Daily Post 043: Assessing, Reflecting, and Tattoos

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I tried writing the other day, but it was in the middle of a pretty bad thunderstorm. About two paragraphs in the power cut out, my computer restarted, and the internet didn’t want to play nice anymore. I figured that was a pretty clear sign to go to sleep.

Writing has been on my mind a lot lately. More accurately, my lack of writing. I get to the end of my day and I’m tired. I have to be up early the next day so it’s a better option to sleep. Other times I don’t want to take the time to go through the stuff in my head because I know it’s going to be a long and more than likely painful process leading to personal growth/realization.

Well, today is a day off. I don’t have a lot going on and I really don’t have an excuse to not sit down and do this… so I’m doing this.

Work is going well. And I’m conscious of the fact that I start this reflection off with work rather than my relationships or personal life. It seems so natural. I start with my mission. ┬áMy sense of purpose. The thing I’m doing to be helpful, useful, and productive to society. I’ve always loved work, and even though I enjoyed my year of unemployment, I’m glad to be working again. I’m glad I’ve found something that makes me feel fulfilled in this way.

Waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning is getting easier. I’m finding ways to make it work for me. I’ve made friends with the gas station attendants at the Wawa I stop at for breakfast and coffee. It’s a nice start to my day, and I’m not going to lie, using the app is pretty nifty.

The days at work aren’t as physically and mentally brutal as what my first week was. I’m finding my flow. All of the tasks I need to do aren’t as overwhelming. I am familiar with more of the patients. I have favorites who always make me smile and who smile when they see me. One of them calls me “Nurse Jen” even though I’m only a PCT. It’s cute. It makes me feel warm and like I belong.

One of my patients got a kidney transplant. I found that out yesterday. Last week one of our patients died at home due to a heart attack. I didn’t know her very well but I remember being introduced to her. It was sobering. Eventually, one of the patients I’m familiar with will die and that day will be hard for me. I don’t know how I’ll handle it. I don’t know if it will stir up the grief from mom dying, but I know eventually that day will come and I know my team will be supportive of me and help me through it.

There’s a girl at my clinic who I call “Academic Dishonesty”. I think I’ve written about her a few times, though I honestly can’t recall and I’m not going to go back through my writings to find out. I shadowed with her and she was in my training class. She was supposed to work at a different location but ended up getting transferred to my clinic. No one on the team is happy about it. They don’t care for her and she’s pretty much pissed everyone off one way or another.

The reason for her nickname is because while she was on the floor, in front of patients, she mentioned how she had forgotten about a test she needed to take for her online class. She had her boyfriend take it for her and she was mad at him for not scoring high enough and costing her the President’s scholarship she had.

… I mean… That’s like saying you convinced someone to rob a bank for you but you’re pissed because they didn’t steal enough money…

Having been a student, and a teacher, I can’t respect someone like that. There are other instances involving patients that bother me and I’ve spoken out about them. She went from being full time to part time, so I only see her every other week. I guess now she’s being changed to per deim. I know one of the patients spoke to the FA about her. I don’t think she’s going to stay for very long.

I don’t wish ill on anyone, but I hope she finds something else or that she leaves because she wants to focus more on school. I don’t think she’s the right fit for dialysis or the team. Anyone who is comfortable lying and cheating like that isn’t a person I want to be associated with.

That’s really the only hardship I have with work. Ms. Academic Dishonesty, and I hardly ever see her. The rest of it is finding my own pace for things and I’m getting better with that. Yesterday was the smoothest, least stressful day I’ve had so far.

I found out that I’m going to be back paid since I wasn’t given the dollar increase I was promised. That was supposed to happen when I passed my certification, which, surprise if I haven’t written about it, I passed and am now certified through DaVita. In about six months I will need to take another test to become nationally certified, but that’s still a little ways away and so for the moment, I’m going to continue to focus on finding my balance.

There are other things I need to be trained on, like how to mix bicarb and acid for the dialysate and how to clean catheters, but catheter care is still about four months off, and there’s no rush for me to do the water training. I think they’re going to wait on that for a bit, too, which I’m ok with. I feel like I’m catching my breath from being through into the deep end. I’m no longer drowning. I’m treading water. I want to recover a bit more before I try swimming.

