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?

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.

I can no longer stand silent.

When my husband and I first moved to our new ward in G’ville we met some of our dearest friends. One of those friends was a man named Brian E. Kiley.  Brian was such a great person. He lived his faith. He was the same person on Sunday as he was Monday thru Friday.  I had the opportunity to be his Assistant Seminary teacher. Basically I got the great opportunity to teach early morning seminary when he was out of town working on his comedy career.

Just last year Brian met and married the woman of his dreams. They compliment each other so very well. Brian got everything he ever wanted in a family. He even got the chance to be a dad. He was such a great dad too.

Tragically just over a month ago Brian was murdered by a drunk driver on his way to the airport after a comedy show.  The man that killed Brian thought his right to drink and party was more important than the right of other people on the road.

Just yesterday the drummer for a popular band that I use to listen to was arrested and charged with drunk driving murder. He to decided that his party was more important that someone else’s right to live. And today a popular movie star and her husband were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and he was charged with DUI.

Two public figures in two days feeling entitled to do as they please regardless of those around them.

I have decided that I will no longer use my hard earned money to buy their music, go to their concerts, watch their movies or buy their products.

I am one lone voice in the dark refusing to support those that feel drunk driving is okay.  Every year more men, women and children are murdered by intoxicated drivers than people murdered by a gun.

Now I know that prohibiting anything only causes people to want it more so this is what I suggest. Tougher laws when it comes to DUI’s, tougher sentences for convicted drunk drivers, the permanent removal of driving privileges of habitual drunk drivers, the immediate removal and impounding of said drivers vehicle.  Anyone convicted of DUI should have a  notation on the front of their state issued id and driver’s license letting everyone know they are a drunk driver.

There are too many “reality” TV shows that show young people drinking and driving and acting stupid look like fun. They should removed from airways.

It is a startling realization that once a drunk driver gets out of jail they have the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a machine that they used to kill someone.

When are we going to stand up and realize that drunk driving is not a game?

When are we going to stand up and stop laughing at how drunk people act?

When are we going to realize that it is not cool, popular or neat to get so drunk you don’t know where you are, what you are doing or who you are doing it to?

I think the laws need to be tougher for drunk drivers that get caught the first time then we might see few drunk driving murders.

What are your thoughts? What can we do to make drunk driving murder a thing of the past?

Stigma This

There are days when getting out of bed is overwhelming.

There are days when the thought of going out the front door is paralyzing.

There are days when getting out of the house is an itch that can’t be scratched fast enough.

There are days when everyone around you laughs and you join them.

There are days when moving fast isn’t fast enough.

These are the days of my life. I am bi-polar with hypomania. Each person with this defect presents differently. I just happen to function and create on a higher level than others. I can have insanely organized and creative periods and times where being organized is not a priority to me.

Bi-Polar Disorder can be defined as the follow:

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe than the normal ups-and-downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated. A combination of professional counseling and medication helps most people live productive and fulfilling lives.

Bipolar symptoms are sometimes not recognized as parts of a larger problem, so it can be years before a person is properly diagnosed and treated. While some experience symptoms during childhood, bipolar disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. It has been reported that at least half of all cases start before age 25. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar mood changes are called episodes, and people usually shift from manic to depressive episodes.

For many generations the word bi-polar has been taboo. Telling people that you have depression or anxiety or a mental health diagnosis was social disaster. Many patients have been told not to tell anyone for fear of being denied jobs, being considered a social outcast. It can be intimidating to tell people about your illness. You fret and worry about whether or not you will have friends left. You worry about keeping your job, getting a new job. You worry about being shunned by friends and loved ones because you are “unstable”. Due to the stigma many with mental health illnesses will forgo treatment and self-medicate with illegal drugs, alcohol, food or other reckless behaviors. These things can seem to help for some time but are not directly treating the illness especially bi-polar disorder.

Facts v. Fiction of Mental Illness BringChange2mind.org

FICTION: People living with a mental illness are often violent.

FACT: Actually, the vast majority of people living with mental health conditions are no more violent than anyone else. People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of crime.

FICTION: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

FACT: A mental illness is not caused by personal weakness — nor can it be cured by positive thinking or willpower — proper treatment is needed.

FICTION: Only military personnel who have been in combat can be diagnosed with PTSD.

FACT: While PTSD is prevalent in men and women who have seen combat, experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can trigger PTSD, including violent personal assaults such as rape or robbery, natural or human-caused disasters, or accidents.

FICTION: People with a mental illness will never get better.

FACT: For some people, a mental illness may be a lifelong condition, like diabetes. But as with diabetes, proper treatment enables many people with a mental illness to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

FICTION: Children aren’t diagnosed with mental illness.

