Big And Quick

No, this is most certainly NOT about my long ago wedding night! Nor is it a new country duo.

I recently heard someone say that big things in life tend to happen quickly. It gave me pause and without much thought I tended to agree. Thinking about it further, not so much.

They say the three most stressful things you go through in life are marriage, buying a house and having a baby. All of those things — all unequivocally big — happen over time and usually with at least a moderate amount of planning. Even if the pregnancy is a surprise, there are still nine months to prepare.

Is it just the big bad things than happen fast? In my experience, serious illness and parents’ deaths happened both overnight and in an instant.

But big good things have come out of nowhere too. I found Piper, our bird, online at a bird rescue and sanctuary with one click of the mouse. Even people who consistently play the lottery win it with one ticket purchased a day or two before the drawing.

Life is made up of quick, slow, big, small, good, bad, planned, surprise moments, in any number of combinations. So I don’t think we can be so quick to make such a big statement.

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Keep Your Monster Close Blut Yourself Closer

When I was a kid, I never worried about what may be hiding in the closet or under the bed.

Now, however, the monster lurks. The demon lays dormant as I fall asleep at the beginning of the night, but if I wake up hours before dawn, it is there. I can feel it before I open my eyes. I’m careful to plant my feet as far away from the bed as possible when I get up to use the bathroom; I don’t want it to reach from under the bed and grab me. I do a leap/fall back into bed upon my return. I flip the pillow to the cool side and pull up the covers, and it is already grabbing at me.

I feel its claw on my arm. My mom is dead.
Its grip tightens. The last two months of her life. When she was dying and we all knew it.
It swipes at my leg. My mom’s final hours. Her last breath as I hold her hand.
It grabs my leg and squeezes. I wake up and can’t see out of my right eye. 
It climbs on the bed, increasing its hold on my arm and my leg. The next day my left eye is blind.
I try to shake it off me. You’ve got to get yourself out of this, Sister Rain. Think happy thoughts. 
The more I try to pull away, the stronger its grasp. A week in the hospital in Philadelphia.
I miss driving. 
I miss traveling. 
I miss my career. 
I miss my salary. 
It won’t let go of me and I can’t move.

I’ve got to stop these thoughts. When I do, the monster will go away.

For me the key to defeat is a total shut down of all memories, good and bad. Looking back even on happy times in the middle of the night can be an invitation for the monster to come on up, take hold of an arm or a leg and stay awhile. I get my headphones and iPhone and listen to talk radio. I make myself focus on the conversation coming from SiriusXM. The monster loosens its grip. It slips away. So do I. I sleep.

In the morning, the events of 2 a.m. are nothing more than a small irritant in the back of my mind.

As kids, the monster under the bed is scary; it’s ugly and it means to hurt us physically. We’ve never seen it, but we know it’s there. Waiting.

As adults, physical danger is not at risk. There is no parent to call out to for help and our beloved teddy bear has been replaced by a snoring husband who has no idea the battle we are waging right next to him. As adults, we know our monster for it is our own self. And what could be scarier than that?

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Incredibly Profound Emails

Amid the emails from stores promoting their sales, two messages conveying the most opposite ends of life’s spectrum.

The first, an update on a family friend with terminal cancer. He is at home and in his final hours. A request for prayers that his grown children make it home in time.

The second, a note from a former co-worker; the seven-year-old boy he and his wife have been fostering for two and a half years is officially their son. Included is a beautiful photo of all four of their sons.

Incredible sadness. Profound joy.

And they say email is impersonal.

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Advertisement Ailments

The amount of crap daytime television programs is only outmatched by the awful commercials. Today I saw the following, all during one break, in this order:

  • Clinical Trial for Schizophrenia Medication 
  • California Walnuts
  • Psoriasis Medication
  • Ulcerative Colitis Medication 
  • Democrats @ South Carolina Town Hall Meeting Tonight 
  • Oscars 
I have empathy for anyone with any condition. If a medication can help them, how fantastic is that? I mean, come on Optic Nerve Restoration Elixir! But this back-to-back representation of people living with these three afflictions was enough to make me itch and burn and start naming my personalities. With the Triple Threat I witnessed, I’m suggesting a tonic for hypochondria be slotted in between the politicians and the entertainment industry’s “biggest night”. The only more fitting product placement? Hemorrhoid cream. 
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Monday’s Worth

 A friend texted me this morning that she was about to begin painting one of the rooms in her house, an undertaking no one I know looks forward to. She said she keeps telling herself it will be worth it when it’s done.

I replied:

That’s how I feel about everything in my life.

