Another Year Gone

With tomorrow being another Hatch Day for me, it forces me to think about this past year… The past two years have been quite turbulent for me… My world has been turned upside down… The one thing that I thought I could rely on until the end of my days declared war on me… There isn’t anything or anyone to blame, it just is… And I’ve learned to accept it… I may not always LIKE it, but I accept it… My illness and my aneurism have forced me to have limitations, which I’ve never had to deal with before… It’s forced me to live with little to no money, multiple medications every day, a severe change in my foods, curtailed my travel to nothing but home, work, Dr’s appts, and the grocery store and a complete lack of trust of what I can and can no longer do…

I lived in a very difficult situation for almost 21 years and when I was finally free from that, and had finally gotten back to my roots and moving forward, Fate decided She needed to have some fun… So I was forced to, as they say, drop back and punt… Being the Cowboys fan that I am, I’m ready to punt… (Hey, no nasty comments about Dallas… *grin*) And that, dear readers, is where I am today… I’ve spent the last two years crawling in fear, running in terror, and praying that there would be what I needed at the end of whatever road I was on…

Then I heard a speech today by Stuart Scott… Don’t know who he is? Neither did I until today… He’s a sports commentator on ESPN… He won an award at the ESPYS this past week… Why? Because for the last 7 years this man has been fighting tooth and nail with cancer… He refused to give up… Just prior to the awards show, and I mean JUST prior, he was in the hospital… The last 10 days leading up to the show, he had 4 surgeries, liver failure, and kidney failure… Yet, there he was, on the stage, talking about how he was fighting… He was working out, traveling, and doing what HE wanted to do… It struck me… It really did…

I look around me and I see the disorder… And I know it’s not just in my house… It’s in my head too… It’s time to file all that stuff away… It’s time to step out into the sun again… But it will be baby steps… It has to be… I’ve become an introvert over the last 2 years… Shy, terrified, introspective, and at times quieter than death… Come at me and I’ll run… I can’t help it… But hold out your hand quietly, welcome me with a smile, and help me to step back out… I don’t think I can; I don’t think I WANT to live another year like this… I’m holding out my hand for anyone who will take it gently… It’s tentative and it’s shaking, but it’s out there… I’m ready…

It’s June already?! And life goes on…

It’s hard to believe, dear readers, that almost half a year has gone by… I remember as a child reading that life goes faster, the older you become… I used to think they were daffy!  No, not THAT kind of daffy… The other kind!  But I found out, they were right… I think back over the last 5 months and wonder what all has gone on… Well, tons of things have, actually… Some important… Some not…

First, the news on my aneurism… I found a new Cardiologist and I think he’s wonderful… I love his attitude about his patients, and I love how he thinks outside of his box…What I mean is, he sees me as more than just a heart on a scan… He looks at the whole being… He wants to know what you do with your life, and how any other illnesses that you have interact with your heart… He did a new scan on me; a much more detailed scan… The results were bad AND good… First, the bad news… The little bubble is in one of the worst locations it can be… It’s not in the ascending OR descending aorta… It’s right at the arch where the one becomes the other… What does that mean?  Well, it means no stint for me… And no repair either… When they finally do go in to take care of it, it’ll require a full out replacement… It also means they’ll have to go in full tilt, meaning they’ll have to cut open the sternum bone to get to it… Longer recovery, and more risk…. Ok, that’s the bad news… The GOOD news is that it’s smaller than we originally thought… It’s not 5 centimeters, it’s actually only 4.4 centimeters… That means I’ve got some time before they start talking surgery… He’s hoping that I can go another 20 years before we’ll need to do anything with it, and by then the technology will be such that they’ll have a better way to fix it…

OH, and my heart is not only completely plaque free, it’s also completely calcium free and defect free… And my EF (which means “Ejection Fraction”) is 68 which is fantastic… What EF means is that whenever my heart is pumping, it’s pumping 68% “of the total amount of blood in the left ventricle out with each heartbeat.”  (Thank you Cleveland Clinic for the definition and assistance in understanding this!)  The normal level is 55% to 70%, so I’m at the good end of this spectrum!  (Who knew that bacon diet I’m on would work?!)  The Cardio Doc was very happy with my results and it really helped to put me at ease… I still have to be careful about what I do and we have to make sure my heartrate and BP stay low… But compared to how my other Cardio doc made me feel, I now feel like I at least have something to look forward to!  My new Doc was very clear that he doesn’t want me to put myself “in a bubble”… He repeated over and over again that “you’re too young to be putting yourself in a bubble…  Now, don’t join an Olympic rowing team, or an Olympic weightlifting team and NO marathon running…”  I replied that he had just ruined my weekend plans, dagnabit!!!  LOL

I also have a new UC doc… My other one retired back over the Christmas holidays and it took me 3 months to get to see the new one… I haven’t decided how I feel about this one yet, but hopefully I won’t see much of him and that’s the way I like it… (That means that I’m healthy and have no need to see him…)  So all in all, I’m not too bad with the health side of the house…

On a side note: I asked this new UC about taking a prescription probiotic and he gladly agreed… I started taking it a week ago and it’s done very well for me so far… It’s called VSL#3… It’s a powder that you take once a day… You can add it to milk, water, yogurt, ice cream (yeah!), whatever… It is actually cheaper for me than the other probiotics I was on, so it’s a win-win so far!

