Weirdness upon weirdness

This is probably a really bad idea, but I just had to blog while the drugs from anesthesia are still swimming through my blood and my brain. Typically I just feel super tired and woozy after having a quick procedure with anesthesia, but today? Today is just plain freaky. I feel a little drunk and that all of my inner censors are on the fritz. Maybe a bit like truth serum? Like I’ve been hogtied with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.Lynda_carter-wonder-woman-golden-lasso1

I had to stop myself from commenting on other people’s FB statuses.  Seriously, the shit I nearly said was ridiculous. Truthful, perhaps, but not necessary and sometimes hurtful. As much as it feels like my brain is going wacky, I was glad I had at least a smidge of self-control.

And my family? Well, they’re still here. I didn’t scare them off too much. I *did* spray my husband with the squirt bottle we have for one of our cats, but hey! He was seriously irritating me and being a male chauvinist pig. So I let him have it. And it was truly awesome. (And he still made me dinner, so I guess all is good.) My son is doing well although I did yell at him. There was a lot of him whining this afternoon about a topic we continuously argue about, and I just couldn’t deal with it. I yelled, he whined again, then somehow I found some inner calm that I didn’t know I had. I said no to his request AGAIN, the reasons why, and the list of toys he was about to lose. He cried, I cried, we hugged and at this point we’re doing ok.

Oh. The crying. There have been a few bouts of that off and on since the hospital visit. The tears feel like they’re swirling in my gut and slowly rising up, winding around my heart and in my chest, until a little strangled cry comes out of my mouth and just a few trickles of water from the corners of my eyes.

I’m not sure what the crying is about. Relief it’s over? Yes. Still a tiny smidge worried about the results? Yup. Emotions a mess because of the drugs? Absolutely! But since I held my boy and we both had a good cry? I think those scary little convulsions may be over. I certainly hope so.

I think the rest of this evening will be filled with watching Big Bang Theory with the family, reading to my boy and hopefully dreamless sleep. Or at least no bizarre dreams. Unless Wonder Woman is involved. :)

Live What You Love

Nearly 10 years ago, when I left my job at the University of Maine Bookstore, my friend and co-worker, Diane, gave me this:

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Although I had decided to take what I thought would be a short break from librarianship (I never expected it to take me 4 years to get back to it), I was dying to be a librarian again. When I got the job at the Pittsfield Public Library back in 2005, Diane gave me this stone, LWYL–Live What You Love.  She knew how much I loved being a librarian, how much I identified with it. And since that day, I have carried this stone with me nearly everywhere I’ve gone. Each time I change purses or go on vacation, I look over everything I carry around each day to decide what to get rid of and what to keep.  This stone has gone in each and every purse I’ve owned and has been to New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Florida.  I am not a person who likes many “things.” In fact, if I could, my house would be quite sparse. (Living with my husband and son has forced me to do otherwise.)  And yet I have always held onto this stone.

Being a librarian, specifically a librarian in a small town library, is something that I truly love. I think I’m good at it, and maybe even more importantly, my library patrons (and hopefully my boss) think I’m good at it, too.  It’s never paid much, and I knew it wouldn’t.

After nearly a decade, I thought it wouldn’t bother me that I don’t make much money. In fact, it didn’t really bother me at all until a few years ago when I started to pay for health insurance for my family. That’s when my paycheck dwindled to nearly nothing. That first year, I was ok with it. It’s good insurance, and with my husband’s current health issues, it’s necessary. “Money isn’t everything,” I said. I kept telling myself that at least with my husband’s work, we can still pay our bills and everything is good.

But you know what? It’s not good.

After 2-3 years of working for health insurance and my take-home pay only being enough money for after-school childcare for my son and groceries…what the hell is the point?

Yes, I love what I do. Yes, it does fulfill a part of me that probably would go unsatisfied if I did something else. And yes, with my husband’s work we can pay our bills and take care of our son and even get to go out to dinner occasionally. But that’s with my HUSBAND’S pay. Not mine.

Before we got married, I always thought that I’d be the one in the marriage to make more money and provide the benefits. I was the one with the college education, so I should be making the most money, right? And maybe if I stayed in academic librarianship where I began my career, then I would be the breadwinner of the family, or at least a more equal partner.  But academia wasn’t for me.

Rural librarianship called my name  and I ran to it. I ran with my eyes, arms and heart wide open. I knew it would cost me, and I didn’t care. And I will agree that I’ve been happier in my career because of it….but….can I keep doing it?