Of course I was trying to be funny but it does hold some truth. We often must tell ourselves this to accomplish the things we’d rather not, which I find to be increasingly more prevalent with each passing day. If you’re Type A like me, crossing an item off my To Do list can be reward enough.
Monday, 2/22/16
Amazon return

Aaaahhhh. Definitely worth it.
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Mammogram Service Announcement

In Tuesday’s post, Fear In 3D, I wrote about the trepidation I felt in regard to my next day’s mammogram, my first in five years. The actual test was easy and painless.

I was going to document the events that followed the day after, but wanted this post to be more informative rather than a record of the pure, unadulterated fear and panic my husband and I experienced. I had been told by the technician that a radiologist would review my images the next day and I could expect a letter in the mail in a few weeks and a call from my family doctor. If they needed me to come back for further testing, they would let me know. And that they did.

I had some irregular tissue in my right breast and I needed an ultrasound. They had an opening for that afternoon and I took it. What they saw turned out to be a lymph node that showed as a tiny speck on my last, long ago mammogram. The new 3D technology made this previous dot stand out, as if it was holding a giant red flag.

But here’s what I want you to know in case you don’t. As I didn’t. But now I do. And now you know too.

The need for an ultrasound after a mammogram is very, very common. The ultrasound is a way to get another look at something found during a mammogram. Think if it as due diligence.

The American Cancer Society says that “less than 10% of women called back (after a mammogram) for more tests are found to have breast cancer”. Click here for the full article.

I will go back in six months for a follow-up mammogram of just this breast. There will be no more putting it off. And there will be no more panic should I get a call for further testing. OK, I can’t promise no panic, but it definitely will be reduced.

Go get a mammogram. Even if you’re scared. Take it one step at a time should additional testing be required. Take a friend with you, someone who has had to have more testing. It won’t be hard to find that person, it happens all the time. You can do it. You must do it. Don’t let it fo Luke I did. That only exacerbates any fear you may have. Don’t I know it.

And now you know too.

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Fear In 3D

So, tomorrow I have my first mammogram in over five years. I know, I know.

I have been so focused on what is going on with my optic nerves that my lady parts have taken a back seat. That’s the truth. And it’s also an excuse. New year, new excuses, right?

I’m just kidding. New year, new attitude. Tomorrow I go for my first 3D breast photo shoot. Here’s the thing: I am really, really scared. Not of the squishing or the flattening, although there always is a few seconds where I worry they won’t plump back up again, but of the results.

I understand the extreme importance of early detection. My closest friends all go yearly and they have all encouraged me to get it done. Some got downright tough with me. Never have I had such a throng of offers to drive me anywhere. And I love them for it.

I went through some things in my childhood that were horrible. My father was an alcoholic and put my mom and me through hell. And somewhere in my subconscious I thought I had had my troubles young and had gotten them out of the way. That would be hysterical if it wasn’t so damn sad. But I think a lot of people think this way. My friends tell me I have had more than my share and that I’ve already had “my thing”. If only they were the ones handing out the shares and the things.

When I woke up blind I wasn’t really worried. I suppose shock played a big factor but at no time did I thunk I had a brain tumor or that my life was in danger. I never thought my sight would not be fully restored. I suppose that’s the tiny silver lining inside the big fat horror of a sudden illness. But really, no matter when you find out you are in a medical crisis, it’s sudden. It may have been there for awhile but you didn’t know. And then you do. That’s the very definition of sudden.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a pessimist now after the four tragedies in three years but I will say, ironically, that my eyes are more open now to what can happen in the blink of an eye, whether its nerves are working or not. It’s as if I know at 50 what most people won’t learn until they are 80. And that’s why I’m so rattled.

Day-to-day I must be brave to live my life with limited vision. But when it comes to the possibility of more health issues, I am the opposite of courageous and of who I was before I knew you could wake up blind with no warning.

I’m a nervous wreck but 3D mammogram here I come. I’m putting on my big girl panties and taking off my big girl bra. What’s that? I don’t take my bra off until I’m in the little room with the gowns? Oops. Sorry about that folks. My bra. I mean, my bad. I told you I’m a worried mess!

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The Sweetest Place On Earth

My Christmas Gift
From My Best Friend:

Overnight Trip
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Happy Hour 
Winter Mule (left) and Sparkling Winter Fizz (right)

Delicious Dinner and Dessert
All at The Mill
Beautiful and Historuc Building
Great Atmosphere
Outstanding Service
Kathy Griffin 
Hershey Theater
She Was On Fire From Her First Word 
And Didn’t Stop For Over Two Hours

Walking To The Theater, A Few Blocks From Where We Parked, 
In The Snow, On A Crowded Sidewalk, 
She Held My Hand, She Encouraged Me,
She Understood The Pressure I Felt 
She Gets It
What Is Sweeter Than That?
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