Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Going Solo to the Lounge

In an effort to broaden my horizons, get some exercise, and find yet another way to make a fool out of myself in public, I'm taking swing dance lessons.  It turns out that despite being uncoordinated and not the least bit graceful, I don't suck quite as badly at it as I think I do.  Or so I've been told by kind partners who may have just been saying that.

My class is on Tuesday evening at 6:30, which I think is great.  I'd love it if all my evening activities were this early as it greatly increases my odds of getting home early enough to go to bed on time.  And since my lovely little white dog has now decided we must wake every morning between 3:00 and 3:30 to go potty, I need to go to bed at bedtime as often as I can.  The downside of my 6:30 class is that it is inner SE Portland.  And "rush" hour traffic has become a serious problem that easily lasts several hours depending on the weather and which of the two north-south running freeways you take. 

This is only a four week class and last week for class #2, I was late due to the combination of the aforementioned evening commute and Blazer traffic.  You would think that by now I'd be used to them having games and their stadium being right off the freeway, but no.  It never occurs to me to check to see if that's going to be an issue before leaving the house.  So last week was unfortunately not really worth the time and effort it took to get there.

So this week, I decided to be smart and head across the river super early and find a place for happy hour prior to class.  I don't drink but who doesn't love food at discount prices?  I settled on a place Mapquest showed to be reasonably close to and which turned out to be kitty-corner from the dance studio.  It really does not get anymore convenient than that!  I've been here once before for a Portland Cello Project concert, but that was in the basement so this was the first time I'd been in the lounge itself.

The lounge was pretty small with really loud techno music.  Mirrors everywhere gave it a larger and somewhat of what I imagine a bad 70's porno would be like vibe.  (The low lights didn't help that image.  And it's connected to a hotel...).  But I wasn't there for the atmosphere.  I was there to not be late for class.

For being 5:00, the place had a decent number of patrons.  (There's also an outside area with heat lamps but it was cold out so I didn't investigate).  A couple sat at the bar not talking to each other.  Another guy sat at the other end of the bar.  I would have sat at the bar as it had the best lighting and I brought a book (yeah, I'm that awesome), but I didn't want to sit between these people in the off chance they wanted to be social.  (Yep.  Still awesome).  I settled for a small table where I could sit and eat my cheese fries and drink my pineapple-orange juice combo in peace.  Sadly, it was too dark to read so I did what anyone else in my shoes would do:  texted a running commentary to my friends in between checking Facebook.  I also toyed with going over and chatting with another solo patron also playing with his phone a but then I saw the ring.  And then his companion arrived and he moved across the bar so they could sit by the fireplace, which was now available due to the two women who had been occupying this spot leaving.

Instead I sat and listened to the two men sitting beside me.  Or rather one of the two men who went on and on and on and on about playwrights.  He's an actor, it turns out.  I know this time because of the numerous times he said "As an actor, I..."  I entertained thoughts of turning this into a drinking game, while thinking if I was on a date with this man, I'd likely want to gouge out my eyeballs because that would be less painful.  I ultimately realized the younger of the two seemed to be interviewing him.  Not because all he did was ask questions (he didn't get to say much) but because I realized he was taking notes.  When they left, the younger one seemed rather shell shocked.  I wanted to ask if it had indeed been an interview but somehow that seemed like it would be rude so I gathered up my stuff. 

I joined two others at the bar to pay my tab.  I was slightly caught off-guard when the bartender asked for my name as by this point, I was the only woman in the bar who had a tab going.  But on the other hand, I do appreciate his wanting to make sure to charge the correct card for my meal (well, to the extent cheese fries constitutes a meal). 