Can I keep getting those tiny paychecks while someone else watches my child after school and still be ok with it? Still be happy with what I’ve chosen?

I honestly don’t know anymore.

I do know that I love what I do. That much I’m certain. It’s not just what I do, but who I am. “Librarian” would be the second label I’d give myself after “Mother.” But as I watch my son grow and mature, and the days and weeks whiz by faster than what should be possible, I keep asking myself, “How can I spend more time at home? How can I spend more time with my son, yet still contribute to our household AND maintain my well-being by being a librarian?” Or do I need to find something else to do and be, at least for a while? How do I live what I love but still be there for my son, the love of my life?

I don’t know.

I don’t have any answers. I’m hoping that if I put it out there to the universe then I’ll have the courage to change or I’ll have an epiphany or I’ll just be happier and accepting of my current situation.

I suppose time will tell.

But I do hope *you* live what you love. If not, may you find the courage to do so. Life is too damn short to be unhappy, and when we think about how many years of our life we’re actually *at* the workplace? Let’s not settle and be content with misery.  Like Pharrell Williams sings, “happiness is the truth.” So no more lying to yourself.

LWYL

 

True confessions

I don’t particularly care if you like how I dress or think my hair is ridiculous or you hate my lack of religion. It doesn’t bother me if you think I’m bossy or that my love of Cool Whip repulses you. And yet, I seem to care what you think of me as a parent.

See, my son loves video games. He enjoys Minecraft and Lego Star Wars…and Halo. Let me say that Halo is not a game I think a 7 1/2 year old should be playing.  My husband and I got into quite a “discussion” about this. I wasn’t happy *at all* and yet I relented.  Why? you may ask. Why allow your kid to play a game that is geared towards teens and adults and involves lots of shooting of guns of every size imaginable?  I’ll tell you why. Because I’m a co-parent and I must pick my battles. (Co-parenting is a subject that needs its very own blog post, so I’ll skip that for now.) But my son also got in on the discussion. He gave me reasons why he thought the game would be ok to play (“we’re shooting bad aliens, Mom, *not* people”) and he assured me that he would never shoot anyone for real. (This has always been my fear, that my son will be that guy at the top of the clock tower, picking off people for amusement.)

Once we established that my boy could play this video game, I told him not to tell anyone at school. I knew he had at least one friend that played Halo, too, and the kids often pretend to play it on the playground acting out the parts of the game, yet I didn’t want any teacher or parent to know that I had allowed my child to play this shooting game that I knew *they* wouldn’t approve of.

Why the hell do I care? Is it because I don’t want these people to think badly of me or that I’m a bad parent? Maybe. Originally I thought it was because this video game isn’t something I would have allowed him to play if I were the only parent…but you know what? As a family, we all watch The Big Bang Theory together and I told him not to tell anyone about that either. Honestly, I think some of the show is highly inappropriate for him to watch or hear, yet we all laugh hysterically and much of it is going right over his head. He’ll ask questions occasionally, and very often I tell him that we’ll talk about it when he’s older. But is it any worse than watching M*A*S*H* or Three’s Company with our parents when we were little? I don’t think so.

Maybe, in all truth, I care what you think because I want to be a good parent and I’m not always one. Sometimes I don’t make my kid brush his teeth at night or change his socks and tonight we had cereal for supper.

And yet…if all of what I’ve done (or not done) and the fact that my child plays too many video games and watches questionable sitcoms with his family makes me a bad parent, then what about everything else? What about the fact my son loves to read out loud “with expression” (his words) or that he gives someone a compliment every single day because he wants to or the fact that his vocabulary is better than some adults I know?10616646_10204630006812846_8115794330705525964_n

Or what about this? The fact that I love him more than any human being that ever existed or ever will—and he knows it.

Maybe that’s really what a good parent does–letting your kid know you love them, and that you’re doing the best that you can.

And maybe not give them cereal every night. Seriously, I need to do better on that one.

 

 

 

Perspective

I started 2014 with a visit to a neurosurgeon, who told me that with a more positive outlook on my life and my health, my back would get better.  And for a  while, things *were* better. I was able to run more off and on throughout the spring and summer. By fall, though, I asked my doc to send me back to physical therapy. Each night without fail, pain would shoot through my lower back, making it nearly impossible for me to walk from my son’s bedroom (after a fun-filled evening of reading) to my own room.  There were many nights that I lay in my bed and my boy would read me something from his room because I just couldn’t get back up again.  And after two months of PT, I once again have a better outlook on life, but not without some changes to my future.

