Deep Thoughts · Health · Life

The Good Bad News

We all have moments in life that railroad us. That make us think. That make us pray. That make us grateful for what we have.

A few months ago I was experiencing abdominal pain, was nauseas, and ultimately stopped eating for a period of time. My thoughts were everywhere… Did I have appendicitis? Was it the stomach flu or some kind of viral issue? Was I pregnant?

Logically this was disconcerting and worrisome to both myself and my husband and I went to an urgent care where they ascertained that I almost certainly had pancreatitis. They sent me in to have an abdominal CT scan to provide the definitive proof they needed that I had pancreatitis caused by gallstones.

They were wrong.

And thusly I received what I have now called, the good bad news.

The good news was that my pancreas was fine and completely healthy. My gallbladder was also perfectly healthy and normal. But there was something that shouldn’t be there, a small lump on my right kidney.

The doctor that called me with the news spoke to me in a tone I’ve never heard from a doctor. It scared me. Legitimately. He went in between listing that the lump could be a cyst or a hematoma of some sort, and then also using the phrase ‘early stage’. This had me worried and confused.  He urged me to see a urologist immediately, as they could interpret my scans far better than they had access to via an urgent care.

So I found myself in a urologist’s office for the first time, surrounded largely by a geriatric population of very quiet but kind people clearly wondering what a young woman like myself was doing alone in the waiting room. It was a bright, crisp morning and rather nice considering it was in the peak of summer. They had orchids on the front desk that smelled heavenly. But I could be horribly biased, I do love orchids.

When I met with the doctor, he was nice and calm and asked if I knew what had brought me in there. I mentioned that I knew there was a lump… and that was about it. And that’s when my world flipped, when what I was sure I wasn’t going to hear came about in the most casual matter of fact way possible.

“Well, with these types of cancer…”

CANCER.

At 30, I was crying in a doctor’s office with a man I’d just met. Being told that I had cancer. I couldn’t process much at that moment. He was concerned I was going to faint, apparently that’s common. Go figure. They gave me water and some tissues as I regained my composure and attempted to ask the questions I thought I should be asking.

Was he certain? How could they tell? Did I need a biopsy? Was I headed into chemo? What did this mean for me, for my life? And oh God, how was I going to tell my husband? How was I going to tell my mom and aunt? What about my job, my coworkers? Thoughts of life and financial and emotional burden were hitting me like a ton of bricks.

He recommended I meet with another doctor who specialized in partial nephrectomies. That is, the partial removal of a kidney. While he could remove my whole kidney, the size of the tumor made it capable of a partial removal, which means I can maintain more kidney function for the rest of my life. I dazedly agreed to a second meeting with a doctor, dabbed my eyes and made my way to my car.

There, in my car, I had the most cinematic cryfest ever. I was gripping my steering wheel and sobbing my eyes out as I rocked back and forth in my drivers seat. It felt like I was living in a moment I’d seen in the movies, except it was real — and happening to me. All my thoughts and fears were on the surface of my mind with the most prevalent one being that I had to go home to my husband, the man I’ve been with for 10 years and look him in the eyes and confirm the fear that he’d had. The fear that I had pushed off in my optimistic can-do attitude. It was just a small thing and nothing to worry about, I’d assured him.

The pressure and emotional pain of having to tell my loved ones was unbearable.

But I pulled my big-girl pants on and soberly drove home, albeit with a leaky face. I had to be the strong one, I had to have the strength to get through the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with my love. And I did it, and it sucked. A lot. And then we, together called my mom.

Days followed and we met with the second doctor. I had a more alert, and thought out discussion with him. I had a list of questions from my mom to ask, to help me drive the conversation, to find answers amidst the confusion and muddled thoughts. My husband brought up points and interjected as well when needed. There I found out that I had a 65% of it being malignant cancerous tissue. Which leaves me with a 35% chance that it could be benign, or even potentially not cancerous in any way. But we won’t know until it is removed since there are too many risks involved with a biopsy.

