Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When You Got It, You Got It

I apologize in advance for the ridiculously repetitive theme I write about in some kind of everlasting rotation. Yes, here I go again, in a state of utter desperation, attempting to do anything and everything in my power and budget to get well again.  

It appears that if a germ comes within 5000 feet of me, they find me a welcome hostess and pack their bags and stay a while.  Whatever ad agency designed the Mucinex Phelm Houseguests must have met the family invading my airways this past week.

In any event, I have been receiving some integrative therapy at the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, CA.  I armed myself ahead of time with the checklist of components necessary for me to stay on track with this newest venture -- I have to understand what each treatment recommendation is for, how to do it, have support readily available when I am overwhelmed, be convenient and for 500 bonus points, find some level of humor in the event.  Check, check, check ... and we're off again.

Yesterday, while being treated for a bronchial infection that came in like a wrecking ball (this will be my only Miley Cyrus reference, promise), hooked up to a urine-yellow IV cocktail of potent vitamins and nutrients, a Midwestern senior citizen gentleman from Oklahoma, clad in his very best Costco Hawaiian shirt and cargo pants, strolled over to me and actually hit on me.  He kept rubbing my arm, told me I had "purdy" eyes and asked me to dinner.  Was I wrong to refuse on the grounds that I was on a catheter?  He wasn't giving up too easily, either.  Hey, "when you got it, you got it."

There you have it.  I am a babe somewhere in this world right now.  I have dusted off the disappointment that it happened here in the IV room and not, say, at the bar at Javier's on the PCH where all the Real Housewives of OC and other non-organically modified people hang out.  Apparently there are some concentrated pheromones in that drip pouch and I am the wounded zebra on the plains of the Serengeti, dating world wise anyhow.

I'm not going to lie, I have been pretty ill for a while now and I am so very "over it".  The very prospect of feeling better must have put a little spark back into my "purdy eyes" -- so no offense taken, Mr. Oklahoma.  Looking around the room, I see a lot of folks who must have been cast as extras in the vintage flick "Cocoon" -- all those people seeking the elixir to bring back the jive in their dancing, willing to travel to an alien planet if it came to that.  I get what they are after and have a little lump in my throat for the handful of non-chronologically-challenged patients who are also in isolation awaiting their own personal storms to pass, too.   

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Something's Funky in the Fridge

Last week was quite a week.  For several days, there was a faint streaming sour odor in the air. Oh yeah, time to check the fridge.  I'll get to it.  One thing about the rotten stuff in life -- eventually, it gets to the point where you just can't ignore it anymore.  

And so, somewhere mid-week, even the strongest magnetic seal of my upgraded refrigerator door could not contain the truth.  It always seems these realizations are running in a parallel service lane of my other, bigger life.  One way or another, I am going to have the point hammered into my head, it appears.

One day, I really want to sit down and write down a consolidated list of "Things I Learned in This Life".  This one is a whole chapter unto itself.  The Lesson:  "When You Keep Gathering, You Must Discard to Make Room for It."

As I excavate the produce bins and extricate those purchased (well-intentioned) farm-fresh, now slimy organic vegetables (gratefully) mostly contained in their original plastic wrappings, I am thinking of all the new "good for me" things I have added into my life, still hopefully wrapped up awaiting consumption.  (Exactly how many packages of provolone cheese are in here, anyways?) But there have been interruptions and so we ignore what we gathered, grabbed more and duplicated/triplicated what was already in the inventory (who can remember if we are out of mustard or not, really?), and soon, like the shelves of devilish expiration dated foodstuffs, I also find the parallel stacks of unattended projects, books unread, exercise videos unused, downloaded music unplayed, clothes to mend/iron, cards to send, and so it goes on and on... until... ewww.  It all looks so moldy and bad, and the smell, not so pretty.  