I don't really think I'm a lounge person.  I don't mind going out to eat alone.  But there was something sad about just sitting there by myself eating my fries and drinking my juice.  I discovered there's a coffee shop across from the lounge so next week, I'll give that a try.  Maybe that will be more my speed, though I suspect the other patrons won't be nearly so eclectic.  And they likely won't have cheese fries.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My 30's: The Highlight Reel

On January 14, 2004, the eve of my 30th birthday, James and I had just moved to Arizona.  I was freaking out because I didn't know anyone other than him and I was convinced once I turned 30, I would no longer be as marketable as an accountant-especially with graduation and a whole new crop of accountants right around the corner.  Yeah, I have an overactive imagination like that at times.

I turned 30 the next day and it wasn't the end of the world.  James surprised me by taking the afternoon off and though I was born in Nevada, I found it very strange we were able to take a walk around our new neighborhood without wearing coats in the middle of January.  It was on this day that we discovered the pirate store by our apartment was part of a chain.  And not actually of pirate stuff.  Yep.  I spent a good part of the afternoon of my 30th birthday browsing the merchandise in a porn store.  (Though this was not nearly as amusing of the blowup sheep incident of 2007, which really deserves it's own post...).

It turned out in addition to not living near a pirate store, I was also wrong about my career prospects.  Not long after my birthday, I made the decision to not accept a job for a vision company, instead taking one with a property management company.  Though not an easy decision, I do feel I made the right one, though it did mean I had a pretty crappy commute from Gilbert to Scottsdale at a time when gas prices were starting to hover around the $4/gallon mark.

My commute was not the only thing that was crappy about 2004.  In November, my dad died due to complications from adult onset diabetes.  This was the start of everything going downhill.  Following that, James' aunt almost died but she pulled through.  However, in March of 2005, his dad did die, which was unexpected.  I was still reeling from the (expected) loss of my own father and wasn't really in any shape to help James with the loss of his.  But we managed. 

On April 1, 2005, James was rear-ended on his way home from work.  It was a minor accident and he was okay but it was not the way to start the month!  He also received a call just prior to the accident there was the possibility of a job opening back up here in Vancouver that would allow us to come home. 

I can't quite remember what all happened over the next several months, but I do remember it got to the point of me being afraid to change the calendar because each month brought with it more bad news.  The job James had heard about had been given from one contracting firm to another which meant he had to properly apply for it-and he'd lost his cheerleader for the position.  However, in the end, he was deemed the best man for the job and at the end of September, I called my good friend and asked when October's bunco was (she's always hosted October) because I was coming home.  Arizona wasn't bad-it just wasn't home and for all the shit constantly going down, we needed our support systems which are here.

Once we moved back, I was asked to not look for work right away.  James saw how stressful it was for me to try to set up our house while working full time in Arizona so he asked me to take a month to unpack and deal with all the people you have to deal with when you first move in.  That was fine by me, but in January 2006, I accepted a job for a publishing company.  This was the only job I'd never been excited about taking and that should have been a clue.  However, I was getting a little too comfortable not working.

Not long after I started working, it became clear there wasn't a lot for me to do.  In the eight months I held the job, I was more in touch with my friends than I had been in a very long time.  So there was that.  About four months in, the company filed for bankruptcy, which is the best thing for me as it meant I actually had work to do.  (The company would later emerge from bankruptcy only to close it's doors for good a few years later).  So I started looking for another job.  I was offered a part-time accounting job for a new bowling and fun center that opened in the area, with the hope that it would go full time "some day" as the company continued to grow.  We discussed it and as tempting as it was, ultimately decided I would have to give up too many of my social pleasures on a part time salary...it would turn out to be a very lucky thing I instead took a full time job with a small computer speaker manufacturer, where I still am over seven years later.

July of 2006 brought the untimely death of my youngest cousin due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.  At the time of his death, he was 22 years old.  This was the first of three trips to Florida I would take in a short period of time; two of which were to attend funerals of my relatives.

I'd had enough prior to my cousin dying and I was tired of feeling like I was living vicariously through my friends.  So James and I booked a vacation for January 2007:  a Caribbean cruise.  This was the reason for the 2nd trip to Florida, as we set sail from Miami for a week in Jamaica, Labadee (Haiti), what was supposed to be the Grand Caymans (but the port was closed that day due to bad swells-talk about a ship full of cranky people!) and Cozumel.  It was on the second night of the cruise, Captain's Dinner night, when James and I got engaged after 7 years of dating.  When he proposed, I thought he was breaking up with me which in hindsight would have made for a very lousy vacation.

