Musing Moment 143: She Was Tired

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She was tired. Tired of all of it.

She sat cross-legged in her computer chair, pondering over the post she had just read on Facebook. After reading such an honest article, it seemed no wonder she was tired.

Here, in the quiet sanctuary of her apartment, she sat in the clothing she had worn to bed. Her legs were covered in black, oversized yoga shorts. The soft, comfy kind that didn’t fit her body like painted fabric or make her look sexy. She had a 3xl bright orange shirt on. It was a shirt her fiance had worn to work, his scent woven into the fibers which helped to fight back the feelings of loneliness that seemed to invade her days more and more often. There was no bra under the shirt; yet another factor adding to her comfort. Her hair was still a rats nest from sleeping, tangled and forgotten atop her head. Groggily she had clipped the mess up with a non-descript hair clip, saving that particular task, one of many on her never-ending to-do list, for a later time when the tiredness wasn’t winning.

Tired… yes… Even though she had slept through the night, she had awoken tired and soul weary and unable to place why so many of her mornings seemed to feel this way now. Unable, that is, until she had read “the post”.

It was a post about all of the misconceptions and untruths written by male authors in books; untruths about what it was like to be a female character. It was a post about how bras actually suck and showering isn’t a sexy 15-minute escape from reality; how hair doesn’t cascade down your back like a shimmering waterfall. It was a well-written piece about how women are human, not perfection.

The post had struck a chord and its resonation still thrummed within her mind.

Here, alone, it didn’t matter what she looked like or what she wore. Her thoughts didn’t have to be edited. She could feel, look, and be tired and it was ok. Here she was safe from the opinions and expectations of others. Here she could be her true self. Yet “here” was not a place she could stay and that knowledge is where her tiredness stemmed from.

Soon she would have to shower and care about how she looked in the eyes of others. She would have to wrestle with her curly hair and make it seem halfway presentable. She would have to find decently matching clothes suited for the weather. She would have to figure out her shopping list for groceries, remembering odds and ends like body wash or pads if needed. She would have to go out and contend with people after working a 60-hour workweek where she cared for and felt empathy for her patients. She would have to call and make her pre-op appointment for her cancer surgery and find time to fill out her living and last will. Those thoughts hung most heavily on her shoulders. Though she had been assured the surgery would go well, her mother had already died and she had learned the lesson that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Why did it matter if she wore makeup or not when she had to figure out things like funeral arrangements and who would inherit her handful of worldly possessions? Why did she have to be perfect all the time regardless of what was or wasn’t going on in her life? Why couldn’t she simply be enough as she was?

She had all of these heavy topics and hard situations vying for attention and energy and yet she still had to waste effort on how she looked. She had to not only navigate her own life but the expectations of strangers who knew nothing about her. What would they think if she didn’t wear makeup? How big of a scandal would it be to go out dressed as she was now, comfortable and content?

These people would judge her, label her, condemn her simply from appearance alone. None of her struggles or emotions mattered to the outside world. She had to be perfect, always, except here in her sanctuary, and that’s why she was tired. The weight of the outside world threatened to crush her shoulders before she had even left her bed.

Here was where she could cry and be comfortable and tired and not care about the world. Here expectations didn’t matter; didn’t exist. Here was where she could be her true self, not the self society expected, demanded, and ridiculed her for not being.

If I don’t do these things, I’m not good enough. Being an A+ college student doesn’t matter. Paying my bills on time doesn’t matter. Saving lives doesn’t matter. None of it matters unless I conform to this sick, fucked up, circus show where it matters more about how you look than what you are going through or doing with your life.

She was tired of playing the game. She was tired of pretending for the comfort of others. She was tired of being at the bottom of her own list with unknown strangers taking precedence over her self.

So she wrote.

She let all of those emotions flow from her fingers into the keyboard in front of her as she sat, cross-legged and grungy. She gave up restraint. She gave up pretense. She wrote and poured her hurt and tiredness onto a white canvas that didn’t care about appearance; that accepted her for her.

And once she was done, silent tears drying on her makeup-free face, she felt somehow cleaner, clearer. She didn’t care anymore about the game or the strangers or the crushing expectations of perfection. She decided to let it all go and to simply be herself for that day, and for the first day in many days, it was a glorious day.

Musing Moment 142: Better Than Good

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I still don’t have a date for my surgery. By the time I got a chance to call Friday afternoon the office was already closed for the day because of course, it makes sense to close at 11:30 on Fridays…

Blarg.

Work has been going well. It’s been helping to keep me grounded, if just barely. It helps to keep things feeling “normal”. I still go to work. Days are still mildly crazy. I still see all of my patients. I still have cancer and I still save lives.