My FA asked me what I wanted to work; a lot of hours or fewer hours? I told him honestly I didn’t know. These past two or three weeks have been my first weeks on my own and I’m only now starting to feel stable. I think I want to keep it down to two days in a row at most. Last week I had to work three days in a row and that was pretty rough. I did it. I could have done a fourth, but it wasn’t fun and I would rather not do it again for a little bit. Three of my teammates went on vacation at the same time which is why the schedule got sort of screwy. Doesn’t help with trying to establish a baseline for how a “normal” week will feel.

So really, I think the only thing I need with work is time. I’m doing well and I do find my job extremely fulfilling. I don’t know if I’ll be there for forever, but I’m happy with being there for right now. I get to play in the stock room organizing things on my breaks. The patient schedule is getting ready to change due to new CMS regulations and we’re trying to petition to be moved to a newer, better building. I think there’s a lot of potential for me here and I would like to stay with it for a little while to see where it takes me.

Big Bad and I are doing well. We were able to see each other Sunday evening. His mom is in the hospital again but should be released later today. She started having chest pain and shortness of breath at 3 am on Saturday. Big Bad couldn’t remember exactly what the doctor called it. He said he thought it was arterial fibrillation but I’m pretty sure it was an arterial flutter, which is bad, but not as bad as fibrillation.

I didn’t stay the night since I had work the next morning, but it was nice to have sexy time along with the quiet time of cuddling and feeling connected to something other than work. For all that I’m around people my moments with Big Bad are the few moments where I’m actually touched or hugged.

We’ve been able to see each other mostly weekly which has been nice. We decided not to see each other last night since we had time together Sunday. I would have been bummed but we decided to spend the evening together Thursday instead. I have Friday off so it works out pretty well for us and it means I don’t have to go a whole week before my next hug. We’ll even be able to do coffee together. I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve seen my blacksmith a few times as well. It’s been incredible. He was in a car accident one of the evenings we were supposed to meet. He’s ok and no one was hurt. They kept him at the hospital for a while to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong. He’s had family in town and is back to working doubles at work. With my schedule being the way it is and his changing, I think Saturday evenings are going to be our times together. He’s trying to get a DnD group together which could prove to be fun. That’s still in the works but it’s something to potentially look forward to.

Warren and I are doing alright. Still not thrilled to have to have a roommate, but things are a bit better. He takes a few days to do chores but they do eventually get done. He swept yesterday and when I came home the trash had been taken out. Hooray. I’m still waiting to get a rent payment from him. I might ask him about it later since he said he would pay me on Friday. Well… It’s Tuesday… Blarg. At least he’s been paying the full amounts when he does pay.

We’ve broached the subject of the lease and how we’re going to pay for things this coming year. That’s still tentative and nebulous, which I extremely dislike, but there’s not much we can do about it at the moment. The lease is up October 19th. I won’t be able to pay for a year in full again. We’ll most likely switch over to monthly payments where I pay with the credit card that way we don’t have to worry about having to pool a large sum of money together all at once. I can make multiple payments on the card and keep the balance down.

Warren’s new job is going well. He’s out of training. In a few months, he’ll be eligible for bonuses as well as a raise. He’ll be eligible for moving up to assisting with OS issues as well which will be another raise if he gets picked for that promotion. That would help out significantly. A two dollar raise with bonuses. Yes, please.

He’s recently been hanging out and being social with people. He’s picked up the hobby of paddle boarding which gets him out of the house. I can tell he’s dropped a lot of weight. He seems happier and more energetic.

One of the girls he was chatting with was interested in all of the things I do. I guess Warren was telling her about me being a badass with jiu-jitsu and Muay Thia. I ended up meeting her for dinner and we got along pretty well. She went to a kickboxing class with me at Title Club and enjoyed it so much she got a membership. That meant I got a free month. Totally had no idea about the referral thing so that was a pretty nice surprise.

