I haven’t written in awhile due to spending several days in a comatose state, paralyzed by subconscious anxiety. Followed by several days recovering from the comatose state and re-engaging with life.
I have found myself internally bargaining with God. If You heal me, God, I promise to be a living testament of faith in You. If not, well then, all bets are off and F You. Not exactly spiritual, but very much human. A friend said to me this morning, “God is a Big Dude, and can handle your anger and doubt.”
I should find out the results of my 3 month MRI, which I had last Friday, in the next two days. Can you believe that they won’t rush the radiologist for ME??
I’m holding out for a complete healing miracle. I’d settle for no signs of growth.
I am so happy to be officially off my medical leave and back at work! I was able to transfer from Payroll & Accounting to Animal Care at the animal welfare organization that I have worked at for the past year. I have received some amusing comments/questions and confused looks from my co-workers who know me as the lady who does payroll. One told me that I finally decided to come down and get my hands dirty. Well, that’s what the gloves are for, my hands stay perfectly clean. The rest of me I can’t comment on, but let’s just say that I take all my clothes off as soon as I walk into my house! I have gone from business casual in a cubicle to khakis and a t-shirt cleaning animal kennels, and they all want to know why. Wednesday, I was even congratulated and thanked for making it through my first day without quitting!
I love my new position, with the exception of starting at 6am. I haven’t had nearly enough coffee by 6am! I’m so busy cleaning kennels and feeding the critters, that I only notice the passage of time by my hunger for lunch. I am definitely getting a work-out. I’m learning a lot about the different animals, and myself. For instance, in just two days time, I am now pretty much terrified of chihuahuas. Ok, only the scared or angry ones. Also, small breed dogs seem to poop a lot more than the big guys . I’m pretty sure that a great-dane snuck into a little terrier’s kennel last night just to go poop.
With all the scrubbing and hosing and chasing of dogs (oh yeah, I’ve had three escapees in two days), I don’t have any time to think of brain tumor Bob. Except when I think to myself, “huh, I’m not thinking about the brain tumor” or when someone stops me to ask why I decided to work in Animal Care instead of Accounting. The appropriate answer to that question is NOT, “I have a brain tumor, took some time off, then decided that I’d rather work in a less mentally stressful environment and interact with the animals so that I don’t think about my brain tumor all day.” It makes people uncomfortable. Which can sometimes be fun. 😉
Six days until my next MRI, but who’s counting?
I think back to when I quit drinking alcohol 18 years ago and remember how obsessed I was about NOT drinking, every day, for months and months. Eventually, not drinking became my new normal, it was no longer an “issue” that I struggled with. That experience led me to a faith that I never wanted or considered before. The faith that I have gained gives me hope that there will come a time when I am not obsessed with having a brain tumor, and that I will get to another new normal.
For a few days now, I’ve been fighting against sinking into the pit of Nothing Matters Anymore. Today, I have sunk. Call it self-pity, call it being a victim, call it being spiritually un-fit. Maybe it is that, or maybe I’m just human. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing, and now I am throwing what amounts to a public temper-tantrum. Feel free to skip this entry if you are hoping for humor or inspiration. My supplies were dwindling and now I’m fresh out.
I don’t want to pray.
I don’t want to meditate.
I don’t want to visualize healing.
I don’t want to be strong or courageous.
Today, I don’t want a F*ing brain tumor. I don’t want to wonder WHY or what to do about it. I don’t want to read brain tumor research, eat clean, or have a brain tumor.
I’m angry that I can’t stay emotionally stable, and that I’m exhausted most of the time. I’m angry that thinking positive feels too difficult.
I’m angry because I’m scared. And I am angry at myself for being scared. I have heard too many times that fear is the opposite of faith. If I don’t have enough faith, does that mean that I won’t get better? If I can’t stay positive does that mean I will get worse?
I may wake up in a better mood… with gratitude, acceptance, and willingness. This whole being human thing sure is challenging.
I have to be honest, I used to flat out hate the prayer of St. Francis. Do you know that one? It’s all about being nice and helping others, disregarding my own ego. Are you kidding me?
I didn’t grow up with any religion, and first heard and read this prayer when I got into recovery for my alcoholism. That was NOT what I wanted to hear, let alone aspire to feel/believe/follow. I just wanted to feel better, and wanted to be the one being understood, consoled, pardoned, and loved. I felt that I had nothing to give to anyone else, I was all tapped out.
It has been a challenging journey since then, with one AFGO after another. (AFGO = Another F’ing Growth Opportunity) A journey to understand myself, learning to accept love, forgiving myself and others. I began to pray, not out of faith, but out of pure desperation, to be relieved of my misery. I followed (and continue to follow) a path laid out before me by others who walked a similar path and who were more content and joyful than I thought would ever be possible for me. I eventually came to believe that it was possible to choose joy and serenity regardless of outside conditions. Not that I always make that choice (I am a stubborn human being after all, just ask my mom!)
I am grateful for all of the experiences that I have had, and for my commitment to the recovery journey, for without it, I would be lost at sea with no compass right now. I have had years of developing my faith, years of retrospect that prayers do work (whether one refers to them as sending positive vibes, good energy, tapping into the power of the Universe, etc.) and that God’s plan is always way bigger and better than any of my own plans or expectations.