Ox and I tried having a date night last night. I wanted to go out. I wanted to get wings without having to drive halfway across town to a location that was nowhere near any of the other things we had been hoping to do; grocery shopping and such.

We found a place online that seemed promising. The service sucked. My food was not up to my standards of wing-ness. Though, to be fair to them… I have pretty high standards. Overall I wasn’t impressed and felt like it was a waste of the money we spent. We had to wait so long for the food and then the bill that by the time we left I was too tired to want to do the shopping. We went home instead. I slept at the house rather than going back to the apartment to be with the kittens.

It was nice, sleeping next to Ox. I so rarely get to do that now. I didn’t spend the night alone, trapped in my own darkness. I woke up next to someone I care about.

Despite feeling like the money spent on date night was a waste, it was nice to be out. It was nice to try to have a date night even though I have cancer. It was nice to feel normal and not defined by something no one can see. No one around us knew. I could pretend to be a normal person. I cling to the things that make me feel normal right now; that let me pretend that all of this isn’t going on. I can pretend that I’m not waiting for a call about surgery. I can pretend that I’m scared.

I’m just a normal person with a normal life and things will be ok. I don’t think pretending all of this isn’t going on is healthy, but I also don’t know how to confront or contend with all of the emotions going on so I don’t know what to do.

I know a lot of it is still a rat’s nest inside of my head. I’m not defined by my organs or lack of them. I’m not defined by sickness or lack of it. I’m not defined by my resolve or when it wavers. Strength isn’t defined by a lack of tears or the absence of fear.

I know all of these things and yet I can’t fight the evil voice which isn’t so little anymore. It has strength and power which gives it size. It’s not little whisperings which I can tell to go fuck themselves.

“Good girls don’t get cancer.”

That’s one of the things it says to me, stated like a fact, full of confidence and conviction. It doesn’t have to yell those words at me. You don’t have to yell when you know you’re right. That’s the type of voice it uses right now. It knows it’s right and that I can’t do anything to change it.

I don’t know how to fight Evil Voice right now because there’s a part of me who agrees with it. Trust me, I know it’s fucked up to have that type of mentality. I didn’t ask for cancer. I didn’t actively do anything to get it. But saying, “It’s not my fault,” isn’t enough to fight Evil Voice. I can’t say, “Good girls get cancer,” because that’s untrue. “Good girls fight cancer” doesn’t work because I don’t feel like having surgery is really fighting… I don’t know what to say to fight back as so I’m left feeling like I’m losing another part of myself that I didn’t know was such a part of my identity.

The whole “good girl” thing comes from the bdsm aspect of my life which may or may not be appropriate to write about, but fuck it, this is my writing and this is where my brain is at. When Ox called me a good girl during sex the other day I completely lost it. I was furious at him for calling me a good girl. Furious to the point of tears and breaking down in anguish because I’m no longer what I was; what I should be. I’m not a good girl anymore. How could he say that to me when I’m not deserving of that phrase.

Good girls don’t get cancer.

All of this sucks.

Who am I? Who do I want to be? What defines me?

Where do you start with questions like that?

I guess, first and foremost I’m a sister. To my brothers and my half-sisters. I’m there for them. I’m still a daughter to my mother and father. I am a partner to Ox. I don’t feel like I’m a very good partner at the moment. I feel like I take a lot of energy from him. I cry a lot. I talk about stupid things like zombie apocalypses and last wills and how I feel unworthy. He says he doesn’t mind but if I’m tired of myself then I don’t understand how other people wouldn’t be tired of me, too.

He says I’m still “His good girl,” which helps, though I don’t know why. Maybe because it takes away my perspective. His view of good and my view of good can be different. My having cancer doesn’t change his view so his view of “good” is still valid and allowed while my view of “good” needs to be more definitively defined so as to combat Evil Voice.

When I talked to my instructor she said as caregivers, most of the time it’s easier for us to give care than to receive it. I feel like there’s a lot of truth in that statement. I don’t want to be a burden to people around me. I can’t be the happy and optimistic me I normally am and I know that bothers people. They want to help. They want to do something, but there’s nothing for them to really do other than let me try to swim through the tidal wave of feelings when they come.

Most of the time I’m so tired of feeling that I feel nothing and there’s a part of me wondering if that’s the cancer fucking with my thyroid or if that’s legitimately how I feel. And there’s still yet another part of me who wonders if it even matters where the emotions come from or why they’re there. The end result is the same regardless of the source. Maybe it’s the fact that it is winter. Or the holidays. Or that it’s a day that ends in “y”. Who knows.