I’ve had more doctors visits in the past few months than I’ve had in years. And they have all given me the reassurances that with what they think it is, that once it is removed that will be the end of this journey. No need for chemo, radiation, or immunotherapy should be needed. But that doesn’t absolve the underlying concern and fear of what is to come, the unknown aspects of surgery and recovery and all the things that go along with it.

As all this has been happening I have found myself more emotional as of late. I’m a frustrated crier, not a get weepy or leaky over simple trivial things kind of crier. But that’s shifted.

After a period, I just accepted that I’m going to have good days and I’m going to have bad days… and I’ll simply need to roll with it as it comes. But it’s difficult, weird, and in some ways isolating. Because at the end of each of my days right now, I just don’t know the answer to the question I need.

Do I really have cancer? 

Life

The Catharsis of Metamorphosis

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

— “Changes” written and performed by David Bowie

It’s that time again, change is happening.

A hiatus in writing out my thoughts to focus living, led to a long period of change. All largely positive. I’ve worked hard on finding my center. On rediscovering my passions.

My focus for 2016 was to focus on ME.

I’ve spent a long time in the pattern of caring for others and not very well paying attention to myself… even when lovingly pushed to do so. A lifelong habit I fully credit to my mother, who is so selfless and giving of her love and time. (I couldn’t ask for a better role model in life than her.)

And so the changes begin here. A new format on a quiet blog in the whispers of the internet. Trying desperately to figure out how to not only have menu options but fill them. Definitely going to be a work in progress there, please be patient and don’t judge if it’s long coming! Content doesn’t seem to be sparse in my mind, but how to make the site work the way I want is a bit challenging. I know I need to spend some time on it. But at least I’m liking my new color scheme and set up. Makes the creativity a bit easier.

I’ll be taking this up again on a more regular basis. Hopefully my new journey will be of interest to some. If not, at least I can say I’m continuing the work that only I can do.

Life

Always Questioning

What does it mean to be inspiring? How do you go from being unsure of yourself to having others ask you to lead them?

Where does the shift come from?  It must be internal – some switch that is flipped, some instinct set free. Some beacon of chutzpah that is unfettered with towing the line but instead aims to break the illustrious glass ceiling.

I keep asking myself what my passions are, where have they gone… so long since buried by the requirements of a struggling adult life. Not one to cry poor me, just a fact – sometimes you shelve budding interests and long standing hobbies to get by.

I’ve been missing having a passion. Something to fill my mind, heart, and time when I am not at work or with my husband and friends – or perhaps something to fill all those areas all the time and further enrich my life.

I have had a dream, since I was a teenager – it started out with me wanting to make clothes for plus size women, because at the time our choices were so very limited. The landscape has changed in time and there are plenty of fashionable options out there. But still the hope remained. So I began to dig a little deeper into the why behind my goal, this business dream. Clothing can define us, can make us feel confident, sexy, or be something to hide behind.

I realized what I wanted to do was empower women.

So how do you empower others?  Is it your own persona, how you exude your own confidence in your daily demeanor?  Is it more intimate, do you share your struggles and tribulations to show the growth you have experienced?  Is it selflessness, do you give equally to others to advise and challenge them to grow?

Empowering others takes leadership. It takes caring and selflessness and a determination to invest in someone else. To show someone that you think they are worth it.  It also requires an acceptance of one’s own vulnerability, to be able to admit your faults as well as your strengths.

You need to hold your head high and have a back bone.  You need to not take no as an answer, to find other paths to climb. A timorous voice and demeanor are unacceptable. You need to know and own who you are… and not apologize for it.

I’m not sure what the path towards empowering others is. I would never deign to say otherwise. But I imagine it starts at the source, with the self.

I made a resolution when this new year started to have a backbone and stay sassy. So far I’m keeping to it – I’d rather apologize for something said incorrectly than not speak up at all.