My physical therapist, Chad, is a very good person, or so I believe. He came up with a walk/slow run plan for me that will eventually get me back in shape and back to running on a more consistent basis.  I liked that. But he also told me that any dream I had about running a marathon or even another half marathon, would never come to fruition.  Chad said, “If you’re running because you enjoy it and it makes you feel good and because you want to improve your physical and mental health, then good for you. Keep running. But….as for long distances….”

I have no idea what else he said because I started to talk over him. I didn’t want him to say the actual phrase “You cannot do this.”  He didn’t want to either.  So I said, “You know, I ran a half marathon last year and I’m so glad I did. But I’ve pretty much give up on my dreams on running a marathon.”  (I wish I could have seen my face, because *that* is the face of a liar.)  Chad nodded and said something else about running for my enjoyment and I shook his hand and got out of there. I held in my tears driving back to work then ate too much candy throughout the rest of the day.

But you know what? That was two weeks ago. The words have been said, the deed is done. I’ve started the walk/slow run program and it’s super hard. I’m really out of shape and I want to eat everything in sight and since I tend to do what I want, I gained 7 pounds since Thanksgiving.  (I know I said that in the last blog post, but I’m still in shock over it so I felt the need to say it again.) But now it’s officially 2015 and I have to just suck it up (especially when buttoning my pants) and do this walk/run program and stay diligent with my back exercises or I will always be in pain and miserable and terribly squishy.

Just yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t complete the walk/run program for that day. Chad told me that if at any point during the run portion specifically, if I feel pain then I should stop running and start walking. So I did.

And I was pissed about it.

I was mad that I couldn’t run anywhere near the mileage I did a few  months ago. I was angry that I’d never be able to run the Bay of Fundy Marathon I set my eyes on back in 2013, hoping I’d make it there by 2018.  I felt like an imposter for being my friend’s virtual “coach” as she loses weight and trains for a marathon in the spring. I wallowed in my self-pity, whined a bit on FB, and ate a big spoonful of Cool Whip. (I know, I know, it’s nasty stuff. A bowl full of chemicals. But I friggin’ love it.)

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That’s our kitten, Bean, snuggled at my boy’s feet.

This morning after breakfast, I was in my bedroom trying to decide if I wanted to try and workout or just loaf around for a bit, when I heard my son run to the bathroom. He was sick and a little scared and needed me. After helping him get cleaned up, we proceeded to camp out in the living room, where we watched My Little Pony and attempted sips of tea and snuggled with the kittens.  After a few more trips to the bathroom and cleaning of “the” bucket, he went to his room and lay on his bed. He asked to watch Youtube videos on the tablet and to hold my hand. That’s all. Those were his only needs just then. To watch other people play videogames and to be near me.

Me.

Do I care about that marathon now? Nope. Not today. Will I try to run then berate myself because my body isn’t ready? Nope. Will I snuggle with my sick kiddo and just appreciate the fact that he needs me and right now nothing else matters?

Absolutely.

Biopsy Day

I’ve been dreading this day and honestly, I’ve been really scared of it. I don’t do well with this sort of thing. No one enjoys pelvic exams, but many don’t mind it. They’re no big deal, something every woman goes through each year. But me? I *really* don’t like pelvic exams. Nobody should be down there unless we’ve both agreed to have a good time. And my idea of a good time has nothing to do with metal instruments that hold me open or scrape my insides out.

But since the results of my last exam was concerning to my doctor, this is something that had to be done.

As I walked into the gynecologist’s office, the first piece of bad news was the scale. I’ve friggin’ gained 7 pounds since Thanksgiving Day. That’s a gain of .22 pounds each day.

Every. Single. Day.

Let’s hope I get my ass in gear again soon or I’ll have to stop eating. And I really don’t want to do that.

The nurse took my blood pressure (low, but good) and explained what she thought the doctor will do today. A vaginal ultrasound (no big whoop, could almost be called pleasant) then the doc would prop me open with the speculum (horrible metal object) and insert a biopsy catheter that would take a piece of the linbiopsying around my uterus.

Ick.

The doc arrived and I really like her. Dr. Bentley is older than myself, shorter and a bit rounder. She’s quite maternal but seems like she’d be stern when she needed to be. She calls stirrups “foolish” and did everything she could to keep me comfortable.

But the procedure was absolutely horrible.