She and I have gone to a few other classes together. We have plans to do boxing tonight at 7:30. She reminds me of me a few years ago. She’s just starting out on trying to get healthier. I think eventually she’ll want to try going to the dojo, but for right now I think she’s doing things right. Taking it slow and figuring out what she likes and doesn’t like and what her limits are.

I haven’t been to the dojo in a while, but that’s because I’ve been waiting for my arms to heal.

Yeah… that’s right… heal.

I got tattoos on my upper biceps and rolling around on the ground with sweaty hands gripping my arms didn’t sound all that hygienic so I’ve been going to Title Club a lot and doing bag work.

Big Bad went with me for the first tattoo on my right arm. I was alone for the second one. Originally my brother was going to be with me but that ended up falling through. I think it was better that way. In the end, I took care of a lot of things alone. I flew with mom’s ashes alone. I drove to my grandparent’s grave with her urn alone. I stayed in the hospital at night with her alone. There were a lot of moments where it was just me and her, me and mom, and so I think it was fitting that I ended the tattoos for her with her, alone.

Overall I think they turned out well. There’s some touch-up work I want done. Now that they’re mostly healed I think the runes in the center need to be a darker red. The ink looked good in the bottle but with my skin tone, it seems pinker. I liked the darker red of when it was scabbed over with blood.

The bands going around the under side of my arm was the hardest part. My triceps bruised all the way down to my elbow. I’m still waiting for the bruise on my left arm to fully go away. The bruises didn’t hurt and were extremely shallow but yeah, you could definitely tell my arms were pissed with me.

The scabs are almost fully healed. There are only a few spots left where the skin needs to flack. I’m thinking I’ll be able to go back to the dojo next week.

One of the realizations I had this morning happened while I was talking to Warren’s friend. I told her how I had training at the gym today along with our plans for boxing in the evening. Somehow through the conversation, it came up that I might have a second cup of coffee since I was being a slacker today.

She asked how I was being a slacker when I had plans for the gym.

That’s when I realized that my definition for “slacker” has changed.

I don’t honestly feel like a slacker, but I am taking it easy today. Easy… when I have roughly 2 hours of intense activity scheduled…

What I don’t have planned is nineteen million other things to go along with those two hours. I don’t have 12 hours of work where I walk six miles while staying in the same room. I don’t have chores or errands. I don’t have projects. I don’t have social obligations.

I have a fairly quiet day, on my own, where I get to enjoy not one, but two cups of coffee while I sit on my couch until noon in my pjs. I don’t have cooking I need to do because it’s already done for the week. I might do laundry, but that’s only because I don’t want to have to do it tomorrow night after work.

I did order more scrubs over the weekend. The ones for work still haven’t come in, which is frustrating, but even if they had, I wouldn’t like wearing them as much as the ones I went out and bought myself. So, last weekend I went to Uniform City and ordered two more sets of the ones I like. That way I’ll be able to make it through four shifts without having to worry about doing laundry on top of getting enough sleep. It seemed like a good investment especially since I like them so much.

But yeah, currently I’m scheduled to work Wednesday and Thursday and I only have one set of clean scrubs… lame. So laundry will most likely happen. It would be one less stressor to worry about.

I haven’t had a legitimate “rest” day is about two weeks. My “rest” days are now my long days at work where I walk about 7 or 8 miles. On my light days at work, where I only walk about 6, I usually get off early enough to still make it to a class, so I go.

I haven’t felt burnt out, it’s been helping me sleep more deeply, and it keeps my muscles from getting too sore or stiff. I think I’ve been pretty good about gauging my body and understanding when I need to stop. Sometimes I only stay for 30 minutes of a class, other times I stay for the whole thing. Sometimes I push hard. Sometimes it’s a lighter workout.

I’ve been consciously focusing on my water intake as well. I drink at least one bottle of water every time I go on break at work. I drink at least two, sometimes three, when I work out. I make sure at least one bottle is a Gatorade to help with electrolytes. I haven’t had any headaches, but there have been a few days where I’ve run “warm”. I feel hot like I’m overheating, but after some fluids, I’m better.