I found myself in Florida again in March of 2007, this time for the funeral of my grandmother.  I was starting to wonder if the family was jinxed at this point, especially since James' aunt passed away in September of 2007.

But that wasn't the end of it.  On February 6, 2008, James took his last breath when he died suddenly of a heart attack while driving home from work.  (And this is why it was a good thing I didn't take the part time job for the bowling alley.  Financially, I would not have survived). I had turned 34 a couple of weeks before and his final gift to me was a plane ticket to L.A. so I could meet his cousin to go to a benefit concert at the Staples Center put on by Garth Brooks to help farmers in Southern California.  It's funny that that concert seems like it was it's own separate year from the rest of 2008.  I never got my wedding-we were to be married on October 11th of that year.  The day he died, James had on his own contacted a travel agent to start planning our honeymoon-obviously, a trip that was never taken, with Boston as our top choice for the destination.  A month after James died, his other aunt lost her battle with lung cancer.

Where the first part of my 30's were filled with sadness and tragedy, the last part have been filled with recovery and even a bit of hope thrown in.  Following James's death, I realized I needed more support than I was getting from bereavement group and I discovered Meetup-the platform I used to start a group for young widows and widowers in the Portland Metro area on July 4, 2008.  It is still the only resource (I'm aware of) specifically for widows and widowers under the age of 50 in this area.  I've also branched out to other groups over the years and currently also help run one of the area's largest social groups-a group that is being mentioned in the Oregon Food Bank's next newsletter for our continued commitment to them.  I'm so glad the group is getting the recognition it deserves and I have to admit, I'm allowing myself a rare pat on the back because I'm the one who's kept us going back twice a month since 2010.

Also following the wake of James's death, a group of friends decided that life was short so we should go on vacation.  So in February 2009, five of us spent a week in Mexico.  Between this and the cruise James and I went on, the travel bug had bitten, though I didn't take another major vacation until 2012.  I decided I wanted to turn 38 somewhere where there was no chance of snow, so my best friend and I spent a week in Jamaica to ring in 2012 (no snow, but it was the only week that month it was cloudy in Ocho Rios).  And back here in the Pacific Northwest, it dumped snow in Portland on my birthday.  2013 ended up being the year of travel starting with a trip to Vegas in February, Seattle in July and November and a week long trip to Morocco in May, with an overnight stay in Madrid on the way home.  I'm still trying to figure out how to top that!  2013 was also the year of the concert:  Boyz II Men in Vegas, New Kids on the Block with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men in Seattle (I also went to a Mariner's/Red Sox game to redeem myself of this one) and Train with The Script and Gavin DeGraw as well as Maroon5 and Kelly Clarkson here at home.

In addition to my travels, I've had so many wonderful adventures at home.  I've (sort of) taken up photography, I've learned I love Thai food, I keep saying I'm going to learn how to dance (I did take a line dancing class).  I've taken a rock climbing class and a kayaking class-in which I almost broke my nose.  I've toured a nuclear reactor (not as exciting as it sounds) and I finally completed my first Bridge Pedal, with plans to do it again this year.  And speaking of firsts, in 2010, I did my first Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics-something I swore I'd never do again.  On February 8th, I will be doing it again for the 5th year in a row.  There have been so many wonderful adventures in the past few years, I could be here all night and still not list them all.

After James died, I said I would downsize the stuff, then downsize the house.  I've downsized enough to turn two of my bedrooms into rental rooms (so I can travel more), and I'm starting to think about my next house. I sold my beloved Lancer in the summer of 2012 and the day before Thanksgiving, after almost 6 years of "will she or won't she," I sold James's BMW, breaking one of my last remaining ties to him and our life together.  In place of those two cars, I did extensive research (including a color coded spreadsheet, natch), and bought a 2010 Mazda3, which I love and hope to drive into the ground. 