It's not altogether the worse thing in life.  Sometimes we need the nudge to get to the good part: the result of the sort.  What is good enough to keep, and oh yes, that baking soda freshness of the outcome yet another fresh start.  But first, you have to find the thing that's rotting.  It could be an idea that became a downward spiraling, looping obsession, an underachieved goal ripening into the slimiest pages being written in your autobiography, an opinion, an embraced offense, a missed opportunity, a gathering of just too much life and not enough space to consume it.   Oh the disgust.  When it comes to the place that you just can't take it anymore, then comes the edit down.  The closet discards, the trash bag parade to the curb, the room to move ... the quiet to think.  And in this space comes a rethinking of internalized stuff, too.  Time to bag that stuff up and toss it out, too, with the old veggies and moldy cheese.  Tossing it feels good (after).  And then comes... The. Fresh. Air.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Day #3 - A Mustard Grain

Wait, don't get excited.  This post will not be about a sudden rainbow on my horizon -- the addition of a new food to my very limited eating plan.  Nope, that is not what this is about at all.

I was thinking about how a little mustard grain sprouts into something very large.  We all have heard this illustration in a Biblical sense, but I am thinking right now of how great things can be born from very small beginnings....

Again, I return to the topic of my confining list of rotating food options.  For the first few days, I looked at this list and saw all the things I could no longer have.  The list of what I "get to" have is slim and requires an active imagination to produce palatable results.  I went into a period of mourning and today, in the shower, no less, I had this little enlightenment.

From these things I "get to" have, will come things I will get to do and feel... and that list will grow.  I will get to wake up with less joint pain.  I will get to reduce my weight (much to the delight of the Persian man in Mother's Market who called this to my attention).  I will get to sign up for paintball runs and 5K's and tours of ruins without worrying about the effort it would take to put on my tennis shoes and tie the laces.  I will get to take swing dancing (and yes, hip hop, pilates, cardio barre, etc.) and tear it up on the dance floor, doing jazz hands all the way through.  I will zip line (maybe).

What I learned today from focusing on this small list is the shift needed in many things from "have to" to "get to".  The "have to" list is limiting and oppressive; the "get to" list is the one that expands and grows to great heights.  I pick that one. 

Even if my list only lets me "get to" have coffee once every 4 days, I am grateful for that opportunity.  And this morning... I got to!  (I think that a lot of people were happy for that beside me!)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm Just Here for the Millet

Well, here we go.... I am off on yet another venture to get healthy, perky and (please, God, please?!?) dare-I-say, if it is not too much trouble for all the trouble, THIN, too....

As it turns out, I had a run of blood work taken a few weeks ago and it appears I have developed some serious food sensitivities which have wreaked havoc in my system.  The plan:  A rotation of the handful of edible items which are left, one list per day for four days and then back over again. 

I opened up the folder of paperwork with the same kind of eagerness with which you approach a spider in your sink.  "I'm bigger than this is", I scream in my head -- simultaneously cringing, squirming and avoiding ... but, in my classic style, I suddenly become Warrior Princess and go on the attack once I shake off the initial disdain. 

"It's just food", I think, chastising myself for making such a big deal of this ... and then I realize that, apparently, the love of food and ingredients with actual flavor are kind of ... my life.  Oh oh.

This is when I decided that a trip to Mother's Market was in order.  I heard that I could get in and out of this quaint grocery store with everything on my list and that there would be a lot of "helpful people" to point me in the direction of the items on my treasure hunt.

So, still dressed in my professional attire (mistake #1), I pulled into the parking lot.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that I might have been far less conspicuous had I changed into a pair of Crocs and let my gray roots grow in.  Too late:  target spotted, I became the alien that landed on their planet and these folks are a curious breed....

Merrily, I strolled among the organic fruits and vegetables with an ease that made me quite proud of myself.  Yes, I know what strawberries and green beans look like... papaya, not so much, but thanks to the packaging, I succeed in procuring one already sliced open and revealing black seeds (which I am still not sure are edible or not -- I picked "not").