FACT: Millions of children are affected by depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. As a matter of fact, 1 in 10 children live with a diagnosable mental illness. Getting treatment is essential.

FICTION: “Mental illness can’t affect me!”

FACT: Mental illness can affect anyone. While some illnesses have a genetic risk, mental illness can affect people of all ages, races and income levels, whether or not there is a family history.

There has been some amazing and ground-breaking research in the last 5 years regarding mental illnesses especially bi-polar disorders. Quite a few studies have linking bi-polar disorder to a defect in DNA. The Medical News Today article explains the new research being done across the nation into what exactly causes or can cause bi-polar disorder.

The facts are that 1 in 6 adults are living with a brain-related illness including depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and schizophrenia.

The fact is, your child’s teacher, the bus driver, the next door neighbor, husband, wife, best friend, police officer, fire fighter, pilot, soliders and just about everyone knows someone with mental illness.

We can all agree that bullying is wrong that making fun of people is cruel and mean. Why is it then that when someone is acting differently than expected they are describe as being “bipolar” or you hear “The weather is totally bipolar” We expect our parents and Military to be strong and brave. So much so that men and women in our armed services are committing suicide at a rate of 17.5 suicides per 100,000 in 2010. That is 17.5 to many. Many are afraid that asking for help and getting counseling will undermine their career. As of September of 2011 there was an estimated 1,468,364 active duty service personnel. This number does not include reserves on active duty for training.

Now I’m not great with math but let’s take a look at the numbers. 1 in 6 adults are living with a brain related illness so that means out of the approximately 1.5 million activity duty military personnel approximately 250,000 of those men and women are living with a mental health issue. Now don’t quote my math. Some of you know I married my husband to do the math and well he’s sleeping while I write the post……..but back on topic.

There are so many false stigmas about those of us with mental health illness. Why? Why do people automatically assume that you are dysfunctional if you share your mental health status?

One of the websites I’ve quoted above www.bringchange2mind.org is one of the best resources on the internet.

Another voice in the dark stigma of mental health is Logan Noone here is his story Bipolar Disorder Recovery.

I’ve read it and heard it said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I draw the line in the sand and I refuse to hide. I have bipolar disorder and I am not a stigma.

As the Universe turns and The Leftovers all at one time.

This week was an emotionally draining and uplifting.  I have to share some background before I can share the change.

From the time of birth till my 8th or 9th birthday I had what some would call an idealistic childhood. Mom and Dad and baby sister. What I didn’t know then was that my parents marriage was in shambles. They were originally married in 1972. I was born in December of 1973. They then divorced in approximately 76 and remarried in 78 or so. My sister and I joke that we are so different because I’m from the first marriage and she’s from the second.  My parents we later divorced for a final time in 1982.

My mother promptly married my step father. At 8 years old I’m not really sure what I was expecting or what was going on.  All I knew is that we (my sister and I and mom) all moved out of the house we lived in to a trailer park.  The trailer was smelly and the kids were not very nice.  We then in some twisted fate ended up moving back in to the house with my dad, my mom us girls and my step-father. Even as young as I was I knew something wasn’t right.

Eventually we moved to another city and then one night in the middle of the night my mom and step-father packed up some bags and we left on a Greyhound bus for California.  I remember some of the trip but not much.  We moved in with my mother’s parents.

This is when my terror started. My step-father hated the way I ate, walked, dressed, talked you name it I did it wrong.  The abuse started as mostly verbal and mental.  Calling me dumb, stupid and telling us that we were nothing but poor white trash and that was all we would ever be.  The physical abuse didn’t start until my grandfather passed away.

For the next ten years I lived in terror. Never knowing what was going to set him off.  I didn’t want him to hurt my sister so I took the blame for her. Took the beatings, the verbal barrage that never seemed to end.  I remember one time we were walking in to a pharmacy/drug store and there was a greeter at the cart area. He was shaking hands and saying hello to everyone. He was wearing a red vest with the logo of the store in the front.  He said hello and shook my hand.  My step-father was furious. He grabbed me by the should and dug his thumb in to it and “steered” me out of the store to the car.  He forced me into the back seat hitting my head on the roof as he did so. We sat there in tense silence till my mother and sister came out. When we got home I was yelled at and screamed at and belittled and eventually was told to drop my shorts and bend over the footstool for a spanking.  I was crying so hard that my nose ran onto the footstool and floor and I got hit more because of it.  I could not sit down after and my mother had to keep my home from school.  To hide it from my grandmother I was told not to tell her or the police or it would be worse the next time.  I always dreaded her going to work or on vacation. We lived in her home. When she was there I felt safe.  I ended up missing several days of school because of the bruising on the back of my legs and back and tush.