There is this pervasive feeling of… something. I’m tired of figuring stuff out. I’m tired of caring. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of explaining. I’m tired of people. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not good enough. I’m tired of defending my self-worth against myself because I’m the only one saying that I failed.

I’m a failure. I’m a fuck up. I’m too much. I’m too little.

No, I’m not, damnit. Fuck you, Brain.

You know what? Yeah. That’s exactly it. That phrase right there is the thing I didn’t know I needed to say. Fuck you, Brain. Fuck you and all your thoughts and emotions. Just… fuck you.

Angry. I guess that’s what a lot of it is at the moment. Anger and frustration and helplessness because none of this is in my control. Fuck you, Universe and all your trials and “adventures”. I’m tired of you. I’m tired of your games. I’m tired of proving myself.

I’m angry that now I finally have the insight to want to talk to mom about things she went through that I can’t. Fuck you. Fuck you for putting me in this position after taking her away from me.

Fuck you for making me think that I am going to owe this doctor my life and be in his debt. Fuck you for the mentalities you fostered in me. Fuck you for making me an INFJ who’s constantly aware and considerate and understanding of others but completely unable to provide or apply the same understanding to myself.

I’m always in a different category simply because I’m me and I’m sick of it. Fuck you. I’m no different. Ok? I’m the same. I’m a fucking human, too, just like every other person on this fucking planet. I’m a human even if I don’t have my thyroid. I’m a human even if I have cancer. I’m a fucking human, too, and I’m allowed to be angry and frustrated and tired and not ok.

I’m allowed those things. I’m allowed to feel those things.

You can’t take that away from me, Universe. I’m still human. No matter what you do to me, no matter what you take away from me, I will always be human. I will always be my mother’s daughter. I will always be my brothers’ sister.

I think that’s a step in the right direction. I feel better for having found it at least. I’m human. Cancer can’t fucking change that.

Yeah. That’s right. Fuck you, Kevin. You can’t change me; the real me. The human me was human before you and will still be human after you, you son of a bitch. Fuck you for fucking with my life. I won’t let you make me think that I’m less than awesome. I won’t let you tap me out. I won’t let you win because you don’t deserve to win.

So what if I’m not a good girl anymore. Maybe you’re right, Evil Voice. Maybe I’m not a good girl anymore. Maybe I’m an awesome girl now. You want to play this fucking game? Fine. I’ll destroy you, Evil Voice. I’ll crush you with every fiber of my being. I’ve fought too hard to get to where I am for you to hurt me like you used to.

I don’t need to be “good” anymore, Evil Voice. I’m better than simply “good”. So go ahead. Keep your stupid word, you selfish bastard. I’m graduating, up-grading, transforming, evolving.

Thank you for pushing me to this point, Evil Voice. Thank you for making me realize I’m better than good.

Musing Moment 141: Post-Consultation

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This is the first day where I have the space, the silence, to really sit down and have a talk with myself about recent events.

So self… How are you? And no, “I’m fine,” isn’t an ok answer between us. I’m here for you. I will always be here for you and I need you to be honest with me; with us.

How are you feeling about having cancer?

Having cancer isn’t really the thing that bothers me. The thought of having surgery bothers me. The thought of my life depending on a daily medication bothers me. What happens if there’s a zombie apocalypse? A nuclear bomb? What happens if I’m kidnapped or taken hostage and I’m denied access to my medication? What happens if I can no longer obtain it?

Having my thyroid removed will keep me alive. I get it. There’s something inside my body that while yes, it is slow-growing, doesn’t spread, blah blah blah… it’s still trying to kill me and will succeed if I don’t remove it. I accept that. I have to have surgery in order to stay alive. But after surgery, the only reason I can keep living a “normal” life is because I live in a place, in a time, where I can give my body the thing it will no longer be able to create on its own.

So what happens if that changes? What happens if the time and place no longer work the way they currently do and I’m left without what I need to live?

Ox and I have an understanding. I called him on my lunch break at work on Friday. We talked about this. I know for a lot of people it may seem silly, stupid, to entertain such far-fetched ideas; things that will “never” happen. But I need to know. If.. IF… they did happen, what would we do?

I told him that I needed him to promise me, if this became a legitimate issue that he would take me out, or if he couldn’t do it himself, to let me do it myself.

Of course, I was in tears as I made him promise me.

If I have no control over my need for this medication, then I want to have the control to at least not suffer if I’ll never be able to get it again. I need the people in my life to understand not only is this the type of issues I’m having to contend with and reconcile within myself, I need them to understand that these are my wishes, while I’m still of sound mind and body.

Me: Don’t let me suffer.

