Musing Moments 146: D&D – Saber Ishaan


This is the origin story for my teifling sorceress rogue, Saber Ishaan.

I didn’t begin learning about myself until “that night”. Sometimes I still wake from nightmares of it, screaming, though it has been several years. I can remember it so clearly. Every detail. The city streets, the smells, the hunger, the fear. That night began no different than any other. The darkness marked my waiting. Waiting for the light to come back so I could be safer. Bad things lived in darkness. Bad things happened in darkness.

I had found a rubbish pile that night in an ally. I had thought I would be safe there. Hidden. I could wait out the bad things and see the bright circle again. I could wait and not be found. If only I had known how wrong I was.

I heard them before I saw them. Their footsteps heavy and voices loud as they stumbled drunkenly through the ally. I could smell the alcohol wafting from them.

I don’t know how they found me. Maybe it was my breathing. Maybe my silent tears weren’t as silent as I thought. Maybe they heard the pleas I was crying out inside my head. I don’t know. I don’t know what I did wrong, but they didn’t pass me by.

No. They found me. They pulled me from the rubbish that was my cover. They dragged me for where I should have been safe, sneering and laughing. They pulled at my horns and tail. I remember their words though at the time I didn’t understand them. Teifling whore. Devil witch. I tried to get away, to run, to find new shelter, but I couldn’t. There were more of them than me, and they were strong, well-fed men. What could a weak, street urchin child hope to do against them?

One of them grew tired of my struggling. He hit me with the back of his hand. I tasted blood as my ears rang and searing pain filled my vision with whiteness.

It were as if that first hit were the breaking of a floodgate. They all began to hit me, slap me, pushing me among themselves as if I were a toy. I remember their sickening laughter. I remember one saying he didn’t know devils could bleed. They hit me, over and over and over. And when I could no longer stand, crumbling to the ground in defeat, they began to kick me. I remember one finely crafted boot landed on my stomach, causing me to retch out what little food I had managed to steal for my dinner that night.

They did such horrible things to me as they laughed. I remember that the most; their laughter, as if my pain was a game to them. My suffering a thing to bring them joy.

Through all of it, I cried out in pain, begging them to stop. I screamed and sobbed until the pain was too much; until my voice was too hoarse and raw to beg or plead or cry. I became silent and still, my body either unable or unwilling to continue trying. As I lay on the ground covered in dirt, sweat, tears, and my own blood, I gave up and I accepted that I would die under their boots.

It didn’t matter if I struggled or fought back. It didn’t matter if I cried or begged or screamed. I thought about how I had never wronged anyone and yet here I was, being beaten to death by strangers merely because I looked different.

No one was going to save me. No one in this awful city cared. Not even my parents had cared. I was alone, had always been alone, and would die alone. Because I was a teifling. Because I didn’t matter. None of it mattered. My feelings. My pain. My struggle. My loneliness. My fear.

I don’t matter… That was the final thought I had before “the change” happened.

I don’t know what changed exactly as I lay there dying. All I know is that something did. It felt like something inside me woke as I died; as they spat on me. As they kicked me. As they hated me.

Rage. I remember rage, slowly at first, a soft hint of anger that grew with each passing second of laughter. Rage with boiled and seethed until it was an all consuming fury.

You DO matter! That was what my fury screamed at me in a voice so loud it drowned out the laughter and pain.

They do not deserve to kill you. They, these strangers, do not deserve to be your end. You have fought for too many meals. You have survived too many nights of darkness for these drunken bastards to be your end. You are strong. Your life matters. Win. Fight. LIVE! Show them what you are. Show them what you want!

That burning feeling of fury clawed its way into my lungs as if it were a living thing, giving me the air to screech one final word at my attackers; a word which filled the night, echoing off the ally walls and defeating the sickening laughter.

“STOP!” I shrieked with every fiber of my being. I flung that single word at them as if it were a sword, burning with all of my anger, rage, and fury.

Their laughter turned to screams as blinding light in the form of a glorious sun-fire sword filled the ally, slashing their faces and burning their eyes, scaring them forever. They ran from me, stumbling, screaming, howling in pain like beaten curs.

I remember their screams and the smell of burning flesh as I stayed on the ground. I wanted to hide. I wanted to run. I wanted to be safe. I wanted the sword that had saved me to come back and be by my side for forever. But the sword was no longer there with its warm, brilliant light and I could no longer feel my body. I could no longer feel the ground under me. I could no longer feel my pain. I could feel… nothing… and everything… seemed so very… very… far away…

The aftermath of my first magic is a story for a different time. This specific moment, however, this specific night, is where I began learning about myself and why I cherish it so much even though it still terrifies me in my dreams. That night, I learned I didn’t have to die. That night, I learned I could fight back. “That night” was when I and my story truly began.

Musing Moment 145: February Reflection


I started writing last night but didn’t get very far and most of it was QQing over stupid shit, so this morning, after sleeping for 12 hours, I woke up and decided to delete my previous words.

Instead of flailing around instead of my brain, I instead want to write about the month of February. I unintentionally have been keeping my to-do lists. A few days ago I began cleaning out my notebook and thought it would be interesting to see what “major” things happened during the time frame for the lists I had. It was rather eye-opening how many tasks weren’t laundry or meal prepping or “wake up and shower”.

I want to list them here in my safe space to reflect on.

February Events

Received tax returns
Paid Allison back for surgery deposit
Jon moving confirmed
Began housing search
Apartment toured
Application for apartment filed
Apartment secured
Phone fight with Jon
Post created for 2019 completed cross-stitchings
Follow-up appointment with Endocrinologist
Post created on FB for cancer-free status
Emergency surgery for Dagger
Completed “Breaking Social Norms” assignment
Bought silicone collapsible containers
Bought miniatures for D&D campaign

Not all of these events are necessarily major in that they are life-altering, but they hit my reflection radar as moments that meant something to me. They were moments I kept my word, or invested effort into something important, or did something for myself. They were moments where I didn’t give up or pushed past my comfort zone.

Not all of these events are “good” events. Likewise, not all of them are “bad” events either. Some of them are more personal, while others are social-oriented, or school-related. Oddly enough, not a whole lot happened work-wise this past month. That will change with March since I’m now scheduled for my recertification.

Anywho… A lot happened regarding my brother moving, which took a lot of my time and mental energy. Countless phone calls and conversations with multiple people occurred. My FA, Jon, Ox, apartment staff. Information gathering and the like… It was a pretty big endeavor, one which got accomplished in full in the span of only a few weeks.

February wasn’t a bad month by any means, but it was an intense month. Reflecting back on my lists gives me an awareness of why I constantly feel tired or “peopled out”. It makes me wish I had kept my lists from January, the month where I survived my surgery, spent a week with my dad, went back to work, began my meds, and began adjusting to my self post-surgery.

This year has had a lot happen in a relatively short period of time. I think staying aware that my days aren’t “normal” is important since it’s so easy to give myself shit for “not doing better”.

Fuck that. I’m a fucking bawce. Look at all the crap I dealt with, took care of, and got done.

Going forward I will intentionally keep my to-do lists and make a habit of reflecting on what did or did not occur during that time frame. By doing this I hope to foster a more concrete feeling of acceptance not only with and for myself but also my efforts and occasional episodes of depleted energy. They happen for a reason and my lists help me stay aware of what those reasons are.

Musing Moment 144: Revelations Not Resolutions


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.

Musing Moment 143: She Was Tired


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


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…


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


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


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.


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


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. : )

Musing Moments 138: Getting Back on Track


I’m doing the 30-Day Push Challenge again. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a free program on the internet. I spent hours last night trying to find the website I used to go to. I even went back to previous posts from years ago, looking for the hyperlinks I know I created for the site. None of them worked.

Chalene Johnson published her system into a book called Push, and it seemed that was the only way to get what I was looking for. So… at 11 pm last night I ordered the book from Audible for $20. Maybe not the smartest way to spend the limited money I have at the moment, but it’s what I wanted. I know my life isn’t in the best state right now and I know that I don’t really know where to begin to fix it.

This system has helped provide the structured, systematic approach I seem to do do so well with. Now I permanently have the system to refer back to. No need to worry about websites being taken down or anything along those lines.

I worked through the first few days last night and then continued to work through more of the days this morning. I like where I’m going with it so far. I have a notebook where I’ve been writing most of the work out by hand. It’s nice to see the green ink of my ballpoint pen filling the page with my intentions, motivations, time, energy. I’m creating something as I write even if it’s scribbles on a page that my brain has been taught to give significance to.

I want to go through and list out all of the days that I have completed so far. Since these are important pages in my notebook I want them to be important pages on my blog as well. They’re my accountability. My oath.

Day 1 – Priorities
I listed out several things I consider a priority. Things that would be painful if they were taken away from me. Things that give me fulfillment or purpose or pride. The Push system had me identify the top three priorities in my life. They are, in order of importance:

  • Self
  • Tribe
  • Life purpose

I listed my self as my top priority because I can not be there for the people I love and care for or fulfill my purpose of helping others if I myself am injured mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. I owe it to myself to take care of myself because no one else can do it as well as I can.

Tribe currently consists of Jason, Jon, and Jerad. They are the people I would give my life for and as such their well being and my involvement in their lives is a priority for me.

Life purpose I have identified as helping others. This is a priority for me because it’s what gives me a sense of fulfillment and brings meaning to my life especially during the times when my grief wells up and makes things feel pointless.

Priority Statement
My number one priority is to my self. Without maintaining balance and structure in my life I cannot be present for my tribe or fully engaged in my life purpose of helping others. I will honor my commitment to self by maintaining awareness of my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I will evaluate all decisions on the self-level first rather than second or third. Anything that harms or disrupts my inner peace and commitment to being a balanced, harmonious individual will ultimately affect my ability to help my loved ones and fulfill my life purpose. These actions, situations, or commitments should be avoided or declined rather than allowing them to undermine the things I value most.

Day 2 – Goals
Each week I will write out ten goals I want to accomplish within the next 12 months. The idea of evaluating them so often is to ensure that as life changes my goals stay current and true to what is really important to me. Rewriting them also helps solidify my commitment to achieving them. Each time you write your goals for the week you must do so WITHOUT looking at the goals of the previous week.

This helps keep the process organic and true with your current priorities and interests. Goals will change. Some will drop off. Others, however, the ones you truly want, will stay.

My goals for week 1 are:

  • I have paid off both the Mazda AND the Dart.
  • I have reduced the credit card balance by $7000.
  • I have increased my wage to $17 an hour.
  • I have reduced my body fat to 20%
  • I have competed in a Muay Thai tournament.
  • I am eligible for the full $800 discount on insurance
  • I have run a Spartan Race.
  • Ox and I do Darebee exercises together every day.
  • I am on the Dean’s list at school.
  • Ox and I have date day once a week.

Day 3 – Push Goal
A Push goal isn’t necessarily the most important goal. It’s the goal that allows all the other goals to domino into place. Below is the Push goal I chose and why.

Ox and I do Darebee exercises together every day.

By setting this as my Push goal, I am making incremental progress on four other goals; run a Spartan race, compete in a Muay Thai tournament, reach 20% body fat, and metrics within range for maximum discount on insurance.

By having a daily routine for working out, my mental and physical health will increase, allowing me to perform better at work. This will help facilitate three additional goals; earn $17 per hour, pay off the Mazda AND Dart, reduce amount on credit card by $7000.

Better mental and physical health will help facilitate my focus in school, increasing my chances of reaching my final goal of being on the Dean’s list. This Push goal also priorities my relationship with Ox as well as my commitment to my health.

Day 4 – Health Goal
While my Push goal is a health goal, I wanted to pick a better SMART (small, measurable, achievable, rewarding, and time-sensitive) goal to be my actual health goal. Below is the goal I chose and why.

Complete 4 gym workouts each week for four weeks.