Any bit of grace or inspiration that I have or can offer as I walk, crawl, or cry through this situation, comes from my faith in One much greater than I, which I believe is deep inside every one of us.
I have the prayer of St. Francis taped above my computer where I can see it, read it, and pray it with earnest every day. It brings me peace, as I pray to shine a little light into the darkness.
I woke up feeling defeated this morning. A little downward spiral began yesterday afternoon actually, after a visit to my work-place where I am on a leave of absence from. I have been in limbo between wanting to go back to work and trying to get hired in a less-stressful department. I was hoping for resolution yesterday, but instead I was told that they would let me know in about two weeks. The un-knowing is very unsettling. As is the being-broke.
My next MRI is in two weeks, which will let us see if Bob is growing. I feel 95-98% certain that Bob is behaving, but I don’t have a crystal ball and cannot assure my supervisors that I am not going to need to take time off for a biopsy and therefore get back to work as a reliable part of the team.
I took my defeated ego to bed for a nap yesterday afternoon, and if I hadn’t made a commitment to myself to go to boxing class in the evening, then meet some lovely friends for dinner, I would not have gotten back up until this morning. Was that me, just yesterday morning, who felt such faith and trust that everything is working out the way it should? Well, F that person, this person had decided to wallow in the shallow mud of self-pity for the rest of the foreseeable future, or at least until boxing class, where I could imagine that I was beating the crap out of Bob with my fists.
I do not like the see-saw of emotions, of faith/non-faith, of gratitude/self-pity, of patience/impatience. This battle of ego and acceptance sucks.
This morning, I woke up on the self-pity side of the bed. I pulled on my sweatpants, t-shirt, and baseball hat (my pre-shower uniform) and leashed my dog to walk to the nearby coffee shop. Since I feel like crap and can’t go to work, I may as well sit outside and study.
Walking past an alley just a block from my house, I saw a barrel-composter with a “Free” sign taped to it. I dragged my confused dog back home, drove my Element back, wrestled the thing up onto the back gate, and drove it home, with all the excitement of a child on Christmas morning.
My roommate was in the kitchen making breakfast as I burst inside with my new and improved attitude exclaiming, “I found a free composter!” I am glad to tell you that she seemed as pleased about this as I was. I told her about how my mood and attitude had been until seeing this gem, and she said, “keep calm and compost.” Yes, that! I think we’ll have some t-shirts made.
Do you ever hear the same parable, advice, or message spoken many times in different ways by different people, and one time it finally clicks? This happens to me a lot. Today’s message that finally “clicked” for me is that to live an inspired life allows others to also live an inspired life, it doesn’t do anyone any good to play small. That’s a paraphrase, I don’t remember exactly how the woman speaking today actually said it, but that’s what it meant to me when I heard her.
Previously, when I would have an inspiration to write a poem, a story, create art, or come up with a great idea, my inner critic would shout at me, “who do you think you are to suppose you have anything to say?” Everything has already been said, thought of, or created by much more talented people than I. So I would shrink my creative spirit back down inside.
So, what does an inspired life look like? Becoming a famous novelist? Becoming an award-winning talk-show host? Winning a Nobel Peace Prize? That’s how I used to look at it, which automatically left me feeling defeated. I’ve spent so much of my life in “survival mode,” working to just get by. I would envy people with more than me who seemed to have all the opportunity, talent, and fun.
Today, I know that I have the power to choose to live an inspired life, no matter what my circumstances. What that looks like for me, for now: being truly grateful for all that I have, taking and sharing photographs (with just my iPhone 4) and loving them, writing (this blog, with short stories percolating in my head now…) and trying new things outside of my comfort zone. I may not have anything new to say or create, but I am expressing myself and in general living out loud!
I had to go and get a brain tumor to change my perspective, but I am immensely grateful for my new outlook. Being confronted in this way led me deeper into meditation, prayer, and exploring quantum physics (don’t ask).
In case you were waiting for permission: go ahead, live an inspired life, whatever that feels like to you! It’s super-awesome fun!
Thank you all for your ongoing encouragement, prayers, and positivity… more will be revealed.
I have set a new goal, which involves planning for the future. That in itself excites me. Planning for the FUTURE! That does not mean that I’ve been given the “all-clear” from the docs, just that I have decided to keep on living as if. I have not been good at setting goals or making long-term plans, like, ever. It has been difficult lately even to make short-term plans, beyond scheduling doctors’ and radiology appointments. There are a ton of concerts that I’d love to go see this summer for instance, but I have been too cautious to buy tickets just in case I’m laid up after a biopsy or going through some type of treatment by the time the show rolls around. (OK, I’m also not working, thus broke, so I can’t buy tickets anyways, but that’s not the point.)
So, you may ask, what is this new future goal? (Go ahead, ask.) Well, I’m so glad you asked! My goal is to buy a little travel trailer and travel to my heart’s content. My goal even has steps to get there (uh-huh, there I go making plans…) I will say that I am just going to do the footwork and leave the results to the Big Guy.
