Daily Post 188: First Week Post-Surgery

Standard

There’s a lot to write about. A lot to process through. A lot to be grateful for. A lot still on the horizon.

I suppose I should start from where I left off last. It was before surgery. I was able to get the $700 needed for the deposit I was blindsided by. Work went well. My patients were extremely supportive during my last days at work.

Tuesday I went to my first day of class. Introduction to Sociology. I was able to talk to the instructor after class. It was nice to have a face to go with the voice I had heard over the phone earlier the week before. We talked about the day I would be missing. She gave me the makeup work. She wished me well during surgery.

After class, I went to the airport and picked up my dad. It was good to see him. We stopped at Arby’s on the way back to my apartment for lunch. We chatted for a bit. He got to meet the kittens. He got to meet Ox. That evening we went out for dinner at Brewsky’s. They have pretty good wings. My FA and her family showed up.

It was a thing I tried to work out with most of my co-workers; my “Cancer Eviction Party.” Not many people showed up but when you work the crazy hours we do I was sort of expecting that. It ended up being pretty awesome regardless. My FA is an extremely important person in my life. She is one of the biggest advocates for my development in the company. I know it may seem childish but I’m glad she was able to meet my dad. He spent a really long time talking to her and it seemed like she genuinely enjoyed the conversation. There were lots of jokes and laughing and shared stories. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my last night before my surgery; with good people having good food and a good time.

I had my last cigarette with Ox before driving back to the apartment. My dad camped out in the living room on my air mattress while I slept with the kittens in my room. I woke up early. I didn’t eat. I had a bit of chicken broth to drink, but that was it. We got to the hospital around 10 am. I got checked in and was shown to my pre-surgery room. I had to take my piercings out. I had to wipe down with antimicrobial wipes. I had to wear a hospital gown. I had to wait a really long time. I had to answer a bunch of questions. I had to give them the paperwork for my living will so it could be in my medical record.

The surgeon came in and talked to me. I think he could tell I was scared. Remarkablely, he was extremely kind to me. There was something different about his eyes. Something different in his voice. Something about the way he held himself said, “It’s ok to be scared. I’ve got you.”

Eventually, 30 minutes past when my surgery was supposed to start, I was wheeled down the hall to the surgery room. I was ok going into the room. The staff helped me transfer over onto the surgery table. They started putting EKG electrodes on me. They were talking to me, to each other. I was told to rest my head just so on the pillow.

I could feel the tears running from the corners of my eyes. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be doing this. I didn’t want to have surgery. I didn’t want to be in the hospital. I didn’t want to have cancer.

The tears kept coming as everyone moved around getting things ready. It was harder to breathe. To keep it even and normal. Harder and harder to not cry. They put the mask over my face saying it was just oxygen. But I knew it wouldn’t stay just oxygen. I knew they were going to put me to sleep with no way to promise that I would wake up. I started crying as someone stroked my forehead saying that I was doing really well.

No, I’m not. No, I’m not. I’m not doing well. Please don’t do this.

That was the last thing I remember.

After that, I was waking up with two nurses in my room. I don’t remember the beginning of the conversation but I remember saying that I knew mom was still dead and breaking down because it hurt so much all over again. I woke up and she still wasn’t going to be there.

Somehow we got onto the subject of my kittens, most likely because they didn’t want me crying so hard with my incision being so fresh. Ox and Dad weren’t in the room yet. I could hear Ox’s keys as he walked, though. I knew he was close. I remember looking out the hospital room doorway and seeing him and reaching for him. I needed him near me. I need him to touch me. I needed him to be real.

Me: I woke up.

I remember saying that. I remember explaining that I remembered mom was dead and crying again. I remember my younger brother talking to me on the phone and saying it was good to hear my voice. I was still pretty out of it. I felt sick; nauseous. I didn’t eat anything for another four hours. I drank a lot of water during the moments I was awake enough to do so. I was able to walk to the restroom by myself on my first try. That was important to me. I don’t know why, but I needed to prove to myself that I could.

Dad stayed with me through the night. Around midnight I had half a bowl of oatmeal. My throat was extremely sore from being intabated which apparently they had to do that twice to me. The seal broke on the first one.

Around four in the morning, I had a small container of applesauce. I was still nauseous feeling and the thought of anything more solid than that wasn’t appealing. I had a few cups of chicken broth throughout the night as well. I was extremely dehydrated after the surgery.

I ended up having a pain pill as well. 5mcg of hydrocodone with 375 mcg I believe of acetaminophen. It wasn’t enough to make me one with the Universe or anything, but it took the sharpness of the pain down to a dull ache that I could work with.