But above all, I learned I can love again.  I'm not in a relationship, nor have I been in one since James died.  I've just had some very special people come into my life that have shown me it's okay if I love them and it's okay if they can't love me back-at least not in the way I'd like them too.  Love, after all, comes in many forms.  They've shown me my heart can break and there's enough people who love me that I would be able to go on; they'll help me pick up the pieces.  They've shown me I don't have to do this all alone, despite how it sometimes feels-how I sometimes make it feel due to my own fears and insecurities.

So now here I sit, wondering what the highlights of my 40's will be.  I have to say spending my birthday sick in bed with the flu does not have the decade off to a good start!  But my 30's, with all their heartbreak and struggles left me strong and in a lot of ways, I feel younger now than I did 10 years ago (thank you, Capricorn trait of aging backwards).  Whatever comes my way, I can do this.  I'm ready.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog...

I was recently asked if I am experiencing writer's block because it's been awhile since I posted anything.  I wouldn't say that is necessarily the reason for my absence.  The truth is I love to write and this blog has been a great outlet for me to both record precious memories and at times provide some free therapy for myself.  But the bottom line is that it's the internet and therefore it's not private.  I've said enough in my posts that anyone who knows me well enough who finds out I have a blog can use a few key words and track this down.  It's funny, I'm okay with sharing my thoughts and feelings with billions of strangers but most of the people closest to me don't even know this blog exists.  Not only is it hard to let them in, it also makes me feel I need to censor myself in what I write to make sure things aren't taken out of context should someone stumble upon it who has been mentioned in a post.  I feel this way on message boards too when people I know in real life also join them.  Plus, there is a matter of time.  I'm a busy girl and most evenings it boils down to choices: I simply don't have the time to do everything I want to do in a day.  Writing has gone by the wayside in favor of reading these days.  There are just so many books and so little time-especially when you take allergy medicine that causes drowsiness and pass out after only a couple of pages.

The biggest reason for my absence is that I've reached a point where while I still feel I have plenty to say (never do I run out of opinions!), I feel I've over-shared way too much of my life over the years-not necessarily with blogging but in general-and now I just want my private life to be more private.  It's nothing personal against anyone and it does make me feel a bit closed off but at the same time my every move is just that: MY every move.  And quite frankly, I'm really not that exciting.  I don't want to start to feel I live under a microscope.  And I know by over-sharing in the first place over the years (can we say "attention starved?"), I have only myself to blame for getting to this point.

It does seem quite ironic that what is currently center stage in my life right now that I would ordinarily be all over writing about (because, seriously, what better way to over-analyze something)  is the one thing I just don't want to talk about and feel fiercely protective of.  My life has actually become rather routine and domesticated lately-which I'm not complaining about by any means; the somewhat slower pace has actually been welcoming.  But though I still very much incredulously ask on a regular basis "how is this my life?" I don't have as many entertaining experiences coming my way these days.  I'm still working on me and making some positive changes in my life and I'm sure blogging about that would probably put me to sleep let alone anyone who actually reads what I have to say!  I'm bored just thinking about it...

I know I've still got plenty to say.  There are still some memories of James that crop up and I find myself thinking "I've really got to get that one on paper."  There are, of course, new memories I'd like to be able to remember when my little pea brain starts to forget the good times (which at the rate I'm going should be, oh, next Thursday).  And there are times when I just want to vent.  So, I guess right now I'm trying to figure out how to proceed.  Do I stick with the narratives, just post short blurbs or both?  Time will tell.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Observations from a Coffee Shop

I was supposed to go cross-country skiing today but the friend I planned to go with came down with a cold and told me late last night he wouldn't be able to go.  I've never tried cross-country skiing before and as it is on my "bucket list," I'm a little disappointed but at the same time I was nervous and this wasn't exactly a "once in a lifetime, if you don't do it now, you will never get another chance" opportunity and it wasn't worth it to me for him to end up with something worse than a cold to indulge my wish list.  Plus, this meant I got to sleep in and certainly wasn't going to complain about that!

