Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ownership

I have always been an introvert. So much of the time I restrain from giving my opinions to people, even when I clearly disagree with something someone else is stating. That was one of the first things that drew me to the internet. I could go into chat rooms and discussion groups and state what I felt without having to reveal who I was. I could hide behind a screen name. But thats the thing, a screen name is an identity. In the beginning, when I was using a screen name and not giving out any information about where I lived or worked, or even what I did for a living the screen name still identified me. It made me still have to take ownership of my words. If you didn't like me and came into a chat room that I was in, you still were able to identify me and chose whether to stay or not. Chat rooms made you chose an identity. Discussion boards and blogs allow you to comment anonymously. But that lack of having to identify who you are gives people the power to express really hurtful and unacceptable ideas and never have to answer for them. Someone can go in and shredd someone else to bits and then just walk away. I have a big problem with that. Commenting anonymously makes me just disrespect anything good or bad that the commentor has to say. If you want me to consider what you have to say, come out from behind the curtain and tell me who you are. It's that simple.

Another ownership issue that I have been struggling with is ownership for my feelings and emotions. I wrote about it here. Well, kind of wrote about it, sort of. Race for the Cure will be the Saturday before Mother's Day. It always is. And I will walk in it again this year. If you'd like to sponsor me you can go here to make a donation online. Being my 10th year of survivorship, I have had the time that I was being treated for cancer on my mind A LOT. Ten years ago today, having already been told that I had breast cancer I met with my surgeon to learn the extent of my cancer and develop a treatment plan. It was a very hard evening. I went in after work and was there for three hours. I don't know how I walked through that time in my life. I think about it now and I simply shudder. One of the things that still stands out in my mind is that was emphasized over and over by almost everyone treating me was that "a lot of my recovery would depend on my attitude and outlook."
"If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You'll see the sun come shining through

for you"
Really, just put a smile on my face and trudge bravely on and everything would be alright. Except they weren't telling me that I'd be alright. Quite the opposite. They were all telling me how gravely ill I was and treating me as if they were afraid that I'd perish the next minute. I did not wait for anything. The minute I walked into the doctor's office I was ecscorted back immediately. I was give preferential treatment even when frail old me in wheel chairs and on oxygen were waiting, It was terrifying.

I don't think that every person who is ill or in pain should lie around on the couch moaning and groaning. I also don't think that constantly talking about how utterly horrible I felt would have been a positive thing. But I was made to feel that I couldn't talk about the sickness and fear that I was feeling. So when the new chemo made me feel so weak that I had trouble walking up the stairs and cold all the time, I didn't tell anyone. It turned out that it was caused by severe anemia. It wasn't discovered until I went in for chemo. If I'd just spoken up, I would have been treated a week earlier. I was also afraid to tell anyone about the boredom and fear and saddness I was feeling. Just put that smile on my face and move on. No body wants to see a sick person.

I still get that same message all the time. Every thing I see about survivors shows smiling happy people moving on and enjoying their life. I see pictures of survivors smiling and doing things that they always wanted to do like kyacking and skydiving. You won't find pictures of women with swollen arms or choosing a mastectomy bra. They don't show a woman wearing a sundress because the port-a-cath scar would be visible. I went to a therapist to try to work through some of the sadness and fear that I still have. But didn't go back because the therapists advice was basically to cheer up and quit thinking about it.

Shouldn't I have been allowed to say out loud that I was really afraid that I wasn't going to get well? And shouldn't I now be allowed to admit that every aching bone or swollen lymph node is a sign that the cancer is back? Why is it so terrible to simply feel what I feel?

I do think that it is important to choose carefully what you do own. I hate to hear someone say "Hi bitches" as a greeting. I don't own that. I'm not a bitch. I will not accept that they are greeting me. But the things that are a part of me, I think that I should own that.

I'll try to make my next post a little less heavy. I promise.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beyond My Wildest Imagination

Today is my 10 year cancerversary. Today is the day that I never thought I'd never see. I am NED (no evidence of disease) after 10 years of survivorship. Many, if not most, of the women that I met in breastcancer.org have either gone on to have other cancers or progressed to stage 4 breast cancer. Many of them have already died. It is sobering

There are no words strong enough to express my gratefulness to the medical teams, my friends and my church that supported me during  that time.There was no way that I could have survived without them. I was allowed to raise Mollie because of the charity that they bestowed on me.

"And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity." 1st Corinthians 13:13.

During the whole time I was sick I focused on hope, but the greatest was the charity that was bestowed on me. There were times that I felt that I'd called in all my favors. That I'd used all the grace alloted to me. I have since learned that the limit doesn't exist. The people who love me, love me. It doesn't stop because I completed treatment.  They have had my back through all of the last ten years. I am so humbled.

I plan to spend today showing the people who took care of me how grateful I am, as if that was possible. But I do plan to let them know. Even in the worst circumstance good things happen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some Sort of Freak

I have been hearing about studies that indicate that children begin losing the memories of the early few years of their lives around the age of 7. I had studied the idea of infantile amnesia while I was in college and even had an argument with a classmate that not everyone lost all of their early childhood memories.