I had a drain in my neck. Not sure if that’s really important in the grand scheme of the story, but I feel I should mention it.

My RN for the evening was amazing. Shelby. She was so kind and quiet. She’s the type of nurse I want to be.

In the morning I had blood drawn to check my calcium levels. I was kept until noon because of the drain. The PA thought it was still draining a bit much for her to be ok with me leaving in the morning. My dad and I played a few games of cribbage to kill the time. Breakfast was brought up. Two pancakes, one piece of sausage and a single strawberry. I ate it all which I was proud of.

Eventually, I was rounded on again. The drain was doing fine. The PA removed it which totally sucked. God did it fucking suck. Thankfully it was over quick. My morning nurse went over my discharge instructions, talked about incision care, and follow-up steps once I was at home. Kristen. She’s another nurse I want to be like.

I asked for all of the names of people who helped take care of me while I was in my post-surgery room so I could write thank you cards. Kristen got me the list.

I walked all the way to the lobby of the hospital. I didn’t think I was trying to be a badass. I didn’t think it would be a hard thing to do. I was beyond grateful to sit and wait for Ox to pull up with the car. I was so tired from walking the relatively short distance.

Once I was in the car, holding the vase of flowers from Allison’s mom, my dad drove to the Chinese place where Ox and I like going. I got an order of the seafood soup with a side of fried rice and the three of us ate lunch before going to pick up my medications. I got my Synthroid as well as 15 more pain pills. I also got a container of peppermint Tums since I had to take four tablets a day to make sure my calcium didn’t drop post-surgery.

I was exhausted after lunch and going into Walgreens. Dad drove me home and I went to sleep for I don’t know how long. I think we went out to dinner for food but I don’t remember where if we did.

I don’t remember breakfast the next morning. I do know we went to Walmart and got a 3D crystal puzzle. It was the purple dragon on. Dad and I put it together, well… together. It was nice. We did a few more games of cribbage, too. I was still taking a pain pill every six hours. All of my body hurt. My neck, my shoulders, my abs. Laying down in bed sucked more than getting out of it.

Oh! Ox got me a purple weighted blanked which arrived just in time for me to use at home. I believe it was delivered Thursday.

Anywho. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I started feeling ok pain wise. I had another pill that morning before we drove into town to have breakfast with Ox, the kids, and his parents. Which reminds me… I had breakfast with dad at Greenfields on Friday. Saturday was Village Inn.

It was a good breakfast. It was nice for dad to meet Ox’s family. There was more good conversation and overall I think it went well. I worked on my make up assignment for school. I napped. We went to Brewsky’s for dinner and tried out the Mettle Grill for lunch. All of it was good.

I talked to a lot of people through Facebook and phone calls in between the days. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing. Dad and I were able to have some really deep and important conversations while he was with me. He got to explain his actions and choices after the diveroce. I got to explain how it felt as a young girl and that I realized as an adult that some of the things he said and did weren’t meant the way I took them.

I got to tell my dad, in person, that despite all of the times he wasn’t there for marching band competitions or graduation speeches, that when I needed him to be there for me, he was, and that I would always be grateful for him. We both took a lot of steps to mend our relationship. There were a lot of tears but they were healing tears. Painful tears but at the same time good tears. They were tears that needed to happen. To be shared and shed.

We talked about mom a lot. He explained what he remembered about the situation when mom had her surgery.

My dad isn’t much of a cat person, but he did go onto Amazon and buy a laser toy for them since we were having so much fun tormenting them with a handheld laser pointer. It’s a tower with a rotating top that shines a laser on the floor. It spins around, moving the laser randomly. The cats have yet to conquer the red dot of doom.

Monday night Ox, dad, and I had dinner again. Dad told Ox that he was extremely pleased that I had Ox in my corner. He told Ox to take care of me. Dad thinks I’m doing well. He thinks I’m where I need to be surrounded by people who care deeply about me and my wellbeing. He thinks I’m headed in the right direction with my life and that all I need is time. He thinks I’ll get to where I want to be. It was validating to hear him say those words. That he was and is proud of me.

It meant a lot that he liked Ox as well; that he thinks Ox is a good person.

The whole week was amazingly nice. I didn’t have a lot of alone time. I didn’t have a cigarette the entire time my dad was here. I had breakfast with him at a diner I really like. We drove to the airport and said our goodbyes. I had my post-surgery appointment later in the day and I promised to keep him posted on how it went.

I didn’t cry when he left. It didn’t feel like a goodbye. More like an “I’ll see you later.” It was nice. It felt like I still have a parent and like I’m not an orphan.

I went to class after the airport. It was a good class. We talked about shootings, and game violence and suicide. Pretty deep and heavy topics and how different cultures respond differently to different things and what could be some cultural underlying issues to social problems. Very thought-provoking discussions.

And I guess for now that’s where I’ll leave this writing. There’s a lot more to catch up on, but this was my first week post-surgery. Quiet, slow, full of recovery and kindness and empathy. Full of love and family and connectedness. Full of my dad becoming part of my life again and seeing a glimpse of my world and being proud of the tiny corner I’ve eeked out for myself here in the middle of nowhere.

Daily Post 187: 30 Minute Roller Coaster

Standard

So… I’m still not the best at posting daily. I’m ok with that. Giving myself credit for making the effort.

The rest of Wednesday was a pretty good day. I went to counseling. We talked a lot about the upcoming surgery and my feelings regarding it. My biggest fear is not waking up.

We talked about how I told Lil’ Ox and Ornery Ox about my surgery. The next time they seem me I’ll have the incision on my neck. I didn’t want them to feel betrayed by not being told what is going on. I wanted them to be prepared to see a mark on my neck.

We talked about my feelings regarding my dad coming out. We talked about my upcoming sociology class.

All sorts of stuff… good stuff mostly. I didn’t cry this time. Go me!

After counseling, since our meetings are on campus, I went and picked up my books for my class. That was $180. Fuck my life… Mama Ox gave me $130 to help cover it. The last bit of birthday and Christmas since she wanted to help. Really it was more of an unspoken, “I’m going to help you and your going to accept it and I’m a mom and there’s nothing you can do to stop me because I have that special mom glare that I’ll use on you if you try to not accept my help” sort of situation.

After getting my books, I walked around the school until I found the room where my class will be held. I feel better knowing where to go next Tuesday rather than hoping I don’t get completely lost and end up being late. Nope. I know exactly where I want to park and what sidewalks to take and all that jazz. I’m actually really looking forward to Tuesday morning.

I sent a message to the instructor asking her to call me when she had time. I said I had some medical things going on the first week of class I wanted to let her know about and felt it would be best discussed on the phone rather than through an email. I was able to talk to her later in the say, so she knows what’s going on. She let me know what things I could do to get a head since I won’t be able to do much Wednesday and will be missing class on Thursday.

After I was done gallivanting around the campus, I met with Ox for lunch. We have been going to a new sports bar. Well… new to us. It’s been around for a while. They have good wings. I like going there. The server isn’t super friendly, but I’ll let it slide since their food is on point

While we were waiting for our food, I got a phone call from the hospital. They needed to get more information from me and wanted to walk me through what check-in would be like the day of the surgery. They told me where I needed to park, what entrance to take, what I needed to do the night before; fun stuff like that.

After eating, Ox and I went and did some errands. We got a case of Bang for me and a case of Reign Sour Apple for him. That stuff is amazing by the way.

We hopped across the street to PetSmart to get wet cat food for the kittens. I got two cases so I won’t have to worry about going out next week for it after the surgery. From there we went to Costco. I got gas for my car along with some grocery stuff. More stocking up for the coming week where I most likely won’t want to do much.

We finally went home after that. I was tired. It felt like one of the fullest days I’ve had in a while. Ox and I napped a bit. There was failed sexy time but that wasn’t the soul-crushing experience it normally feels like. It makes me wonder if the Zoloft is already starting to do stuff.

I slept alone last night at the apartment. It took a little bit to fall asleep, but I slept deeply the whole night. I woke up early and thought about writing, but I had left my backpack in the car and didn’t feel like going out to get it, to come back in, to go back out again for work, so instead I cuddled with the kittens and had a relaxing morning before getting ready.

Ox and I had a cigarette together. I was tired, but who isn’t at 3 AM? I felt ok about going to work. I got even better when I realized I was working with my FA today. Work went smoothly. No complaints. We got lunch from Taco John’s and I didn’t even feel bad about eating carbs. I haven’t been eating much lately so when I have a full meal I’m actually sort of proud of myself. It’s not just half a protein bar or a yogurt with a cheese stick. I had a whole burrito. Go me!

It wasn’t until after work that my day turned into the roller coaster of doom. Not even exaggerating.

I had a missed call that I returned. It was from my surgeon’s office. They wanted to let me know that they had gotten in touch with my insurance. Since my deductible hasn’t been met for this year, 2020, I will need to put a $700 deposit down by noon on Tuesday before they will do my surgery.

Me: … Ok…

I literally didn’t know what else to say.

Not once in any of the phone calls or appointments or emails has ANYONE said ANYTHING about even the potential of me having to pay something upfront before having this procedure done.

