Existentialism in a Nail Shop.

So we are just two days from Surgery.  I keep running things over in my mind. Like who do I need to talk to, what amends to I need to make in case the surgery goes sideways and things don’t end up the way we hope.

I know they do thousands of these surgeries everyday across the world. This is my first open major surgery. While the fear has abated a bit it still lingers.

I had an amazing experience yesterday. I had to get my acrylic nails taken off for surgery because they need the O2 sensor to read accurately. So after a yummy bowl of Pho from Love, Peace & Pho here in South Nashville….so good! Then I went next door to the nail place and had my nails taken off.

The woman that was working on me seemed to notice that I was gloomy and kept asking what was wrong. I assume thinking I was not enjoying my manicure after the removal of the acrylic. I told her the short version of what was going one and she took her mask off and stopped what she was doing and told me about her sister who is also a manicurist and about how one of her clients had brain cancer and had a 1% chance of survival after surgery. She said the client told her sister goodbye but if she survived she would be back. Her sister received a phone call two days later, she had to have someone translate but it was the client calling to tell her she was okay.

She then told me a story of a woman in her country with no insurance that ended up with cancer as well and was okay, she told me I was lucky to be in the US with the excellent medical care and the amazing doctors and that she could see that I was a strong woman and a good woman and that strong good women are rewarded and taken care of. She said your grandmother and mother were strong too. (Never told her anything about them) She said I will see you when you get better for surgery and then…

She stopped talking and looked at me directly in my eyes as if reading my soul and said to me “I don’t know what you believe, God, Buddha, what ever, I say to Buddha every night thank you for my life and my child and my job and all that you have blessed me with. Even if you don’t believe in anything just talk. Just say what you are grateful for and you will be fine.”

It was such a powerful experience there was nothing in the room but the two of us for that moment two strangers. One comforting the other. I began to tear up, it was as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was as if this stranger had been tasked that day to remove the fear from my mind. Sure I’m still worried but as for being terrified of dying and leaving this world, this life that is so undone, I’m lighter, I can breath.

I may be in state of flux regarding religion but I do believe that there is something that binds this world together that brings things to and away from us for some reason. I believe that things happen right when they are suppose to happen. I don’t have a name for what it is. You may and that is fine but for right now I’m not sure and that’s okay I’m allowed to have this existential exploration of what I do and do not believe. I believe we all have the right to believe as we choose or right to not believe or whatever. We do however need to support each other in those choices and beliefs even if they are not shared.

Who would have thought and I would find peace and comfort from a Vietnamese Manicurist?

The Fear of Death…

For as long as I can remember I never expected to live to see old age. I’m not sure if it was losing my grandfather when I was 10 or so that triggered my fascination with how long I would live or just what it was.

I was surprised when I turned 25 that I was still alive, then again ten years later, and living to 40 what a shock as well. See deep down I never thought I would live a long life. I never expected to honestly and truly. If you have been reading the last couple of weeks you will know that I am now 41 and at the age my mother was when she started showing signs and symptoms of having cancer, and that I have pre cancerous cells and major surgery coming in just over a week.

My ob oncologist is very thorough. See I have liver disease and there is an increased risk of my liver failing during surgery due to the way the body reacts to anesthesia.  So I’ve had to have extra blood tests and doctors visits and ultra sounds. Each time with the warning of the risk of my life during surgery.

I know I shouldn’t panic. I’ve already had one surgery and came out just fine but it was not as serious as this coming surgery. I am afraid I won’t make it to recovery, I’m afraid that my life will end on the operating table.

See after all these years of feeling like I wouldn’t live to be old I’m afraid now I won’t make it.  People keep telling me it’s a rational fear and that it will be okay and the doctors are just taking extra precautions but I’m afraid.

I’m afraid when I hug and kiss my husband just before they wheel me off that it will be the last time I see him. I wonder how it will feel to just not be anymore.

These are the fears that can eat you alive, these are the not so rational, rational thoughts that plague you when you face your mortality. This is why I’m going to see a therapist on Thursday. This is why getting help when you have a mental illness is so important. I know I’m spiraling. I know i’m fixating. I know in the rational part of my brain that this will be fine, but there is that little voice that keeps saying what if? What if…….I guess I will deal with what if when it happens.