The ultrasound was fine. Yay! Then, of course, I was propped open. Fine. I started my deep breathing and focused on relaxing. The doctor talked to me throughout, explaining what she was doing and what to expect. “This will be a little pinch,” she said, as I sucked my breath in through my teeth. “This will make you cramp a bit,” and immediately the cramps began. But it was ok. I was breathing in and out, until she said, “Ok, I need to try something else.”  I heard her unwrap a new tool and she told me I’d cramp some more.

But it wasn’t just cramping. I’m not sure what to compare it to. All I can tell you is that I cried out then groaned with pain and lost any kind of focus or deep breathing or any fucking thing. I think this only lasted a few seconds, because Dr. Bentley said, “Ok, that’s enough. I can’t do the biopsy but I will *not* torture you.”

She extracted all the metal from my body, then removed my feet from the stirrups and placed them on a step while covering my legs with the blanket.  “Are you ok?” she asked.  I nodded because I couldn’t quite speak.  Finally I squeaked, “What happens now?”

A D&C in a hospital with general anesthesia.

Dr. Bentley left me to rest for a few minutes and I lay there on the table with waves of frustration and grief and pain washing over me…and I cried. I tried to hold it in, but there was no way that was happening. I bit back sobs at least, and hiccupped my crying to a minimum. I didn’t want the doctor to see me vulnerable and a mess. I know she would have comforted me, but I didn’t want it. I was just so…angry! I just went through all of this for absolutely nothing. The doctor couldn’t get that *one* piece of tissue she needed to make sure that my body was really ok and *not* creating cancerous cells. But no!! My body refused to cooperate and now I get to be opened and scraped and closely examined with a hysteroscope.

AAARRRGGGHHHH!!

Ok. Ok.

The silver lining? Well…I get to be unconscious for the procedure and miss two days from work. Although that would be my last two days of sick time, so neither my son nor I will be allowed to be ill for the rest of the winter. But that’s beside the point. Silver lining!!

I have to say that I did hope 2015 would begin in a slightly better manner than having my body propped open and scraped out. But that’s not meant to be, and it really is ok. Since my last post, I have heard many stories about abnormal pap smears and biopsies and lesions scraped from cervixes.  Horrible, horrible things! But every single person said this, “It will be ok. YOU’LL be ok.”

And you’re right. I will be. Because of you.

You may have not been there to hold my hand today—and seriously, you wouldn’t have wanted to. (Plus there was no room. These exam rooms are tiny!) But I still felt like you *were* there, telling me what you’ve been telling me all along. “It will all be ok. It will.”

It will.

 

 

Just don’t Google it

I woke up this morning feeling happy. I had delicious dreams that made me feel warm and loved and….happy. It’s not a word I use often, especially to describe how I’m feeling, but this morning it was an apt word to use. My boy was in a good mood, he actually wanted to go to school. My walk was uneventful but felt good, and the stretching afterwards felt even better. I put on my lovely red sweater that I continuously get compliments on, looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “You look beautiful today, Holly. You really do.” I couldn’t say it out loud, but I *thought* it and I smiled my big smile.

Got to work and things were going well there, too. I was in a good mood, still happy. Had a funny discussion with my boss about all the people that call the library and ask for me. “It’s not my fault I’m so damn likeable!” I said. I just might have t-shirts made with that written on it.

And then I answered the phone. It was my doctor. I didn’t recognize her name because she got married, but I recognized her voice. Her name is Emily. I like her. She’s not an MD, but a Family Nurse Practitioner. My husband hates that I call her my doctor, but I told him he needs to let it go. This woman has my best interests at heart and we have similar philosophies when it comes to my health. So…she’s my doctor.  And she called me. At work. And she immediately started to apologize. “I made a mistake,” she said.

And that’s when I went to the backroom.

For you women out there, you know that you can have an abnormal pap smear and it be nothing. But my pap was *not* abnormal. I even got a paper in the mail saying it was good.

Yet it really wasn’t. And now a biopsy is in order.

Ok. It’s ok. I know many women have had this and everything turns out just fine.

And yet all I can think of is my doctor and her voice and how sorry she was–which I totally get that she’s freaking out because she made a mistake and what if I end up dying all because she made this mistake and maybe didn’t catch “it” in time.  (By the way, this is exactly why I am a librarian. My responsibilities typically do not deal with saving someone’s life. Sometimes a person’s happiness may be in my hands–matching the right person with the right book or movie or cd *is* important–but I am still no friggin’ doctor.)