I’ve talked to Jon and he’s agreed to be who I name in my living will, because there are no guarantees in life. This surgery is safe and very rarely are there complications… more blah blah blah blah…

Mom was about to be discharged to go to rehab when she had a pumonary emolism, ok? Don’t give me your bullshit about everythings going to be fine and I don’t need to worry about things like that.

Yeah… I fucking do because unless you can show me my contract where it says I’ll have no complications and go on to live a full life and die many, many years later, then you can’t tell me this isn’t something I need to worry about. You’re not the one literally having your throat cut open by a stranger who’s an asshole and didn’t even have time to answer your questions.

I want to have things in place just in case there’s a complication after surgery. That way the people I love aren’t left not knowing what to do because we never talked about the real shit that mattered. I’ve already started looking into a last will and who would get the hope chest my grandfather made for me and mom’s china hutch and china set and my cross stitch stuff or my magic cards. I’ve already asked Ox what would happen to the kittens if I were to die because I need to know they’ll be ok.

That’s the type of shit I’m having to think about while my patients ask me how my Thanksgiving was.

Me: Do collectors get to take their due out of the life insurance I’ve left for my brothers? Oh, yeah… Thanksgiving was nice. Not a lot happened…

Except everything happened. I was diagnosed with cancer and have had to have non-stop conversations with countless people about it and I still don’t have a surgery date because my insurance has to “approve” my surgery.

What the actual fuck?

Are you saying it’s possible to be denied a life-saving operation? Should this be something I actually put energy into worrying about because it’s a thing? I need approval for a medical procedure when I’ve paid thousands of dollars on health insurance from when I first started working until now? Thousands of dollars that I’ve never actually used for anything other than yearly checkups?

No wonder so many people have fucking issues with our health system. I’ve done more than my part and yet I need “approval”?

Go fuck yourselves.

I’m having to think about things like, “if I were to die should I be buried or cremated? If I’m buried, where should I be buried so the people who would want to visit my grave can do so without having to spend thousands of dollars to do it? If I die somewhere far away from my burial site, how expensive would it be to send my body to the burial location? Is that even a thing? If so do I have to be imbalmed to do it?”

God. So many fucking questions. And I have a group project I haven’t even really touched for school this coming week. Not to mention all of the reading for this unit that I haven’t done. Not going to feel bad about prioritizing reassuring family and friends that I’m not dying as I prepare for the possibility of my death over reading nursing school BS assignments that haven’t helped me score better on the tests because your tests are BS to begin with. Arg… >.<

There’s so much going on inside of my head that I don’t even know where to begin.

Does having surgery make you less of a cancer survivor? I mean… It’s not like I’m fighting it. I’m not going through chemo. I’m not having to do a lot of stuff that most people diagnosed with cancer have to go through. I have this surgery. It’s removed. I go about my life… That’s not heroic. That’s not really “fighting”, is it? I’m having someone else cut me open. They’re doing all the work and I’m hoping they do it well enough to not fuck up.

That seems sort of like a cheap way of fighting cancer. Not cheap as in “not expensive”. But cheap as in, “I’m not having to face the same hardships as others”, so does my experience really count? Would I really be a cancer survivor?

So that brings into question, how do I feel about mom? She had cancer. The same cancer, in fact. Do I think of her as a cancer survivor?

Honestly, I never really thought about it. I knew she had thyroid cancer at some point; before I was born. I knew she had surgery. I knew she took medication. But I never talked to her about it. I never questioned it. She was mom. She was awesome. I didn’t think to talk to her about it. I didn’t think to explore that experience, that side of her. And now that I’m facing it myself, there’s no way to go back and have those conversations.

There was this whole side of her that I never knew anything about and I’ll never know it because I never thought to ask.

I do think of her as a survivor. I do think of her as a badass; even more badass now since I’m facing something she went through. So if I think of her that way, why am I different? Why wouldn’t I think of myself in the same way, the same light, as someone who went through literally the same thing I’m going through?

That’s not fair. That’s not logically. What is it about me that makes me unworthy of the same mentality? Why am I put into a different box of “non-survivor” status?

I don’t have an answer for that. At least not yet. But I know it’s there so that’s at least a step in the right direction.

The surgeon himself is a jerk. I had to dig out my surprised face for that one… He came into the room and didn’t even know what I was there for. He “believed” I was there for thyroid issues… yeah, because the last time I checked cancer is sort of an issue… He didn’t know if I should have a partial removal or a full removal… Well… based on the information from my endocrinologist, there’s a questionable nodule less than a centimeter big in my left lobe, so her recommendation was for a full removal instead of a partial… You know, taking out everything since you’ll already have to take out the right side. It would be better to have a baseline of ok rather than a baseline of “what’s this weird shit over here going to do later down the road,” sort of a thing…

It felt like I was doing his job for him because he knew nothing about my case.

