undoing a lot of healthy habits and just feeling like I needed a major intervention. I told my roommate I wanted to do a bland diet–sort of like the one I did a few months ago when I had a horrible stomach flu. I noticed I felt a lot better, afterwards, and–since I was struggling so much with cutting sugar, soda, gluten, and dairy, I thought it’d give me the chance to make a clean break.
A few weeks ago, my new naturopath diagnosed me with some food allergies and sensitivities: dairy, gluten, refined sugar, eggs, and tomatoes. She strongly recommended a Paleo diet for me. Now, I’ve struggled with the food thing for a long, long time. All of my comfort foods–all my nostalgic foods–are all the things that make me sick. I absolutely hated the idea of giving them up, but I knew enough was enough. My body was being attacked every single day. I couldn’t keep going like this. Relying on sodas to keep me going wasn’t going to keep me healthy or happy.
When I told my roomie about my bland plan, he mentioned a local juicery and maybe we should look at their cleanses. Because of my gall bladder surgery stuff, I was actually kind of terrified to do a full-on cleanse. I mean, I’ve backslid progress-wise when it came to my post-gb body, but it was tolerable. It took me a long time to get out of the intolerable part. So, I wasn’t eager to go back to it. Plus, I’m just damn busy and need my brain to function. I can’t have a crappy attitude /grump-at-the-world day with the work I do. I’m exhausted while eating food–so how would I deal with just juice?
I mean, I’d done cleanses before. The horrible lemon water, prune juice nightmares that meant I’d never leave the house. I lost weight and felt bad again within a week. Would it even be worth it?
So, while my roomie decided to do the full-on cleanse–I decided to modify it…allowing myself some rice along with said juices. Unfortunately, the day before said cleanse, I got super-sick with what was definitely food poisoning. As much as I wanted to tough it out, my bile reflux was requiring me to eat more than just juice…or even juice and rice. Needless to say, it seriously complicated things. I ended up feeling really, really bad. So, I decided that–to get the reflux under control–I’d allow myself to eat some meat and veggies with my rice and juice. So, essentially, in addition to the juice, I ate the way I’m supposed to! I still considered it a cleanse since I was eating pretty barebones and stayed away from everything I’m supposed to.
My roomie did really well on the cleanse, and I did well on my modified cleanse. I had way more energy. I slept better. I had less allergy symptoms. My skin cleared up. My persistently getting worse tummy problems started healing. The foggy feeling I always have went away. I didn’t have any sugar cravings; I didn’t want dairy–not even cheese. I gave up my nemesis soda like the bad habit it is without any problems. By the end of the week, the roomie and I decided to go another week. Only this time, my confidence buoyed, I decided to try the full-on cleanse…making no promises. I had modified supplies at the ready.
The first day, I was mostly just tired. I also noticed I was in a much better mood than normal–more even. Bad things didn’t upset me so much. My happy self came out more readily. It was way easier to access joy. Some of the juices (ahem, chlorophyll) were hard to drink–but most were great. My body seemed to adjust right away. So much so that drinking the final drink of the day–almond milk (so delicious)–was hard on me. That night was super-rough, though, and I had some weird problems (probably not cleanse related) that made me cave and eat rice the following morning so I could take medicine to deal with it. By 10 am, I was back to juice and have not looked back.
It’s been actually really good. I feel a lot calmer. I’m much more aware of my body and what it needs. I do feel light-headed if I walk more than around the apartment. But I have lots of energy and don’t feel like I’m struggling against food addictions.
I actually feel like I can give up all the things I need to. I’ve made a conscious choice to cut soda out of my life for at least 3 mos…and then I’ll only have 1 every once in a while (if that)–and it better be the best damn soda ever. I’m even okay with cheese going bye. I’ve decided to have a 1x/week “cheat day” where I can eat the best quality of whatever I want–but I don’t feel like I’ll really go crazy. The majority of the time, I’ll be doing veggies and protein with a fresh green juice.
The cleanse has probably been most beneficial in how it’s changed how I deal with my thoughts and emotions. In the Untethered Soul, Michael Singer talks about the idea that there’s a sacred part of you–that’s the actual you–that isn’t your thoughts or your emotions. That separate part of you is peaceful and basically just observes. It’s in control and isn’t controlled by all the stuff happening in this crazy world.
I remember reading that and feeling like it was beyond me. My existence was all about chasing emotions and overthinking. I could not separate these things! I have struggled all my life to do this. I used to look at people who meditated with so much respect. Clearly, I was just not cut out for this shit.
Oddly, I found myself doing that with this cleanse–almost immediately. When things got hard, and my belly was talking to me–I found that I did separate (exactly!). I realized that this calm part of myself wasn’t part of all those crazy thoughts and feelings. As much as that part of me wanted to convince me it was. Normally, those thoughts and feelings would trigger spontaneous decisions to do things that dishonored me…like ordering pizza after I decided to avoid such things–mostly because I knew I’d be seriously ill if I ate it. This time, I just drank more water, took a breath, and waited. Within five minutes, the feeling would pass. I’d feel fine. This kept happening, over and over.
Yesterday, I had a hard day. I woke up pissed and everything was going wrong/being annoying. The first part of the day, I truly grumped at everything–feeling more grumpy for being grumpy. And then, there was a turning point. I found myself acknowledging the feeling, but not giving into it or being controlled by it. I just waited and gave myself permission to be a bitch (within reason). When I did that, I could laugh at myself.
It’s been so much easier to practice self-care (truly hard for me, normally). I don’t forget myself anymore. I might get behind, but I’m on the list.
I’ve also been able to sort of apply this wisdom to my relationship boundaries. I used to be a very passive aggressive person, and I’ve made conscious efforts to change that. There are still a lot of people in my life who are like I was, and they assume I still am like them. When I don’t do what they want or need–because it’s not what I want or need–they get angry and act passive-aggressively toward me. This usually drives me crazy. But I’ve been able to handle it–even yesterday–when I was so mad at everything. I just sort of acknowledged the situation. I realized, “Oh, I’ve outgrown that person.” That’s why we’ve been distant. Unfortunately, their haste to hold on to the situation and inability to see me as I am now–to know me now–has made the chasm grow deeper. But they just aren’t ready. They aren’t walking the same path. They’re still back there. They’re trying to keep me back there, so they don’t lose me. But I’m already lost…and not lost.
The thing is–I’m only responsible for my own happiness. With my friends, I just want their happiness. I used to be someone who didn’t want that. I wanted my happiness, and I wanted people to stay–at all costs. So, I’d manipulate and force things so that those things would stay the same. That’s a dictatorship–not a relationship. Healthy relationships should support happiness–for everyone–and that means evolving. Once that clicked, I realized…if we’re good for each other…if I need this person in my life, our paths will cross. I can trust myself. I can trust that person. I can trust that the Universe is loving and kind. I can trust and believe that I don’t have to do anything to get what I need as long as I stay true to my own happiness.
That means that–I acknowledge that we’re different now. I acknowledge that our relationship isn’t what it was. I am able to enforce my boundary of needing people who call themselves friends to be in my life–really in it–and not just pretending or pulling me along/being pulled along. Stay or go–it’s alright. It doesn’t mean goodbye. I doesn’t mean shame or guilt or fixing. It does mean living my life on my terms only for me and loving the people who are able to keep me company, whenever they are able to do so.
It makes it a lot easier. And damn–it’s actually simple. So simple. Why the Hell did it take me this long to really really get it?