I don’t have $100 to put towards it let alone $700.

What the fuck? And I only have five days to figure it out.

Again… WHAT THE FUCK?

I knew my deductible wouldn’t be met, but everything has been billed to me afterward. I have a payment plan with the hospital. Who the hell has $700 that they can just blow for a deposit on a surgery?

I, for sure, am not one of those fortunate people.

So… yeah… I got off the phone with that chick, still in shock. I called Ox after about three minutes of staring off into the distance, not knowing what to do with my life because what am I suppose to do if I can’t somehow find $700 to cover this deposit? I’ve already taken time off of work. My dad already bought his plane tickets. How the fuck do they suddenly pull this?

Them: We won’t touch you until you give us $700 even though we told you the surgery was approved and you’ve already taken all these steps to have it.

Me: Fuck you guys.

After my three minutes of mental floundering, I called and told Ox about the conversation. I told him I was going to reach out to people and see if they would be willing to help. If I asked 7 people for 100 each, no single person would be completely screwed and I wouldn’t have to die. Seemed like a plan. Beg for money because I’m not financially stable enough to save my own life. Thanks, Universe. Fuck you, too.

I ended up talking to Allison; my friend from high school. The person I was the maid of honor for. Someone I think of as a sister, but who I also do not understand. I don’t feel I deserve the best friend status she gives me, and yet I have it.

I called her and explained that I was a mess at the moment because of a phone call I had not even 10 minutes previous. I explained about the deposit and asked if I could borrow $100 and I would pay her back with my tax money when it came in.

Her: Of course. Is that all you need, though?
Me: No. I don’t have any of it.
Her: Well, why don’t I give you all of it and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Queue me breaking down into tears of gratitude because I do not deserve this level of kindness in my life.

She asked what would be the best way to send the money. I couldn’t think with all of the 180s my life was doing at the moment. I said I didn’t know.

Her: Do you have a PayPal account?
Me: Yes.
Her: If you send me your information I can transfer the money to you.

We talked a bit more. I drove home. I set up my laptop and figured out the PayPal thing. My life isn’t falling apart. I can still have the surgery. And I have some pretty awesome people in my life.

I’ll never complain about how I had to wear a dress at her wedding ever again. Ever. I would wear a dress every day for the rest of my life if that’s what she wanted me to do. Instead, all she asked is that I take care of myself and send her the address of the hospital so her mom could send me flowers.

For now, I’m going to go over to the house and cross-stitch and relax before going to bed. I have work tomorrow. I work with the nurse I really like. I need to come up with names for the two nurses so I can write about them without it getting confusing… Problem for a different day…

Point being, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m actually able to think about days in advance and not feel overwhelmed by them. I can think about them, plan them, envision them. It’s a good feeling. I haven’t been able to do that for a while.

Not looking forward to waking up at 2:30, but I am looking forward to working with this particular coworker.

And with that, I’m done. Crisis averted. All is well. At least as well as it can be with cancer and a shitty health care system.

Daily Post 186: Day 2

Standard

I didn’t sleep well last night. I think a lot of that has to do with this cold thing I’m still contending with. I spent the majority of the evening feeling like I needed to sneeze and being unable to. My nose was hypersensitive. The feeling of air moving through my nasal passages was borderline painful. Hard to get rest like that…

I did manage to fall asleep a handful of times. Ox stayed the night with me. It was comforting to be able to be in bed next to him; to reach out and touch his shoulder or rub my foot against his. The night might not have been the most restful, but it was a decent night despite my sleepless, sneezeless misery.

Ox and I shared a cigarette this morning before he left for work. I was able to go back to sleep for about three hours afterward. I feel relatively fine. Not tired and exhausted. Still under the weather. Finally, blessedly, I’m starting to sneeze. The sinus pressure that was making my teeth ache is subsiding. Overall, I feel able to do the few things I have planned for the day.

I’ve already taken my second dose of Zoloft. Taking it in the morning will be easier for me to do rather than in the middle of the day. So far I haven’t noticed any side-effects.

I did talk to one of my coworkers who is on this particular medication. She said that I need to give it at least two weeks. In the beginning, my mood may fluctuate as the Zoloft builds up in my system. She said she would be ok with reaching out to me and checking in with me. Her advice is to give the medication time and to not give up on it too quickly.

With my effort to write and reflect and the amount of people who promise to let me know if they start seeing issues… I’m a bit more ok with extending my one week trial run to two. It doesn’t seem like the eternity it did yesterday afternoon.