He gave me his sales pitch, telling me how experienced he was and how post-surgery would go then stood to leave. I mentioned that I still had questions, not mentioning that it was four pages worth of questions since some of them had already been covered.

Surgeon: Well, I’m already 30 minutes late for a surgery so I really can’t stay.

Fuck you, dude. If your nurse practitioner wasn’t amazing I would be looking for someone else to cut me open. Actually, I dislike you so much I almost would rather die of cancer than let you save me. Seriously. I came to this appointment because you were supposed to have time for me and to know my case, which apparently you couldn’t do either of those things.

I flipped him off when he closed the door, leaving me and Ox alone in the room, waiting, as he flagged down his NP to come clean up his mess.

The NP is amazing, though, and literally the only reason I’m staying with this particular surgeon. One of my coworkers knows of him. She used to work at the same hospital. She said even the other doctors think he’s an asshole, which is saying something. If other doctors, who are assholes, think you’re an asshole, then you must be a special type of special.

But yeah, his NP is fantastic. She was so kind and compassionate. She understood when I explained the situation about mom and how at the moment I felt relatively fine but that pre-surgery would most likely be extremely hard for me. She assured me she would be in the surgery room with me, helping the surgeon, and that she could even be with me pre-surgery if it would help. Knowing she’ll be there makes it seem more doable. I won’t be alone. I’ll know someone. She said she would most likely be the person checking on me post-surgery as well since they’ll have to keep me overnight to make sure there aren’t complications. She even answered all the questions I had in my notebook, never indicating that any of them were stupid or silly. Even my question about “Will it being winter affect my recovery?” was answered with kindness and compassion and an informative response; which depression is a big worry about surgeries in winter, in case you were wondering.

If I’m unconscious for the whole time I’m around Mr. Asshole and conscious for all the other times with the NP, then I think I’ll be ok.

The NP actually had a thyroidectomy herself… when she was 20… Holy fuck? You had just graduated high school and were told you had cancer? What the actual fuck, Universe? I want to talk more to her and hear her perspective. How did you feel being told that young that you had cancer? How do you feel now? Do you feel like a cancer survivor? Do you ever feel vulnerable or less than or unworthy because you’re missing part of yourself?

Jon, Jason, and my dad have wanted to know if I want them there. I’m not sure yet. I’m hoping to have the surgery between the 18th of December and the 9th of January. There’s a part of me who’s hoping for the 20th of December so I can avoid all of the birthday stuff…

Me: Sorry guys, I would love to have a party… but, you know… cancer… so I can’t… Maybe next year, though. Love you. Bye. : D

Oh, and trust me… I’ve been making a ton of cancer jokes. I mean… if my choices are crying about it or making extremely inapproiate jokes about it… I’m totally going to joke and laugh.

I want to have the surgery before my winter break from school ends. Though, I still don’t know what I want to do with school yet. I haven’t told my instructors since it’s been holiday break.

At the moment I’m inclined to tell my family, “No. Don’t come”. It’s the holidays. Traveling is going to be a nightmare and ridiculously expensive for something that is a borderline outpatient surgery. I mean… everyone keeps making it sound like, “You’re sick. You go to the doctor. They make you better. You go home.” Why would I have people waste time and money to be there for something when in two to three days I’ll be back at work? Shouldn’t I be able to handle that alone without having to drag everyone through that emotional and financial expense?

It’s confusing. My friend Allison, who just had a baby not even two weeks ago, talked to me a bit about that part of the situation. Which, you want to talk about raining on someone’s parade…?

Me: Congratulations! By the way, I have cancer. How was childbirth?

She said that maybe Jason, Jon, and my dad WANT to be there. That it would make them feel better TO be there, rather than being home, by themselves, no knowing what’s going on. Not being able to see me before or after surgery.

She has a point. It’s not fair of me to make decisions for them. They’re adults. They can decide if seeing me in a hospital is something they can or cannot handle. It’s not my place to say if it is or isn’t. It’s not my place to take the choice away from them.

I won’t know until early this coming week when surgery will be. I have to make it through at least another day of work, maybe a day of school, with not knowing. What if it ends up being Christmas week when it’s my turn to work Sunday at the clinic since New Tech covered this past Sunday for the Thanksgiving holiday? What if I’m unable to cover my three days at the clinic?

Even though I’ve been told by my boss, who has also gone through something similar with her thyroid, not to worry about work, I’m me and I’m going to fucking worry, ok? Telling me not to worry is like telling me not to breathe. Let me get right on that…

I worry about my team. I love my team and this is going to affect them just as much as Ox or anyone else in my life. Maybe more so since I spend so much time working beside them.