But, the last minute change of plans left me with nothing to do today.  (Well, nothing fun.  There's always some chore that needs to be done).  And because I'm frustrated with pretty much every male I know, including one of my beloved dogs, I decided I'd drag my lazy butt out of bed this morning and go on a coffee date.  With myself and a book.  The more I thought about it, an iced green tea latte sounded really good-and according to a message board I belong to, coffee shops are a great place to meet potential romantic interests.

So I got up this morning, made myself look presentable, gathered what I needed to run a couple of errands.  And then came the dilemma:  where to go?  Brewed Awakenings and Starbucks (x2) are right down the street.  Hmm...I've never tried Brewed Awakenings.  However, Starbucks is in the same shopping center as PetCo, which was also on the To Do list and thanks to my awesome co-workers, I have a gift card.  But both are chains and people at chain establishments usually just come and go, and I wanted something friendlier than that.  I do have a friend who owns a coffee shop and I do like to support local business....but it's all the way downtown.  (Which means about an extra 7 minutes to get there).  "What else do you have to do today?" asked the voice of reason.  Being this was an excellent point, I headed downtown. 

The nice thing about having a coffee shop owned by a friend who knows you are allergic to food is that he is patient enough to make something for you that will not kill you, which is definitely a plus.  We came up with a green tea latte that was quite tasty and since oatmeal is technically a breakfast food in my world, an oatmeal-butterscotch cookie to go with it.  The shop is small and was surprisingly loud for how few people were in there.  It's cozy but not in a way that feels cramped.  I sat a a table for two, for example, but didn't feel I was encroaching on the space of the ladies in the chairs next to me or vice versa.  I was happy to see (for my friend) that the majority of the customers seemed to be regulars.  Vancouver has a small town feel to it, downtown especially.  I arrived around 10 and the streets were still pretty quiet, so for the shop to be hopping spoke volumes in my opinion.  The clientele was pretty much what I find everywhere I go:  a guy in his 20's.  Two men in their 50's-long time friends from the sounds of it.  Two ladies in their 50's or 60's.  A woman in her 30's, maybe 40's with her little girl.  A married couple in their 30's  And me.  As I enjoyed my breakfast, another woman in her 50's, one in her 30's and another man in his 50's came in, replacing those who'd left.  Customers who got their drinks to go while I was there were a mother and her son, a mother and her daughter, a girl who was early 30's at the oldest, a guy in his 50's and a guy who may have been in his 30's who ordered two drinks to go.  So my friend's coffee shop, at least not this morning, was not the hangout for all those 32-45 year old single men I keep getting assured are "everywhere."  But that's okay.  As I said at the beginning, I'm frustrated with so many of my male friends right now that had I met one, I probably would have just told him where to go.

What's important is it seems my friend's shop is doing well and that makes me happy for him.  I got to have a nice glass of tea (in a real glass!), a cookie, and spent about an hour reading without a dog getting between my book and my line of vision.  (As I type, one is squished between me and the back of my chair snoring away.  He's great for my posture!).  Not a bad way at all to start what has turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day in the neighborhood.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night Ramblings

Usually when I sit down to write I have a good idea of what I am going to say.  Tonight I'm just winging it.  I'd like to be able to say I'm being fueled by a glass of wine but thanks to those pesky yeast and sulfite allergies, no wine for this chica.  Actually, I'd like to be drinking a (virgin) pina colada on a beach in Mexico, truth be told, with a slight breeze in the air and samba music playing in the background.  Yeah, I also have the perfect tan and sun-streaked hair in this fantasy.  And of course, there's a magnificent sunset.  My beverage of choice this evening is a good ol' glass of water.  9:30 on a Friday night, sitting in my living room, drinking water.  Yep, I am quite the social butterfly!