I remember quite a bit actually. My first memory was in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was in a fifties era stroller being pushed by my sisters who were arguing. My oldest sister kept fussing at my third sister because she couldn't keep hold of the stroller. My second sister took my third sisters hand and began walking away with her. We moved away from Fort Bragg when I was 2. I also remember living in our next residence in Fort Knox almost from the beginning. I remember walking in and the boxes being there when we arrived. I remember most of the floor plan of the apartment and that the girls bathroom was made of pink tiles. I remember the winter and the snow being so high my third sister and I were not tall enough to go out and play in it, but the other siblings were. I remember the day that my third sister and I were given two cloth dolls. Her's was Bluey and mine was Pinky. My mom said that my dad sent them from South Korea and I believed that they were. I have so many memories.

I can place the timing of the memories because of the spacing of my father's deployments. The Fort Knox deployment took place shortly after we got there. I had to be around 2 1/2 because he was gone for a year and came back while we were there. I remember living there until shortly before I was 4 1/2. So if he came home when I was 3 he would have had the year between deployments to take me up 4 1/2 when he was deployed again.

I have no idea why I still remember these things. I wonder if it had to do with having to make sense of the many changes that occured that young in my life. Maybe because of the stress level associated with deployments. Maybe it is because my third sister and I continued to discuss the memories long into our childhood. I have no idea really.

So now seeing hard core studies done that confirm childhood amnesia and that it begins around the age of 7 I wonder if I'm some sort of freak. It seems that I just can't fit into the norm anywhere. Oh well, at least I can still recall my childhood.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What is this Saying

I took one of those Facebook memes and this is what I got. It's saying that my mental age is 36 and balanced....

REALLY?

I'm 56 and on medications for mental illness. In fact I've been diagnosed with several mental illnesses including depressive psychosis, depression and anxiety. I'm extremely closterphobic and fear elevators to the point of common nightmares about them.

So, is this test telling me that I'm also immature or is it saying that I'm young at heart and have my demons under control?... I'm going with the young at heart one.  Just sayin.

Just nice to get a positive report for once. I wouldn't hang too much baggage on it.

Leave a Little Bit


Fetch was Mollie's childhood comfort toy.

When I was dealing with the guilt of my decision to move away from my brother and sister I contacted a social worker to help me. He was a very good resource for me especially with understanding the motivation of the different people in my life and why they left me with things that were clearly their responsibility. One of the things he told me was that it is completely normal for children to leave things in their parents home to hold their place there. The boys left their baseball cards and a lot of their R.O.T.C. things. Mollie left a wole lot, including most of her childhood  toys. I invited them to all come get what they wanted to keep and then got rid of most of it by donating it to Goodwill. I kept the letter jackets and a few other things, but only what I felt were things that they had strong emotional attachments to. Both of the boys have their childhood comfort toys. Mollie left hers. I kept it and have it in my new place.

Mollie came to dinner last night. As I was preparing dinner I realized that it has been a very long time since I have prepared a meal that Mollie and I sat down at my table and shared. It has actually been years. Usually we just stood at the kitchen island or sat in my bedroom and ate. Mostly we just ate out. We had a really nice meal and visit. She took a few of the things that she had indicated that she wanted to keep. But she was thrilled to see Fetch sitting in a rocker. She decided that she wanted him to stay with me. I had really to smile as I recalled the insight that Melvin (the counselor) gave me months ago. So Fetch is staying here to hold Mollie's place in my home.


Monday, March 31, 2014

And This

It looks worse than it is. While moving I cracked a bone in my wrist. I have lymphedema in that arm. We couldn't cast  it. What we did was wear the compression garments and splint the wrist.  I have dreaded getting a major injury to that arm for 10 years. It has happened. I may survive.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fw: Fw: Fw: Forward if you Love Jesus

I have three email addresses. One for friends and family and increasingly medical communications. Another for those pesky emails that come from businesses. And then there is my work email. I also have a few friends and family that for what ever reason foward inspirational emails and emails that warn of imminent danger from gas pumps and parking lot stalkers. I almost never open them. They are just spam that pollute my inbox of all three of my email addresses. I don't want to offend the people who send them, but it is absolutely annoying. I wish I could get them to stop. I just don't understand what it is that they see in these messages. And if they see an interesting story, why do they feel the need to share it with everyone in their contacts list? Do they really think that anyone, even Jesus, cares if they forward them? Well, unless people like me who get annoyed by inboxes filled with spam. So how do I tell them to just stop it. I'm glad they are thinking about me. And I'd love for them to write me a personal email, or even a newsletter type letter to several different people. I'd like to know what is going on with them. But I really don't like to be asked to prove my love for Jesus by sending spam to all my friends and family. 

A Wedding

When I first met Laura she was maybe 7 years old. She'd come to the two and three yearl old Sunday School class to pick up her baby sister. I was always nervous of letting children pick up children, but was told it was a normal practice. I remember her running with a pack of other Barbie tooting children from room to room of my friend's home. She's easy and outgoing, beautiful and naturally smart. Always kind and giving to those younger than she is.