It is going to take a bit of time to figure out the dosage of medication I’m supposed to be on. There’s math and stuff to help figure out a “right” dose but that’s more of a starting point rather than a miracle number. Every person is different and every person responds differently. We won’t know until about six weeks post-surgery if their numbers are working. If they aren’t, does the dose need to be increased or decreased? After the adjustment is made it will be another six weeks before lab work and be redone to see if the dosage is better or worse. Finding the right dosage is going to be a process, a long one, and during this time because the thyroid controls your metabolism and energy levels, my moods are going to be all over the place.

If my dosage is too low, I’ll be tired and fatigued, and not the kind that coffee and a shit ton of caffeine will help with. I will be physically, bone-achingly tired because my body can’t process energy the way it’s supposed to. If my dose is too high, I basically feel like I’m on speed, unable to sleep or focus. Unable to stop or sit still. Not all that awful aside from the health complications that go along with not sleeping and the potential heart arrhythmias… At least the apartment will be clean when I die? That’s a bright side, right?

So I’m supposed to go six to 12 weeks of potential “wtf” inside my body that I have absolutely no control over while going to nursing school three days a week and working another three at the clinic and only have Sunday off, ever, to do the rest of the shit that needs to happen in my life, like paying bills and laundry, food shopping and cooking, followup appointments, vet visits, mental and emotional breakdowns…

Yeah, all of life gets regulated to a single day next semester. How am I supposed to be successful at anything with everything I have going on?

I don’t have an answer for that either, at least not yet.

I want to talk to the head of the LPN program to see what my options are as far as school is concerned. I’ve already taken out loans for the program. What happens if I stop? Does the school refund the money? It’s not like I’m, “Naw. I’m not feeling this whole nursing thing. I’m going to go be couch potato instead.” I literally have cancer and I don’t want to have to worry about school assignments while I’m trying to be mentally and emotionally ok because I’m really not mentally and emotionally ok right now.

Can I sit out this coming semester? Maybe take a prerequisite for the RN program like Microbiology? Something online so I don’t have to worry about traveling anywhere on my days off from work but still something moving me in a forward direction and keeping me “active”? Could I hop back into the LPN program but do it full-time instead of part-time? I mean… I was already having to look at cutting back my time at work anyway since the part-time program meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. If I’m having to cut back at work anyway, why not get it done faster? If I can’t reenter the program full-time can I wait until the next occurrence of the part-time program? Would I have to redo the first semester even if I pass it? Would I have to pay for anything if I step back for a little while or would you guys hold onto the money I already gave you? How does all of this work? Am I fucked and I have to do next semester even though in any other situation I’m sure this would be a “qualifying life event”?

Why are all of these systems so fucking broken? Why are half of my worries even fucking worries? I’m worried about not dying and who will take care of my cats if I do. I shouldn’t have to worry about approval for the surgery and how fucked am I if I don’t keep trucking along at school.

And yet, here I am, having to figure all of it out because that’s how our systems work. I have to have approval to live.

I still need to cook meals for the week. I still haven’t put my clothes away from this past Monday. I haven’t touched schoolwork in a week, which luckily, it’s been the holiday break so there wasn’t really anything major to worry about. Still… I was hoping to use this week to get ahead for the final exam. Totally did not go how I thought it would and I can’t bring myself to care. I’ll figure it out somehow, just like I’m having to figure everything else out.

For now, I’m going to go and cook since I’m hungry and after that, I’m going to cross stitch because fuck it. It’s my only day off. The only day I haven’t had to call people and tell them, “Hey, funny story… I promise it’s really not that bad, but really I’m trying to convince myself of that, too, so hopefully, you believe me because I don’t have any energy left to convince myself.”

All of my problems and questions will still be there, waiting for me, regardless if I cross-stitch or not, so I’m going to because I want to feel like I did at least one thing for myself this whole week.

Fuck you, Cancer Kevin. You’re an asshole.

Musing Moments 140: Pre-Consultation Writing

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At the moment I’m trying to keep up with my life and figure out my emotions so please bear with me. It’s going to take some time and effort to sort through everything, and it begins with these initial writings.

Written Wednesday, November 27th.


The past few weeks/months have been a bit of a ride, medically speaking. And in true “Jen” fashion, I haven’t been keeping up with writing or checking in with myself, so this is going to be a huge “catch up” post in a relatively short amount of time since I have to leave soon for an appointment.

It started with my yearly checkup for work insurance purposes. My primary care physician thought my thyroid was swollen. She ordered lab work to be done and said even if my levels came back fine, because of my family’s history with thyroid issues, she would like for me to have an ultrasound on my thyroid done.