And then ... we came to "millet" on my list.  I demurely approached a hard-working young man who was stocking some form of alternate bread and who was unbelievably eager to stop what he was doing immediately to help me in my search for millet.  Fun fact:  Did you know that millet can be procured in many forms:  puffed, hulled, whole, roasted...?  (Me, neither.) 

Suddenly, I looked around and realized that a convention of helpful folks had encircled me, welcoming me to their community.  My, weren't they awfully inquisitive as they questioned me as to why I was eating this food, and who is my doctor, and what kind of tests did they run, and.... and...  and didn't I know that "xyz" (insert 2,472 ingredients here) will be wonderful for me to try??? 

One Persian gentleman, lurking by the organic almond butter grinding machine, took a particular liking to me -- sharing his wealth of knowledge on millet and thousands of other things I failed to absorb.  At one point, he inserted his suggestion that I might feel better if I lost some weight. 

"Really?  Why that thought never crossed my mind," I spoke inside my head with all the self-control needed to avoid slapping a total stranger.  Instead, I grinned, thanked the gentleman for his suggestions and wished him the best, rapidly turning the corner and running into a 250-lb Chinese woman who overheard the words "weight loss" and perked right up.  She wanted to share her triumph in losing 30 lbs. drinking vinegar three times a day and then sharing the diagnosis of every family member, along with a decade of her life history.

"I'm just here for the millet.  I'm just here for the millet.  I'm just here for the millet."  Eyes on the finish line, I maneuver the wobbly cart to the check-out lane and in the refuge of my home.

Unpacking the recyclable bags (I know how not to offend, after all), my family supports me with lots of cheerful comments about how good this is and how good I am going to feel (love these people).  My daughter informed me that the bird eats millet, just in case I want to share.  Birdy is way more enthusiastic about this product that I was today, day #2. 

My goal is vibrance, to reclaim my inner dancing self.  I am not sure what awaits me on the road, but Birdy and I will eat that millet and at least one of us is going to fly.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Write, Right?

I met my friend, Lisa, for lunch today and, as is the tradition between the two of us, we suspended the need to breathe for about 2 hours as we did friendship's new-age form of "speed dating" - the hurried sightseeing tour of what's been happening on every terrain - family, health, work, friends, aging, traveling, and all the rotations in between.  I am still trying to come up for air.

With Lisa, though, inevitably, we discuss writing.  Lisa is tenacious, committed, fervent and, per her own designation, "Enthusiastic".  (Please see her blog, "Enthusiastically, Lisa" on WordPress!)  She is dead serious about making sure she doesn't bury her gift in the weeds of being a very attentive wife/mother/friend/teacher... She has a schedule and goals and all the trimmings of someone who means business when she sets out to put her thoughts into words to send out into the world.

And she says to me, "Write."  I don't understand why I don't more.  If you asked me to write something for YOU, I would overflow with words.  Write a speech:  Minutes later, done.  So why don't I carve out the time to do this, I wonder....?

I am inspired today.  I saw the fire behind her eyes when she spoke of her ideas and things she wants to say, and who she hopes will hear her.  She asks me about my family, my kids, my job, my health and I pour out the syllables and she leans in close and says to me, "write that all down, ok?  You will want to remember this one day."   I thinks she is right.

And my heart starts up a little dance just to think about it. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Faded Scars, Healing and Closure

I just published a post I had written a year ago and it's funny that the very topic that moved me to stretch out my typing fingers today also had to do with scars.  I am not sure why I never actually uploaded the prior post till now, but just the same, it was good to see the perspective from the side of the road, now looking back... a year, and even further.
The place on my leg that was so angry and painful is now a thin, shiny line.  It is hidden by clothes and I only see it when I choose to look.  The site is numb.  I am told it always will be. The nerves were severed and all that is left to remind me of that episode is the occasional sight of the little mark.

