Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wig Shopping

Last Friday, I shaved my head.

It wasn't nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. After my breakdowns earlier in the week, my hair continued to fall out in force, and by Friday I was so ready for it to just be gone. I kept reading all these articles on how to preserve your hair as long as possible, but honestly, the effort to not use heat, and to limit the washings, and not brushing it, wasn't going to prolong the inevitable to make it worth all the effort. So I did just the opposite. I bleached it blonde, I brushed it constantly, and by Thursday, when the 3 million out of the 5 million strands of hair (I read that was the average amount of hair on a human head) were falling out in droves, I just went for it and started pulling. Mostly because I had gelled my hair back, and hated it the whole day. So when I got home, I started brushing it out. Then I started pulling it out. And I couldn't stop.

Guys, it was so hideous that I only sent a picture to a few people. Think Gollum. Or the Grand High Witch. It cannot be posted here, or anywhere. I have threatened people with their lives if the picture were to leak.

So, by Friday, I was ready. My friend Ali came over and shaved it, and while the cool breeze on my bald head felt rather nice, I couldn't stand to look in the mirror. I avoided the mirrors for several hours. A part of me didn't want to have another breakdown, especially in front of people, and a part of me just wasn't ready. Ali said that I had a nice shaped head, and both she and Matti said I was rocking it pretty well. But I waited until everyone was gone, and then took off the extensions that Ali had made for me to wear under a hat (seriously, she's the best!) and stood and looked in the mirror. Honestly, it's not that bad.

Honestly, I'm surprised at how easy it was to see my naked scalp. I guess I got it out of my system. Because the last three days, I've been totally fine. I rub my fuzzy head and showers are shorter (sort of) and it's just so low maintenance. And I still have eyelashes and eyebrows that I can play up and still look feminine and pretty, and kind of badass. I sort of like it.

But I like my wig more. Except when it gets itchy, which it does, by the end of the day.

Wig shopping was an adventure. The list we were going off of came in the official Cancer Binder, and it was terribly out of date and not very helpful. There were addresses that were wrong, and while some of the shops were wig shops, others were hair restoration places that required appointments. We went into one such place, and the snooty office manager, Marcus, was absolutely unhelpful. We finally had success at Jean Paree. I tried on a few wigs, and I the one I picked was the one that made me feel the most normal after a month of worrying about my hair, and cutting it short, and then having it fall out, I found a wig that felt like the hair that I had been wearing for the past two years--if just a little blonder--and naturally, it was the most expensive. So I knew it was meant to be.


The FTC stood by and looked like two proud gay moms. Kati was snapping pictures and both were extremely supportive.

I know I say this all the time, but I really do no know how I would be surviving all of this without my incredible friends and family.

Since getting the wig, I have worn it every day. And I like it. Except when it itches. The weather is cooler, so I haven't been too hot, which is good. And I can wear the wig while my hair is still trying to grow out. I feel like this was a really good solution for me.

Now all I have to fear is the loss of my brows and lashes. Ugh.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chemo: Week #2 -- Thoughts on Hope and Hair

Today marks two weeks from my chemo treatment, and starts the countdown for the next one. I was feeling really, really great this past week--I wasn't sick, I wasn't more tired than usual, I didn't have any weird "chemo brain" incidents--everything was going really well until I got up and took a shower yesterday.

I lost a gob of hair in the shower. I'm used to having my fingers filled with hair when I wash it, but that was when I had long, flowy locks and plenty of hair to spare. Now, I've been reminded that my days are numbered. Every strand is a painful reality check of what is to come. I am not ready. I wasn't prepared. They told me that the hair loss started at the second treatment, and I still have a week left! I needed that full week. Needed it.

I had a small breakdown in the shower. I'm having a small breakdown now.

I took a picture of the hair that I lost in just my comb yesterday.


The problem, of course, is more than just losing your hair. Sure, you lose your hair and you're bald, and you're reassured that the hair will grow back. Losing my hair, while traumatic, is not the worst part of the process (I don't think...). I think growing it back, and the many awkward phases you have to go through before you have a normal amount of hair back on your head is going to be much worse.

Another blow to my psyche? The fact that I turn 29 next week on top of it all. Everything that I've looked at, every blog that I've read, every photo I have seen shows a full 13-18 months of regrowth before you have a normal head of hair. By my calculations, that puts me well past my 30th birthday before I can even fathom feeling normal again.

This slays me.

The idea of even going on a date with someone at this point fills me with anxiety because I don't trust myself not to tell said dude that, "Oh, by the way, I'll likely be bald in a week," or to play the cancer card. I have every intention of going on a dating hiatus during this whole process because well, to be honest, my already limited amount of date requests are going to decrease when I'm walking around looking like a cancer patient.

These are the hard realities of life. And of the dating world.

I had a the sharp realization that there is absolutely and definitely no chance--zero, zilch, nada--that I will be married before the time I'm 30. Which in the grand scheme of things, is probably just fine. But in my mind, frankly, it's utterly catastrophic. I mean, to be honest, lowering my chances from maybe 5% to 0% isn't that big of a difference. The 5% being if I were in full health and had my coveted mermaid hair, I might meet someone and fall and love and commit to said person and determine to marry. But there was still a chance. There was still hope.

President Uchtdorf said, "Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Its absence--when this desire of our heart is delayed--can make "the heart sick". And that's sort of where I'm at. I'm feeling heartsick. 

I'm looking at the calendar and realizing that I have months of crap, months of recovery, and months of feeling like garbage ahead of me. And my normal, optimistic self is cowering in a corner and not doing much to help me forge ahead--except reminding me, that at least, I feel fine for the moment. At least I am not sick. 


I read others' blogs, and have oftentimes read someone saying that losing their hair was a hard, but overall do-able thing, because it was a result of a drug that saved their life. I, on the other hand, am beginning to wonder if going through all of this is even worth it. Perhaps I should take my chances, and transfer my hopes of not losing my hair and my own romantic journey to hoping that there are no cancer cells in my body and that the tumor won't come back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chemo: Week #1

I have approximately 18 weeks of chemo to go through, and I've just managed to make it through my first week so now I'm down to 17.

Seventeen weeks doesn't seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things. But then, throughout the 17 weeks, I will celebrate a Thanksgiving, a birthday, Christmas, the New Year. There's a lot that will happen at work. And at church. My reign as president of my institute class will end. (Let's be honest, I'm not doing much with that anyway.)

Seventeen weeks isn't that long of a time, and yet, there is a lot that will happen in the meantime. Things that I'm still living in denial about. Like losing my hair. I keep reminding myself that it is going to happen. I cut off all of my hair in order to "better prepare myself". And yet, there's still a part of me that is hoping that it isn't going to happen. Why? Why am I hoping for the impossible? For the miracle?

I guess I sort of can't help it.

Since last Monday, when I cut off all my hair, I have hated looking in the mirror. I'm sorry. I know that the cut is cute. And I really love the blonde (the pink has already faded and I haven't put more in yet), but I hate it. I hate that I had to do it. I hate what it represents. And I don't feel pretty. I kept my hair short for years, but the last two years, I have really come to love my longer tresses. Now they're gone.

I spent the first few days looking through Instagram for the hashtag #chemohair, and other such things, only to discover that it's going to take eighteen weeks just to have a small covering of hair on my head again.

I felt really good after my treatment and most the day on Tuesday until about 3:00 p.m., when WHAM! my coworker found me crying in my cubicle because I felt so sick. It's not awkward at all to have tears running down your cheeks trying to talk about the design of a brochure. At all. Poor Travis. . .

