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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sometimes I grow things.

Most often, I grow flowers and herbs in the garden area in front of my house. That's good.

Sometimes I grow things inside of me. That's bad. Also, this post is about my body. Just letting you know.

The first time it happened I was 24. All sorts of tumors were sprouting inside my bladder. Some were made of skin cells, some of muscle cells, some of lymph glands. But after a number of tests and surgeries, it was determined that the tumors were not cancerous, they were removed, and I was fine. Except within weeks of their removal, they came back. So I was treated as if they were cancerous and given chemotherapy for about a year. Not in my blood, but directly into my bladder using catheters. I am the catheter queen.

As I'm writing that, I can't help but shudder. It was a terrible time for me. I became a lab rat. I was sent to university hospitals and given experimental treatments for about six months. Then one day I decided I would rather die. So I told my doctor I'd be back if the tumors came back, but if not, he probably wouldn't see me again. Then I radically altered my diet and lifestyle. The tumors didn't come back.

At least, not in my bladder.

A couple of years ago there were more in my uterus. That's a little different. The uterus is meant to grow things. It wants to. There are all sorts of hormones and tissues that encourage growth of foreign objects meant to become humans at some point. I knew something was wrong because I started my monthly cycle, which is usually no big deal, and it didn't stop. A month later I was still cycling, so I went to my doctor who said I had a polyp. One polyp.

So I had surgery to have that polyp removed and everything went fine and life was normal again, at least in regards to my body function.

Except last Tuesday I was visiting with friends and realized I was wet from my ribs down to my knees. I excused myself, ran to the bathroom and realized I was bleeding. A lot. I'll refrain from detailing how I got cleaned up and tried to be human while my body was spewing blood from its vagina because, honestly, I just don't want to think about it.

Suffice it to say, I spent most of the afternoon and evening and all night passing large clots and blood and being alarmed. And getting tired. So tired.

I talked to the nurse at my doctor's office when I called to schedule an appointment. She pulled my chart and said, "Let's see. You had some surgery done two years ago. We removed a sjkdoiufhwn and did a owuy0ak bj]9EHN, and you also had 2w9jgma dvj:KDMMIFmn." I said, "I don't even know what those mean." "Oh," she said. "We removed some polyps and tumors, and you had some fibroids removed, as well. It looks like some of the tissue was pre-cancerous, but follow-up ruled out cancer."

Okay. Good to know. I'm still a little in the dark about what all this means.

The nurse instructed me to go to the ER if I was soaking through a sanitary pad an hour. They could determine if I was becoming anemic, and I would see the doctor a week from Friday.

I didn't go to the ER. If you're anemic, they give you iron. I can give myself iron. I don't need to pay an ER $2000 to give me what I can buy at Walmart.

The bleeding slowed almost completely by Thursday morning. I felt well enough to go for a run. So I did. A short one. And then Friday afternoon, the bleeding was back with a vengeance. Fortunately, I was ready for it this time. After so long, one can tell when clots are lining up, ready to see the world. I spent Friday night, all day Saturday, and Saturday night mostly in the bathroom. Sunday things began to feel calmer. Monday, more blood. Tuesday, more blood. Today things are slowing again. There are more out-of-the bathroom times than in-the-bathroom ones. And I see the doctor in two days.

I was feeling okay until the nurse called to have me do some pre-appointment paperwork for blood tests, ultrasound, and cancer screening. I asked if the cancer screening wouldn't be more appropriate after we found out what was causing the bleeding (i.e. polyps or fibroids, etc.)? She said, based on my history, they actually want to do one first. I don't know what that entails. And I didn't ask. I'm sort of overwhelmed.

And did I mention I'm pushing iron-high foods and supplements? But I'm still tired. I ran again yesterday, but couldn't push past 30 minutes. And eating is hard. And sleeping. And being a person. And after passing lots of blood, my whole body sort of hurts. And my brain doesn't want to work. At all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Because I need a place and it's not Facebook.

I don't really have words to say what I'm feeling. Forty-nine people went out to enjoy an evening. Some were probably with the person they love most in the world. There were probably others who were trying to find that person, and still others who maybe just wanted to dance or drink or find someone to spend time with right now. And they're dead. And I can't stop crying about it.

I can't imagine how I would feel if one of those had been someone I love every day of my life. And there's no way to make this better.

People on Facebook are talking about terrorists and ISIS and Obama and Trump and gun control and semi-automatic weapons. But no one can make this better. Every person who loved one of those 50 (and that includes the family of the shooter) is mourning still today.

People are donating blood and eating Chick-fil-a. There are candlelight vigils and protests and profile pictures with rainbows. That doesn't make this better.

And then there are the people (and I use this term loosely) who applaud the loss of life. They sully the names of the dead simply by uttering them. They call the victims "pedophiles" and "deviants" when they don't even know who the victims are. They buy into some a frightening certainty that the whole attack was engineered by their god. I don't know that god. He's not the one who speaks to me and reminds me how very much he loves every one of his children. Even, or perhaps especially, the gay ones, or the ones who want to kill the gay ones, or the ones who are glad the gay ones are dead. No respecter of persons.

And I am left feeling angry and sad and afraid.

Nothing makes this better.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Letting things be exactly what they are

I promised myself that when Darrin got a job I would take some time to regroup. About a month ago, he began a temporary job. It will end in July, I believe. So it's something. And I did as I promised, and I have taken some time off.