Now I must find the next step in the path.  My own empowerment begins with me.

Where will yours begin?

Deep Thoughts · Life

A Love Letter to My Husband

I want you to know that I am completely enamored with you. I love you more now than I did when you asked me to marry you and I know that my love for you will only grow. When you feel weak, I see resilience. When you feel sad, I see hope. I am blessed and grateful to have you as my husband, to have your heart and love.

This next year will be nothing short of extraordinary, your dreams and aspirations are within your grasp. Everyday I pinch myself because I can’t believe you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re going to be surrounded by music and my heart swells knowing how much good that will do for you. It is who you are.

I am proud to be your partner. To be a part of a unit that is open to conversation, even the difficult ones. I love that you love my weirdness, that being silly and stupid around you does nothing but make you laugh. You being the kind of man that does not turn affection away is something I am thankful for daily. You really do give the best cuddles.

Our ability to have separate interests has created some of the best learning experiences I have ever had. You’re a wonderful teacher and so patient with me. I know that I am only patient with you and that patience is unending, which always astonishes me.

You truly do bring out the best in me.
Deep Thoughts · Life

Over the Horizon

This past week has been nothing short of taxing… both physically, psychologically, emotionally  — take your pick.

I genuinely don’t remember crying so much in such a short span of time in a long while. But that’s ok. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to let it all out, and it’s ok to show that you’re vulnerable.. both at work or in your personal life.

I made a statement a few blogs back about Garett. I said he was a gift. I meant it, I still do.  What I find more incredible is how true that statement was and how myself and those who knew him are coming to realize that on a daily basis.

So I made myself a promise. Now this is something that for me started in the summer but has, I believe, fully culminated and ran its course through to now. I have promised myself to not live in the past. To keep old hurts where they are and to let the anger if there is any settle. To be just not be the better person, but to be a better person to myself.

There is so much out there to experience, so much I have not seen, heard, tasted, smelled, or felt. It is important to me. I have a laundry list of dreams that I have either over the passage of time either shelved, forgotten, or completely abandoned. I never stopped to ask myself “why?” and if I were honest with myself, I am not quite sure I am ready to. But again, that’s ok. I know they there and I can pick them up and reexamine them at a later time.

Because right now, in this moment I do have the time. While time might be relative it is also a luxury I will cherish all the more greatly.

But what keeps rolling around in my head is a phrase from the Harry Potter books, specifically from the Deathly Hallows. The idea of being a true “Master of Death”.

Choosing to keep or remove negative people from your life, to not pursue your dreams or aspirations, to stay complacent and immobile are all ways of slowly agreeing to the death of yourself. Not in a physical sense but in a spiritual and developmental sense. We should never stop becoming. The world will change around us. We will meet new people. We need to rise to that level, that next iteration of ourselves. To not continue to grow would be to stagnate, that would truly be death.

There are so many wonderful quotes flowing through my head. So many words of inspiration, comfort, and wisdom. I will leave you with this:

The true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.
– Albus Dumbledore
Life

Laid to Rest

I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.

– Jack Kerouac

Your funeral was today and the service was beautiful. You would be ecstatic to know how many people have been coming together with you uniting them.

We will never stop missing you.

Life

The Dreams of Heart

True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.
–   Mercutio,  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 Scene 4

I find myself questioning and being introspective of late… the questioning hedging on a level of cynicism I haven’t had in a while yet blended with a naive hopefulness.

Perhaps it has to do with the loss of a friend, death is always cause for contemplation.

Perhaps it has to do with the concept of family, as my husband and I discuss our future with children.

Perhaps it has to do with my aspirations and my inability to see where the road leads.

In my heart of hearts I know I do not yet want to know. So instead I will dream.

Life

Bereft

I had intended on my latest blog post to be about friendships reemerging and whether that was positive or negative.  Life has a funny way of altering your perception of what is important.

That blog has been shelved for the time being.