That took me to an endocrinologist who ordered yet more lab work and got me set up for an ultrasound at one of the hospitals here in Lincoln. I went to the ultrasound alone. In hindsight, that most likely wasn’t the smartest option. At the time I wasn’t worried about it. It was a non-invasive procedure. Nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Being in a hospital again, laying down on a table and having medical staff doing things to me brought back all sorts of emotions from when mom was in the hospital. It didn’t matter that it was three years later. It didn’t matter that it was me and not her. It didn’t matter that it was a non-invasive procedure or even that the two hospitals were totally different and that it was a billion degrees outside in Vegas all those years ago while here it was borderline snowing.

None of those facts, none of that information, mattered. All of the hurt and loss and loneliness and vulnerability simmered at the edges of my mind as I checked in for my appointment and only grew the longer I was there, the further my procedure went.

I held my emotional shit together long enough to make it back to the car and to call Ox before completely breaking down. I sobbed into the phone for I don’t know how long, terrified. I was terrified of having to go back to the hospital. I was terrified of having to be ok enough to drive home. I was terrified of losing everything that I had fought for in the three years since mom died. And as stupid as it sounds, I was terrified of losing mom again. I was terrified of being alone and facing all of these intangible things by myself because how do you fight things you can’t see or touch or feel?

I was scared and hurt and alone and the only thing I could do was cry alone in my car, clinging to my phone as if Ox were my life support getting me through the overwhelming crush of my emotional tidal wave.

Eventually, after listening to his voice and talking and lots of crying, I was ok enough to drive home. The only thing there was for me to do at the point was wait to be called with the results of the ultrasound.

The results came back early the next week. There was a nodule on the right side of my thyroid. Since we didn’t know what it was they wanted me to schedule a biopsy. You know… because poking at random, unknown things inside your body with needles is a great idea… said no one ever.

I had the biopsy. I still feel like I got punched in the throat. Ox was there with me for that procedure and I faired better emotionally, most likely because he was there to help keep me grounded and outside of my head.

I got a call Monday evening from my endocrinologist herself. She took the time to call me personally, after hours, to deliver the results of said biopsy.

The nodule is positive for cancer.

Yeah…

You read that sentence correctly.

I have thyroid cancer.

I was blindsided by her statement. I wasn’t expecting cancer. Maybe a benign tumor because my T levels kept coming back fine… but cancer? Fucking cancer…?

Do you realize what this means for me?

Do you realize that I now have to call my brothers and tell them I have cancer only three and a half years after mom died? Do you realize how many people I have to inform, personally, because this isn’t something that I can make a post about on Facebook?

Me: “Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know I have cancer. Oh! And here’s a picture of a cat. K. Bye. : D”

I know mom had thyroid cancer before I was born and was able to take daily medication and still live an extremely full life. I know logically that as far as bad news goes, getting thyroid cancer is pretty much the best bad news you can get.

That hasn’t stopped me from having nightmares about it. That hasn’t stopped any of the emotional reactions that I’ve had. That hasn’t changed the fact that I realized, finally, why I can’t fight that evil voice in my head when it starts giving me shit and telling me that I’m a failure.

I know I’m not a failure. I doing well in nursing school. I’m doing well at work. I’m still making ends meet, if just bearly, financially. But when it started saying “You’re a failure,” shortly after having to schedule the biopsy, I couldn’t figure out why it felt true. I know it’s not true, so why does it feel that way?

I realized it’s because unconsciously one of my biggest goals since mom died has been to be healthy enough, stable enough, for my brothers to not have to worry about me. Looking at it objectively, that’s a fairly unrealistic goal. Regardless of it being realistic or not, it was my goal and I failed to achieve it, since now I have cancer and all of this medical shit on the horizon, and so I’m a failure.

Right now, I’m waiting to go into town with Ox to have my consultation with the surgeon. I’m waiting to figure out where and when I will have part of my body removed. I’m waiting to tell everyone in my life what the next steps will be and when.

I’m waiting.

I’m waiting.

I’m not good at waiting and underneath everything else I have going on in my life is the fact that even though we did everything right with mom, even though we followed all the steps the way we were told, we still lost.

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to meet with the surgeon. I don’t want to have surgery. I don’t want to have to figure all of this out and how to pay for it and how to not fuck up shit at work and put more stress on my team.

I don’t want to do this.

Not only do I not want to do this. I don’t want to do it alone. Last night while I was alone for a little bit I started crying as I laid in bed with the kittens. I started talking to mom. I told her I missed her and that I wanted to come home and be with her. I know she went through this exact thing, but I never got to talk to her about it. I don’t know what she felt or experienced. I don’t know what post-surgery was like for her. I never thought of mom as a cancer survivor, but she was. Was she scared when she found out? Did she cry? Did she feel alone? Did she struggle with wondering if she would be less human after the surgery because part of her was missing?