This was just one of many of his cruelties.   We couldn’t cuff our pants because only poor people cuffed their pants. I got grounded from reading because he was tired of seeing my nose in a book.  I was studying for a spelling test once and he was giving me the list of words, one of the words was “while”, with his Tennessee accent it sounded like he was saying “whale”, that cause a split lip and more time out of school.  We couldn’t sit on the concrete porch because some old wives tale said we would get hemorrhoids.  Some of these things seem silly but to me these things kept me in a constant state of terror.  Elementary, Jr. High and High School was miserable. They just brought about more things for him to get angry about.  For the most part as long as he was at work things were okay. Weekends were rough and if my grandmother was on vacation he seemed to pack in as much misery as possible.  He also kept us away from others. As many abusers do.  We were sheltered and kept in the house as much as possible.

There were several times that my mom promised to leave him all we had to do was ask. We asked, we pleaded, we begged. He would always make her promises or get her high.  That’s how a co-dependent abusive relationship works.

My mother passed away in 1993 not long after my grandmother and step-father moved my sister and I to Iowa.  I was 19 by the time but had no idea how to function with out my family. I wasn’t allowed to make any decisions with out fear of abuse.  I started my first job in January of 1992 and even that was controlled.

Not long after moving to Iowa my step-father just left. No reason why, no note nothing.  I guess he found that he couldn’t bully may aunt and uncle. Soon after he left I started spreading my wings. I traveled here and there and eventually ended up back in Tennessee. In the same area that my step-father was from. Since 1995 I’ve been looking over my shoulder and out of the corner of my eye. Worried, concerned and partially terrified that I would run into him.

On Thursday September 6, 2012 on a whim I signed up for one of those “find anyone” pages.  I like to keep tabs on what is out on internet about me and what people have access to.  After double checking my info and opting out I looked up my step father not sure why after all this time what made me do it, but I did.  It had him listed as deceased.

I sat shocked, this was overwhelming. I had to have confirmation. I started looking for SSI Death index confirmation. I couldn’t find it not really sure how to find it. I called a friend of mine and she found it.

I cried, I laughed, I sat quiet. It was finally over. The door and darkness finally gone.  He passed away back in 2008.  For almost 20 years I have been on edge just waiting for this evil man to pop back up. I have fought for the last 30 years I have struggled and fought to be free.  Having confirmation that the information was actually true was the final piece of therapy.

The Gospel has helped me grow and learn to forgive and move forward and heal.  Knowing that he can no longer hurt anyone. Knowing that now he has to answer for all the evil he did, for all the pain and suffering he caused.

I am FREE!

And that my friends is As the Universe Turns AND The Leftover.  Thank you for reading this far. Thank you for listening and understanding.

L.

The Leftovers-Friday Musings

Okay I admit it…I’m addicted to shoes. I always have been and probably always will be.  I think it started as a little girl playing with my grandmothers fabulous shoes from the 40’s and 50’s. Spectator pumps, peep toes and sling backs. Oodles of shoes and purses and hats and jewelry, dresses to die for.  Her sage advice of  “Every woman should own at least one pair of outrageous shoes” is something she lived by.

For the last year and a half I’ve been so sick that fashion had taken a permanent  backseat.  There were days that just getting out of bed was hard. My style was what ever was clean and comfy.  I’ve always been a jeans and tee shirt girl but I had forgotten that I was also a woman with curves and style and grace and a love of Steve Madden shoes.

August 5th I had my gallbladder removed.  The difference before and after has been such a giant leap. I feel like getting up and getting dressed and putting make up on.  Tee Shirts still hang on the closet as well as the jeans but the dresses are coming out of the dust bags, and the cute shoes are being dusted off.

Yes my outrageous shoes have been taken out of their cute white box and have been worn.

Friday’s leftovers are this:  Outrageous shoes can make you feel wonderful and special and amazing.

 

100x Movement and Day 5

This last 5 days has already been a challenge!  Eating healthy has been going well. I did have an Oreo and glass of milk night but that’s okay. 

Eating healthy means eating balanced. To me that means that if your eating healthy having chocolate cake, oreo’s occasionally is okay.  It means that you shouldn’t have EVERY meal. 

I know that the more I get moving the more I will achieve. I have had 4 weigh days and in those four days I have lost 4 pounds. 

This is a journey that is not only physical but also mental. When addicts are going to rehab they are told that going to rehab and getting healthy needs to be for them not for anyone else. 

I am doing 100x Movement for me, not for my husband, not for my family and not even for my doctor. I’m doing it because I want to be a better me. I want to be the best me that I can be. I know that in doing that I can be better for those around me if I am happy and healthy. 

 

What are you going to do to be happy and healthy and the best you? 

L.