NC ’17

2016 sucked.  Okay, not all of it, there was some really good stuff that happened last year. But on the whole, as a year, suck-o.  Didn’t like it.  

Last spring, just bare months after starting a new job, my feet and legs swelled up and I couldn’t walk without a lot of pain.  No family doctor yet, so when it got really, really bad, I went to the ER.  Tests and a referral and more tests later and I had a firm case of sarcoidosis.  Fine. Steroids and follow ups and more tests and it turned out I was FULL of sarcoidosis. It’s probably the reason I had to get glasses, it was in my organs and it fucked up my legs.  But okay, we dealt and in august, it was *supposed* to be gone. As a precaution, my specialist sent me for one more X-ray. To be sure. 

Bam. There is was. All in my lungs. Hanging around and building little tumor buddies.  I was sent to a new specialist.  He sent me for tons more tests. Loads. I’ve had MRI and CT scans, x rays and lung tests and blood work (just wait, THATS a story) and echo cardiograms galore.  If I lived in America, I’d owe a million dollars in health care.  Maybe. Probably.  I don’t know but yay Canada.  I asked him point blank at one point, because I had “growths” in my lower lungs that were “not presenting as sarcoidosis” if I had lung cancer.  He didn’t know. He couldn’t say. And he couldn’t rule it out.  

I told my husband. And no one else.  We didn’t even tell the kids until weeks later that this was something we had to rule out, that it was possibly hanging out looking for a seat at the table. Having been down the cancer path before, I had absolutely NO desire to revisit.  I was lucky first time around. I did not want a second spin of the roulette wheel.  

Today was the day for results.  And I’m not only not cancerous, I’m much better! Sure, there is some scar tissue in my lungs now, but sarcoidosis will do that to you.  It was to be expected.  My doctor thinks I may have a touch of asthma now, possibly kicked into fruition from all the fuckery in my chest, but that is so manageable. Sarcoidosis may strike again in another organ, or come back to mess with my lungs but today, today I am good.  

So, he said, I should go down to the lab on my way out and have some more blood drawn.  Dentists tell you the secret is in floss. Doctors always see the mysteries of the universe in blood.  Okay, I didn’t mind. I’ve had blood drawn a hundred thousand times. No biggie. 

We sat and waited for my turn.  A tiny, young, quiet, young, very young (did I mention she was YOUNG) girl called my number. I went in, yadda yadda yadda, and she slipped the needle into my skin.  And I jumped.  It hurt. Not in an “ow, you just put a needle in me hurt” but hurt.  A lot. She looked and said “oh”.  I was clenching my fingers which were suddenly numb.  “I think I may have hit a nerve” she said.  She went to get help.  

Now.  I’m a bit of a fainter when I have too much adrenaline. So, when I get a needle in a nerve and my fingers and hand feel numb I freak out. Quietly. Daintily.  Like a goddam lady.  So I started to sweat and shake a bit while new, adult nurse came in and asked me all kinds of questions and offered me juice.  She asked if I wanted to come back another day but I wanted to get it done. So, the other arm got poked and my hand felt better and the first site ached and I left with my husband.  Blood taken, and cancer free.  

No Cancer ’17.  Bring what you will. It’s all cake after that great news.  

People think I’m too emotional sometimes.  And a lot of the time it gets chalked up the way all emotional women are packaged: that time of the month, you’re such a girl, or, my personal nemesis “calm down”. 

It’s not my time of the month.   I had cervical cancer in my twenties and a hysterectomy at 28.  It hasn’t been my time of the month in 14 years. And yes I’m a girl, but I’m also a human and humans, except for maybe sociopaths,  feel things. 

Don’t tell me to calm down either.  Nothing makes me want to commit murder faster than those two words when I’m in an emotional hurricane. 

Let me tell you about being highly emotional.  I don’t just feel my feelings, I feel them all consumingly.  When I’m sad, I’m devastated.  When I’m scared, I’m probably peeing my pants.  When I’m happy I’m probably also peeing my pants.   When I love, I do so to the depths of my soul.  It can be a curse no question, but, it can also be a phenomenal blessing. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel things so hard.  It’s difficult to explain why the death of someone I never met can tilt my axis and have me in tears for hours. It’s also not cool when someone tries to cut the tension at a funeral with a light joke and I can’t stop laughing.  But, it’s also the reason why music, or a sunset or a smile from one of my children can bring me to happy tears and consequently search those moments onto my heart in a way I’m not sure they otherwise would be.  

I’m a highly emotional person.  Don’t try to tame me or find ways to tone me down, because, much like my fiery temper and my infectious laughter, I am glorious just as I am. 

I’m tired.  That’s not surprising. I’ve been working and raising a large family for over twenty years, of course I’m tired.  But I’m also mentally and emotionally tired.  2016 was draining.  I’ve made some choices to help me get into and get through 2017 and keep moving forward positively in the future. 

No toxic friendships.  This will be the easiest one because I’ve already let go of most of the *friendships* I had that were unhealthy.  The trick now will be to not invite in any new ones.  

My relationship with myself comes first, my relationship with my husband is second.  All other relationships come after those two. If I can’t take care of those two, everything else falls apart.  Someone who can’t understand that isn’t someone I need in my life. 

Respect.  This is a big thing for me.   I can disagree with you and still respect you.  You should be able to do the same.  If you can’t RESPECT me, who I am, and what I believe in, again, I go back to number one.  We are all human beings and we deserve to be respected as individuals.  Treating someone poorly, disrespecting who they are as a person simply because it doesn’t fall into line with your personal beliefs is NOT something I want in my life.  And I won’t have it any more.  I can walk away from bigotry, because it’s not a part of how I want my life to be.   

Authenticity. I plan to live as authentically as I can.  I will not temper myself to fit someone else’s comfort.  I will be polite and yes, respectful,  but, I will not be someone I am not to please others.  

Relaxation.  I don’t always make time to relax and that doesn’t help either my physical health or my mental health.  This will likely mean less of an online presence,  and believe me when I say, I have even contemplated ending this blog, but for now I’ve decided that since i have already scaled back in postings, I will simply scale back everywhere else as well.  I need real quiet from time to time.  I plan to take it. 

These are not resolutions.  These are intentions.  Things I need to do in my life to live as fully and as happily as I can.  

Hmm.  A full and happy life.  So crazy it just might work. 

Happy 2017.  

Every year we tell the kids we’re toning it down.  And most years, we’ve wound up not toning it down at all. However, since we moved out east, Christmas has gotten quieter and quieter for us each year and I’m loving it. 

Back when the kids were little and my siblings and Shawn’s mother and sister all lived within an hours drive of one another, we did the crazy, busy holidays. Too much food, too many gifts, all the noise and the driving and the craziness.  Don’t get me wrong, when you have small children there are few things greater than watching them, giddy with excitement and high on sugar, whipping their way through wrapping and bouncing literally, off their relatives.  But our kids are much older now. And we have finally reached that great plateau in our lives where is little we lack.  We have food, a really nice home, and the kids don’t really lack for anything.  My appreciation of the season has taken a razor sharp focus in the last few years to being pretty much only about my family, and relaxation.  

Our oldest daughter couldn’t be home with us this year. It sucks, but, we were able to face time on and off all day. She even went to visit my grandparents and facetimed us all from their place, much to my delight.  

We let go of the family drama yesterday and just enjoyed being together.  I had a nap mid afternoon, and we capped off the day with a late night trip to the movies.  

We did not have piles under our tree. We did not take pictures of each thing. We did not get cranky and worn out from travelling.  We just hugged a lot and laughed a lot and let go.  I’m looking forward to this whole week of decompression.  

Some day, my kids will have kids of their own and Christmas will once again be full of hustle and bustle and craziness, I have no doubt. And I will love it, I also have no doubt.  But until then, I’m going to enjoy just being home, being quiet and taking the time to make sure that my children know how much they are loved.  

Peace, joy and love to you all.  

Room 15 revisited

I need to preface this by saying to my parents and daughter who are hearing this here and not from me personally to chill out. I wasn’t about to call any of you in the middle of the night. 

We all know now that I have sarcoidosis back again and it’s bad in my lungs. There are also a bunch of as-yet unidentified tumor like growths in my lower lungs.  Tests are already underway and I hope to have some answers in the early new year.  But on Saturday I started coughing.  By Saturday night I was coughing hard enough that I couldn’t sleep very well, almost at all.  Yesterday Shawn asked me a few times if I wanted to go to the hospital.  I kept saying no, even though  knew it was not good.  I was struggling to catch my breath, to breathe. I just didn’t want to admit defeat. Plus, it is our secret Santa day at work and I badly wanted to be there for the reveal and I knew time at the hospital would most likely necessitate at least one day at home.  

However, when crying in the bathroom at one in the morning holding the wall because the coughs are literally bending me in half, and begging Shawn to come in and help me, it was time to admit that I needed medical help. We arrived at the ER just around two am.