One of my contract jobs was unhappy with me. Even though I explained the situation, they put me on probation for lack of productivity and let me know that if I wished to continue contracting with them, I would have to let them know, and then I would be required to do the entrance testing again. I've worked with them for four years. It was a little aggravating. Regardless, I sent in my letter of interest because the job pays well, and I don't hate it. They answered that they would let me know when testing would be available, but I would need to be patient because they currently have a large number of applicants. I rolled my eyes.

What that translated into was two months of not working one of my contracts. I'm pretty sure my company thinks they punished me adequately for taking a month off for personal time. They have no idea how good this was for me.

I used that extra time to work on therapy assignments and de-stress. That was a very good choice. I'm feeling like myself again. The depression is waning. I'm not as exhausted as I've been for the past year.

My situation is no less stressful. In fact, I had some unexpected physical problems pop up this week. I was concerned, but I've dealt with it. Last weekend, I left for a few days to take care of some business out of town. I returned to find my house looking like it hadn't been cleaned in months and the rooms were filled with Tabitha's "stuff"-- things she can't bring herself to move, but also can't throw away yet. I spent Tuesday cleaning up after her and trying to put my house in some semblance of order. Normally, I would ask her to do it. In this case, it seemed a better idea to keep her away so I could actually get rid of, or pack up, most of the items. That was stressful. I handled it just fine.

There are a number of interpersonal things cropping up. My friend, Lydia, has been needier than usual and in a way that makes me nervous. Time to be supportive while reinforcing boundaries. I'm learning that I'm really not the most helpful nor supportive person in the world, and that's okay. For a long time, I thought that was who I was. It was illusory, at best. I'm a decent listener. And I'll lend a hand to help if I believe that's the best thing to do in a given situation. But the truth is that I don't want to be the one people come to all the time. I have very little to give other than a temporary ear and some sympathy. That does not go far.

I'm learning that what I believe I need is not always what I need. And working to achieve filling that need or maintain a status quo that is artificial is a mistake. No one benefits in the long run.

For awhile, it was satisfying and a little delightful when I was told I was loved or a good friend or very helpful...words along those lines. Now I find myself feeling confused when I hear those things. Much of the time they're offered when I'm not trying to be helpful or friendly or loving. And when I actually might need to hear the words, they're usually not said. I don't know why this is. Hence, the confusion.

Also, while I believe I deserve love and friendship, and I'm happy to help on many levels, the words, "I love you," or "I'm so glad we're friends," or "You knew just what I needed help with today" (I'm using those three examples because those are all things that have been said to me in the past week), seem to be substitutions for a simple thank you. Given that, it rings hollow when I'm told those things. They don't feel appropriate or sincere.

There was a time recently when I would ask those closest to me to remind me that they loved me. And they did. It was a good thing because I was failing at life, and I needed to hear it even if it was not true. That is no longer the case. I'm not hanging by a thread anymore. I won't be asking again. I will say it, however, when I feel I can safely express it. I'm noticing I don't have a lot of safe places/people right now. Three months ago, that realization would have sent me into a panic, scrambling to reinforce relationships and reassure myself that everything was okay. Today, even if everything's not okay, even if safety is waning within situations and relationships, it's all right. I'm all right.

In essence, I'm becoming myself again. And in this process, there are some loose ends I need to secure. I owe some people a follow-up email. So I believe I will take care of that tonight and tomorrow. It's time to close some chapters of my life and move forward.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"I've become accustomed to her face"

Getting used to things...people...places...circumstances... I suppose eventually one grows accustomed to most things in life. And then things change. Tabitha is moving. This is a good thing. A really, really, really, really good thing. She needs to be on her own. I need her to be on her own. Which doesn't mean I won't miss her a little.

Things I won't miss:
1. Laundry everywhere.
2. Her version of a clean bathroom.
3. Moodiness.
4. Her version of a clean bedroom.
5. Her fights with Adam over who gets to do laundry.
6. Her belongings everywhere.
7. Drama.
8. Procrastination of schoolwork, then an appeal to me to bail her out (which I don't do).
9. Her incessant chatter.

Things I will miss:
1. Watching silly TV shows at night.
2. Cooking together.
3. Hearing her play her guitar and sing.
4. Hearing her play the piano.
5. Having family prayer with her.
6. Having her at dinner each night.
7. Giggling together.
8. Shopping together.
9. Her incessant chatter.

Tabatha bought a car this week. And had an interview for a real job in the mental health department at the hospital. And she dealt with some frustrating stuff like a real adult. Tabitha is ready to leave. And I'm ready to let her go.

But it makes me think of other things I'm letting go. We're moving soon. Each time I run on the ridge above my house, I say good-bye to the wildflowers, and the antelope, and the prairie grass, and the butterflies. And the sky. Mostly the sky. It's so beautiful. There will be other places to run. I will find them.

And then there's the part of me that still feels weird about relationships. Except everyone feels weird about relationships, so that's not unusual. But I don't know how to be comfortable with the changes that happen. I accept them. That's not the same as being comfortable.

I've needed to talk with someone this week. The people I often talk with are unavailable. Darrin is also unavailable because he's emotionally spent. My dad isn't here, either. The friend I often talk to is in Nepal. Another friend is mourning a death. Yet another is vacationing. One does not contact people on vacation, or mourning, or in Nepal, and say, "I need to talk."

I guess I'm just becoming used to the fact that everything to which I've been accustomed is going away.