In addition to the Darebee workouts with Ox, this will give me roughly five hours per week dedicated to my health. These additional workouts will improve my endurance, agility, and strength along with reducing my stress, improving my appetite, and increasing my metabolism. These workouts will allow me to have “me time” and to focus on my own things while improving my community involvement and social circles. It will also help progress me towards my other, larger health goals.

Day 5 and 6 – Reverse Engineering
I have reverse engineered both my Push goal and Health goal. I have completed a brainstorm for the things I need to do, print, buy, organize, schedule, figure out, etc. Essentially, t’s my to-do list towards success with both goals.

This is where I’ll stop for today. I have school stuff I need to do. Chores to run. Breakfast to eat. I’m glad I’ve been taking the time to figure some of this stuff out. It will make figuring out my calendar for the coming week easier to do.

Musing Moments 137: To My Sister


Dearest Sister,

Firstly, congratulations on graduating. I received your card in the mail early last week. Your pictures turned out marvelous and I am deeply proud and happy for you. You survived! That alone deserves the highest of high fives.

I know we have never been extremely close and much of what I say in the rest of this letter should have been said much sooner and much more frequently.

I want you to know that I have always thought of you as my sister, regardless of the distance between us or how we’ve never really talked. I have always told people who ask about my siblings, “Yes. I have two brothers and two sisters and I love them very much.”

I was ecstatic when dad told me you were in marching band because it was such a positive experience for me. I hope it has been the same for you. I hope you made lasting friendships and had memorable experiences and grew as a person. I hope it gave you self-confidence and pride and a sense of accomplishment to be part of something larger than yourself; something larger and more meaningful than the day to day grind of homework and assignments and endless lectures. I hope it filled your soul to the brim to turn printed black ink on paper into something which touched people in ways only music can.

I wish I could tell you that life gets easier. I wish I could tell you that even if things seem confusing that one day you’ll wake up and it will all make sense. And I achingly wish I could tell you that nothing bad will ever happen. But I can’t. I can’t lie to you like that and though there may be a touch of sadness in it, I want to give you the honestly that I wish someone had given to me when I was your age; when I had graduated.

Bad things are still going to happen to you and you’re still going to make mistakes. Hearing that, reading that, might sort of suck. I know I have never once woken up in the morning thinking, “Yeah! Let’s make today a super shitty day! Let’s have a horrific experience! Let’s go out and make bad choices!” I have never once WANTED a bad day or bad experience, and yet, somehow, they still happened.

But you know what? That’s ok. Because even though bad things will happen, good things are still going to happen, too.  You’re going to stumble and fall down but you’re also going to get up and jump and skip and climb and soar. You’re going to do amazing and fantastic things, both in your career and your personal life. You’re going to do things that you’ve never even dreamed or thought of.

You’re going to have countless experiences and stories and adventures. Some will make you cry. Some will make you rage. Some will fill you with doubt. Some will fill you with so much joy it will be uncontainable. You are going to live and that, to me, is what life is about. It’s not about never falling or failing. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about getting back up. It’s about never giving in. It’s about getting over that mountain of “can’t” or “never will” looming before you because on the other side is something wondrous and astounding.

The only thing I can tell you for sure, without a doubt, is that life is going to be drastically different than the road map you set for yourself. And that, too, is ok. When life takes its unexpected turns, especially the ones you feel are bad or wrong, it is my hope that you remember this letter and my next words.

You ARE strong. You WILL figure it out. Even if you don’t know how in that exact specific moment, you, my sister, will survive. Just like you survived high school. Just like you have survived every worst day you’ve had up to this point in your life. You will survive, and you know why?

Because you are amazing. Because you are strong. Because you are smart. And above all else, because you are my sister. If you ever find yourself unsure of what to do, or lost, or confused, or hopeless, because those times will come, please know that I AM here. I will listen. I will never judge, and though I can’t promise I will have answers or solutions, I can promise to give you my unbiased and honest perspective.

Life is a journey. Embrace it. All of it. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the scrapped up knees and breathtaking sights.

I love you. I am proud of you. And you will always be my sister, regardless of where life takes you. : )

With warmest regards, utmost respect, and the most heartfelt of congratulations,

Your sister, Jennifer