I’m too active to not keep up with what my body needs. So far I think I’m doing pretty ok.

I got new gloves and I love them. For all of you with a fetish for sexy black gloves… you’re welcome.

 

They’re fingerless sparring gloves from Venum. They’re holding up extremely well. I can throw punches harder without destroying my knuckles and still have my fingers free from gripping. If / when I replace them I might go down a size, but at the moment I’m extremely pleased.

I’m thinking about getting new shin guards next. I know I just got a new pair around Novemeber but I can definitely feel how they’re too large for me now that they’re pretty broken in. I gave my old gloves and wraps to K, Warren’s friend who I’ve corrupted to the way of beating things. I might give her my shin guards when I replace them since she’s taller than I am, which is odd for me because at 5 ft 8in not many people are taller.

That will be a month or so down the line when it happens. I would say “if”, but I know I’m going to replace them, so it seems silly to try to deny the fact that I’m eventually going to spend the money.

I recently upgraded all of my gear, actually. New compression shorts and shirts. I got the shirts right before my tattoos so they haven’t seen much action yet. I’ve been wearing only my cover shirts since the sleeves are looser and don’t agitate the skin as much.

I’m starting to see more definition in my abdomen. I try not to think about results all that much but it was nice being in smaller sizes when I upgraded my gear.

The Shefit bras are still doing amazing. So amazing in fact that I got ones for work as well.

I did spend a fair amount of money but I’m ok with it. It’s keeping me going, both work and workout wise. I feel like I’m investing in myself rather than splurging for no reason.

I still have a ways to go, but I’m in a much different position in my life than what I was last year or when I started this journey I didn’t know I was on. I like where I’m at. I’m getting comfortable with this new me. The me where two hours is something I look forward to. It’s a reward. My “me” time. It’s an understood part of my day, not something I have to convince myself to go do.

Mother Earth and I are supposed to meet on Sunday. I’m not really sure what else to write about that. I had been going through my Facebook messages, deleting old ones I no longer wanted to keep. I found messages from her and Josh, messages from when mom first died and they had reached out to me.

I didn’t know what to do with those messages. Keeping them hurts, but I don’t know if I’m ready to let them go either. I messaged Sir explaining my feelings and asked him to let Mother Earth and Josh know that I miss them.

I try to live my life as if it’s my only day alive. If I were to not wake up would I have died with unfinished business, unspoken words? Would I be ok with things being left as they are or is there closure that needs to happen?

This was one of those things where I wouldn’t be ok with leaving it as it is. I needed them to know I missed them. If I were to die, at least they would know I still cared.

He said he would work it into the conversation for me. I was ok with that. I wasn’t trying to bridge a gap. I wasn’t trying for anything other than having peace of mind.

I got a message from Mother Earth a few days later. We started touching on the subject of our separation. She said she would rather meet in person to talk about it because she didn’t want to cause me more pain. I said it was a painful situation. She accused me of trying to steal her husband. She said her and Josh would always be “home” for me and then exiled me through text messages. There’s no way for this to not be a painful situation.

I still feel abandoned. I still feel wounded. I think there’s a lot that’s gone on or that was said that I don’t know about. All I know is my side, but, from my side, mom had just died and two of my closest friends cast me out. I don’t know how to recover from that.

Life doesn’t go backward. We’ll never be able to be where we were a year ago. I’ll never be able to trust or be open like I was before this hurt. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to try for a sexual experience again. I think it will always have that “unsafe” warning flag. Even if we hang out and drink and there’s the “harmless kissing a girl” thing going on, I don’t think I’ll ever give into it because for me it wouldn’t be “harmless”. It will bring up all of these emotions and memories.

In my head, they’re no longer the “safe” people they were. They can be friends, but there will always be a distance there from having been pushed away. I can come back but only to arm’s length.

I don’t even know if they want me to be their friend. I don’t know what this meeting is going to be like. I’m hoping it’s a decent meeting. We’re meeting at a restaurant so I’m assuming it won’t be a screaming match. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be able to eat. Even thinking about it gives me anxiety. I don’t know where I stand with her. I don’t know if this is a meeting for her to tell me to fuck off to my face.