It was not a long wait before they brought us back.  They called me and another woman and put her in a room first and kept walking me down the hall. I knew it, before they even said it.  Room 15.  The very room where, on September 19,2014 at just after 4pm, Shawn’s heart stopped and our lives as we knew them, changed.  Shawn tightened his grip on my hand and asked me if I was going to be okay.   What could either of us say or do, though?  It’s not the kind of situation where you can request a room change.  In the ER you take what you are given and you’re thankful for it. And I was.  But man was it weird.  The room looked both bigger and smaller at the same time. Every single space held a memory.  When the nurse left me to change, I pointed to the back left corner of the room and told him “that’s where I stood”. 

Several people came in and out, listening to my lungs. I was given steroids and told my oxygen sat was low, but not dangerous.  Then I was given an inhaler.  The respiratory doctor felt that it’s pretty clearly bronchitis,  however, with the sarcoidosis  (most likely flared up) my lungs are extra sensitive and vulnerable to infection. 

They sent me home shortly after seven with prescriptions and instructions to come back if it stays or gets that bad again.  

Shawn drove me to my office to drop off the secret Santa gift along with the two gifts I had bought for kids for the children’s party happening later today.   I refused to be the reason that two boys would be the only two to miss out on their gift from Santa. 

So now I’m at home taking my meds and resting so that my lungs can settle so that I can hopefully be at work tomorrow.   And while I hate the way steroids make me feel, I’ll take that over fighting to breathe any day. 

I’m so looking forward to the holidays and some very quiet downtime.    Be well, friends.  And Keisha, we can FaceTime tonight.  

On pondering life

When faced with disruptions in health, it’s not uncommon for life priorities to also come under the microscope. This has happened in my life a few times.  When my youngest was born and we both nearly died.  A year later when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent a hysterectomy and, most acutely in 2014 when I watched Shawn die and then come back from double cardiac arrests and a subsequent heart attack and medical coma.  

I have watched this shift as it happened with my former workaholic husband. He doesn’t live for his job anymore. He lives to LIVE.  Facing his death shook our world and has brought us closer than we have ever been in our almost 22 years of marriage.  

Last year I was dealing with sarcoidosis and thought by now it would be gone. Of course, as you now know and I now know, it’s not only not gone, it’s camping out in my lungs and it brought some as yet unknown buddies to the party. 

After meeting with my new specialist, the first of several new tests is coming on Wednesday.  One of my friends at work asked me why I wasn’t just staying home, taking time to deal with this. But. With all the current unknowns, I want to live my life as normally as possible. I actually really love my job.  There is a joy in knowing you’re doing something of worth and doing it well.  

I no longer have time for negativity in my life. I care less each day about the opinions of others. My family is the most important thing in my life.  I surround myself with friends who understand me and love me for exactly who I am and I find strength in that. 

There is not such thing as a perfect life, outside of a sitcom, unless you are willing to let go of what you think it should look like, let go of living to please someone else’s ideals and live your happiness, outwardly and inwardly, every day.  And that is why I know that no matter what hand is dealt to me, or to anyone in my family, as 2016 comes to a close and 2017 begins, I will go forward as I am right now in this very minute: surrounded by people I love and making time to do things I love to do. 

Who would want to live any other way? 

I am scared.  

I’m forty one years old now and yes, I still get scared.  Last winter I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis.  At the time, it was mostly in my feet and ankles although we later discovered through testing that it was also inflaming my lymph nodes and presenting in my lungs, brain and had affected my eyes to necessitate glasses for the first time in my life.  

I saw a doctor who steam rolled me through the hospital getting tests and results for me at top speed.  I went on medication to stop the swelling.  It seemed that all was well. So well, in fact, that he declared that my diagnosis was most likely acute, and not likely to ever come back.  

But he was wrong.  I still have it. It’s in my lungs.  Enough that I need to see another specialist. A respirologist.  And I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of scared.  I let it really get into my head today.  Something I try to avoid like the plague, getting stuck into negative thoughts, but it happened anyway and turned my day into a bit of a mental black hole.  

So I texted my husband the evil words that were swirling in my mind and playing mean tricks of worst case scenarios.  I texted him “I’m scared”.  And he didn’t tell me not to be.  He didn’t come at me with “logic and solutions” or distractions or jokes.  He said “I know you are, love. I’m here”.  And then he just let me be scared.  Albeit, wrapped in a bear hug once we were home, but he just let it be.  

I realized that it’s okay for me to be forty one and scared.  To go ahead and feel the hard feeling and not try to stuff it down or hide it.  To embrace my fear.  To own it. And in doing so, a little bit, to conquer it.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be feeling nauseous tomorrow sitting in that waiting room, listening for my name. But it’s okay.  Because no matter what the outcome, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health I have the best people and the best person in my corner. Standing there, loving me, supporting me and letting me be scared when I need to and cheering me on like mad when I’ brave.  

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