So I guess that’s that…It’s not fair.

Well the visit with the oncologist was long and informative and exhausting all at the same time. It boils down to this.

I have a 6 inch cyst on my left ovary, yup you read that right six inches.  It is pushing my bladder and my uterus out of position which has been causing some auxiliary problems that I just thought were part of getting older.

The surgery will remove both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, my uterus and my cervix. They will be doing an open incision because they want to remove everything in tact so that they can do a frozen dissection and test for any other pre cancerous/cancerous cells.

I will be spending 4 to 5 days in the hospital afterwards and then 6 to 8 weeks on home rest after that.

Good news is that I will have plenty of time to complete my last three classes, bad news I won’t be able to do anything much.

We were hoping to keep one of my ovaries so that we could harvest eggs and possibly use a surrogate but the percentage of having viable eggs is less than 20% so adoption it is for us.

I’m sad, angry and ready to shout at the world it’s not fair. Because to be honest it’s not.

My husband and I have stable income a beautiful home and deeply desire to have a family of our own. Nieces and nephews are great but it’s just not the same.  Why is it that those that do not have these things can pop kids out seemingly on a whim?

I believe in choice and accountability for your actions but it’s just not fair. When I think about all the babies that are lost to abortions or not wanted or harmed by their “parents”.  Especially when their are loving couples that can provide all the love and support for these children. How do we live in a world where children are abused and tossed away so effortlessly?

When did it become okay for human life to become disposable? AGAIN and I can’t stress this enough what you decide to do with your body and the things that go in and come out of it is your business and your choice. I have no right to tell you what is right for you but for those of us that don’t have a choice it is very painful. It crushes our very souls. It weighs us down and makes us want to rip a new one in the fabric of society.

At the end of the day I will take my meds, put my cpap on and lay down and go to sleep and wake up in the morning with all these feelings bubbling to the surface. It has been like that for ten years. The yearning and desperate desire to be a mother, and who knows how much longer that desire will go unfulfilled.

At the end of it all I get to feel like it’s not ever fair nor will it ever be. I know there is no promise of fairness in this mortal life we live. I know that, and can’t change it.  I can acknowledge it and struggle to accept it but I don’t have to like it. Acceptance and like are not equal to each other. So therefore I can accept this hand dealt to me but I don’t have to like it.

The C word and the fear it strikes in my heart.

In November of 1992 my mother was diagnosed with late stage adenocarcinoma of the lung. By the time they found the cancer it had already spread to her bones and her internal organs and later her brain. From diagnosis to death it was a very short 90 days. She was 43 when she died.

I was 19 years old. I had just graduated from high school the previous June. I didn’t have a clue what to do next.

Flash forward to January of 2015, sitting in a coffee shop I received a call from my doctor. Atypical pre cancerous cells have been found in my uterus.  I am 41. The same age that my mother starting showing signs and symptoms of her cancer.

I have an appointment with the oncologist on the 26th of January. That is when we find out just how much surgery is involved and if chemo is going to happen.

I’m scared, terrified really. I feel like I’m in a living nightmare of recurring déjà vu. I know that cancer research has come a long way since 1993. I know that catching it early is a good thing. I know my chances are better, but I want to shout from the top of the world “It’s not fair”.

There are too many things I want to do in my life. To many moments I have left.  These are the thoughts that haunt me during the dark times. When it’s quiet and my brain likes to wander. When I wonder what is next.

Sure it’s a simple surgery, sure they just found atypical pre-cancerous cells in the one tiny sample of the vast landscape that is my innards, but that one tiny sample and those itty bitty cells that are not normal that are the breeding ground for much worse have screwed up my year.

See I started my second year at college. I’m doing great in school. Sure I struggle and cry over math. Once I understand the concepts it sticks to my brain like it is modge podged there. My marriage is great. L is my best friend and my reasonable side. I’m surround by friends and family that love me and care about me and make me feel secure and supported.

So why the hell am I so scared?

Because I don’t want this to be my end. Because I’m better than this. My life is worth more than a few stupid abnormal cells. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to know what’s on the other side. I have too many things to conquer in my life.