This is about grief and loss.  A good friend of mine passed away suddenly this past week. A life so teeming with future possibility and potential.

My friends are devastated and distraught.  I know someone passing away does that to you but the amount of community we have with each other is both reassuring to me and heartbreaking that it is occurring in the first place. I can’t begin to imagine how his family is holding up or faring. My heart is broken for them, my prayers revolve around them.

I find myself caught between trying to convince myself this isn’t real, he’s not gone forever and being angry that he was taken so soon. He had everything lined up to move, to find himself and grow, to continue becoming the true star he was. I’m sad for all the things he will miss. The joy of marriage, children, trips across the world, gone.

I’m angry I didn’t spend a bit more time with him. I’m confused. I’m strangely not questioning my own mortality, which I hear is normal. Instead it’s just a really good stage of denial – like heavy denial. The finality of this is so hard to wrap my head around.

I feel guilty laughing or enjoying myself. I know that’s the total opposite of what he would have wanted. It is as if the cloak of sadness is required for my mourning. It reminds me of the black head scarves women wear during the days following the death of a loved one or community member.

I don’t know how to deal with this… this sadness that seems so pervasive and unpredictable. I have not dealt with death like this. I have not felt death like this.

I find myself looking for answers. Poems on how death has affected mankind for centuries.  Scripture from Torah.  Chabad has been a salve on my heart. I’ve looked to my husband and mother for answers. I have yet to find any.

This was not the way I expected to start the New Year.  We say “shana tova umetuka” to wish a sweet new year.  I did not expect to say “baruch dayan emet” or have a name to say during the mourners kaddish.  This Yom Kippur just became so much more painful and meaningful. Part of me wishes to abandon work for a while, to simply sit in a shul, any shul and cry and question and be quiet.

But I know that life must go on.  Life is a gift. Garett was a gift and he gave beautifully.

I hope we do nothing short of make him proud.

Health

Reevaluating What Is.. and What Isn’t

I would be lying if I said that part of blogging isn’t cathartic. It totally is.

Personally, I have always been a writer of sorts… writing things down just tends to help me discover things I was unaware of previously. Stream of consciousness combined with amazing epiphanies, I guess?

Lately I have been looking at my life, how I am approaching things and just simply wanting to redefine what it is to be me.  To actually pursue the things I have been wanting to in my head and holding back on for various reasons.

Realization #1I have a hard time putting me first. I worry about other people far more than I do myself and will put their needs above mine without much thought. But I’ve figured out why – it makes me insanely happy to see and make others happy. If that requires a little self sacrifice I am ok with that — but I need to learn when to say no. And I’m a total yes person.

Realization #2I need to get out of my head to get into my head. Fear is a tricky beast. Currently it seems to be blocking all the lovely creative ideas that should be flowing out – and more importantly the questions I keep trying to answer. All these ideas or things I would like to do are there, hanging on a precipice just waiting to be plucked up.  I have to uncover the right way to find them… and something tells me it will be more in the doing than in a grand discovery.

Realization #3The word “health” is not negative. For most of my early life there was always something medically going on with me.. nothing chronic or damaging but once I got to a place in my life where things were good I began to want to avoid the medical profession. I know being healthy doesn’t mean a particular weight or dress size, but it does mean that there is a definitive need to own what you put into your life (food, exercise, etc) and if I want to get to a better spot with PCOS and my self image I am going to have to really reevaluate what health means to me.

With those realizations, I think I’m gonna take the opportunity to make this blog into something about those exact things. If I could put them into three categories I think it would be something along the lines of:

  • Discovering the (buried) designer in me
  • Taking charge of my health
  • Doing little things for me

 

So we will see how this goes – this deep dive into myself to uncover and release what is and should be present… and what is and should not be present.

I’m kinda proud of myself for having this pop up organically before the High Holy Days… normally this deep introspection would have been forced upon myself by myself. Here’s to a step in the right direction.