Logically I know that would be really silly. She could do that over text messages again and save both of us the gas and time. But the injured part of me, the one focused on self-preservation and not being hurt again, is worried and because I’m worried eating food sounds like an impossible task.

We haven’t spoken since arranging the meeting. I’m trying to not think about it because there’s really nothing to be done until Sunday so fretting over it is a waste of energy. I would rather enjoy my day off than play the “what if” game. Whatever happens, happens. It would be nice to have some sense of closure.

There’s still the money that is owed to me by both her and Sir. I know both of their situations have improved. It would be nice to have that money back. It would make October less scary. It would be a way to show that I still matter. That promises mean something and are still worth keeping.

Things are going well for Jon. I had a dream the other night that I was at home. I think I knew mom was dead, or that she “wasn’t there” anymore. I was walking from the garage, through the kitchen, down the hallway back to my room. It was darkish though I could still see well enough to know where I was going.

As I passed the door to Jon’s room I got a sense of foreboding. It was like something was in there and I shouldn’t turn my back on it. I had to watch this doorway to darkness because something bad was inside it and if I looked away it would get me.

I woke up feeling uneasy. I turned my bathroom light on for a little bit until it got annoying enough for me to turn it off and go back to sleep.

I called Jon last night after kickboxing and asked him if we were ok. I said I knew it was a weird, out of the blue question and explained my dream to him. He said we were fine and he was sorry about my dream. It was good to hear his voice and to have the reassurance that we’re ok. I’m sure we’ll fight about something eventually. I mean, after all, we’re brother and sister, it’s part of our genetics to fight. But for now, things are good between us.

He’s on summer vacation from school so he’s been playing World of Warcraft a lot and teaching guard camps for marching band. He’s having his own roommate issues, but I think they should be fixed in October assuming he can last that long.

I got my breaks replaced on my car. It’s the first “major” expense I’ve had with it other than getting new tires. The struts need to be changed eventually but those aren’t an immediate concern. I’m able to plan for it a bit and work it into my financial schedule/goals.

I like the place I go to for car service. They’ve always treated me extremely well. Because I ended up having to wait so long for my breaks to get fixed I got a half off oil change with a coupon for another 1/2 price oil change. I would have liked having those three hours of my life back, but they tried to make it better with some form of compensation. They could have done nothing.

Scarlet is doing ok. Still annoying as ever with her whole meowing thing any time there’s running water. She’s been curling up with me at night again which is nice. For a while, she was sleeping in the closet for whatever reason.

I think that’s about it for the moment.

I know I need to meditate about mom, about the tattoos. I haven’t done that. I know there’s pain I need to work through and find balance with in regards to accepting the end to that chapter.

She died. End of story.

End of THAT story.

It’s not the end of MY story, which I guess is why it hurts.

I’m alive. I’m not dead. I still wake up. I still do things and move forward and achieve and fail. I still have things I want to talk about and share.

I’m still here and because I’m still here I feel that pain. I feel that loss. I feel the absence and the void. I feel that end and it sucks because it’s not MY end. It’s not where I wanted it to end.

I’m glad I have the tattoos. They’re heavy, but they remind me that she was real. That she lived. That she influenced my life and made me a better person. I’m glad that I have a way to permanently show the world that I mourn for her.

My tattoos aren’t like her ring or my necklace, things I have to take off when I train. My tattoos are always with me. Unlike the emotional wounds, my tattoos are visible. They remind me of what I’ve been through. They remind me of what I’ve survived.

I’m strong. I’m the matriarch of my family. I’m my mother’s daughter. I’ve made it this far. I’ve told Life over and over again to go fuck itself this past year. I’ve made things work. I’ve taken step after agonizing, inching step forward because I promised I would.

No one can take that away from me. No one can remove my tattoos or take away the insight and knowledge I have gained through the experiences I’ve had. No one can take away my self.