I spent the next few minutes reassuring Emily that it was ok. (You read that right. I was reassuring her. I really am ridiculously kind sometimes.) She made a mistake. She’s fixing it now, right? She’s sending me to a gynecologist (“One I think you’ll like,” she said) and tests will be done and a biopsy will take place and most likely, all will be well.

I told my boss about the conversation after I got off the phone. I was a little freaked out but I pushed it from my mind. The rest of the day was filled with helping library patrons, saying goodbye to a family that have not only been excellent patrons but friends (hugs were in order for each of them), cataloging books, talking to a few friends and reading emails. When I got home I talked to my brother for a bit, then had a very enjoyable dinner and conversation with my son and talked briefly with my husband on the phone.

And all the while, I could hear Emily’s voice saying, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know how I missed this.”

Then what did I do? I fucking Googled it.  I looked up a few key words and what’s the first thing that came up? C’mon, you know it. CANCER, of course!  I started to read the Mayo Clinic site then just said “Stop!” I went back to Google and typed in endometrial biopsy and looked for specific information about what was happening with my body. NONE of this means I have cancer or any serious problem. It only means that my doc missed something when my test results came back, and now extra precautions are being taken to make sure I’m really ok and that this abnormal test result is truly nothing.

*deep breath in*

*deep breath out*

So…look…I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in a whole helluva lot actually. But…I’m still going to throw this out to the universe…

Don’t let this be the BEFORE.

Don’t let today be THE day. The day that ends up defining me and the rest of my life.

Let this just be another day in this chapter of my life….but not one of the last chapters.

The middle.

The middle would be good.

 

 

A few of my favorite things

Ok. I know I’m not Oprah, and I’m sorry to say that raindrops on roses are not one of my favorite things (although who can resist whiskers on kittens?). Yet if I had the resources, every person I know and love would get this:

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Well, all of this except the Santa dogs in the back. Although who doesn’t like a barking version of Jingle Bells?

First, the bag. I love string backpacks. I know lots of adults do not like them because they feel flimsy. But I love how light they are and although they can’t hold much, it’s still better than having a purse on your shoulder or holding a wallet you may forget. It’s great when taking walks with your family (not hikes, just walks) or when going to the beach. The one pictured just happens to be one I purchased at the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend. It’s extra special to me.

Parchment paper!!!  My friend, Aymie, has often raved about this handy dandy tool, and I only half listened to her and probably nodded and agreed.  But now I really get it. I used it for nearly every cookie and candy concoction I made this holiday season, and I can’t believe how much it cut down on the amount of pans I had to wash. I even reused the same paper a few times and *nothing* caught on fire.  Fantastic!

My favorite book of the year (and probably the decade), All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I know most of my Facebook friends are probably sick as hell of hearing me rave about this book, but I just can’t help it. I haven’t read a book like this in a very long time, if ever. I not only enjoyed each of the 531 pages, but savored them. It’s historical fiction with a bit of mystery. The book has characters you want to see die and others you want to protect, and still others you hope really exist. It’s magical. Not magical as in fantastical, but magical as in beautiful–a beautiful story beautifully written.

A Reny’s dark chocolate bar with sea salt. This is no ordinary chocolate bar. I’m sure you’ve seen this craze in the past few year with chocolate and sea salt. But *this* bar is from Reny’s! Reny’s is a Maine department store and is truly a Maine institution. They have bargains galore, but it’s not a dirty or trashy place. It has some name brand items (like Carhartt and SmartWool), but also has Reny’s brand items–like this chocolate bar!  There is a store just a block from the library where I work and I frequent the place, looking for gluten-free items (they carry lots of gf flours) and the occasional gift. When I tried this chocolate bar, each and every square just made my taste buds tingle. Delicious and exhilarating!

Lastly, Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies.  Oh, man, do I love these. There is no flour of any kind in them, mostly just peanut butter, sugar, eggs, and candy. Easy to make, and if you love peanut butter, you just can’t go wrong with these mouth-watering yummies.

The one image not shown that was probably my favorite “thing” this year, was the amount of love and friendship I received. I know, majorly corny, right? But after having such a tough year, physically and emotionally, my friends (old ones and new ones) and my family not only helped get me through it, but they showed me that life can be pretty damn great, if only I can get out from beneath that dark cloud.

There will always be hard times and I know there are so many more tough days and months ahead, but I also know that feeling as loved as I do will help me plow through the muck to find the other side. I’m hoping for sunny days on that other side, but even just partly cloudy will do just fine. :)

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone, no matter what you celebrate–Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Empire Day, Endor Day, Pon Farr, or just life itself.

Enjoy yourselves and each other.