Actually, I will be a social butterfly tomorrow when I have a house full of people who have many options for their evening and are choosing to spend it with me, helping me to celebrate turning 30-something (which doesn't actually happen until Tuesday) with a murder mystery dinner party.  I have no clue how to host a murder mystery dinner party (which is why our elegant "Captain's Dinner" for our 1938 disaster at sea is tacos), so luckily most of my guests are used to my game nights in which I basically just say show up and the rest just magically works itself out.  And there will be ice cream cake.  From Ben and Jerry's.  Take that other events.  I totally just upped the ante. 

And I was a social butterfly last night when volunteering at the Food Bank led to late night happy hour (when the heck did 9:00 become late night?!  Oh right, when I didn't get home until after 11:00 and had to drag my butt out of bed at 5:45 this morning to get ready for work.  I'm too young to be too old for this!).  So last night's social butterflyness coupled with that pesky borderline insomnia issue has me too dang tired to do anything tonight.  And I'm okay with that.  I'm just waiting for it to be a respectable time to go to bed on a Friday night and then I'm hitting the hay.  What I'm not okay with is that I keep saying "This is the last Friday night I spend home alone!" or "This is the last Friday night I spend cleaning the house for Game Night!" and before I know it, it's a week later and I'm home alone on a Friday night.  I don't feel life is passing me by, but at the same time, I don't want to get to that point either.  Because in a sense, life really is passing me by.  I'm not getting any younger, after all.  Well, at least not chronologically, anyway.  In spirit, I sure seem to be-not that I'm complaining!  Hopefully, staying young in this respect will keep me from ever really growing old.  I was thinking about this the other day and I'm not really sure I ever want to be old.  (I was also thinking about what they put as the cause of death on your death certificate if you are executed so there you go).  Mainly because it's scary to think about being old and not having anyone to take care of me, which is the position I am in now.  It's hard now to think that I could come home on a Friday afternoon, slip and hit my head and no one would know something was wrong until I didn't show up for work on Monday morning. Fifty years from now, who knows how long it would take for someone to find my limp, lifeless body?

It's funny, I will have a house full of people here tomorrow.  But on my actual birthday?  Well, I'll be celebrating that with me, myself and I from the looks of it.  And my dogs. (There's a very slim chance I will be taking a beginning fencing class.  Like half the group signed up for it needs to back out slim).  Part of me thinks this royally blows major chunks.  And part of me is quite alright having the day (okay, evening.  I do have to work that day-well, hmm...I do have plenty of vacation time...) to myself to just do things I enjoy-like eat cheesecake and then take a nice, long hot bath with a good book to keep me company (currently "Heat Rises" by Richard Castle.  I want to know who that really is, but at the same time, I think that might ruin it).  Or go see a movie if by some miracle "Wreck-It Ralph" magically appears at the $3 theater.  But at the same time, I don't need my birthday for that.  I can do those things whenever I want.  The upside of being single is I can pretty much do whatever I want whenever I want.  I'm not dependent on anyone else's schedule or opinion as to what to do with my free time.  It would help if I stopped finding reasons to talk myself out of some of the things that cross my mind as things I would like to do...

At any rate, I'm curious, as always, what this year has in store for me.  I've decided it's going to be the Year of Heather.  It's going to be (another) busy year and hopefully a very rewarding one.  Might as well take advantage of not being tied down other than my dogs.  I have goals (which is a post in itself) which I think are pretty reasonable and certainly attainable.  And which will get me off the couch for at least some of my Friday nights.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's PSA

I posted this as my status update on Facebook on Tuesday, November 6th, and I feel it bears repeating.  I have added to what was originally posted so while this is definitely full of TMI, my actual Facebook post was not quite so detailed.  