It appears I have a good number of those landmarks now.  I have the places which mark my scrapes and fractures, one on my right foot, another on an elbow, a good one on my upper back, one for a removed appendix and C-section scars from the birth of two of my life's greatest blessings.  I remember the "before" and I now know that the "after" was just a bookmark to signify a chapter changed, a page turned.  From time to time, strange as it may sound, I actually enjoy looking at these scars -- because I can't remember the pain and all I can do is rejoice that all of that it is behind me now.  Well, mostly ...

The other day, I pulled a box down off the shelf which contained a random collection of old photos.  I fanned the stack of snapshots with a kind of giddy delight that I confess doesn't come along very often in my world.   I saw moments frozen in time of my parents being silly -- my father, playing Monopoly with us (always winning) and doing handstands at the beach, my mother captured in one of her uncontained, unselfconscious belly laugh, my brothers in lives with little concerns, my friends, with full hearts, unscarred... And from this stack, two photographs of a long-ago me standing aside the one who broke my heart....

The dial suddenly turned back decades and I was at the place where it happened.  I felt the cold, dead telephone receiver in my hand and I heard the voice turn to a dial tone.  There was a shiver to my core, a vacancy ... the good-bye came with no explanation.  Love was there and then it was not, plain and simple.  For a moment I lingered, picking at an old scab, wondering "What did I do?"  (It had to have been something I did, after all ...?) Then the doubt, "did this actually happen at all?"  Then the recall:   "Abandoned", "rejected", "diminished", and "unlovable" -- these, the new labels I carried around for the years to follow.  All this came flooding back in a gush with the glimpse of a harmless photo.

Perspective is the gift life gives you when you get to make it this far.  Blow the dust off the photograph and you will see what inexperience looks like, what life is like before mistakes and blunders.  You shake your head and know that what you thought then is not the full story.  And you unloose the corset that stopped your breathing long enough to forgive and let it go... and breathe again.

Funny thing happens when life moves on and the story line grows.  There comes a point when you realize that what you thought would kill you doesn't.  You replace the coarse threads of hurt and bitterness with gratitude for where you are today, for the strength you didn't know you had, and for the courage to face what you know will eventually mark you up even more.  

You find that you touch those scars on purpose, along with all the others collected along the way.  The scars are the seams to your quilt that stitch together the scraps of all the stories, the joys and the pains, the loves and losses.  In time, the focus shifts from fixation upon the jagged seams to the view of brilliant colors that tell the whole story, a very, very good one in the end.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Scars

I didn't want to be there. I did not want to be sitting in the waiting room of the UCI Chao Family Cancer center yesterday awaiting my turn to reveal my freshly healing Frankenstein scar on my right thigh to my doctor. I already knew he told me everything was going to be fine. "We got it all," he said. This, along with his glee at what a beautiful work of art he and his gorgeous plastic surgeon side-kick had created. I am truly surprised they did not think to tattoo their names around the landmark, being that proud.

Well, in truth, for me, everything is not fine just yet. I am glad they are confident there are no lingering cells growing in the site of my surgery, truly I am. But for me, the truth of his "we got it all" statement but in the sense that in taking out the growing cancerous tumor, they also removed a little piece of my youth and left a souvenir of my mortality, left me with an obstructed view as I try to move forward from this. It's like one of those stone-hit-my-windshield damages that you cannot ignore as you are trying to drive in rush hour. It is always there in front of me now, like it or not. Gone forever are the expectations of having perfect thighs which in the past might have been funny, but now as I say this, I want to cry. This bruised, red, inflamed gauge in my leg is there to remind me of that now every day.

I heal up well, though. I am pretty sure that Dr. BradPitt who aspires to a career in Orange County plastic surgery did a gorgeous job on an area of my body that seldom ever sees the light of day. Just the same, a year from now it will be a faded, light pink mark, lacking feeling around its perimeter which is, apparently, another "normal" new-normal. It joins the ranks of my rotator cuff incision, appendix, c-section, abdominal surgery and other landmarks. I am officially disqualified from the Perfect Pageant. I should be relieved that the pressure is off, but to be honest, I am sad about it.