Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Floodgate Has Opened!



I recently finished Glennon Doyle Melton's book, Love Warrior. There was a part in there where she was talking about her Blog, Momastery and she said something to the effect of "this is MY place, MY blank canvas..."  It awakened something within me. 

I started this Blog in 2011 and for a long time it felt like my safe place to purge, laugh, share and be ME. And then something changed. I didn't want to share anymore. I felt raw and exposed. I worried about who was reading my Blog and what they were saying. I mean I completely lost sight and forgot what this was all about. So thank you Glennon. Thank you for reminding me that this is MINE. This is where I come to speak MY truth and if people don't like it; then they shouldn't come here. 

The other thing Glennon reminded me of was the value in being honest always. Even when its not pretty or fun. I struggle with this one. I shut down when things get really tough and I'm working HARD to figure out why. I'm in a therapist's office every week with the goal of figuring this out and I'm GONNA do it. 

And now I have to give credit to the lovely comedian/actress, Tig Notaro. I am SO glad I watched her documentary Tig on Netflix. I think about it every single day and it reminds me to keep my sense of humor. Tig had an unbelievable year from hell. First there was a C-Diff infection that almost killed her, followed immediately by her mother's random, abrupt, completely unexpected death and then she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Just like that. 3 in a row. No breaks. But the reason Tig's story is so amazing is because she was able to make light of it. She got on stage and told her story with that amazing dry sense of humor and people laughed. So thank you Tig for reminding me to laugh.

And now I'm gonna purge. Get ready. Floodgates are opening. It's gonna be brutal honesty minus Glennon's wisdom and minus Tig's sense of humor. Not there yet...

A year and a half ago we were living in a little town outside of Atlanta. We built our first house there. We had great neighbors and friends. My husband LOVED his job. My kids loved their schools and their friends. I was happy too. I finally opened up my own little shop downtown where I could do my Esthetics. I was Blogging; I even went to the BlogHer convention in NYC. And I was only a 3 hour drive away from my mom who I saw all the time. It was a happy life. Then one day my husband was put in a position where he had to move to a different division of the company that he had been with for 23 years. This new division was based in Denver, CO. Moving wasn't new to us; in fact this would be our 8th move. But we had a long run in Georgia--5 years and it was hard to say goodbye. 

Mark flew out first and found a great house; made an offer. It was accepted. 8 days before moving, the Realtor called to say that we lost the house to a higher bidder. I immediately found a rental house just so we would have somewhere to go with our 3 children/2 dogs. But 4 days before moving, we lost the rental house. I stayed up that entire night emailing every rental property listed on Craigslist. In the morning I got a response. We had somewhere to go. (But I didn't believe it wouldn't fall through until I physically unlocked that front door myself.)

Kids started their new schools. Mark started his new job. The transition for the kids was a lot tougher than I expected. But we had moved before and they always adjusted okay. And after all--this is what we do. We support Mark's career and we follow him wherever the job goes. Every single day for the first 3 months that we were here my kids would ask me if we could move back to Georgia. Every  single  day. And it ripped my heart out every time. 5 months and 6 days after moving here; Mark was layed off.  He gave 23 years to this company. What was the purpose of uprooting our family and dragging us across the country just to lay him off 5 months later? They layed him off on November 6th. 1 month and 19 days before Christmas. Nice, huh? I panicked. Mark told me not to worry because he was given 6 months severance and he would be back to work at a new job loong before that! 

True to his word; Mark started looking for a new job immediately. But it wasn't easy and in the end he decided that he could NEVER work for Corporate America again. All sense of trust and loyalty were gone. My kids were already hurting; now my husband was hurting. I felt weak and helpless. Mark decided to stop looking for a job and start looking for a company to purchase. I was terrified. I didn't know if that was the right decision at all. I wondered if this was all a sign that we were supposed to just pack up and go back to Georgia. Everyone told me to relax, trust the process, trust him, stop worrying, let go, etc. I'm an anxious person on a normal day; there wasn't gonna be any relaxing?! Mark did his research and made an offer on a company. I felt hopeful. But then there were delays and banks and lawyers and additional fees, etc. And every time the closing date came up; it got pushed back. And pushed back. And pushed back. I started to believe that it would never happen. Our kids asked every day when we could get our own house like we had in Georgia. I told them not until daddy had this job. Everything was in limbo. I had gone back to working retail and my paychecks weren't much. Unlike Mark, I did not finish college. Never in my life have I regretted that more. I was so mad at myself. If I had just finished college and had a real career; I could support my family. I felt stupid and helpless every single day. 7 months and 19 days from the day he was layed off; Mark became the owner of his own company. His closing date was May 23rd. We had until June 1st to tell our landlord if we were renewing our lease.  We absolutely did NOT want to rent for another year and throw another $35,000 in the trash. NO WAY. Our kids were adamant however that we stay in the same neighborhood that they had grown accustomed to over the last year. It was their only request; it was their only stability. But there was nothing for sale--no inventory--not 1 single house listed in the neighborhood. We were back to 8 days again. 8 days to find a home. I think it was Divine Intervention because 4 days later a house went up for sale in the neighborhood. It didn't even matter what it looked like because it was the only one. And we got it. Yes we had to compete with 2 other buyers and yes we had to offer $10,000 over the asking price and yes I had to write the sellers a letter baring my soul. But we got it. They accepted our offer on May 28th. I gave Mark a card and all I wrote inside was, "I see the light." I knew that was the one thing he had been waiting to hear me say since we arrived in the state of Colorado.