I want more long walks with my husband.

I want more peanut butter, strawberry jelly, mint and bacon toasted sandwiches at Clawson’s.

I want to cruise the world with the love of my life.

I want to dig toes in the sand and watch the sun set as often as possible.

I want my life to mean something.

I want to change the lives of those around me.

I want more sloppy wet dog noses smearing my glasses.

I want more Notre Dame Football and Predators Hockey.

I want more laughter and inside jokes with my husband.

I want more quite times for us to just be.

I want life and all it’s glory and ugliness to go on until the twilight of my years.

See I am still wanting, I am still selfish, yet never lacking in these moments of my life. I know it is early in my diagnois but these are the fears that plague me in the darkness of night.

Twenty Years later.

I graduated high school in June of 1992. I had big dreams I wanted to be the first college graduate in my family. I was the first to go to college I was also the first to leave college.

See I started school and immediately got in over my head. Twenty years ago the the only time I ever talked to anyone about my college path was to talk to a financial aid counselor about being declared an independent student because I had no parent or guardian living, that I knew about at the time.

See back then I choose a  degree field that I thought I wanted, there was no advisement. I ran to the arms of the local community college with not a single clue. I wasn’t ready for the commitment, the homework or anything remotely college related. I had no one to lean on, no support system that understood what I was jumping into. I was 19 and I was clueless.

I spent several semesters at the local community college in two different degree fields. I was so sure that I wanted to become a lawyer that I started the paralegal studies program. Mock Trial never prepared me for the classes I was taking. After a few semesters I met some people from a private college that told me all about campus life and how wonderful it was. I was hooked. So I applied got accepted and dove head first into a four year program. This time I only had 3 different majors. One of those majors was teaching. Something I had thought about doing other than being a lawyer.

Boy was I in over my head yet again. See in all of this I didn’t take into consideration my personal history.

See the February of 1993 I lost my mother to cancer. I felt all alone surrounded by well meaning family. I was also a people pleaser so I did what I thought I was suppose to do. Not once in the entire two years of my college experience did I have a clue as to what I really wanted to do with my life.

Truth be told it has taken me twenty years to know what I want to be when I grow up.

I think often of my 7th grade history teacher. He was inspiring. We got to choose to write a research paper or do a project.  I always picked the project.

It was in his class that I learned to program in Basic. It was in his class that I learned that I had more potential then I ever dreamed. It was in that history class that I learned to love history.

In the last twenty years I have learned many things. Of all the things I learned it was a silly Facebook game that ignited a fire in my.  I’m sure you probably saw the game or even played it. If you commented on someone’s status they would give you a number and you were suppose to share that number of things that your friends probably didn’t know about you. I got the number seven.

As I was creating my list of all the things one of those seven was the regret that I never got my degree. My sister in law commented that it wasn’t too late that I could go back to school and get a degree.  Pondering exactly that I pulled out our tax forms from last year and filled out a FAFSA to see if I qualified for any financial aid at all. While I was waiting to see if I would get any aid another friend posted about getting a scholarship to the only NCATE ( National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) accredited online university. It peaked my interest and I took a look at the school and the programs they offered. I asked for more information and then paid the application fee and started the process not ever really expecting to get in.

So what did I decide to be when I grow up? I want to teach. I want to teach history. I want to teach history to 7th and 8th grade students.

Just a week or so later my application has been accepted, my financial aid is in place and poof I am a college student again.  My husband and I had talked about me going back to school after he graduated.  The day he graduated I got my acceptance letter to Western Governors University .

I never expected to get any financial aid.

I never expected any prior credits to transfer, but I am so happy that 19 of them did.

I never expected to be 40 years old and back in school and ready and focused and determined to succeed and graduate on time if not early.

It just goes to show you that when you decide to do something and it is the right path you are suppose to be one all the doors will open for you.

So what is one regret that you can fix? I shared mine how about sharing yours?

40 Years and 40 Random Acts

I am turning 40 on December 14th. Yup can’t hardly believe it but that’s the truth.