I want her to hold me and to tell me it will be ok.

I know it will be. It will be as ok as it can be, at least. Ox will be there. My dad offered to be there. So many people have been supportive and understanding. Apparently, a lot of people in my life think I’m a badass and that I’ll kick Kevin’s ass. I was told to name my cancer to make it more real, more tangible, then referring to it as “thyroid cancer”.

Sorry for any Kevin’s out there who may take offense to me using your name. It was a random name thrown out there by Mother Earth and so it has stuck.

I don’t feel like a badass. I feel scared and vulnerable and alone all over again and all I can think of is how I’m going to look so much like mom, in a hospital gown, in a hospital bed, completely out of it from the anesthetics… I can’t have my brothers there. I can’t put them through that again. I wasn’t supposed to put them through this. I was supposed to be ok.

I want to say I can’t do this. I want to give up and tell Life that it wins and this joke isn’t funny and I’m ready to go home and not play this shitty game.

I’ve been freaking out over the next semester of nursing school since the third week of this semester. How am I supposed to go through a surgery that’s going to fuck with my hormone levels and leave me tired and still go to school three days a week and work full time and still figure out laundry and dishes and meals and bills… I just want to say fuck it to everything.

I want to hide away under the blankets in my darkened room with the kittens and pretend that the bad things don’t exist and they can’t get me and I’m not hurting the people I love the most.

I don’t want to do this, but I have to. I have to try to be ok because I have too much debt to die now. I have too many people who care about me to not have this surgery. I have too many conversations I want to have with people I love. Too many goals at work that I haven’t reached yet. Too many things Ox and I haven’t done.

I don’t want to do this but I’m going to because fuck Kevin. He doesn’t get to control my life. Fuck you, Kevin. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I’m angry at you for making me drag everyone in my life through this. This isn’t fair. Three years isn’t long enough. We aren’t recovered enough to go through this all over again. Fuck you, you inconsiderate asshole.

At the same time, thank you. Thank you for not being terminal. Thank you for being treatable. Thank you for not spreading or destroying my entire life. You’re an asshole and I’m still angry at you, but thank you for not being worse than what you are.

Please be with me, mom. Please don’t let me go through this without you. I love you. I miss you. I need you. Please help me, mom. Please be here with me so I can do this.

Musing Moment 139: Kicking Kevin’s Ass

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Written and posted to Facefail Thanksgiving day

Monday, November 25th, after working a 12 hour shift at work, I received a phone call from my Endocrinologist. My biopsy came back positive for papillary thyroid cancer.

Firstly, I want to say that I have done my best to reach out to as many people as I could personally. If this is the first you are hearing of my diagnosis, please know that you were not forgotten or thought of as unimportant in my life. I care for everyone on my Facebook deeply and you are important to me.

Secondly, though I know it may seem counter-intuitive to post such news on Thanksgiving, I want to say that I am exceedingly grateful.

I am grateful for the outstanding care I have received from my primary care physician. Because of her, we found my cancer fairly early and are able to take the required steps for proper treatment.

I am grateful for the support and empathy of my teammates. Not only have they been my rocks while going through nursing school, they continue to stand by me as I begin the process of scheduling surgery.

I am grateful for the diagnosis itself. As far as “bad news” goes, being diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer is pretty much the best bad news you can get. My prognosis is extremely positive and I am fortunate enough to know several people who have gone through this exact experience firsthand, including mom. Knowing other people in my life were badass enough to not only survive, but thrive, makes the big, scary “C” word seem less overwhelming and scary. If such inspiring people in my life were able to get through this, so can I.

And lastly, I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the support, love, and compassion I have received from family and friends. Not only did you guys listen to me drop a massive bombshell on you, every single one of you took the time to ask how I am doing; emotionally, mentally. You all have let me know that I’m not a burden and that if I need anything that you’re there for me through thick and thin. I am beyond grateful for the army of support I have going into this experience and because of you, all of you, I don’t feel as alone or vulnerable as I did Monday night.

One particular person gave me some interesting advice. She mentioned that naming my cancer could help make the situation more manageable rather than leaving it simply as “thyroid cancer”. So I have decided to name “it” Kevin (no offense to any Kevins out there…). Kevin’s a jerk and we’re all going to kick his ass because we’re awesome and we don’t take shit from nobody.

So, yes. It’s Thanksgiving and I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and I’m grateful. Thank you, all of you, for being awesome and amazing and for being a part of my life. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We got this. : )