Wednesday, I stayed home from work because I felt too sick to move, and mostly just slept. However, I discovered that one of the reasons I felt so sick was because I did not have the Dex (one of my anti-nausea pills) in my system like it was meant to! As soon as I started taking my Dex, I felt a lot better. I also have Zofran and Compazine in my arsenal of anti-nausea pills, but they come with their own side effects and so, while I tried to maintain a schedule of taking them for a few days, I found that luckily, I haven't needed them all that often.

Once I got through Wednesday--with the help of my grandma and my dear friend, Marco--I felt well enough to be back at work and went Thursday. Friday I spent the day in the hospital getting my iron infusion with Bethie by my side. It was a long day, made longer by the fact that I was confined to the darn floor once again.

Friday I had a little bout of "chemo brain", where I went upstairs for something and Matti found me sleeping on the couch a little dazed and confused. Of course, that could just be that I'm a total wonk and have less to do with the drugs. Hard to say.

I spent the weekend in the San Francisco Bay area with the FTC, and it was a wonderful trip all things considered. There were a few times where I felt a little sick, or a little tired--or a lot tired--but luckily I went with accommodating friends who were willing to point out when I looked exhausted and never pushed me to do anything. I didn't have to take my pills but a few times. I didn't have to wear my mask (I have an impeccable immune system, and I worry as the treatments continue how that is going to go...). There was one night where I felt absolutely wretched, but that was more to do with the side effects of the pills than the actual chemo, coupled with being too hot, and maybe just a little dehydrated.  Overall, it was just a really great trip with two really great friends and very little to do with the cancer.

Today, I'm back to work and feeling nothing but the sweet exhaustion of having gone to bed too late the night before. I'm ready to finish this week and get through week two, so we can get on to week three and so forth. My next chemo treatment is scheduled for the 24th of November, following the surgical placement of a port, which I decided to go ahead and get in an effort to preserve my veins and my sanity in the coming months.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Chemo #1

Today was my first day of chemotherapy.

I was really worried that I was going to be nervous--too nervous to get a good night's sleep or function--and was pleasantly surprised that I slept fine (going to bed at 2:00 a.m. will aid in that) and woke up feeling the same calm and detachment that I've felt throughout this continued ordeal. For the record, there's only place that the calm comes from and that is from Heavenly Father. I would be a wreck otherwise, and somehow, I have felt nothing but fine this whole time. I mean, there are moments, don't get me wrong, but a part of me feels like this is all part of a bigger purpose or is not without meaning, and I'll survive. And I don't just mean that I'll live. Dying of Stage 1C/II Granulosa cell carcinoma was never going to be my cards. But I'll survive the treatments, the nausea, the going bald. I'll survive as I have to regrow my hair (oh, my friends, I have great plans for this...) and the other physical changes. I will survive the fatigue. And that knowledge does not come from my optimistic attitude. It comes from my faith and my knowledge that I know who provides peace and comfort, my Father in Heaven.

It was a long day, but not nearly as bad as I imagined. Meghan picked me up from home and drove me to Huntsman, where they checked me in, we ran and got breakfast in the cafeteria, and then we came down and started the preliminary infusions. I tried to get the port in my right hand, but I guess my right arm is pretty worthless when it comes to veins. It made it difficult each time I went to the bathroom. Imagine trying to do something with your least dominant hand that you have been doing for some 27 years with your dominant hand. It's not easy. The prelim stuffs include anti-nausea and Benadryl to help control some of the side effects.

They did the Taxol first. This is the three hour infusion and the drug that makes you the most nauseous and the one that makes you lose your hair. Within seconds of it hitting my blood stream, I looked at Meghan and said, "What were the symptoms that I was supposed to report?" She asked me how I was feeling and I sat up and said, "Sick." I couldn't believe how fast it hit me. The nausea was first, but almost as immediate a vice had taken to my chest and I couldn't breathe and my shoulders and face felt as though someone were spraying me with a blow torch. Meghan said that my face turned bright red. The weird thing was, I wasn't really worried until I looked at Meghan's face, and she looked worried. She ran and got the doctors, and really, it had been thirty seconds since the onset, that they took the Taxol off, gave me more Benadryl, and started the whole process over on a lower dosage.

We were able to bump the dosage up once, but never to full strength because I was hovering on feeling sickish for a while. It added several hours to the whole day.

I got up and walked around a bit, but they had me trapped in the infusion room. So I couldn't go far. All I wanted was to be able to walk in a loop, but I was told not to leave the tiled area. Mostly I just sat and talked to Meghan.

Kati brought lunch for us, and the spicy Thai was just what I needed to curb the nausea that was lurking nearby. I really felt pretty great after that, and would have liked to visit the library or go outside. Anything to get out of that room.

We met a guy named Dove (pronounced like the verb, not the noun) who had gone through eight surgeries, and THOUSANDS of hours of chemo. He was the cancer celebrity of the unit, and told us some of the crazy stories that he had a hand in. Things like Chemo Cupid, and hiring a male stripper for one of the patient's birthdays. He was a ray of sunshine, and given his prognosis--terminal--it was a really good reality check. I am blessed, and really don't have much to complain about.

Everyone was really nice. Other patients were giving me encouragement and all of them said that after their first treatment, it wasn't so bad. And I have to say, that I really do feel very good. Not at all like my body has been pumped full of poisons that are killing my cells.

When I left the hospital after eight hours of infusions, I got a call from the doctor saying that I am anemic and I need an iron supplement infusion. That's another four hour treatment to take place sometime this week or next.

I also had a hair appointment last night. I have been reading different blogs and boards, and everyone says that it is recommended that you cut your hair. That way, it's easier to make it look puffier and healthier by giving it more volume as it starts to thin; and, it tends to be less traumatic when you finally lose your hair. So I did it. I chopped it all off, as short as I could go without shaving my neck. And I put pink in it. It's fun and sassy. And I'm devastated that I was so close to my "mermaid hair" goal (I wanted my hair long enough that it would cover my boobs) and had to cut it off. I may never get to that point. Everything I look at shows a full eighteen months of regrowth before you have a decent bob--a bob! That means my 30th birthday. . .oh gosh. Let's not think about it. My stylist did have me save my pony tail so that I could maybe use it later as extensions. That might help. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there. Just like everything else.

This is going to have to be a day at a time things. I feel fine now, but I have no idea what is in store for me in the next few days as the drugs continue to course through my body. I am to start taking more anti-nausea pills tomorrow, and that's suggesting that tomorrow may be rougher than today. Again, I just have to wait and see.

So one treatment of the six is done and done. It's probably too much to ask that they all go so smoothly.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dear Prudie--How do I begin?

Hi. It's me. This time I'm not being hacked.

Have any of you read the "Dear Prudie" columns? Or any advice columns? I wrote to one once, and never saw an answer to my question, so I feel like it would be a waste of time to do it again. If I did send in a question, it would read something like this:

Dear [Insert Advice Guru Here],

The past week has been an overwhelming roller coaster of emotions. I have cried nearly everyday, sometimes out of fear and anxiety, but mostly, because I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and have a heart that is full to bursting as friends, family, strangers, and others have rallied around me in a time of need.

Not with just kind words, notes and messages, and prayers--though, there have certainly been those--but with people who understand me and understand my need to be able to find the humor in this situation and find a way to laugh about the things that really suck. Monday was quite possibly the lowest day of my life, and if not my life, it was certainly the lowest I have felt since I discovered pesky Abner, the tumor, in June. I could not find a single thing to laugh about, and yet, a phone call to my mom (and a cry fest in my car) followed by dinner at Meghan's where she and Jared were able to talk me through some things, find something to laugh about, and turned my mind away from it all had me feeling a little more stabilized.