"Today's PSA (which has nothing to do with politics): Ladies. No one knows your body better than you. You know which are the super cute jeans, which pants make you feel like a cow, which outfit makes you feel like a million bucks and which PJs look enough like normal clothes you can pull off wearing them to go buy milk. You may not know how you got the bruise on your shin, but you know how you earned each and every one of your scars, right down to the one on your wrist resulting from scratching at your Chicken Pox when Mom wasn't looking when you were nine.  You know which days the mirror is your friend and which days it is the most evil thing ever invited (for which you think some man is totally responsible).

But more importantly than what the world sees, you know your innards. And you know when something is wrong. Either something doesn't fit the way it should even though you haven't gained weight, there's lumps where there shouldn't be, you've experienced a drastic change even though you've changed nothing in your life or your Spidey sense starts waving red flags saying "Yo! This just ain't right!" Do not ignore this. After you've done what we all know not to do and Googled all your symptoms and have determined either everything is fine or you have some rare disease native to an indigenous tribe on some remote island no one has ever heard of and feral cats you found on page 12 of your search, go see your doctor to confirm it. Because sometimes something and nothing have the exact same symptoms. If it's something, you don't want to be too late and wonder "if only..." And if it's nothing, peace of mind is the best gift you can give yourself.

Like many of you, I am participating in a 30-day gratitude challenge. Today, I am grateful I spoke up at my annual exam and my awesome doctor listened. I am also so incredibly grateful I did not have to wait long to learn that my symptoms were just a polyp and not uterine cancer."
 
For me the symptoms started off gradually and then became pretty apparent.  I've been on the Pill forever because I'm not regular without it.  I mean really not regular.  As in between 14 and 38 days between cycles which were incredibly heavy the entire time and lasted between 5 and 8 days.  The 8-day flows were usually the ones that came 14 days apart.  So I either went for long stretches or it felt like it was always that time of the month.  Lots of fun when you're in high school and college!  Plus, it made me sick.  I vividly remember being so sick one time when I was 16, I couldn't even keep down a sip of water.  I remember this because I had to participate in a church mock fashion show that evening and wasn't sure how I was going to pull it off-and I didn't want to have to explain why I was sick when I looked perfectly healthy.  (I was much better by then).

So the Pill has been a Godsend for me.  After James died, my doctor and I decided to keep me on it.  I was messed up enough without throwing my hormones out of whack on top of it, and truth be told, I don't want to go back to having to guess every day "Is today the day I start?" and constantly having to be prepared for it.  I'm a control freak and this is something I'd been controlling for years so why stop now?

Because my body, it turns out, had other ideas.  All of a sudden, I wasn't in control.  Instead of good ol' Aunt Flo being her predictable self, she started arriving when she was supposed to but was leaving when she damn well felt like it-some "visits" were the usual 5 days, but over the last several months, she started sneaking in a few extra days here and there. The last two months were both 8 days.  My initial thought was maybe I'd just been on the particular pill I'm on for so long it was just no longer effective?  

I would have gone with that if duration had been the only change.  But it wasn't.  Flow increased substantially too.  I went from one really heavy day to two or three, depending on if it was a 5-day or 8-day period.  With the last one, I was still passing quarter-size clots on day 8.  The biggest change, however, was I went from very light to no flow at night to waking up one morning every month covered in blood-it looked like I'd suffered a miscarriage during the night. 

It just so happened that the bulk of the change happened after I'd already scheduled my annual exam.  My doctor is awesome and therefore popular so it's hard to get a "date" with her.  (Much easier when she's concerned because you are symptomatic for uterine cancer, however!)  I had been documenting the changes so I could have an informed conversation with her.  I asked her about a hysterectomy.  And then while I waited for surgery and did the whole "what if?" thing, I realized while logically I know my chances of having biological children at this point are pretty slim, it turns out I'm not ready emotionally to completely give up on that.  So last Thursday I had a hysteroscopy with D&C.  I had a polyp removed that was pretty much filling my entire uterine cavity and I had the lining scraped so there isn't as much there to shed each month.  When the phone rang Monday and I recognized my doctor's number, my first thought was "Oh shit.  They never call this soon when it's good news."  Thankfully, it was-pathology on both the polyp and cells from the uterine lining were benign.  Hopefully, this procedure will put me back to normal and no further options will need to be explored as my doctor suspects it will.  Because as awesome as I think my doctor is, I've seen far too much of her lately and would love nothing more than not to see her again until next October!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Better Off?