Find a career that I can do from “home” – home being wherever the trailer is.
Really, 1.b. but I don’t know how to make that kind of list here… finish the online medical coding and billing program that I began ages ago, leading to desired portable career.
Begin my “travel trailer” fund. This would involve going back to work, which I really am attempting to do.
Find a coding/billing job that allows working over the World Wide Interwebs.
Find a trailer that my Honda Element (towing capacity 1,500 lbs) can tow. My car is finally paid off, and I love it, so I am not interested in buying a big truck.
Well, of course, I have already begun obsessively researching travel trailers weighing less than 1,500 lbs and have fallen in LOVE with the 13′ Scamp (from the factory, they’re not quite this cute):
So yeah… that’s my next goal! Yahoo!
No news to report on the Bob-front. Next MRI is June 26th.
Do you ever just say YES? I usually don’t. I’ve got to know all the details, plan things out, and make informed decisions. In other words, I’m controlling and like to be in charge. Spontaneity is not my specialty, not since I left college anyways.
A few days ago, my mom said, “Hey, let’s drive to Yellowstone, it’s only 7 hours away!” I had just finished my working interview to return to work in a less stressful capacity, and was told that they were not moving forward with a decision for at least a week. Without further contemplation, I said YES!
We could manage a 3 day road trip. Had I actually looked at a map of Yellowstone and seen it’s enormity, I most likely would have bailed with the reason that we need at least a week! Nope, we did not actually see much of the Park today, and we drive back to Denver in the morning. What we have been surrounded by for the past two days, driving from Denver to Cody, WY yesterday (8 1/2 hours, by the way), and through part of Yellowstone today, is breathtaking, life giving beauty. Beauty that I would have passed on just 2 months ago, if I could not have planned out the perfect trip.
Life for just the past two days has truly been about the journey and not the destination. Had it been about rushing to get to Old Faithful or another specific point in Yellowstone, I would have been sorely disappointed because we simply did not have enough time, partially due to a road closure in the Park. I would have missed out on each moment along the road in which mom and I were “oohing” and “ahing” together as each magnificent and changing landscape passed by our car windows, and would have avoided or complained about each stop along the way.
Having had nearly a month off work while stressing out about a brain tumor biopsy that got put on hold for further observation, it is so wonderful to be out of my house, and out of my head, driving down the road of life with my mom and our dogs! I finally comprehend the phrase, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.”
Thank you for joining me on my journey! More will be revealed…
I have been told by several doctors now that I may have had this brain tumor for many, many years and that it may not grow or cause any harm. Followed by, they can’t really be sure without a biopsy. Followed by, it is in a very risky place to biopsy, so we will just watch it with MRIs to see if it’s growing.
Alright, so say I’ve had this Bob character on my brain stem for years, even since childhood. So, I’m going through life, with all of it’s joys and challenges (brain tumor hanging out), survive the awkward pre-teen and teen years (brain tumor hanging out), develop friendships, hobbies, relationships, several careers (brain tumor, still there), all the usual “life-happening” stuff, with absolutely no knowledge of this brain tumor the entire time.
I started getting these uncontrolled muscle movements, which increased in frequency and intensity over the period of a year or more, until they got bad enough to scare me into seeing a neurologist, who sent me for an MRI. BAM, brain tumor in black and white. Suddenly, I have been made aware of the fact that there is a tumor on my brain stem and I freak the f*ck out. Nothing physically changed in me overnight from March 31st to April 1st, but suddenly I could not function as before. I spent two weeks alternately laughing and crying, unable to work, unable sleep through the night, or eat a decent meal. Due to the knowledge of having a brain tumor, not due to any physical changes. The doctors can’t even agree about whether or not the muscle movement is caused by the tumor.
So, would I have been better off not knowing about Bob? If it turns out that he’s actually growing (5 more weeks til the next MRI), then definitely a good thing to have found out! What if he’s not growing, though?
I have a much deeper appreciation for life since knowing about Bob. I have been given the perfect reason to practice living in the moment, taking each day as it comes. Yes, I have had periods of great fear about the future, greater fear than I’ve ever experienced up until this point. That fear forces me to choose between living in the moment, where I feel healthy, happy, grateful, and strong, or go down the path of the unknown, where my imagination swims in a tidal wave of fearful scenarios. Living in the present moment has become a much easier choice.
While the knowing created a complete upheaval of my routine life, and led me into almost overwhelming fear and anxiety, it has also brought me past that to a great freedom and sometimes (sometimes!) serenity of living in the moment.
I really just needed a good excuse to post this picture of me with my brother, Chad, from my recent visit to see him and his kids. For the record, this was not a planned pose… we were goofing around while a friend was snapping photos, and this is what happened. To me, Chad looks like a zombie who is completely uninterested in eating my brains.
Obviously, one of Bob’s surely many purposes is to save me from the impending zombie apocalypse that everyone keeps talking about. So, there’s that. My brains are safe with Bob on guard.
On another note, there’s the below statistic and an apparent need for more funding into brain tumor research:
That’s all for tonight… just showing off my awesome big brother! Shout out to Chad, you rock bro! Thanks for keeping me laughing.