Tuesday was completely different. A particular coworker changed my mood entirely in what, I think, others might have found to be insensitive or inappropriate, and yet, it was the exact thing I needed to feel better about the coming weeks. I also received a most beautiful bouquet of flowers (seriously, stunning).

And then there was the fundraiser.

I saw a few comments on Facebook where people were wondering if I had any idea of what was going on, if I knew about the fundraiser.

The thing is, I did. But I couldn't quite formulate a message to put out there. It would be foolish for me to demand it be shut down simply out of pride; and it would feel too avaricious for me to encourage it or advertise it on my own in any way. But I've been watching as people contributed to the fund, shared the link to their friends (often accompanied with really sweet messages that also made me cry). Seriously, overwhelming is a gross understatement. 

There have been contributions from my family--biological and otherwise; from high school classmates that I haven't spoken to since we graduated; from friends, but also from their family members; and coworkers both past and present; and total strangers; and a myriad of anonymous donors.

My question is this: How do I begin to express my gratitude? 

I guess I start with this post. Thank you. A million times. If you sent me a card, wrote me a message, or said a prayer, thank you. And if you did donate to the fund, please know, that you are the answer to not only my prayers, but to those being offered in my behalf. Out of all the things (aside from the chemo, which has recently taken the #1 spot), how to finance this has been my number one anxiety. The fundraiser will help ease that burden. Things will always be tight, but the bills will not devastate me as they would have done.

I love you all. I love your willingness to help and to see me through this. And I love your willingness to laugh with me.

I hope you all will still love me when I don't have hair...or eyebrows.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

-S-


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wherein I take over Shelli’s blog and Shelli learns she should not use the same password for everything

If you’ve been following Shelli’s Facebook feed, you’ll notice that I’ve been posting “on her behalf” (aka, I hacked her page and then wrote whatever I wanted).  I’ve now done the same to her blog—she should really learn that using the same password for all her accounts isn’t a good idea. BUT, it is good news for me because now I can use her blog to tell you a little story.

I met Shelli about six years ago. I worked at a local software company as a writer and it was her first day as the marketing coordinator. Our boss set her in the cubicle next to mine and I remember going over to make the obligatory small talk. I told her that if she needed me to show her around to let me know—little thinking that she would actually take me up on my offer.

A few hours later she popped in and said, “Ok, I’m ready for my tour.” I am notoriously unfriendly, so I was horrified that I would have to spend time with another human being. But Shelli approached our friendship the same way she approaches everything else: with enthusiasm and courage. Six years later we’re still friends—almost all of which I attribute to her incredible tenacity.

Here’s the thing: I know these qualities will keep her going during her chemo treatments. But no amount of enthusiasm, courage, or tenacity will help her pay the mountain of bills she’s already starting to incur.

The AVERAGE cost of one chemotherapy treatment is now approximately $10,000. She will need six. And that’s ON TOP of the doctors visits, CT scans, blood work, and surgery. Yes, she has insurance, but as we all know, that only covers so much.

So I’m asking again—please donate. Shelli shouldn’t have to worry about paying her bills when she should be focusing on getting well again. And she really shouldn’t have to put her life on hold once she does get well to pay off her treatments.


If you have any questions or have any ideas on how to raise additional funds, please contact me at meghan.potts@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Update -- Chemotherapy

I had my chemotherapy consult appointment today.

It was . . . overwhelming.

I made the choice to post my adventures in cancer on my blog and post updates on Facebook in an effort to hedge off questions and make it seem as though this were an ordinary, everyday kind of thing. But after today's appointment, it hit me that this is actually happening. And as grateful as I am that we are moving forward with the chemo--I want to make sure all the cancer cells are gone, so the likelihood of it returning is too--it's all a little terrifying.

The thing is, I still don't have a cancer that I'm going to die from. Not this year, nor in any future years. My cancer could come back, but that could be 20 or 30 years from now. Or, hopefully, it just won't. I'm not really "fighting a battle" against cancer. The battle is over, the chemo is just taking prisoners. But dying of cancer is not really the scary part. Living through the treatments is.

I start chemo on Monday. Treatments will last through February. And yes, I'm going to lose my hair. (Apparently that part is not negotiable.) And yes, it is probably going to suck. It's an excellent time of year, though, for chemotherapy. Navigating flu season with a lowered immune system sounds like just the sort of thrill I've been seeking. I'll also get to wear festive hats (actually, dying of cancer doesn't sound that bad) and scarves through all the best holidays, since starting on Monday means that I'm going through Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day before finally being done.

I don't want to do it.

Today my stoicism broke and I'm having a hard time piecing it together. Maybe tomorrow will be better. If not, ask me again when my hair is back, at least, to the length of my collarbones. . .. I can't handle people being nice to me about it. Seriously. Stop it. Half of the tears shed today were from generous offers and well wishes. I am overwhelmed as it is.

In the meantime, if you find a giveaway and want to borrow my cancer as an excellent reason to win, as long as you promise I get to go too, then by all means. Let's milk this cancer for all it's worth!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Stage 1C

Two and a half weeks ago I had surgery to remove my ovary and tube and Abner, the tumor. At least, that's what I thought they were removing. I mean, they did remove those things. The left ovary, rather than the right, which is weird. And Abner is no more. Flash frozen and sliced, he's been run through a myriad of pathology tests and is now destroyed.

Side note: This is sort of sad, as Abner, the tumor, in a jar (with googly eyes) was destined for a life of adventure if only they had given him to me in a jar.


It turns out that Abner was not just any old tumor, but a granulosa cell tumor. All my research of this type of tumor proves that it is pretty rare, and even more so in a person my age. The tumor is a hormone (usually estrogen) producing tumor, that built up around my ovary, and as a little present, spread to my small intestine. They discovered that during the surgery, and were able to remove all presence of Abner, the ovary, and the tissue of the small intestine, before they closed me up.

From the research, it looks like all granulosa tumors are classified as cancer. This seemed at odds at what we had been told: that it was benign, and so I was pretty confused. However, when I went into my follow up appointment today, I was told that in fact, I am stage 1C. Meaning, stage one, ovarian cancer*.

Lucky for me, all the hard work has been done. The surgery removed all the cancerous cells from my body. The likelihood of it coming back seems to be low enough that the doctor doesn't think I'll have to do chemo, though, he will be presenting my case to a tumor board on Monday, and I'll hear back following that meeting to know how they recommend I be treated. (His nurse believes that the chemotherapist will recommend it.)

The chemo that I would be put through is not the type of chemotherapy you see on the movies where people are puking and hating their lives worse than they are hating the cancer. It's the "good chemo", and so, again, I say, I have been through the worst of it.

Which is why as everyone who so kindly comments for me to "stay positive" and that they are sending thoughts and prayers my way, I wonder if the Cancer Club of people who have really been through the ringer: the ones that have been fighting aggressive cancers for years with the "bad chemo" and surgeries and losing their hair, their strength, their money; the ones that have been through so, so much heartache and pain and misery . . . you know, those guys, are going to show up and say, "Stage 1? STAGE 1?! That's nothing! That's hardly cancer!" I would agree with them. And cower in my boots, and prostrate myself for their forgiveness for every time I intend to use the cancer card (like, such as skipping out on work today... #sorrynotsorry).