The Fuzzy housemates are also fine… We went through a 7 month trip there where all three of my fuzzy ones ended up at the Vet’s… Beep, with her nose and ears.. Sophie, who (believe it or not) blew out an anal gland and have to have surgery to clean it up and stitch it up… And then my fuzzy boy, Squirt, who ended up going in for what the Vet says was pancreatitis… I disagree with his diagnosis, to be honest… And I was NOT happy with the meds he gave my boy… I believe my boy was poisoned, along with another critter that ended up dying under my house… It was just too coincidental that those two events happened at the same time, in my opinion… It’s taken a long time for my boy to heal and get back to normal… He still doesn’t go too far from the house anymore, and for this, I’m grateful… I do want to give a huge shout-out to my best friend… She stepped in at a time I truly needed help, and (although I’m sure she does) has no idea how grateful I am for her help… (BTW, Bestie, I WILL be paying you back for your help… I know, I can hear you from here, but deal with it…  LOL)  LOVE you!!!

I’m still in the process of trying to sell my motorcycle… Unfortunately it’s a smaller bike, which makes it appealing for newer riders, but they don’t want to pay the price for an almost brand new bike… So far I’m ok with it financially, but I do hope to sell it soon…

Overall, life is moving along!  I’m changing my work locations which can be bittersweet… Someone told me yesterday that the “mojo” in our current location seems to have died… And I believe she’s right… I used to love going to work and looked forward to opening my office door each day… Now, it’s an experiment in “what massive screw up will happen today?”… There’s a whole group of us moving and most folks seem excited about the change… I’m going in with my hopes high and eyes looking forward…

On another front, I have become a Grandmother in the last month… My Son had two babies, a week apart… My Grandson Julian and my Granddaughter Rylee are beautiful, fully equipped, and I know will have Blessed lives… Welcome to the World, little ones!  You will only add to the wonder and joy that is this big blue marble…

So, as I bring this to a close, I see the world with a little bit of optimism… It’s guarded, but at least it’s there… So as I leave you, remember this: ask questions (lots of them), don’t accept everything you hear or read at face value, try not to worry (still working on this one) and remember to try and find the humor in all that you do!!  Live well and we’ll talk again soon!

The idea of death, or not…

I’ve been debating all day whether to write this or not… But like so many other things, if I don’t write it, it will sit in my mind and fester until I go nuts… I’ve spent the day getting my Wills in place, making sure I had arrangements for my Cats, getting my Living Will put together, etc… I scared my best friend with some of my emails to her today, and to her I apologize… That was not my intention… My only intention was to put things on paper, and make sure others knew things that they should know… For those of you who are wondering why death is on my mind, allow me to illuminate the situation…  *click – to turn on the light*

I’m always relieved when someone is delivering
a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it. – George Carlin

First, and probably the most dangerous at the moment, 15 months ago I was diagnosed with an aneurism in the aorta above my heart… Last year, in June, it was 4.7 centimeters long… That’s just under 2 inches in size… I’m going to be confirming that size in about 2 months, sooner if I can get them to agree to it… I also have a polyp in my lung, although I was told it was nothing to worry about… I have afib of the heart, that acts up from time to time… And finally I have UC, Ulcerative Colitis…  In other words, I’m a MESS!  LOL  I’ve never been a hypochondriac in my life, but it seems that I am now… Every time I feel a twinge, a pull, or something else in my heart, my blood goes cold… (Imagine scenes from Sanford and Son; “I’m coming’ ‘Lizabeth!”)  *grin*

A recent survey stated that the average person’s greatest fear is having to give a speech in public. Somehow this ranked even higher than death which was third on the list. So, you’re telling me that at a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy?  –JERRY SEINFELD

It makes me want to make sure that folks know the things they should know, that people have the lists they should have, and that folks know how I feel… And shouldn’t we tell those folks how we feel anyway, withOUT the feeling that death is on the doorstep?  So that’s the other reason I’m here… To say those things that we should be saying anyway… And you’ll get this BEFORE my death, so if you have issues with what I say here, say it to me now!  ‘Cause I could croak tomorrow and you wouldn’t have a chance to edit it!  *cackle*