Today she got married to someone that I will admit that I don't know well. But her parents seem to approve. So Laura is married. Her parents slip into a new world of possibilities. The world of being potential grandparents. Did I just say that? Let's give her some time.

Her parents didn't have a lot of money to spend on a wedding. They have spent most of their money on educating their children. But still they managed to pull off one of the most beautiful ones I have ever been too. They reused decorations that were already property of the church and added some inexpensive but well done decorations. The table decorations were branches cut from budding trees weeks ago and brought inside and placed in water to bloom. They were awesome.

The wedding attendants were people who were part of our congregation from the beginning. The children and their parents who were the original members of our church. Many of them have moved on to other churches but it felt so right to have them under our roof again. I saw and talked to so many people whom I love and whom I haven't seen in many years. The surprising thing for me were all of the young people who ran up to me. I guess that I didn't know that I'd had that much influence on their lives that they would seek me out. I met their spouses and their children. It was just breath taking. Twelve years ago our church went through several splits due to a decision to fire a popular pastor. It was hurtful to see so many families leave. But it is good to see that we can still come back together and exhibit the same love for each other that we have always had.

I handled the video for this wedding so that the other video member could act as a photographer. I think it was the most nervous I have ever been over the presentation. I wanted the attention payed to Laura and Lenny and no one thinking about the presentation that was being seen. It went perfectly.

I left with a realization that even those who have left are still a real part of who we are as a church. The love didn't leave with the disagreements. I hope and pray that it is the way Laura and Lenny's marriage will be.

Monday, March 24, 2014

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple Stupid...this was a mantra at the college that I went to. Sharing your faith, resist the urge to explain the Trinity. Teaching a five year old to read, resist the urge to dump the entire phonetical alphabet on him in one sitting. Everything came with the instructions to keep it simple. One idea, one fact at a time and built on the last idea that was taught.

Not that the college is around anymore, but I'm feeling like the whole chain of command where I work could use a year there.  I am not the only person who works here who gets frustrated with the multiple layers of approval needed to achieve any goal.

I host the monthly birthday and anniversary celebration for our department. I thought I'd written about it but I can't find the post. Generally, everyone seems to enjoy the short break and desserts in the afternoons. It's a cheap moral booster as I'm only allowed to spend $50 on it. It really doesn't break the department budget to plan. But early this year someone up the food chain figured out that I was taking my small allotment and planning the celebration without a chain of approval. Why creating a presentation to list the celebrants and spending $50 needs an approval chain is beyond me. Anyway, I was told that the celebrations needed more meaning to them and now I have to get everything approved. I would have no problem with that if it were my manager who was approving and it stopped there. Sharing my plans really isn't the issure. The issue I have is that it goes from my manager to her manager to the department directors for approval. I have 5 department directors peeing in the corners of a $50 dollar budget. It's rediculous. I still enjoy hosting the celebrations. But now what used to take me an hour to plan and execute takes me a week of going back and forth.

Another example of this is with cube moves. Many years ago an office manager who is no longer with the company noticed that I was pretty good at planning cube space. So she pushed it off of her plate onto mine. I don't mind, I am good at it. I have gone for more than a decade of minimal effort in getting these moves approved. This is an area where approval is needed higher up the food chain, and I don't mind asking for it. But now, it seems that all of the directors feel that these need to be "negotiated" between them for a month. Then the VP's have to take a swipe at it. It's not that big of a deal. You have a supervisor coming into the office. You place them in an empty supervisor cube nearest to their work group. If there isn't one, who can you move to a better location to free up that cube? This job if it involved moving more than one person could take up to a week to plan and get approval. I have been working on the current move for more than 3 weeks. It just seems that there is too much hand wringing going on about it.

So this is my office gripe for the week. I wish we could K.I.S.S. and move on.

The Weekend

This past weekend marked the 23rd year since my mother's death. I still miss her terribly. I don't think that will ever go away.

This past weekend gave us a bit of a hint of spring. It was so welcomed and enjoyed. Unfortunately it has turned cold again.

My new place is beginning to shape up. It feels like home now and I want to be there all the time. It's hard to think that just 2 months ago I would go out to eat just so I wouldn't have to go home. Yesterday I stopped and got take out chinese so I could take it home to eat it. I had to push myself to leave in the afternoon to get a few errands taken care of. The most surprising thing is that I picked up some cross stitch to work on. I stopped doing cross stitch years ago when I went into a deep hole of depression. Now I am happy to sit and stitch again. I also bought a new pair of tennis shoes so I can take walks in the evening when I get home.

I got a voicemail from my ex. He'd heard that I'd moved and wanted to know where I live. I didn't answer him. There is something about him not knowing where I'm at that just makes me happy. There isn't any reason that he needs to know, so I wonder why it bothers him that he doesn't know. I am finally back in a place that he has never invaded. That just makes me happy.

My sister called this past weekend. She is finally divorced  and has moved into a new home. She is as happy as I am. Unfortunately for her, her ex gets to keep tabs of where she is because their daughter is still at home. But it is good to hear her happy again.

I got up this morning and looked around my neat as a pin room and just felt very happy.