It's just a touch of cancer. And it's mostly gone. Chemo or not, I'm fine. The prognosis is about the same as every other healthy person who has to leave their house. So fear not, little ones. I'm still not worried, or nervous and you shouldn't be either. I'm not down in spirits and I don't need too much encouragement to continue being my regular old self. (Everyone likes a bit of flattery now and then, so please, continue to call me beautiful and witty and "a real catch" and all of that, but don't worry about needing to reassure me that I'm strong and I'll beat it--in my eyes, it's been beat already!--Abner, the tumor-foe is no more!)

*I had to Google a little further, and found the following:
Following is a description of the various stages of ovarian cancer:
Stage I - Growth of the cancer is limited to the ovary or ovaries.
Stage IA - Growth is limited to one ovary and the tumor is confined to the inside of the ovary. There is no cancer on the outer surface of the ovary. There are no ascites present containing malignant cells. The capsule is intact.
Stage IB - Growth is limited to both ovaries without any tumor on their outer surfaces. There are no ascites present containing malignant cells. The capsule is intact.
Stage IC - The tumor is classified as either Stage IA or IB and one or more of the following are present: (1) tumor is present on the outer surface of one or both ovaries; (2) the capsule has ruptured; and (3) there are ascites containing malignant cells or with positive peritoneal washings.
http://www.ovarian.org/types_and_stages.php

The Surgery

Ah, life. It never quite settles down like you think it's going to.

Two and a half weeks ago, I picked my parents up from the airport--a real treat to have them all to myself for the first time since I was 13 months old and blessed with a baby sister--and prepared myself for surgery. Huzzah! The thought of getting the overly large, fairly disgusting Abner, the tumor, out of my body was positive enough that I wasn't overly concerned or nervous. I had every confidence in my doctor, and the ideology that once Abner was gone, I could move on.

For the record, surgery totally sucks. My dreams of one day getting an internal bra are currently on hold, as I'm not certain that I will ever be able to reconcile myself to elective surgery.

Funny story: We had to be at the hospital ungodly early--6 a.m.!--and so as we were hustling out the door, and I was grabbing things I thought I would need in the hospital for my one night stay, I misplaced my phone. I knew I had several people to update, but could not find it anywhere and didn't have time to lose. We got to the parking garage at 6 a.m., and by 6:15 a.m., I was in the prep room changing into my beautiful gown and hairnet, and wondering what to do with my glasses, when my mom stands up and finds my phone in her back pocket!! I had slipped it in there before going downstairs to get something at home. You might have had to be at the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to find it funny, but truly, I thought it was hilarious.

All the TV shows and movies always show people counting backwards from 100 or being told to think of a happy place before they go in for surgery. But that's not true. The residents came in and made sure I knew what was going to happen, the anesthesiologist came in and explained what his role was going to be. We discussed that everything was going to go well, and only the worst scenario would involve an epidural and complete hysterectomy, and then I was wheeled out the door and promptly forget everything until I was in the recovery room.

Coming out of anesthesia is weird and not very fun. I could overhear the nurses saying something about my left ovary being removed, but had no way to ask, "Um--what the heck??!" since it was supposed to be my right ovary. By the time I got my eyes opened, I tried to focus on the clock to see how long I had been out, hoping that would indicate whether or not I had needed the epidural or not. But the clock was spinning on an axis, the same as though I were on a very fast Ferris wheel. I couldn't get my eyes focused, and for some reason, that made me cry. Actually, I was just leaky and weepy anyway. Not in pain, not uncomfortable...just confused and crying.

A nurse was near me, keeping a close eye and I managed to ask a few questions, "Was there an epidural?" "Are my parents OK?" and "Why the left ovary?" There wasn't an epidural, the surgery had gone well and there was just a surprise with which ovary had been enlarged and needed to be taken out, but everything was good. And my parents were OK. She noticed my tears and told me that it was normal for me to cry--that often happens with female patients coming out of anesthesia. She told me something that men were prone to do, but for the life of me, I can't remember.

At some point, I was taken to my room. I vaguely remember going into the elevator. My parents were there waiting for me, where I said--still crying--that they took the wrong ovary. I could hear the worry in my mom's voice as she was like, "WHAT?" but didn't have the control left to explain that it was intentional and that it was OK. I fell asleep after that, I think.

You can imagine that having a six inch incision is not a fun time, and it isn't. Especially if some of the meds make you nauseous and throw up. And if you cough. Or laugh. Or move. The first pair of nurses on shift had me control my pain meds as I felt I needed them, which was sort of a crappy move on their part, as there were then lulls in which I was hurting pretty bad. At one point, I was in so much pain and they had come in to give me meds, but they asked me what the scale of pain I was in. I asked them to clarify and they told me to classify it from 1-10. The problem with that is, what classifies as a 1? What's a 10? (Look up Brian Reegan's sketch on the ER, and you'll understand.) I didn't feel like I was dying, I hadn't given birth, or had a leg severed off. I imagined those were the tens. So I said a five. I'm certain they thought I was the biggest whiner. Then they asked what my tolerance level was and I just said, "Not this!" It was agony! And really, that was the worst of it. Except when I puked a few more times. That was pretty awful too, but once I figured out it was the IB Profin that made me sick, I stopped taking it and was fine.

My parents stayed with me during the day, and then left at night. My mom thought I was being a huge baby and told my sister who told me. Rude. I loved when Thelma, the best nurse, came on shift, because she knew how to control my pain and when she was in charge, I never lagged for meds and was kept nice and comfy.

They had me up and out of bed and walking around the next morning. It hurt so much to get in and out of the bed, but, it didn't take too long before I was up and walking circles around the hospital floor. Sometimes with my mom and dad, and sometimes by myself while they stopped at home and got some food. The TV didn't work, but whenever I took pain pills, I was passed out for a few hours at a time, and so that was easy for me to avoid.

I had a lot of visitors, which was pleasant and some were unexpected. It was a perfect way to pass the time between hazy pain pill naps. A couple walked around and passed the sacrament to LDS patients on Sunday and I went to their sacrament meeting in my hospital gown and blanket with no bra on. It was a half hour. And simply the best. Maybe we should revisit the whole three hour thing? They had two talks and the sacrament in half an hour with a "come as you are" attitude. Utterly brilliant.

After that, I was discharged from the hospital. Which my parents were very happy about. They were practically chomping at the bit to get out of there and be somewhere where they could get some work done, instead of watching me lie around in pain. I made it home, and really, just took a pain pill, slept, walked, slept, took a pain pill, then slept for about two days. Then I was sleeping a little less, and watching more TV, and occasionally walking. And mostly watching my parents blow through a to do list like crazy.

I was still coughing while at home, which was pretty awful. And we watched comedians and Miranda, which made me laugh so hard I cried, and then I cried just because it hurt to laugh. Oi.

By the time my dad left, almost a full week later, I was feeling much more the thing. So my mom and I were able to accomplish a lot the whole second week I was in recovery. Including, taking lots of naps and watching all the pilot shows that came on TV.

Really, I think that is the key to recovery: TV and sleep. And more sleep. And, surprisingly, getting up and walking about.

It was so wonderful to have my parents here to help and get me through this. For as many offers as I had for people to take care of me, I don't think I could have comfortably relied on them as I was able to my parents. I am so SO grateful they were here. It almost makes me want to cry again! (Apparently I do that a lot.)

My mom left on Sunday, which sucked...but what can you do? I was fit and ready to go back to work, and so there was not much more I could do--no relapse I could truly threaten--and she had to get back to real life as I did. Siiiiiiiiiigh.

If anybody hears of a job my dad would be perfect for in Utah, please let me know immediately. I would like to have them closer to me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Unknown

I've been pretty calm about the whole surgery thing. That is, until today. Today I've been freaking out a little bit. Not of the surgery itself, really.

I'm not an anal planner and I can typically--as they say--go with the flow. But with surgery scheduled for Friday, and me having ZERO knowledge of what is going on or what to expect, I am in the middle of a meltdown.

My parents are flying standby. (Their choice. I've had offers for people to BUY tickets for them--did I mention that my friends are amazing, generous people?) With standby tickets you DON'T KNOW if and when you will arrive to your destination.

So come Friday morning, my parents may or may not be here for the surgery. But that's fine because I DON'T KNOW when my surgery is. Just that it is on Friday, some time in the morning. I also DON'T KNOW how I'm going to react to the anesthesia. Or how long I'm staying in the hospital. Or how long recovery will take, or how worthless I'm going to be while recovering. Or how I'm going to be affected by the surgery physically or emotionally.

I DON'T KNOW what I'm going to do with myself for two weeks while I'm off work. Or how much this is all going to cost me in the end. (Twenty percent of a most outrageous sum, most like. . .) I DON'T KNOW if there is still fluid in my lungs, though I suspect there is since my cough isn't gone; which means that I DON'T KNOW if that's important or not. Because shouldn't my lungs be in full working order before they put me under and do unmentionable things to my insides? I guess out of all the things, this will be answered tomorrow, since I'm headed back up to the doctor to have it all looked at again. Yippee.

I'm so clueless about all of it, and it is making me batty and moody and emotional. And, I don't like it all already. I didn't realize that I was so scared of the unknown. I mean, I have mini panic attacks every once awhile about the future and how things aren't going exactly as I thought they should. But those usually pass... Usually.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alumna Failure

In July, I moved from Salt Lake City to West Jordan. With the move came a ward change, naturally. Matti and I had the fellowship committee stop by our house . . . twice. In one night. It was fine, really, but anyone who knows me knows that I am not good at the small talk. Last night, I went in for a "get to know you" interview with one of the bishopric members. 

He was a pretty nice, but it was all small talk. He asked how many singles wards I had been in. I never thought to take the time to count--but I guess it's something like, nine? Ten if you count the home YSA ward, though, I wouldn't. Since I attended that ward more when I was 17 than when I was 18 and never actually had my records transferred there. Nine different wards in the ten years I've been in Utah. That's more than I would have thought, considering I lived in The Neighborhood ward for nearly three years. . .. 

Anyway, when I told him that I had gone to BYU, he was like, "Oh, really? You went to BYU and you didn't leave with a husband?"

"Nope. I didn't," I said in order to say something.

"Did you try?"

What?

What kind of question is that? And how am I supposed to answer? "Well, I stood on the corner with a billboard sign every night, but no one was really responsive." Not really knowing what to say, I felt the need to explain or defend myself, which afterward, I was kind of ticked about. Because there's absolutely no reason to feel ashamed about how my life has turned out thus far. 

"I did try--or I tried as best I could while working full time and going to school full time. And trying to find a chance to sleep somewhere in between." Honestly, my social life in college never really picked up steam until the final semesters when I lived at the Omni and actually had time to make a friend or two. My dating life has yet to pick up, but, there's only so much I can do about that.

So, just to be awkward, I told him, "Besides, gay guys love me. My friends' husbands tolerate me. But single guys? They don't seem to like me much."

He didn't know how to respond to that, so we talked about his son instead. . .. 

Over all, the ward doesn't seem a bad sort. Everyone seems friendly. The ward is run pretty efficiently--we already have visiting teaching assignments and home teachers and they are working on getting us callings. There are plenty of activities. He asked me if I attended activities often and I told him that I didn't know how to respond to that. If I said yes, they might put me on the activities committee because I like activities (I don't, really) and if I said no (the truth), then they might put me on the activities committee in order to try and force me to come to things. I did not see a winning answer. Luckily, he changed the subject. 

*          *          *          *

In other news, a lot of people have been asking for updates. I'm--still--a little torn about how much detail to put out on the web. But it is much more efficient to just tell everyone at once here than individually. 

I have no problems talking about the fact that Ab, the tumor, is on my right ovary. But as soon as I say "ovary" people feel like they have overstepped, or I worry that I'm over-sharing. I'm sure if I talked about Ab being on my right elbow, no one would bat an eye. Including me. (Although, let's be honest, a 10 cm, baseball-sized tumor on my elbow would be really gross.) Regardless of delicacy, Ab and said ovary are scheduled to come out on Friday, the 19th. That's a week from tomorrow. 

The waiting is what is killing me. 

Everything else is fine. I'm trying hard not to think about what it means to be one less ovary. Like, it probably doesn't matter, but it's still different than having your tonsils or gallbladder removed. I can function fine without one ovary. I can even--theoretically--still have as many babies as I want with one ovary. (But only if I can do it by myself, since my insurance doesn't cover "infertility" treatments.) Still, there is a sense of loss that I'm largely ignoring and not thinking about more than I have to. I'll deal with it all once it has finally happened. Maybe when they cut into me, they'll see that Ab wasn't as destructive to my ovary as they thought, and it can stay. Maybe this particular ovary is what has been the bane of my very existence since I was 13 years old, and the removal will solve all my other problems. Maybe this is God's way of prepping me for what is shortly to come! Or maybe, this all just really sucks. Or it could be a combination of the two or whatever.

In the meantime, I've been trying to research what exactly my recovery is going to entail. Since my parents are flying in, I want to be up and moving and doing things. I want to show them the mountains in the fall! and have my dad fix up my house! And, I'm not sure how it will all be accomplished, given I'll likely just be in bed. Boo. That doesn't sound fun at all--except for right now, I wouldn't mind climbing back in my bed and taking a smallish nap or two.

Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts, prayers, and support. Y'all are more worried than I am most the time, so... you know, chill or something. :)
 


Friday, August 29, 2014

News to Start the Weekend

Got a phone call and then this email:

Shelli,
Pathology results on your pleural fluid are: No malignant cells identified.
Enjoy your weekend.
Audra

That's good enough for me to go off and enjoy my Labor Day weekend. I'll have to wait until next week to find out about surgery and options and what's next. But for now, it is enough.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why are you at the doctor so much lately?

Unintentionally, I've been posting a lot of pictures and quotes from doctors and their offices, and the question has arisen, "What the heck is going on with you?!"

I've been posting these things, not to be coy or cryptic, nor for the attention. But it has been at the forefront of my mind and my time these last few weeks, so it's all I have to post about. I've been debating about writing up anything or announcing it while I don't know anything. I really don't want people to think that I'm posting for attention or as a WOE IS ME! post. And I always hate when people give constant updates about their health, because it's supposed to be kind of private. You know? Like, there are laws in place to keep things private. Still, I've posted the few things that I have and it's got everyone's interest and worries piqued.

So, at the same time, I really don't care who knows. As long I'm not inundated with super sympathetic and outpourings of over-positivity. I need everyone who reads this to understand that I'm fine. I do appreciate the support--the really amazing, loving, awesome support--I've been getting, but I am positive that things are not only going to work out, but they are going to work out in my favor. I feel calm and untroubled about most of it. The hardest part is the waiting in between every test; and, on occasion, doing everything on my own gets to be a little overwhelming. (Doing things on my own, though, is largely by choice. As I've had plenty of offers to have someone accompany me to appointments and things.)