Besides hosting my first birthday party since I turned 8 years old I have decided to do 40 random acts of kindness. One act for each year that I have been so blessed to be a part of this amazing world.

Sure there have been not so great times and really amazing times but in the end all the good stuff is what matters.

I have been so blessed to have some amazing people in my life. My husband and family to just name a few but there have been others that were only there for a brief moment.

Someone who bought me a plane ticket to get back to California. The couple at the airport that found me a place to hang out while I waiting for 48 hours for a flight. The tow truck driver that accidently left his phone in my car then bought a full tank of gas for me when giving his phone back to him. The numerous people that have paid for my meal in a drive thru and didn’t even know me. The lady on the plane that held my hand as I cried all the way back to Nashville after my grandmother died. The countless people that make me smile and make my day.

There is so much good in this world, so much positive and bright and shiny. I need to share that, I need to make someone elses day.

So if you’re up for the challenge join me in 40 Acts of Random Kindness between December 1-14, 2013. Lets do something nice just because.

Retail Pet Peeves.

I have re-entered the retail world after almost 20 years of leaving working retail. Now mind you I was just and guilty of some of the following rules for shopping that I am going to share with you.

See part of my job is to clean up the store at the end of the night, to return stock to the shelves where it belongs. Yeah that means that I spend an hour putting those 18 packets of merchandise you decided you didn’t want right when you checked out. Now multiply that by 800 customers all day long and that’s a TON of merchandise to return each night, and I don’t get to go home until it’s done. Not to mention the ton of trash customers bring into the store. We have to clean up your Starbucks cups, your french fries and yes even your dirty diapers you can’t seem to throw in the trash. Not to mention the horror of the bathrooms. Really we are all grown ups here clean up after yourself. There is no need to smear your poop around. (Yes this really happened and yes we know it was an adult because it was spelled correctly and up too high to be a small child)

1. I am a person please speak to me in a civil tone.  I am not your punching bag. I will do the best I can to help you find what you want but if we don’t have it you do not have the right to cuss me out, yell at me or treat me like crap.

2. If you are shopping in a big chain store know that just because the ad says we carry something doesn’t mean that our specific store carries it. The way it works is as follows: Stores 1-30 sell a  ton of product A. Product A sells great on the West Coast and Mid West, it does not sell at all in the South so it is not stocked in Southern stores. The company only prints ONE ad for the entire nation. So read the fine print where it says may not be available in all stores.

3. Those little people with you are most likely your children or children you are responsible for. Please do your job and parent them. Letting them pull things off the shelves and throw it on the floor is not good manners. Nor is letting them drop kick balls across the store. Leaving poop filled dirty diapers in your shopping cart is just lazy. We have bathrooms USE them.

4. Love Starbucks Hot Chocolate and their Steamers as much as the next person but I do not love picking up your nasty cup you left on a shelf in the empty spot you made when you moved the merchandise off the shelf and placed it on the floor.

5. Yes we have a markers, NO the white shelves are not there for you to write on to test out the markers, so unless you are Banksy stop tearing open marker packages and “testing” out the color on the shelves.

6. If the store you’re in has a number system in order to help you, USE it. It’s there so that everyone can be helped so that you don’t have to wait in line. In fact most places that have number systems will use their PA system to call your number. So I promise you will not lose your spot, we will not forget you.

7. When we tell you your card was declined the first time it is possible that it was a bad swype or a wrong button press. Anything after two or three just accept that there is a problem with your card. No need to say “I swear there is money in my account I just made a deposit”. or “I know it works I just used it”. To be honest most of us could care less why your card does or does not work.

8. I am glad to help you, in fact I get paid to do it but I do not get paid to be your personal shopper. I don’t know what color blue will match your 30 year old sofa unless you bring me a sample.

9. I love Pinterest, we all love pinterest but unless you come in with the instructions I will not know how to make the cute picture you are showing me.

10. It would be great if when you come up to have fabric cut, check out or ask me for help if you would take your headphones off and put your conversation on hold.  I can’t help you if you can’t hear what I’m saying. On that same note the rest of the world does not need to hear your conversation. Remember you are in a public place no need to yell.

These are just some of the things that have rumbling around my brain the last few months.

What are your retail pet peeves?