We tell the kids that we have a house and they are ECSTATIC! We start the packing process immediately.  6 days later,  I have my regular yearly exam with the Gyno and she does an Ultrasound. A few evenings later I am cooking dinner and she calls. She tells me that I have a mass on my left ovary with solid matter that she is concerned about. Mark and I meet with her to discuss and the recommendation is a full hysterectomy on July 12th. We will not know until approximately three days after the surgery if the mass is benign. My head is spinning. So many things. How did I miss these symptoms? We lost Mark's mother to Ovarian Cancer in 2003. She was only 54 years old. And her ONLY symptoms for this silent killer were acid reflux (eating Rolaids like candy) and a bloated stomach. Wasn't it just yesterday that I made Mark stop on the way home from Denver at a gas station so I could buy a pack of Rolaids? In fact haven't I been eating them like candy for the past 4 months? And the weight gain. My stomach absolutely looked 3 months pregnant. Holy Shit! And aside from the possible Ovarian Cancer; I am having major surgery in the middle of our move. The recovery period is 6 weeks with no lifting and no stairs. I don't know how the hell we are going to do this. We don't have any family here. I don't like asking for help. I don't ask for help. But I HAVE TO ask for help. And so I do. And we are supported and loved all the way through. 

My pathology came back on July 18th and what I had was extensive adenomyosis which explained why my uterus was so expanded. I also had 4 fibroids and a benign cyst on my fallopian tube. The Doctor decided to leave my ovaries once she opened me up and realized it wasn't cancer. Still though, my post surgery symptoms were hormonal and tough! I had the sleeplessness and hot flashes. I was emotional and weepy, etc. I was told that the ovaries can go into shock after surgery. They shut down from the trauma but they usually wake back up after a few weeks. And so I prayed that they would!

We move into the house on July 28th with HELP!!! Pictures are hung on walls; the kids rooms are starting to look like their rooms again. I remember thinking I can paint walls and change carpet if I want to because it's OURS. And as each box got unpacked; I felt more and more settled. Peace. That's the word. I felt peace and I hadn't felt that in a long time. On the 18th day of living in our new home, I was up and making breakfast for the family. It was a Sunday morning. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the neighbors from the house behind us walking over with a basket of blueberry muffins. They came in and we told them to grab a seat and have a cup of coffee with us. Right that second my phone rang and it was my mom. I excused myself to the front porch to take her call. I remember standing there, leaning on the porch rail and noticing that it was SUCH a clear and beautiful day. I could see the mountains. I felt happy. And then I heard my moms words... "I have lung cancer. It has spread to my spine and my bones. It is incurable and inoperable. I'm sorry Annie; I know this is not what you want to hear...."

On October 14th, I go in for my yearly Mammogram. A week later they call to tell me that they have some concerns and that I need to come back in for more images. I go in on October 27th and I have those additional images plus a Sonogram that lasts an hour and 15 minutes. My left breast (the problem child) is black and blue by the time I get home. We are there for 3 hours and at the end of the appointment we still know nothing. I am told to come back for a Biopsy the following Wednesday. I am tired. I am angry. I am sore. And I am shutting down--I can feel it. It's getting to be too much.

On October 31st (Halloween) I wake up with something VERY familiar and alarming. Its the exact same debilitating cramps I was having pre-hysterectomy. The only way to describe it is labor. It's just like labor pains. I know from experience that I have to get 800mg of Ibuprofen in me ASAP and then lay on the floor with my feet elevated. This pain is so intense that you can't be silent. You just can't. So the next thing I know; I have 3 kids standing over me saying "What's wrong Mama?" And I just want to scream and cry and pull my hair out because HOW is this even possible? I have no uterus. I have no cervix. I have no tubes. Are these phantom cramps? Is this like when a soldier loses a limb? My kids know I have to wait 20 minutes for the meds to kick in before I can even stand up so everyone is late for school that day. As soon as I drop them off; I call my Gynecologist. She listens for a long time and then she says, "Ya--that really sounds like Kidney Stones to me. You should come in for an Ultrasound but I can't see you until Nov 7th."  It's Halloween and it's all about my kids and so I just have to suck it up. I don't want to suck it up. I want to lay down and cry but that's just gonna have to wait...

The following Wednesday, Nov 2nd I have the Biopsy. They take 7 samples. That's 7 needles in and 7 rips of tissue. Then they insert a titanium post the size of an eyelash which will apparently live in my breast until the day I die. After that I get stitched up and go down the hall for more images. YAY-3 Mammograms in 2 weeks!!! I am told I will have Biopsy results on Friday, Nov 4th. I do not get those results on Friday which means that I will stress out until Monday. It is what it is and I'm getting used to this crap. That night, Will has a friend over to hang out and have dinner with us. Mark is bringing dinner home and I am looking forward to just relaxing, watching a movie and NOT thinking about anything. At 5:00 Mark calls to tell me that I will have to make other arrangements for dinner. I assume he is working late? Nope. He thinks he is having a heart attack--for real. He was on his way home but now he is headed to the closest ER. (Let me just point out quickly that my husband doesn't "do" stuff like that. It has to be really really bad for him to go see the Doc. )
I hang up the phone and I just sit there alone in the dark dining room. The kids are outside. I AM shutting down. It's officially too much. But what the hell am I gonna do? I can't change ANY of it. I have no control. And I am completely alone. And its by choice. I cannot possibly call one more friend with more bad news. I can't. I cannot hear one more person say, "I'm so worried about you; I'm praying for you guys."   ENOUGH. We've officially reached our quota!!! No more leaning. So...I wipe my tears and get my shit together because my kids are NOT going to know that their father whom they ADORE is in the Emergency Room. So I lie. Daddy is working late. I need to throw something together for dinner. What am I gonna do if something happens to him? I can't do "this" without him. I can't do life without him. No way! If he goes; I'm going with him! 

They finally send him home around 10:30pm. He's exhausted. The EKG was good. The bloodwork was good. But his blood pressure is high and he needs to go on meds. He tells me, "It was a spike in Blood Pressure; that's all babe." And I think to myself, "No dear; it was a full blown panic attack--your first."  And ofcourse it was because you can't catch a damn break!!! It was the layoff and then buying a business, buying a house, your wife's Ovarian Cancer scare, your mother in law who you LOVE dying from cancer; waiting on my biopsy results for breast cancer, worrying about our kids being happy, worrying about your own father's health, and lets not forget those kidney stones. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.....the guy needs a break!!!

My Doctor called this morning--a Sunday morning. Rare? She was out of town on Friday and knew I was waiting to get those Biopsy results on Monday. I guess she had a little empathy and decided to let me know 1 day early that my Biopsy results were Benign. They will do another Mammo in 6 months to recheck that area and make sure that they cut it all out. I was SO excited to deliver this news to my husband. One thing. I took one thing off his plate.

So on to tomorrow...kidney stones? We'll see. This is our life right now folks. I don't know if its always gonna be this way; I don't know. What I DO know is that I'm not gonna be quiet about it anymore. I'm not gonna feel stupid or ashamed. I'm not gonna worry about what people think. I'm not gonna feel like a freak. I'm not gonna be embarrassed because I have NOTHING to be embarrassed about. I'm not gonna feel like there's a curse over our family. And mostly--I am NOT gonna take on the "dramatic" label that has been thrown my way my entire life. You could be the most dramatic person on the planet and you still wouldn't be able to bring on half this shit. And shit happens!!! Sometimes a LOT of things happen at one time. Sometimes a lot of things happen in the course of 1 year. Just ask Tig Notaro. I keep thinking about a bit from her routine where she's talking about that crazy year and the final straw when she's diagnosed with breast cancer. She says, "You know how they say that God only gives you what you can handle? Well I keep picturing him looking down at me and saying 'and now breast cancer' and the Angels standing around him start yelling "Stop it! What are you doing? What could you possibly be thinking?" LOL. That thought makes me laugh every single day. Thanks Tig! And thanks to everyone who hung in with me til the bitter end of this post. 

Talk Soon.
A

6 comments:

  1. Holy Heck, Friend! This is so much!!! I am so very, very sorry you are all dealing with so much. Please know that I care.

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    1. Thank you sweet friend. It's okay. It's all gonna be okay. YOU know that. I just have to talk about it. You are so much better about that than me. I could learn a thing or two from you and Glennon. That's for sure! xoxo

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  2. This is a lot. So sorry!!! Sending love your way!!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Thank you Sis. Feeling the love you're sending! xo

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  3. I could think of dozens of quotes (my go-to when things are bleak) about courage, strength, and overcoming fear. But you don't need pretty words because you already have been brave, strong, and fought back fear! Keep up the good fight, Sister, and keep telling your truth! XO

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    1. I love you. Thank you for your constant support! xo

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