So here's the update:

Two months ago, I was working long hours on my first week at a new job. I spent the majority of my 10-12 hour days on my feet and talking to hundreds of people. So I was tired, and coughing, and noticed a "tumor" that was weird, but not surprising. Why not surprising? It's just one of a long list of things that I have come to expect.

But, it didn't go away like I would have expected after convention was over. I waited until I got my new insurance card and scheduled an appointment with my doctor because I was still coughing--the annoying, dry cough that just doesn't go away--and still had a giant "tumor" and...well, a thing or two more to discuss with the doctor. My doctor is a PA, though, and so after she ordered an ultrasound for said tumor and other things, and the radiologist commented that I should probably see an actual gynecologist instead of a PA.

So off to the gynecologist I went. Unfortunately at the time, the ultrasound results hadn't made it to him, so he went off what he could tell. He thought the "tumor" was probably a cyst and left me to make the decision whether or not I would drain it, or have it surgically removed. Just to be safe, though, he also ordered blood work. The blood work came back with an elevated CA125, so he ordered a CT scan and a chest x-ray. The "tumor" was in fact a tumor, and it has to come out. The CT scan also showed that the tumor was alarmingly big. (The ultrasound had too, but if you've ever seen CT scan images...let's just say, they put things in a terribly different perspective.) And that there was free floating fluid around my lungs, in my lungs, and in various other gutters and all sorts of other medical terms I had to Google.

He also recommended that I go see a gynecological oncologist.

The gynecological oncologist that he recommended only sees patients that meet certain criteria. He also only sees patients at the hospital covered by my insurance once a month. At first the office tried to schedule me with a different doctor. It was a little stressful, because from what I could tell, these other doctors did not have the same qualifications as the recommended doctor--in fact, they didn't have different qualifications from the doctor I had just left. They were just regular gynecologists. Luckily, my stress was resolved within a few days, because the office called me back and were able to schedule me for an appointment with the other gynecological oncologist in the office who had reviewed my blood work, ultrasound, and CT scan, and had determined that I needed to be seen right away.

Since the cyst draining option was taken off the table almost as immediately as it was put on the table of options, I've known that surgery was looming. But I haven't known when or how extensive or anything of that nature. The not knowing is really the hardest part. After a quick exam (the exam was quick, the waiting for an hour to be seen was not) and discussion with the doctor, I know still only that surgery is imminent but nothing else. He sent me down to have the fluid drained so that it could be tested for cancer cells--but was very confident that whatever I have it is not cancer--and then the decision would be made.

So after about three hours of waiting, they got me in, drained about a liter of fluid from my lung/around my lung and sent me up for another chest x-ray. As painful as it sounds, it really didn't hurt. They numbed my back and didn't let me see the needle (psychological warfare is a real thing, and everything about going to the doctor for something like this is seriously emotionally exhausting, so I am sort of grateful that I didn't see it--I did look at the fluid after, though) so I just felt some tightness and pressure, and then it was done. I got to go home after the all clear.

So what now?

Once the test results on the fluid is back and cancer is ruled out, I will have surgery and Abner, the tumor, will be removed along with my right ovary and tube. You can still function and theoretically get pregnant with only one ovary. If, on the off chance that it is actually cancerous, they will do a round of chemotherapy to get the tumor shrunk and keep it from growing, and then they will do surgery and remove it, the ovary and tube. Depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer (it's not cancer) will determine whether everything else comes out as well, though, the doctor made it a point to say that they would save everything they could.

So, I'm waiting again with a hole in my back and two band-aids--and I'm not sure how I'll get them off. The results will take something like three to five business days, which means, Tuesday at the earliest? And we'll go from there.

I will continue to keep everyone updated. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, concerns, and magnanimous displays of generosity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Picky Eater

So... I'm not really a *picky* eater. (Some call me a food snob, but not picky.) But every time Matti suggests something to eat, I find myself saying, "Ew. I don't like that!"

Honorable mentions are the following: pizza (most the time), eggs--especially hard boiled, grapefruit, celery, beets, maple bars--maple flavoring actually, chicken Parmesan, vanilla bean ice cream, bananas that do not have green on them, and...the list continues to grow.

McDonald's is at the top of the list of terrible places to eat. I mean, I don't even consider that food anymore.

Weird. I really thought I ate just about everything. I mean, I've eaten pig skin tacos, and bone marrow, and I genuinely like Brussel sprouts and other weird delectables.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sleeping

Since I was asleep for these conversations, I can't very well attest to the accuracy of the retelling.

These past weeks my mom, and then my two sisters and niece visited Utah. (Let's not discuss how a new job and moving took all the fun of their visit and turned it into a few stolen hours together, since it makes me a little sad.)

Between sleeping at my house, my friend Meghan's house, my grandparents', and my uncle's house, we've all been sleeping in pairs in different beds. For the record, Kiki's body temperature runs at approximately 112 degrees. She is a furnace.

Since I sleep alone, I have no one to tell me of the weird things that happen at night. Do I have crazy stressful dreams that make me flail and kick? I don't think so . . .? But I can't ever be sure. (Evidence suggests that this is not likely the case.) I do know that I dream vividly. Which might account for me sitting up one night in a panic and saying, "Mom! There's a bug!"

She asked, "Did you see it?"

"No."

"Did you feel it?"

"No."

"Then go back to sleep!" My mom was not about to search for a bug in the middle of the night if there was no evidence that said bug existed.

"Ok. Maybe I just saw it under my eyelid."

Apparently I was very convincing as having been entirely awake during this episode, since my mother only casually mentioned it the next day, as if I had any idea as to what she was talking about.

I didn't.

I'm still not 100% convinced that it happened. But she claims that it did, and it was pretty funny.

Apparently, I woke Mackenzie up one night, insisting that she move over because she was a "little furnace". At least I was nice about it? I still remember a time when Amy decided to wake me up because I had crossed the line into her territory with a firmly placed foot in the center of my back!


Resources

I'm sitting at my uncle's house, who is a bishop in our church and he has paraphernalia all over. We bless every meal, and say family prayer at night and it is really nice. I sat down at his computer, and he had lds.org open, and so on a whim I decided to peruse around the site, because I don't log on except to access my scriptures in Sunday School once a week and it'd been a while since I had really looked at the site.

I was struck with how much doesn't seem to be applicable to me and my current stage in life. As a late-twenty something, I don't fit the mold that most of my peers do. I'm still single. And I don't have kids.


So articles about raising kids, or nourishing marriages don't apply to me. Even under the resources page, there are things specifically for home and family, marriage, children, youth . . . (welfare, but that doesn't apply to me either).

I'm not saying that I don't find things in the church that aren't relevant to me--I'm obviously still in the church, and I'm not going anywhere. For all that I find fault in, I find 100 other reasons to stay. I love the gospel and there is hope and peace to be found in it.

But sometimes its exhausting. It's exhausting trying to find a place where you don't fit the standard mold. It's exhausting trying to see through the culture to get to the doctrine. And every time I go to a family ward, I feel even more weary.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Five Fictional Men Who Have Ruined Me for Actual Men

Simon Stein - In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
  • Simon is amazing in both the book and the movie, but I will admit, that I like movie version much better. He's unrelenting in his pursuit of the lady he knows he is meant to be with. Understanding of--but does not put up with her--crazy. He knows how to order excellent food at all sorts of amazing, different restaurants. And he sits on the couch and reads romance novels with her. He loves his lady despite all her flaws. 
Benedict - Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
  • He is the grumpiest, wittiest, most hilarious character ever written. Need I say more? (Also, Much Ado About Nothing happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play. I remember reading it in English in 10th grade and being one of maybe three people who actually understood it enough to laugh out loud. I'm currently watching the Joss Whedon version and it has made me laugh out loud several times.) Oh, Benedict. 
Jamie Fraser - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  • Jamie is . . . well, if you follow the fandom of the Outlander series, he is God's gift to women. He is also witty (though, no Benedict) and he is manly, and says the sweetest, most perfect things. He is imperfect. But he is loyal and true and patriotic, and bound to duty. He is strong, and quick, clever and witty. He loves Claire with a passion that extends through time, continent, and every trial he and his family goes through. He is swoonworthy. And virile. And probably incomparable. 
Reginald Fitzhugh - The Mischief of Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

  • As grumpy as Benedict is, that is how pleasant and good-humored Turnip is. I love him because he was nothing like I expected him to be. He was introduced in several of the books prior to receiving his own, and seemed goofy and intolerable, and I disliked him as much as every other character. But seeing him in action as this sweet, thoughtful, goofy character made me love him.
George Knightly - Emma by Jane Austen

  • Most people think to love Mr. Darcy when it comes to Austen's characters. But I have always loved Mr. Knightly more. He loves Emma, but he is not afraid to correct her when she needs it. He is a sensible, and kind man. 



Honorable mentions: Peeta Mellark from Hunger Games | John Thornton from North & South | Danny Castellano from The Mindy Project | Raylan Givins from Justified | Jim Halpert from The Office | Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars | Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter | Sirius Black from Harry Potter | Levi from Fangirl | Ian from The Host | Lincoln from Attachments | & many, many others

And also, the world has not yet been introduced to William Hardy, who is a character in Marry in Haste. A work in progress by MK Peters. I'm not going to lie, but he may be the very best character ever written. I love him. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Discovery

In case you were wondering:

The packaging of Reese's Peanut Butter cups is not water proof.* Wet Reese's are incredibly sticky, not appetizing, and should be thrown away.

The packaging on a Kit Kat is water proof. And the Kit Kats remain fairly delightful.

*Test conducted over a two week period.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Please RSVP

Have I complained about this (on my blog) before?

Why is it that people are so reluctant to commit to...well, anything, really? But especially to parties and events. I just want to throw a nice party and have enough food and favors for everyone, and all I get are non-responses and "maybe". MAYBE. What the does that mean? How do you plan for a maybe? Well, I might be there. But I might not be. I'm mysterious like that, and you should love me anyway.

False.

Can't you just check your calendar and say, "I have nothing going on and would love to attend, so yes. Yes I will be there," or "Dang. I'm already booked for that day and time. I can't rearrange my schedule because I've already committed to something else. Sorry, I won't be there"?

What I really want to say is, Hey y'all: when RSVPing, just remember that a "maybe" or a non-response isn't really helpful. AT ALL.When planning party favors and food, it's preferable to have an accurate number of who will or will not be there. (Imagine that.)

I know it's not fun saying "no", especially when you love and support the guest of honor, but if it is an accurate representation of whether or not you'll be at the party, then please just say "no". And if you you will do everything that you can to be there then say "yes"! We'll understand if something comes up...

Because, you know, I would understand if something comes up. (Including sudden bouts of complete anti-social tendencies where you literally cannot leave the house. Trust me, I know all about those.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Laborer

I recently updated my Linkedin.com profile to have a title that doesn't make any sense and sounds more like I'm trying to pad my resume than actually describe what I do. . .

I do a lot at the office, even if sometimes I don't feel like doing anything at all. One of the not-made-up-but-looks-made-up titles I have is effectively "facilities manager." And being that I am facilities manager, I decided that our landscaping needs some serious help. Our building is located right between two busy restaurants (that serve alcohol) and across the street from a newly finished construction site. The parking lot that is sandwiched between our building and our neighboring restaurant is a breeding ground for trash. I don't think the weird wind patterns help. So yesterday, as I was managing my facility by picking up trash, pulling weeds, and sorting between our pretty (expensive) decorative rocks and random pieces of concrete, a guy walks by, stops in his tracks and says, "Shit girl, what are you doing? That's a man's job!" To which I replied that no, it wasn't a man's job and besides, at least it got me in the sun and away from my desk and he said, "Well, I guess it ain't exactly hard work," as if to imply that women can't do hard work.

He wished me well and said that as long as I was getting paid for it, and I was happy, that was the important thing.

Well said, sir.

I continued my way around the building. The other side of our building serves as a smoking post for one of the restaurants and their were cigarette butts EVERYWHERE. There were a lot on the other side, but nothing like this.

Side note: When I was younger and my dad had reroofed our house, he paid each of us kids a penny a nail. We spent a whole summer scouring the yard for nails, just so we could earn enough pennies to go to the Drive-Thur and buy candy cigarettes. (Ah, the irony.)

This, of course, is where I got the idea. I want to write the owner of the restaurant and encourage him to have his employees use the smoking booth that is provided about 50 feet away from our office, and if not, I would charge a quarter per butt that I have to pick up. I'm certain that I could make a fortune. I also wondered how ethical it would be to just pay a homeless person like. . . $20 to pick up as many as possible in one hour. How hard would they work for an hour?

Which brings me to my last story.

A few months ago the boys and I stopped at my office to see the progress of the first floor remodel before going to City Creek. A guy knocked on the window and was sobbing - SOBBING - about how he was stranded and just needed $16 in order to buy a plane ticket to get back to Texas and could we please help? I think the boys were less affected by the story, and more anxious to get the flamboyant, crying man away from the window. We gave him money. Only, not but an hour later, we found him hitting others up at City Creek for money. James confronted the guy, and saved one family from listening, but he can't be around all the time now can he? On Wednesday, Andre and I were sitting in the car of my office lot, and there was our little gay friend, as bold as ever, hitting people up for money. Then yesterday, as I sat picking up broken glass from amongst our rocks (a task only a little less worse than picking up cigarette butts), there he was again! He knocked on one person's window and was not crying this time. But then he passed by me a few other times, mumbling the F-word under his breath. I asked him if he wasn't meant to be in Texas months ago, and he just waved his arms at me and kept walking.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A New Club

I'm in the planning stages of forming a new club. Similar to the FTC, it will have arbitrary rules that fit at my discretion, and can be changed on a moment's notice.

I'm thinking of calling it something like, "Introverted or Depressed: The Club for People Who Don't Want to Leave Their Beds."

The by-laws are currently being written up, but they'll have headings like the following:

  1. How to avoid pep talks by well-meaning friends
  2. It's OK to cry for no reason
  3. There's always room for chocolate and ice cream, and chocolate ice cream
  4. Why are you wearing a bra?
  5. The hygiene of depression: good for those with no will to live, and also to keep others at bay (for the introverts among us)
  6. When it's appropriate to call in "sick" for work
  7. The bags under your eyes: you're tired for a reason
  8. Becoming a vampire, or, How to avoid the sun
  9. What to do when you HAVE to leave the house
  10. Becoming a hermit, or, How to avoid the human population
  11. What do do when you HAVE to interact with people
  12. The twelves types of fakes smiles, also included, the five fake laughs you must master
It'll be an exclusive club. Not just anyone can join. I am thinking about asking Ally from Hyperbole and a Half to join as an honorary member, just because, you know, she gets it. (Read this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html; and then if you really want to take this further - to the advanced course of my club that has yet to be established - you can go here and read: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html and understand why this girl is really quite perfect for my club.)