That’s why I got the tattoos I did. The runes are what my mom gave me and no one can take that away. Not Life. Not Death. Not Stress or Doubt, or any of the other countless personified things I struggle with.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

 

Letters to Mom 014: Our Last Night

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This was our last night together.

This was the code STEMI. ST Elevated Myocardial Infraction.

This was my final night with you.

This was the night your hospital gown was soaked in your blood.

This is my fear. This is my desperation. This night. This is when I feel I lost you.

I keep having dreams. They all involve water. Emotions.

The shower drain in my bathroom being clogged so that the floor of the shower is submerged in water. Inches of it. Water that won’t drain. Clear, pure water that refuses to leave. It’s only when I reach down, my pale hand pulling a dark matted wad of hair from the drain that the water finally flows and lowers so that damage is avoided.

Me, racing up a snow covered mountain to save Akib from a storm that’s threatening. Somehow we all make it to a boat that will take us away from the mountain. We’re almost to the dock of our destination. We’re almost to safety when the tempest unleashes. The waves are high, the rain comes down in sheets so that the long wooden dock is almost obscured, but I can still see it. I know we’ll make it and so even though the whole event is still an emergency, there’s the feeling of security. We’re so close. We’re there. Even if the boat sinks we can swim to shore. We’re ok.

When I look up the symbology it’s about acknowledging something. Accepting something. Allowing the emotions to exist.

I couldn’t figure it out at first.

You’re dead. I don’t hide from that fact. I don’t sugar coat it when I say it, when I explain it.

That’s not the matted tangle I needed to pull from the drain. Saying those words, thinking them, doesn’t cause an emotional reaction. It’s not something I deny. It’s a fact that I’ve accepted in my life.

So what are my dreams telling me to accept?

I think I found it this morning.

Even though you died, you’re still with me.

You’re still with me.

Those words.

That phrase.

That’s the one that hurts. That’s the one that I don’t fully believe. That’s the one I hide from. That’s the one I don’t tell people because I’m scared of it being wrong or untrue.

I’ve typed it before. I’ve said it to a few people. Trusted people. I know I feel you, as if you’re behind me, wrapping your arms around me so that your hands rest on my arms, my biceps. I can feel you there, of all places, in my arms.

I don’t know if it’s really pain I feel. Maybe it’s just intensity and my brain can’t figure the sensation out so it labels it as pain. It’s so much of something that it’s painful to feel so much so deeply.

I feel like that’s what I need to acknowledge, though.

It’s not the same. It’s not like it was. It’s different and I still don’t know how to deal with that difference because it’s not logical. It’s not mathematical or chemical or rational. It’s not observable.

It’s something I feel. Sometimes others can feel it, too. But how do I know I’m not just making it up as a coping mechanism? How do I know it’s real? How do I know I’m not partially broken and hiding behind some shattered illusion, limping by, rather than facing reality?

I wish you were here. And that phrase is most likely so disrespectful because if you are still with me then why am I wishing for you to be here? You’re already here, just in a different way.

Isn’t that enough?

I’ve written about that before. Near the beginning, I think. I would have to go back through my posts, through my Book of Survival. I remember saying it was enough. So why am I back here, in this spot, thinking that you’re not here when you are?

These days have been hard, mom. They’ve been so hard. So long. So sleepless. So empty.

I know what I want to do for you tomorrow. My ritual for every April 4th from now until the day I die.

I’m going to buy you a rose, mom. I’m going to get a crystal vase and a silken rose, and every year I will add another rose. And when they become too many for the single vase I will buy another. Eventually, there will be 27 roses. One day there will be 28. More roses than years that I knew you. That rose will be different.

For now, until that day, they will be red.

I will keep them next to your urn. It will be my way of acknowledging your deathday. It will be the day I renew my promises to you.

I don’t know what else to say right now. I want to hug you. I want to cry in your arms while you hug me and reassure me that it will be ok. I want the past year to be a dream and to wake up and have you smile at me. But at the same time I know that’s not true. I don’t want to give up all of the good to get rid of all of the bad.

I want the struggle to be over. I want the tears to stop. I want the pain to cease.

You’re with me and it will be ok. I’ll make it through our last night.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.