Let me start by saying I have very little interest in politics.  I'm concerned about education because while I don't have children, I am very aware the youth of today will be the ones running the show when I am old and I'd like them to have a clue as to what they are doing.  I have strong opinions regarding patient treatment, but I honestly don't know how much of that is political and how much is corporate greed or both.  I'm a registered voter but also a procrastinator so sometimes I remember to fill out and mail my ballot on time; other times I find it in a stack of filing several months after the fact.  I do have to thank the local politicians, however.  Thanks to all the annoying messages I kept coming home to, I finally got around to cancelling my home phone.  (Just FYI, I don't need a phone call telling me which candidate to vote for.  I figured out how to register to vote; I'm pretty sure I can figure out which candidates are in my preferred party.  The little R's and D's next to their names are a pretty big clue.  Also, I don't need to be patched in to the town hall meeting already in progress.  If I wanted to know what was going on, I'd go to the meeting).

With the upcoming election, the mudslinging is ramping up.  Pretty soon, we'll be grateful for the holiday ads because anything other than yet another commercial with a politician claiming they are going to this or that and their opponent sucks will be preferable.  Ever notice politicians always tell us what they are going to do but never how they plan to do it?  Though I try to tune the ads out, I've noticed a theme developing.  And that is "Ask yourself:  are you better off than you were 4 years ago?"

Well, let's see.  Four years ago tomorrow, I was supposed to be getting married.  Instead, I'd been grieving the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with for 8 months and most of the time couldn't tell you what day of the week it was.  Instead of my beautiful California wedding, my dear friend took me to the Japanese Garden.  And when I should have been saying my vows, I was literally crying into my cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory.  (Don't worry, no cheesecake was harmed in my torrent of tears).  I had no sense of direction, I had no real purpose in life, I had no idea who Heather was and I only got out of bed every morning because it's hard not to when you have a 25-lb cocker spaniel jumping on your bladder because he wants breakfast.

I did manage to vote.  I'll admit I voted for Obama.  I have lived in Arizona and have nothing against John McCain.  (I did have concerns about the possibility of Sarah Palin calling the shots if something happened to him, however).  But he's yet another good ol' boy with one foot in the grave.  The country needed change so I voted for the candidate I thought would have a better chance of seeing the big picture.  I voted for Obama for no other reason than I felt the country needed someone younger who wasn't already set in his ways.  And I did it knowing that 4 years would not be enough time to turn around the mess made by his predecessors and fearing Americans would expect just that.  This is the age of instant gratification, after all.

So now it's time to vote again and since I keep hearing it asked, I started thinking about whether or not I am better off compared to 4 years ago.  Well, let's see.  I still have no idea what my purpose is, but I've regained my will to live.  I'm not entirely sure my sense of direction, but I've always been directionally challenged and can say with certainty I am at least moving forward-at least most of the time.  I have a much stronger sense of self.  I've started making goals again.  Small ones because I'm well aware that long range plans can easily be derailed.  But it feels good to have things to look forward to again.  I am more surrounded now by people who genuinely care about me than I have been at any other time in my life.  I get tired of feeling like I'm constantly fighting an uphill battle and doing it alone, but I'm also one of the strongest people I know.  I'm noticing a confidence that wasn't there before, or if it was, it was very well hidden.  I get lonely and I miss what I had.  But at the same time, I'm grateful for what I have now, which is an awful lot of good things to be thankful for.  I have a good life that I am pretty happy with.  And yes, I still cry and get sad.  I still have oh so fun moments of PTSD.  But I have joy in my life again, even though sometimes all I can do is shake my head in amazement and ask "How is THIS my life?"

Am I better off than I was 4 years ago?  You bet I am.  And it has nothing to do with politics.