When admission applications go out, I'll let everyone know. Until then, let me know if you find a reason or two why you don't need to join my club.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Same Old Same

Do you know that I've had a blog for six years (SIX!), and I have basically blogged about the same things over and over and over again? Are you, dear reader, tired of reading about it all? If you have noticed my lack of posts the last year or so, you might realize that I'm tired of writing it.

It's weird how so many things can change is just a month or a year, and then some things, don't change despite time just blowing on by. Natural disasters happen in minutes and devastate or obliterate entire regions. Think of all the changes that happen to a baby from being a newborn to six months; or how much a missionary matures in the space of 18 months to two years. Or the fact that one of your best friends abandoned you for another state a mere 19 weeks ago, and is now, very seriously, contemplating marrying a guy she met within that same time frame. And then there's me. Writing journal entries and blog posts that haven't changed since the minute I turned 16-years old.

How long do you have to fight the same fight before you throw up your hands and say "I'm done!"? I mean, I guess there's no real answer to this. Do you remember learning about the Hundred Years War in school? One hundred years of fighting is equal to a few lifetimes back between the 12th and 13th centuries. What if you have a child with a mental illness and you can't do anything about it but watch him suffer? What if you have a friend or a spouse continually making the same choices/mistakes repeatedly, and never reform? It's their choice, after all. What do you do with things like that - the things that are beyond your control and you're just so tired? So exhausted of the same things and nothing changing.

We're supposed to carpe diem! and take the bull by the horns! Bloom where we are planted! And all these other things. We can make other changes, sure. It's easy to pack up and move to a new apartment or start a new job. You can even make new friends and pick up a hobby. That doesn't always change things. Things like this can't change the underlying, deep rooted problems in our lives. So then we bring in faith and prayer and you wonder, just how many times can God listen to your pleadings for help and assistance, for lessons and the ability to move. on.? Doesn't he get tired of the repetition? I know I do. I truly believe that God knows our hearts' desires. He knows what and who we need. There are plenty of talks and lectures and things talking about praying for specific blessings and asking to do the Lord's will and then our prayers will be answered. Change the phrasing of your prayers and miracles will happen. I refuse to believe that God won't answer prayers because of a technicality - because we worded the prayer wrong. Again, I know that he knows what we long for, hurt for, and need. I know we don't see the big picture and won't always understand why he stays his hand.

So instead, sometimes you just want to curl up and say no more. I'm done. I'm tapping out. What then? You still have to wake up and go to work. You still have to function. You still have to deal with the child, the friend, the loneliness because they are all still there. And there's no change in the forecast.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Keeping A Promise

“Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them," I said.
"Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.” ― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars
This quote can be applied to so many things. But, on those days when I'm not quite doubting my doubts, I think this quote applies to Church. A lot of people I know who have left the church claim that they did not know what they were getting into when they were baptized or when they went through the temple. But there was always the reason that they did it. It was still a choice. And I think sometimes that is just as much a reason to hang on, find the good, and move forward as any. I feel like we always find our reasons later, if we are willing to look for them. You find the reasons why you love the Savior, and why you love church.

This also applies to relationships. Sometimes relationships bring up hard things, e.g. disease/illness, that are hard to deal with; things that we don't know we are going to be facing when we decide to get into the relationship. And if you really love the person, then you keep the promise, you move forward.

This quote comes from one of my new favorite books, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It made me cry at least twice. And if I think about it for too long, I can easily tear up again. It's a very beautiful, perfect, sad story about love and life and it makes me think (and feel) things. Even a month after having finished it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writing

After waiting four months, I got another rejection letter from Woman's World . This is pretty sad news, since, I really liked this story.

Rissa was dreaming of the hot Hawaiian sunshine when she felt a sudden crisp morning chill penetrate the warmth of her coat. A deep, gravelly voice further interrupted her pleasant thoughts saying, “I think this is your stop.” She forced her eyes open and realized that the line of people exiting the train had already poured onto the platform.
                “Oh goodness,” she said, grabbing at her belongings, trying to clear the fogginess from her brain.
                “Hold the door,” the man said, offering a smile and the wool hat she had just dropped. “I should have nudged you earlier. Better hurry,” he urged.
                As Rissa was racing out the door, the train pulled away and she realized she hadn’t the chance to thank him.
                Rissa’s commute began early every morning. It took over an hour to get from her house to her office on the train, but she enjoyed the extra reading time the commute provided, and she appreciated avoiding the heavy traffic and icy roads. Normally she read, but yesterday she had been tired. It had taken mere seconds before she drifted to sleep. She nearly missed her stop.
                This morning she juggled two piping hot chocolates and her laptop bag, hoping she would see her champion to properly thank him. She hoped that she would remember what he looked like. Rissa wished her hands weren’t full so we could concentrate on reading, instead she was distracted every time the train stopped letting in a waft of cold air and a crowd of new faces. Finally, a face sparked her memory, and he seemed to remember her, too.
                “Good morning,” he said, looking down at the hot chocolate in her hands.  “Is that for me?”
                “I wasn’t sure I’d see you again,” she admitted. “But just in case, I wanted to thank you for yesterday.”
                He took the cup of hot chocolate from her, offering a small salute with his cup, “You’re welcome. I was afraid that after you thought about it, you would find it creepy that I knew your stop.”
                 “I hadn’t thought of that, but now that you mention it…” she trailed off and grinned. “Really, though, I’m grateful. I’m Rissa.” She pulled out a business card and offered it to him.
                “Greg.” He grabbed the seat across from her and smiled as he tucked her card into his breast pocket, then pulled out his own.
                “How did you know it was my stop?” Rissa asked after a moment.
                “I don’t know if I should admit that.”
                She gave an encouraging look.
                “Alright,” he conceded, taking a breath. “A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a beautiful woman reading one of my favorite books. I immediately wanted to strike up a conversation about it, but she left the train before I found the nerve.” He nodded at the book sticking out of her bag. “Every day she got closer to the end, I knew I needed to make a move. Yesterday, I finally got the nerve to sit beside her, only to find that she wasn’t reading…she was sleeping.”
                “How disappointing.”
                “Not as disappointing as you might think,” he admitted, “because it provided me with a perfectly good reason to speak to you today.”
                Rissa sat back in her chair, studying Greg. He seemed sincere. Not only was he handsome, but he was friendly and personable.
                “So this is your favorite book?”
                They spent the rest of her commute sipping hot chocolate and discussing the book until he said gently, “This is your stop.” He got to his feet, handing over her laptop bag as she adjusted her coat.
                “See you tomorrow?”
                “Definitely,” he said.
                The morning commute quickly became Rissa’s favorite part of the day. She often saved Greg a seat and they spent the morning talking. Their conversations ranged from the mundane to the ridiculous and everything in between.
                “I’ll save you a seat, tonight,” he said with a smile.
                Rissa was surprised, as she knew they did not take the same train home. But when Rissa boarded their usual car, Greg grinned at her. He was standing in the aisle and pointed to a single available window seat. She noticed that his normal place next to her was occupied by a mother, holding her baby.
                “This train is busier than the one I normally take,” he commented, smiling at the sleeping child and then at Rissa.
                They rode for several stops in silence, catching each other’s eyes while listening to the bustle of the other passengers. Occasionally he grinned at her, and she couldn’t help but return it.
                “Will you have dinner with me tonight?” He finally said.
                She nodded.
                “Then this is our stop.”

Rissa smiled. She liked the sound of that. He offered her his hand and they left the train together.

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