I don’t think the medication has had time to really do anything for me or to me. I don’t think I have energy and willpower today because of it. I think a lot of it has to do with all of the conversations I had yesterday and the general feeling that I’m not alone. Ox and I were also able to have sexy time yesterday. I’m sure that is a huge factor to the feeling of connectedness that I feel; the okness.

He still calls me his good girl. He still says I’m his. I told him inside my head my Evil Voice was saying that I’m on medication and have cancer.

Ox: And you’re still mine.

All of the warm fuzzy feelings.

I have a handful of things I want to get done at the apartment before going in for counseling today. I plan to use my to-do list. I like the thought of using it.

I’m ok with today so far. I’m ok with yesterday, too. So far, I’m ok with ok.

Daily Post 185: Post Pre-Op

Standard

I had my pre-op appointment today. I’ve smoked way too many cigarettes between then and writing this. I can tell because my body is pissed at me. Fuck you, body. That’s what you get for having cancer.

I suppose to some people that type of humor isn’t appropriate, but it’s getting me through my day, so there’s that.

My surgery is cleared. I had some blood work done before leaving so they can check for anemia and such. I spent the majority of my forty-five-minute appointment crying. It started with my primary physician coming in and asking how I was doing.

Seriously. Fuck that question. >.<

I mean… I appreciate it. I truly do, but if you want to open the floodgates of my emotional reality, that’s how you do it.

I told her about my diagnosis. I finally got to tell her thank you. Because of her care, we were able to find out about my cancer and to take the needed steps to remove it. I told her how the past month or so has been hard and getting progressively harder as the surgery date gets closer. I told her about the night I looked up overdosing, how I’ve been going to counseling, how Ox and I have had more open communication.

I told her about my nightmares and fatigue and how silly, stupid, “normal” things feel overwhelming. Crushing. I told her how I understood this wasn’t a forever type of situation but how everything post-surgery felt so nebulous and far away and unknown and that post-surgery is where I feel like I will struggle even more.

She asked if I was opposed to taking something for depression and anxiety. My reply was I felt like taking medication would be treating symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of the issues.

She understood my perspective. She also countered with relating mental and emotional health to a viral cold. When you have a cold there really isn’t anything you can take to make things “better”. You have to let the body work itself out. You can take decongestants, or Tylenol to lower a fever, but nothing is going to make the cold go away faster. The meds help you function for those 10 or so days where you feel like crap.

They help you sleep at night. They help you breathe easier. They help keep the sinus pressure bearable so you can still go to work even though you most likely shouldn’t but bills are a thing and so off to work you go to infect all your coworkers…

She thinks it would be a good idea for me to start taking Zoloft. It would be one of the lowest doses. 25mg. One tablet every day. It will take about three weeks for it to build up to a consistent level in my system.

It won’t be a miracle pill. It won’t make me bright and sunny and happy. It won’t make unicorns gallop under colorful rainbows with pots of gold at the end. In theory, it WILL help me think clearer and calmer. It will help keep me from having as many super-low days.

There’s a whole list of side-effects that it could have; one of them being worsening suicidal thoughts not to mention the lowered blood pressure leading to dizziness and falling down. Let me tell you how much it would suck to fall down while I’m trying to cannulate a patient…

So… I now have a choice…

I can keep going as I am, struggling and feeling like I’m not doing well and that I’m constantly falling into a hopeless pit of despair. Or… I could try taking a medication that may or may not make things worse.

I’ve talked to Ox pretty extensively about it. He’s hesitant for me to start taking Zoloft when I’m about to begin taking Synthroid after the surgery. I share those concerns. I feel like it will be hard to tell which medication is doing or not doing what.

I spoke with my FA pretty extensively about the situation, too. She thinks it would be good to try it.

Both Ox and my FA agreed to be a safety net for me. If they begin seeing behavior that “isn’t me” they will let me know. They also agreed to check in with me to see how I’m doing emotionally. A lot of that will hinge of me being honest about how I’m feeling, something I’m not always the best at…

Both Ox and FA agree that beginning to write daily again could help gauge emotional stability and track emotional changes. It would allow me to reflect on myself and to be aware of how the medication may or may not be affecting my thoughts.

I think going back to my daily to-do lists would also be beneficial. I don’t have to make endless pages of tasks, but I could give myself one or two things to start with. That’s it. Just those two things. It could help give some sort of structure and stability to my day and give myself a visual representation of what my day was like. This day I got all of this done. This day was harder but I got these things done. This day was fantastic and I got all of this done. My to-do lists would let me track my energy a bit easier, a bit clearer, than what I might get from purely writing.

I’m scared to try this medication. I’m scared of surgery. I’m scared of the unknown. On the flip side, I do think I have a strong support system full of people who care about me and who will look out for me.

Ox and I agreed we will give it one week; one week to see if things get worse. If they do, I stop. If not, we give it one more week. If it gets worse, I stop. If not, one more week and so on and so on.

The one-week method seems doable. It gives me a clear, defined timeline to track and measure for improvement or decline, not just in mental and emotional status, but general health. Am I having GI issues, drowsiness, insomnia, panic attacks, or any of the other number of potential side-effects, and if I am, do the pros, if there are any, outweigh the cons?

So yeah… One week. I will give it one week.

I will write a quick note each morning about how I feel, emotionally as well as physically. How did I sleep? How do I feel about the coming day? Is my stomach upset? Do I have an appetite or no?

When I get home I’ll write another note. How did the day go? How did I do physically, emotionally? How do I feel about sleeping and waking up for the next day?

So, today, at 2:30 PM, I am taking my first pill, my first dose, of Zoloft. It is one week and 12 hours before my surgery. I have an army of supporting people who love me. I WILL survive this situation.

This begins my one week. I’m nervous yet at the same time desperate enough to try this method. Other’s can only help so much. I know I would benefit from help internally, if just until things settle down and normalize to the new normal that will be my life post-surgery.

This isn’t for forever. This is for right now. We don’t look down on people taking a pain med when they have broken bones. This is my first step towards not looking down on myself for taking a medication for my mental health.

I love you, self. Forever and for always, I’m here for you and we’ll get through this together.

Daily Post 184: Sick

Standard

My days have been going alright.

I’m sick currently with my pre-op appointment tomorrow at 8:30 AM. I talked to my boss about it. I’m concerned about my surgery date being pushed back even though the surgery is still a week away. I’m sure I’ll be over my sickness by then but I’m not sure I’ll seem well enough for my appointment tomorrow. My boss said if it’s just a cold they most likely will keep the original date, but there’s no guarantee. All I can do is continue to take it easy and see how tomorrow goes I suppose.

I missed a training session I was supposed to have at Omaha yesterday for work. I spent most of yesterday sleeping, trying to get better. After sleeping for 16 hours I do feel better. I’m not as congested. I’m not coughing as much. I’m not as tired though I am still a bit under the weather. I know the steps I need to take to get the annual training rescheduled. I’ll take care of that Thursday when I go back to work.

My Sociology class starts next Tuesday. My dad flys in next Tuesday as well. I work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week so our other tech can have her sinus surgery. The kittens have had their surgeries so I can not become a legit crazy cat lady. They’re recovering well and are back to terrorizing each other.

Ox has had the kids the past week since it’s been the holidays. We haven’t been spending much time together. Not only has he had the kids, he’s also been sick. I most likely caught whatever he had. Much lame… There hasn’t been a lot of cuddling. No kissing. All in an effort to keep me well enough for surgery. I’ve been handling the lack of contact better than I would have six months or a year ago, but it still sucks. I don’t know what else to say on the topic. I want to be touched and held and I can’t be. I feel denied and deprived of things I want and need and it didn’t even do anything in the end. I still got sick so what was the point in feeling like crap this whole time? What was the point in feeling so alone?

There’s a part of me who wants to work out and have the motivation and drive to do something other than “survive” but the larger portion of my self doesn’t care. It all feels pointless. I’ve been cross-stitching and watching stuff on Netflix. If I’m not busy and distracted with work then I feel depressed and apathetic.

As far as today goes, I want to make my shopping list for the week. I want to go out and actually do the shopping. I want to not be completely tapped out energy-wise after doing that, but I have the feeling I will be. Mostly from being sick, but also from the depression I feel in my bones. It’s like my body is lead. The effort it takes to move and do things outside of work isn’t “normal”, isn’t right. Isn’t “me” even though it is.

I know this isn’t how things will be for forever, but it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when I don’t know exactly what will happen post-surgery. Everything is nebulous and maybe this and potentially that. There doesn’t seem to be anything solid or real or tangible to grasp onto.

There was a day, this past Thursday I think, where I had been fairly depressed all day, but ended up cleaning the apartment fairly well. I found a pair of socks I had been missing for months. I have a trash bag full of things to donate. I cleaned up the computer desk and went through my “in” pile. It ended up being a good day. I felt better for having taken care of things that were bothering me.

There are a few projects I would like to get done before my dad gets here so the apartment can be a bit more presentable. Getting the kitchen table set up is one of those projects. I don’t have a place where we both could sit and talk. My space really isn’t set up to entertain guests and while that isn’t an issue most of the time, I feel like it will become one once my dad is here.

So… yeah… grocery shopping will most likely be the highlight of my day. Well… meal planning and then shopping… It feels like a lot. I’m already tired thinking about it.

Hopefully, this too shall pass.

Musing Moment 144: Revelations Not Resolutions

Standard

I find it fitting to be writing this post on this the first day of 2020. I have not made resolutions for this coming year. Instead, I have been fortunate enough to have the time and space to have revelations instead; revelations I want to share.


Revelation One
My life is about to change. Not end.

There was one night, a few weeks back, where it got really dark inside of my head. I was alone in the apartment. It was night time. I was ridiculously tired from work. I hadn’t been sleeping or eating well.

I felt lost. Hopelessly lost. I felt weak and powerless with no way to change or control the things going on in my life. Nothing to look forward to. Just the endless cycle of work and sleep and chores and paying bills.

I don’t think there are really words to accurately describe the battle I felt consuming me from the inside out. A battle I knew I was losing, slowly, surely, day after day after day after agonizing day.

During my battle that particular night, during that moment of darkness, I looked up different ways to overdose. I didn’t want to end my life, but I needed to know what would happen if I did. If it got bad enough for me to follow through, what would I do and how? What would the side effects be like? How long would it take? Would it be painful? If it were found out, what medical interventions would take place?

Through doing that, researching, I realized I didn’t want to kill myself. I didn’t want my story to end, but I wanted, needed, something to change. Death wasn’t want I wanted. At least not death of my self… just of my life; of the things fucking with my life. I wanted all of these outside forces wrecking havoc on me to die; my cancer, my stress, my expectation of myself.

Ox and I ended up having a conversation, I believe it was the next day. He asked how I was doing. It was a different question than the normal, “how are you feeling?” or “how was your day?”

Ox: How are you doing?

Me: Not well.

I said those words with a voice on the verge of breaking as tears rolled down my face because I knew them to be true, but how do you tell the person you love that you were looking up different options for suicide without them freaking out or worrying more or any number of things that could go horribly wrong by being honest? How do you bear your soul and the pain you feel like no one else can understand and elaborate on “not well” without the risk of ruining everything?

The truth is, you don’t. You have to take that risk. You have to be honest, with them, with yourself. You have to trust that you can let go of the fear you’re clutching onto like a life line and that the other person will be there to catch you, hold you, hug you.

When he asked what I meant by not well I said I was afraid to talk about it. I was afraid to explain what was going on inside my head. I was afraid of losing him. I was afraid of losing my job. I was afraid of being put in an institution. I was afraid of fucking it all up further by admitting that I was having these thoughts.

He helped me past that fear and I told him about what I had been looking at on my phone that night as I lay in bed fighting with my self. I told him how I was so tired mentally, emotionally, spiritually, that I didn’t know how to keep going forward; how to keep putting one foot in front of the other and getting out of bed and showering and eating. I didn’t know how to keep doing it but I didn’t know how to make it pause either. I didn’t know how to catch my breath or find my footing or a handgrip to keep it from feeling like I was falling into a never-ending abyss of hopelessness.

We talked for a long time and in the end, I didn’t have any sort of answer or solution, but I felt safer. I had shared what I thought would be something horrific that would lead to alienation and came out the other side of the conversation with a stronger foundation of trust.

I learned that I CAN share dark, unsettling things and that Ox and I will still be ok. That I will be ok. That thoughts and feelings ARE ok, even when they’re as extreme as that.

Sharing those thoughts, admitting to those actions took away the guilt and shame that I had been feeling. The weakness. The loneliness.

A few days later I met with my counselor. We talked about my upcoming surgery, how my dad is going to be here for a week during the procedure. We talked at length about my research into overdosing and my feelings about the events afterward with Ox. We talked about how I felt about actually looking into things like that.

Recently Ox made a comment about a post he saw where another person who had contemplated suicide wrote that he didn’t want his life to end, he wanted his life as he knew it to end. He wanted, needed, it to change.

I feel like that is true for me. I can relate to that statement. I don’t want my story to end. I don’t want to die. I want how I know life now, currently, with all of the internal pain and anguish and sorrow, to end. I want things to be different.

I think on a subconscious level I have been allowing myself to feel victimized. Victimized by Life and the Universe. By my self. By my body.

In the book, Leadership from the Inside Out, it is written that everyone is a leader. Be it the leader of a company, a team, or of your own individual life, we are all leaders.

I have not been acting as a leader. At least I don’t feel like I have. I have been haphazardly jumping from one event, one crisis to another. I have not put much thought behind my days. I have not had clear, defined intentions. No strategy. No goal other than “survive”.

If we want change, then it starts within ourselves. If I want my life as I know it to end, to change and transform, then I am the only one who can take the actions required for those changes to occur.

Revelation Two
I have the power to start a new chapter.

This is my life, and while I may not have control over the events that occur in it, I do have control over my response to those events.

I have cancer. I cannot make that fact untrue. It will always be true. Even once my thyroid is removed, I will still have had cancer. I will be changed, physically, because of that cancer. That cannot be undone. Denying those facts is useless. Being angry about those facts is useless. Denial and anger change nothing. Facts do not care about emotions. They will continue to be true regardless of how you do or do not emotionally respond to them.

So I have a choice. I can continue feeling angry, sad, lost, and scared, or I can accept that this is happening in my life and continue writing my story.

My surgery is in two weeks. These two weeks will be the prequel to my new chapter. Surgery will be a big event in my life. It will be life-changing. I will have to learn how to be comfortable in my skin again, knowing that a stranger has touched things within my own body that were never meant to be touched. I will have to learn to be ok with the knowledge that there is in fact, a part of me missing. I will have to learn that I am not defined by organs.

I will have to learn while some scars, most scars, are invisible, some are very real and cannot be hidden. I will have to learn how to explain why I have such a mark on my neck. I will have to learn to function with and through the sympathetic eye contact from my patients, coworkers, friends, family, and strangers.

This coming year will be a year of learning. Learning how to be me through all of the mental, emotional, and physical adjustments I will need to make. While very little of my everyday routine will need to change, there will need to be changes. That marks a loss of familiarity and that loss is just as real and valid as the loss of an organ.

Post-surgery will be a new chapter in my life not the end of it. I will still be me, but it will be a me that I need to get to know, learn to care for and be empathic and compassionate with.

Revelation Three
I am not who I was.

I keep trying to “find myself”. I keep remembering how I was before mom’s death or before becoming a dialysis technician. I keep comparing myself to what I used to do or how I used to be. I keep looking for my old self and the harder I look and try to get back to “there” the more lost and hopeless I feel.

I don’t know when, where, or how it came to me, but I realized I am no longer that person. I mean… yes… I’m still me, but my life has changed so drastically in the past three in a half years…

How could I be exactly the same? How could I handle situations exactly like I used to?

What a disserved to the person I have become and am becoming to constantly look back to 27-year-old me as my marker for excellence and success and grace through stress.

I have changed and that is why I can no longer find the old me. I am no longer that version of my self. I keep looking for something that doesn’t exist anymore; for something that CAN NEVER exist anymore. And that, too, is not a bad thing. I am myself, will always be myself, but there have been changes and iterations and updates that I, personally, need to acknowledge and accept.

I need to stop looking at my past and realize who and what I am in the present. I need to be aware of everything that I am going through rather than brushing it off or downplaying it or berating myself for not handling it better.

What had berating myself gotten me? Nothing except shame, guilt, and suicidal thoughts.

How is that in any way beneficial to anyone, most of all myself?

It’s not and so I’m done doing it. I’m done disrespecting my current self by searching for something I can never be again.

Revelation Four
I do have a home.

I have been missing mom a lot recently. Well… always, but holidays and my birthday are where the waves of pain seem strongest. Mom was always home. It didn’t matter where she was. Whenever I thought of “home” it was of her. Her smile, her laugh, her eyes, her hugs.

Much like how I can no longer be the me of three and a half years ago, I can no longer have the home I used to have. While I do believe it is ok to miss what was, I feel I should have gratitude and acknowledgment of the things I do have.

As my birthday and Christmas presents this year, Ox’s parents gave me money for the class I will be taking during the spring semester. I’m stepping back from the LPN program due to the surgery, but I will be taking Introduction to Sociology; a prerequisite for the RN program. I mentioned during dinner one night how I wasn’t going to be eligible for financial aid since it is only a 3 credit hour course, but Ox and I had looked at finances and we believed we could afford it.

Ox’s parents signed my cards, “Mom and Dad [last name here]”.

I was so touched. So deeply, profoundly, touched. I am not their daughter. They have no obligation to me what so ever, and yet here they are, helping me with something that is important to me. These people opened their house to me, share their food with me, care for me, and love me.

No, they aren’t my family. No, they cannot replace mom. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love them in return or think of them as Mom and Dad [last name here]. That doesn’t mean I can’t find a new home for the new me in this new chapter of my life.

So that’s where I’m at currently inside my head. I will remember and honor my past but I am no longer going to continue searching for it in my present life.

This will be my Year of Learning. Learning to be present. Learning to be grateful. Learning how to write this first, new, post-surgery chapter of my life.