The living are just the dead on holiday – Maurice Maeterlinck

To my kids, Denise and Elric, thank you… Denise, you make me so proud with the things you experience and learn… You were my first child, my first experience at adulthood, and you taught me more than anyone else in my life… You and I experienced things that no one else will ever understand… You are smart, beautiful and have so much to offer… Just remember that YOU come first… Not some man… YOU… Above all else, take care of you before you try to take care of someone else…   To Elric, my smart ass son, you didn’t fall too far from your family tree… You learned quick, learned well and forgot little… I remember our discussions, our arguments and our conversations… You could have been a helluva lawyer… But I loved them!  You are a strong personality and I love that… Be who you want to be… You’ve made your mistakes, and from those mistakes you’ve made decisions… Live with those decisions and improve on them… Be what you want to be, and be the best at it… I love you both…

Quote seen, but no idea who wrote it:  When I die, can someone dress up like the Reaper and attend my ceremony?  Don’t say anything, just stand there…

To my parents, it’s not easy being my parents, I’m sure… But you hung in there… You loved me, asked about me, and made sure I knew you were there… All kids walk a strange path, but once I made it past that path, you were still there for me; waiting…  There are areas of my life that you may not agree with, but please know that I am who I am because of the strength you gave me… Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and for loving me… I love you both so much!

Johnny Carson: For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.

To my best friend, Karen… You will never know what you’ve meant to me… There are things you’ve taught me, that you’re not even aware of… Your patience, love, humour, and persistence have meant more to me, then I can possibly say here… You have the gentleness of a lamb, but the heart of a Lion!  You’ve stood up for me, when no one else did… You’ve taught me what a loving relationship is supposed to be… Hopefully I’ll have time in my life to put that last lesson to good use… Thank you for being who you are… Thank you and Derek for showing me the good and pain-free side of life… You both have your Angel Wings already, wear them proudly… I love you both!

According to the L.A. Times, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to take “a harder stance” on the death penalty. What’s a harder stance on the death penalty? We’re already killing the guy? How do you take a harder stance on the death penalty? What, are you going to tickle him first? Give him itching powder? Put a thumbtack on the electric chair?  –JAY LENO

To my other friends, Melissa, ML, Roger, Sharon, Jan, Janice, Anita, James, Victor and Sheila… (If you’re name is not here, it’s not that I don’t think of you too… It’s just that I’m getting old and my mind forgets things from time to time… Now…what was I doing again?)  *grin*  We’ve all shared some fabulous times together!  Some of you I work with, and you make my days go by a little faster, a little easier and a little less stressful… Some of you I know outside of work… (I know; I have a life outside of work?  How can that be?)  You’ve enriched my life, helped me to grow and helped me pave my way to what I’m supposed to be… You all have left your footprint on my heart, and I’m happy that my heart has those prints… I hope in some small way, that I’ve left a paw print for you as well…

I don’t believe in an after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
~ Woody Allen

To my Cats: Sophie, Beep and Squirt… You three have been my anchor for the last 9 years… No matter what, you are there, waiting for me, waking me up, being with me when I felt lonely, and reminding me of just what fuzzy love is… Soph, you came out of your shell at my lowest point and proved to me that you really do have a heart… You slept with me, purred for me and checked on me when I just didn’t think I had the strength anymore to get up… Beep, you showed me what a world without sound can be…  With your hearing gone, you increased your purrsonality and your voice volume to make sure you’re heard… And to Squirt, my fuzzy boyfriend, you’re the only man in my life… With your big rabbit feet, you allowed me to sing YMCA, make you fang smile, and in general use your feet for my amusement…

I have lost friends, some by death — others by sheer inability to cross the street.
~ Virginia Woolf

There are so many folks who took a chance on me… And I hope I haven’t disappointed you or made you regret that chance… I hope that in some small way, I’ve helped to make you smile… I believe that we live multiple lives in order to learn something… And that each life we pass through, is another chance to learn the next lesson on our way to whatever version of Heaven you believe in… Everyone reading this has had some small part of my life and in the lessons I needed to learn… Thank you for being there, in whatever capacity you were… And thank you for listening!

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? ~ Woody Allen

So, to death I say, ok I’m ready now… I’ve said my peace, I’ve collected my paperwork, I’ve left behind whatever I’m going to leave behind… Whatever comes, will come… And even though I hope to live and annoy people for at least another 30 to 40 years, I will leave with nothing left unsaid, or love unshown…  So bring it on! Don’t forget the scythe!  It’s just not a proper death without the scythe!  I’d feel so cheated… And just like Ron Weasley said:

“Death’s got an Invisibility Cloak?” Harry interrupted again.
“So he can sneak up on people,” said Ron. “Sometimes he gets bored of running at them, flapping his arms and shrieking…”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows