Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I've been to the hospital here more in the past two months than I thought I would ever visit it in my life. I'm starting to recognize, and be recognized by, people. Today, I was helped by a nurse who was there with me on my first pre-admission appointment, my second pre-admission appointment (when my first surgery didn't happen), and now today. "No offense," I smiled to her as I left, "but I hope I don't have to see you again. Here, anyway."
She smiled and rested her soft, chubby hand on my arm. "Me too, honey. Me too. Good luck tomorrow. Again."
After I left, the hospital called my cell phone to tell me to come in at noon tomorrow for the operation. "Now," said the new nurse over the phone, "that doesn't mean you'll get in for your surgery at that point. We just need you to come in, and get an IV in you. Since you can't eat after midnight." Great. So I could be waiting to get in for my half-hour (prep and cleanup INCLUDED) procedure until four in the afternoon. I was hoping that, because this particular rendez-vous with my doc will be quick and incision free, maybe they could squeeze me in first. No such luck.
And, even though the surgery part of this sucks, I'm glad I'm getting it done this way. Because, yes, I could get it done in the doctor's office, with just local anesthesia. But then I could hear, see and smell what they would be doing to my cervix. And I don't want that. I want a nice, deep, unconscious sleep and get it overwith.
So I won't be posting tomorrow. But I invite you to read below this post for a long one I put up today. I hope it sort of makes up for my absence. I'll see you all on Thursday.
So I peeled the bandaids from my body, and went about my ritual of inspecting my wounds. The incision on my right side was a little bigger, a little more raw than the other one, I fingered the scab forming and turned my attention to my left incision. Smaller and healing better, it only needed a second of inspection before I moved onto my belly button.
My belly button had been the unfortunate loser in the surgery situation. It was allergic to the tape they placed over my incisions, it was red and itchy and the most uncomfortable of all three points of entry into my abdomen. I was under instructions to slather it with Cortizone to alleviate the itching and redness. So I hunched over and took a gander at my poor little belly button, checking out the healing progress. I saw what I thought was a scab, and touched it; Sharp and clear nylon, it was no scab – it felt like fishing line, and it was coming out of my stomach.
Naked, I ran out of the bathroom and to the bed, where Billy was lying watching Spanish television. “There’s a stitch,” I said, pointing to my belly button. “I didn’t know I had a stitch! It’s coming out! Cut it off!” I shook my hands like I’d just touched something hot, squeezed my eyes closed like I’d just gotten soap in them. I was in full-on grossed-out mode.
Billy sat up in bed, and reached over to turn on the bedside lamp. “Let me see,” he said, pulling me closer to him by my hips. “Yuh, yeah. There it is. I see it.”
He looked up at me, his eyes chuckling at my reaction. “’Get it’?”
“Yeah,” I replied, my word coming out as sort of a half laugh, half sigh. “I don’t want it to get caught on something or, I don’t know, fall out or anything. Just trim it down so it doesn’t get caught on something.”
He grabbed the nail clippers we’d just purchased downstairs in the lobby. “Hold still,” he said through lips pursed in concentration.
I tensed my whole body, my whole face squished closed and turned away, certain that he would miss the clear film of the stitch and clip at something vital – like, say, my skin.
“Did you feel that?” I heard him say. I felt him back away from my body, so I relaxed my face and opened my eyes.
“No,” I said, looking at him. He sat on the edge of the bed, clippers squeezed shut, holding up the silver grooming equipment triumphantly.
“I pulled it out.”
Eyes suddenly wide, I focused more intently on the clippers. Sure enough, in the light, I could make out the slight curve of the stitch, it’s clear fiber arching into a perfect, clean half circle.
“I didn’t even know I had stitches,” I said again, squatting to examine the object. “They never told me.”
“How did you think you were, you know, staying closed?” He asked, smirking.
I glared at him from the corner of my eye, then stood up straight. “I don’t know,” I said assuredly. “But that’s not the point, anyway. I just didn’t realize I had stitches.”
A week later, back at my doctor’s office, I related the story to the very doctor who had placed the stitches in my body. “Yes,” she said in her thick Romanian accent. “Dey are suppozed to dissolve, but soometime, de body pushes zem out.” She took a look at my belly button. “But I put dem in verry deep, so you can’t even see dem.”
I nodded, looked at my belly button again. “Well, it looks good now,” I said, pulling my shirt down to cover my exposed belly.
But my belly button proved to be the slowest to heal. Still, after now almost a month, it is still healing and itchy. I have some dry skin in my button, that I am for some reason inexplicably forced to play with and pick at. If I know it’s there, I must touch it.
Billy, who up until the end of July, had spent a great deal of time with his hands on my belly, finger sometimes resting in my belly button (Why? I have no idea. Maybe because it made me squirm?), has been dying for me to get back to normal so that he could once again poke at my belly button while we watch TV or talk or stand around.
Last night, while we laid in bed, he attempted to touch my belly button. “Don’t!” I squealed, sitting up. “I have a scab or something in there. And I don’t want any scars, so I want to leave it absolutely untouched.”
“Let me see it,” he said, sitting up and leaning over my midsection.
“No,” I whined, pulling my shirt taut over my belly. “It’ll hurt.”
“I’m just looking.”
Years ago, when I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I made the international sound for “Stop! That hurts!” when your mouth is filled with instruments, hands and to people are preparing to rip a tooth from your skull: “GRRMMPHHHMMMGGGMRRR!”
“You’re numb,” said the doctor, her masked face looking down on me disapprovingly.
I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head from side to side, as much as I could. I couldn’t afford to be put completely under when they removed my impacted lower wisdoms, so they shot my mouth full of Novocain and gave me Nitrous Oxide. I mumbled something again, to confirm my pain.
She reached behind her, grabbed the needle she’d use to shoot the Novocain into my gums, and jabbed me in the lower lip with it three or four times. I didn’t move. “See,” she said. I could see the movement of her mouth through the green mask she wore. “You’re numb.” She seemed pleased with herself. She wiped away the pinpricks of blood with a square of gauze. “It’s not that it hurts you. I think you’re just anticipating the pain. You’re scared of it.”
And that was the reaction I had last night as Billy threatened to poke around in my belly button. I knew it probably didn’t really hurt, but I was afraid it would. So I clamped my hands over my belly and said no.
“Just let me look,” he said. His eyes smiled and pleaded at the same time when he said it, so I had no choice. I released my hold and let him look.
A minute or two passed. “Are you done yet?” I said, looking down at him. His longer fingers held my belly button, well, open, while he peered in.
“It’s a stitch,” he proclaimed. “Where are my nail clippers?” He seemed excited.
“No,” I said, pulling my shirt back down. “No way. This one is deep, and you are not pulling it out.”
“Oh, come on,” he said, getting up to get his clippers. He searched around the dresser. “Where are the clippers we got in Mexico? Those were awesome.” His voice was distracted, rooting around in the mess of our belongings. He shrugged. “Oh well. These’ll do.” And he came back toward me, shiny silver nail clippers in hand.
“No,” I whined. “Billy, it’s so deep in there. You can’t get it out. No.”
“What do you think will happen?” I could see that he was getting frustrated with me.
“What if my whole belly button unravels and my guts fall out? Huh? What then?” I thought I was funny. He did not. He just looked at me, angry that I wouldn’t let him go exploring.
He rolled his eyes at me, like he thought that I was serious about what I’d just said. “Would you stop being a baby, please, and just let me get it out of you?”
“It’s my body,” was my feeble attempt at a retort.
He let out a disgusted sigh. “Clearly your body is trying to get that stitch out of you. I’m just trying to help. Now stop being a baby and let me.”
He was furious with me. “Stop being so ridiculous. You are acting like a child. Just let me take it out.” His words were sharp, forceful.
“We are done with this conversation,” I said, now hurt by the edge of his voice. I thought we were having lighthearted banter. He was being serious. And I really was afraid of being hurt, and now upset that he didn’t respect that. I snatched the clippers from his hand, set them on the nightstand and looked at the TV.
I could feel his edge retreat. He sighed and turned to face me. “Don’t you know that I’d never hurt you?” I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. “Seriously. I would never hurt you. When are you going to trust me?”
“I do trust you,” I offered, still covering my belly with my hands.
“Then just let me take it out. It needs to come out.”
“Because my body is trying to reject it, or because of some morbid need you have to yank it out?”
“Both. And because I want to be able to touch your belly button again. It’s not going to hurt, I promise.”
A few minutes later, he produced not one, but two stitches. One came out complete with the knot.
“See. Did that hurt?”
“It pinched a little,” I said.
“Did it? Or are you just saying that because admitting that it didn’t hurt would be admitting I was right?”
“No, it did pinch a little.”
“Right,” he said, smiling and examining the last of the two stitches.
Actually, it didn’t hurt at all. But I couldn’t tell him that.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
It's just that, having it there, staring at me every time I opened up my page did nothing to make me feel better. Usually writing something here is my release. In this case, reading my own words made me more anxious. And, of all the things I do need right now, more anxiety is not one of them.
So I removed it, hoping to make like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. I want to just ignore it and live in blissful ignorance.
Because I have bigger things on my plate than something that may or may not happen years from now. Shoot, something could happen between now and then that would all but eliminate the question anyway. I don't know. None of us do. I should enjoy the good that I have now, rather than constantly focusing on an uncertain fifteen years down the road.
I went to my pre-admission testing today, where they drew vial after vial of blood, sat me down, and explained all of the restrictions I have to abide by for the day before surgery. They told me someone will have to drive me home, as I'll be completely unconscious for the procedure. And, of course, that person will be Billy, who, when I originally told him the date of my surgery and asked if he could be there, replied that of course he would be there, and wouldn't miss it for anything. He made it sound like it was something fun and exciting that he'd be attending, and although that's certainly not the case, I know what he meant: I need him, and he'll be there.
Hopefully, after this next round of surgery (which I kind of feel guilty even referring to as "surgery," as there will be no external incisions on my person) everything with me and my lady parts should be back to normal. THEN I can go back to worrying myself sick over things that I have no control over, no matter how much I analyze, focus, or dissect. Then I'll know I'm back to normal.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Do you know what I feel like right now? I feel like I’ve been beat up. And every time I try to get back up again, I get another punch to the face, another kick to the stomach. It’s been so steady and so long, I’ve just gone numb. I don’t have any tears to cry anymore, no matter how badly I want them to fall.
The biopsy I had two weeks ago confirmed what I’d feared – It wasn’t just a weird pap test. Two of the three areas that were abnormal tested for low-level pre-cancer. Next week, I’ll be going under general anesthesia again to rid my cervix of the pre-cancerous (or cancerous? I don’t know) cells that have found a home there. Is it the worst news in the world? No. But does it still suck? Of course it does. My pre-op packet is sitting in my purse, ominous and foreboding, reminding me that every goddamn time I go to the doctor, I leave with more heavy news.
Adding my actual health issues to other things rolling around in my mind, I get on the Why Me kick. Why did I grow cysts big enough to require incisions? Why do I, at twenty five years old, have to deal with even the idea of pre cancer? Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again? Why didn't I learn from my past? Why is all of this - some things that you, dear reader, know about, some you do not - happening to me?...
And I run with that until I have no more questions, until I'm all but exhausted from playing the martyr. It makes me feel tired, burdened.
And, the worst part, it's made me indifferent. I don't even care anymore. I can't even work up enough gusto to be scared or worried about my second procedure in as many months that will require I be unconscious. The other things on my mind, the things I'm not yet willing to talk about? They should be inspiring waves of emotion from me - Tsunamis of tears. But they're not. I'm just numb. I'm going cold. I feel it in my limbs, I hear it in my voice, and when I look into the mirror, I see it in my own eyes.
Even sitting here right now, writing this, I should be crying. I should. Because I'm thinking very hard about what's going through my mind, trying to get it out of me and into Blogger. It's always worked in the past...But not now. I just don't have it in me. Tears for myself, tears for other people...There's just nothing there.
And now, to boot, I can't even write. In the past two days, on the rare occasion that Blogger cooperated with me and let me in, I scrapped draft after draft, because nothing was right. Which is sort of the way my life is going these days. So I apologize for my absence. Hopefully, very shortly, I'll be back to normal.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
As I was weaving my way through my fourth paragraph, I saw a car pull into my place of work's parking lot. I rolled my eyes, as is my standard practice when confronted with actual work when I could be writing, minimized my screen, and readied my unflappable smile.
"Hello," I said to the five of them as they poured themselves through our front door. Apparently, there was much excitement brewing between Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother and Grandma, because they all wanted to squeeze through the one door at the same time. The fervor with which they entered our building caused them to miss my salutation. No one said anything back.
"How are you guys today?" I said, louder this time, projecting my voice toward them. The dad saw me and said hello back. The wife looked at me, but looked away.
"We're just looking," she said, turning to face the left side of our building. Apparently too busy and important to even look in my direction when addressing me, she took off on her quest to just look, and began explaining to her family members everything she saw.
There's something that happens to people when they feel they know a good deal about a particular product or object. They become and expert and begin to explain said product to anyone willing to listen. This also causes them to act like the authority and makes them prematurely disregard anything you (the employee) have to say about said product. They look at you with disdain, as if to say, "You think you know more about this than I do? I watch the Discovery Channel, thank you."
When I heard her incorrectly advising her husband, I offered my standard "I know you're here, but you probably don't want 'help' with anything, so let me phrase it so that it doesn't put you in a position of weakness" phrase:
"Did you have any questions about anything?" I said it in my sweetest voice, through my patented, plastered-on smile, as I walked toward them. It gives people an opportunity to ask you a question without making them feel inferior to you.
"No." She said curtly. "We're just looking."
"Okay," I replied, backing away. "I'll just be here, if you do decide you need anything."
I maximized my blogger screen, prepared to get back to work on my newest, awesome post.
Which is the exact same moment that they unleashed the kid.
He was quiet up until this point. But when his older sister, a tall and awkward thirteen year old, wouldn't give up the seat she found so that he could sit in it, like he wanted, he went nuts.
But not in the crying and screaming kind of way. Oh no. In a much, much worse way. His craziness emerged in the "I have nothing better to do, since I can't sit in that chair, so I just have to find a way to entertain myself." And his way of entertaining himself? Narrating every single solitary move he made.
"I'm walking, I'm walking, I'm walking," his grating six year old little voice said from another room. "I'm turning a corner! Oh, I'm stretching my shirt! I'm walking, I'm walking!"
His mother, who stood just a few feet from me, continued to peruse our selection, completely oblivious to her son's one-sided dialogue. Since he was screaming, though, she had to raise her voice, too. To speak over her child's screeching voice and tell her husband all she knew.
When it was clear the son was getting a little out of control, granny stepped in. She shuffled over to him, and engaged him in conversation. Clearly enthused with her attention, the boy intimated that he'd like to show her around my place of business. So he skipped and jumped and narrated his way through the office, while she trailed behind him, too bent and stiff to walk at his speed.
When the son found the fishtank in the office, his excitement grew to epic proportions. "Granny! Look! FISHES! Look! LOOK! Fish! There's so many! Look at them, Granny! LOOK! Fish! Look at their tails!"
The cursor in front of me blinked, untouched. I wanted to write, but all I could think of was: "Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up."
The mother and father passed my desk, and with each pass, I offered my assistance. "Nope," she maintained. "No questions."
"Well, if you need me," I replied, "I'm here." And, I thought, could you possibly get your kid to shut the fuck up?
"FISHES!" the kid squealed from behind me.
The grandma soon grew tired of hearing about the life the child was creating for each and every fish in the tank. "Maybe he's tired. Look how he's not swimming fast. He's probably tired. Maybe he was swimming really fast earlier in the day. And now he's tired. Right granma? Right?"
She said something agreeable and scuttled off to see the mom. "Strange how that girl's just sitting there," she said. "You'd think she'd want to help you."
The mom agreed.
I looked up from my computer screen. Me! She was talking about me! The same me who had been offering my help with each lap they made of my office, the same me who was told, in no uncertain terms, that my help was neither wanted nor needed. That me.
"HEY!" The kid screamed, still transfixed by the fishtank. "DO YOU THINK THIS FISH IS TIRED?" I cringed.
I decided to force my help upon them, to hurry them up, hence reclaiming the peace and quiet I'd been enjoying until their visit. Anyway, I didn't want to be accused of ignoring them. Clearly, they wanted my help, they just didn't know how to ask for it.
"HEY! GUYS! LOOK AT THE FISH!"
The daughter sat slumped in one of our chairs, clearly uninterested in hanging out with her family, being here, and the fish. She rolled her eyes in the general direction of the fishtank. I had had enough.
I sauntered up to them, going ahead and answering any questions I thought they may have before they could even ask. I explained everything I saw their eyes land on. I left no doubt in their minds as to what they were seeing. The mom still refused to talk to me, instead going ahead with her own perusing. The dad, though, was happy to follow me around and collect samples and brochures. He showered me with thank yous.
The wife was not impressed.
The look she shot me when I offered her my best smile told me that she'd only be happy if I were to either gain four hundred pounds on the spot, or just explode. But as I was, smiling and slim and helpful and undaunted by her evil eye, she was miserable. This was her final straw. "Okay guys," she bellowed through my office. "Time. To. Go."
Forty minutes after their arrival, they waddled out the door.
And I couldn't go back to writing my post because, well, they had driven me crazy and my motivation for the awesome post was gone.
And now it's time to go home. Thank God.
Friday, August 18, 2006
There are moments, in every relationship, when a girl looks at her other half and is overcome by gratitude and pride. I have those moments often; when he's sleeping beside me, and I've not yet fallen into sleep, when he does something warm and thoughtful for someone he loves, when he sings, loud and passionately, in the car next to me. It doesn't take much to make me glad we found each other, to make me grateful for whatever brought us together and kept us that way. There's just something there that keeps me happy, that reminds me, constantly, how lucky I am.
Our first full day in Mexico, Billy's family and I loaded ourselves into a caravan of vehicles that drove us hours out of where we were staying in Merida and into what we believed was the middle of nowhere. Wearing sneakers purchased on a random street corner in a small Mexican town between our hotel and our destination, we headed out to acres and acres of land used to train bull fighters.
We were told that we'd all have an opportunity to stand in the down-scaled arena and wave red capes at large bulls. The boys in the group regressed to twelve year olds, excited at the notion of bull fighting, where the women begrudgingly tied on their tennis shoes, crossed their arms, and maintained that, though we would watch, there would be no place in the arena for us.
We pulled up to the gate that led to the property, our vans rolling over two thin tire lines of dirt road, and parked just in front of a large tent that had been set up for shade. We exited the lush air conditioned seats of our rides and slid out into the heat. We sprayed ourselves with bug repellent to deter the large insects that clung to our vehicles on our drive in, we applied sunblock to the appropriate places, and headed for shade. A band of four men began playing, the thump of their one drum and the smooth shriek of their horns carrying us into the day. I held Billy's hand and smiled, feeling the music in my chest, and knowing I was seeing something I'd never, ever see if not for him.
We were herded to the arena, where we took our seats on an elevated platform over the dusty floor on which the matadors train. The band squeezed in behind our large group and played to us while we took our beers and then our seats and prepared to watch. Spanish words buzzed around me like flies, bouncing off of the trees and the watery green grass of the surrounding fields. Off in the distance, large bulls, deep black and imposing, stood in shallow water and watched us, watching them. Giddy with excitement, we buzzed with laughter and chatter, beneath the blare of the music behind us, and the Mexican sun right over our heads.
"Shhh," Billy's uncle said, using his hand to instruct us to lower our volume. "All the noise is scaring the bull."
The sudden quiet of our group allowed us to hear the thick thump of a bull's body, moving behind a weathered wooden gate. Amazed silence ushered the animal into the arena.
She burst into the arena, barreling through the gate and into the large empty space waiting for her. She stopped, mid-run, and looked around getting her bearings. We whispered to one another, some relatives telling others that the bulls we would be seeing were females, not males like we thought. Despite the horns and the moniker of "bull," which we all believed implied "male," the bulls here were the ladies, the ones that breed the hostility necessary in the male fighting bulls. There was no killing here; the bulls we were watching were actually being watched for their temperaments, the angriest, most aggressive ones being the ladies picked to mate with the hulking bulls standing off in the distance. We widened our eyes and nodded our heads, satisfied with learning something new.
The bull, her fat horns leading the way, began to run around, looking for something. From beneath our seating area, a man, wearing jeans, a button down shirt, and a cowboy hat, strode, chest puffed out, into the center of the dirt, calling out to get the bull's attention. She charged him, her body building force and speed each time her heavy hooves whacked the dirt beneath her. He swung the cape, taunting her, lifting it just as she barreled through it. We clapped and cheered, the band churning to start behind us. I looked up at Billy. "Oh my God," I said to him, my face full of sunshine and shock. "This is incredible."
He smiled back at me, his excitement evident even behind his dark glasses. "I know. I'm glad you like it."
We cheered and screamed and "Olè"d our way through two matadors and two bulls. Billy, tall and obvious beside me, continued to boast that he could do it through his smile. The matador below turned and beckoned him down. "Me?" Billy said, pointing at his own chest, then turning to look behind him. In one motion, all twenty or so of us turned our worried and expectant faces toward him. The matador's voice crawled up the concrete to us: "Si."
So Billy kissed me, and went.
Moments later, in his khaki shorts and short sleeved shirt, he strode into the arena with the same barrel-chested posture and confidence of the true matadors before him. From his long arm dangled the bright red cape and, in Spanish, he called from below us to the band behind us and asked for music. They bubbled to a start, all of us clapping in time with the thick sound of the drum as the bull took notice of Billy.
He looked flawless there, his long legs carrying him out into the center of the circle. Though he may have been scared, his features didn't betray him. He was smooth and certain, his long spine straight and full of bravado. Despite the fact that he was feet taller then the men who briefly showed him what to do, despite his inappropriate dress for the arena, he somehow looked like he belonged there. But with Billy, he always looks like he belongs, just as he his.
I clapped until my hands stung for him, screaming my support, but checking my worry and reminding myself that "he'll be fine." I watched him use his effortless Spanish to call the bull over, to let her know he was there, waiting for her. She outweighed him by hundreds of pounds, and he was calling her, taunting her.
The cape moved steadily, rippling behind his sweeping arm perfectly. I cheered for him, through each swift movement of the cape, through each last-second side-stepping of the bull. I laughed nervously, a small sliver of worry still pricking me as he moved. But I was proud; of how good he was, of how brave he was, of his desire to just try, because when in his life would he ever again have the chance to step into an arena with a cape and a bull.
After a handful of successful passes, Billy turned to us, his adoring audience, and took a bow, then exited the same way he went in: Back straight, at full height, filled to the brim with confidence. We applauded him during his exit. And while I clapped and shouted for him, I watched him and thought, God, he's incredible. And he's mine.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
My trip was incredible. And, although I did not fall prey to the infamous Montezuma's Revenge brought on by drinking the water and eating native, uncooked veggies of Mexico, I did come home with a glorious rash brought on by a mix of sun poisoning and the heat. And when I say "heat," I mean "Hey, am I in Mexico, or am I on the surface of the sun?" Seriously, I didn't know that I was capable of sweating while standing, or sitting, still. But it was beautiful, and so much fun. It went by way too fast.
It's good to be home, though. I missed my bed, my computer, my cell phone, my comfort foods, and you guys.
I promise to write very soon. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to catch up with some work that went undone while I was busy getting a rash across my upper body.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The trip to Mexico I'll be taking (TOMORROW!!!!) is for the wedding of one of Billy's extended family members. Obviously, when one attends a wedding, one needs a dress. But when one doesn't know how formal or casual the function will be, one must find a dress that can go either way.
This is very difficult. But it is a problem best solved by the stores in the mall that cater to adolescent girls, whose very lives are sort of in between. They're also cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap-cheap-cheap. Racks and racks of poorly constructed cleavage-bearing shirts, far-too-short-to-maintain-any-decency skirts, and the occasional borderline-decent dresses hover beneath hot pink signs shouting "$7.99 and up!*" and "Final Sale!" Surely, I thought, I can find something appropriate and disposable here.
I say disposable, because these clothes are rarely crafted to withstand any amount of movement or wear. Additionally, they are usually ill-fitting, groping at my behind, sucking at my thighs and hanging loosely somewhere in the vicinity of my waist/midsection. The chest of any given shirt/dress is always a crap-shoot. Sometimes they squish my C Cups into pathetic little excuses for breasts, sometimes there is a generous amount of fabric left over, turning an otherwise lovely piece of cloth into a terrifying peek-a-boo number. So if I find something that's sort of what I want, but its fit is questionable at best and is liable to just fall off of my body due to faulty construction, I have a hard time committing a decent amount of money to it. Occasionally, though, there is that one diamond in the rough: The kind that creates the perfect cleavage, highlights my tiny waist, cradles my pert bottom, but flares away from (what I consider to be) my problem thighs. And for that, my friends, I don't mind paying $19.99.
In DEB, the Northeast's premier budding-stripper outfitter, I found such a dress. Not to dressy, not too casual, tight where it should be, loose where it should be, good cleavage, nice view of my back, proper length...It was, in a word, perfect. It could go either way in terms of fanciness. I wouldn't be out of place at all. Perfect.
Wha-? In a store that boasts $2 t-shirts, I'm supposed to pay fifty bucks for a dress that I KNOW I'll only wear once? Not because I'm the kind of girl who only wears things once (because, in truth, I think I actually only wear about five items of clothing on a constant rotation), but because it's guaranteed to rip or tear and just fall apart at the seams at some point during the evening.
But, at that point in my shopping experience, I'd been through every goddamn store that Middletown had to offer, closing time at the mall was rapidly approaching, and I was really looking forward to my post-shopping Taco Bell meal (Bean burrito with sour cream and no onions, thankyouverymuch). I struck a few poses in the fitting room mirror, and then, shrugging my shoulders helplessly, decided: Fuck it. I'm buying it.
If the thread and the material do happen to last beyond the few hours that the wedding will require I wear it, I'm going to wear the shit out of that dress.
*These stores are tricky with their teeny-tiny "and up" signs on all of their sale racks. A few days ago, my friend and I were in such a store, and ran to the register with what we thought were $14 dresses in our hot little hands. At fourteen dollars, a girl could buy, like, ten of those things, as emergency outfits or something. When our totals topped $50 for two dresses, we sheepishly told the cashiers to forget it. There's a special kind of disappointment when something that you thought was on sale isn't. It's the absolute polar opposite of the feeling you get when the $100 dress you wanted rings up for $12.
2) There is a trend emerging here in Pennsylvania, and probably everywhere else, that I find very troubling. People, lately, have been coming into my office to meet with my bosses for meetings - important, very costly meetings - with their fucking Bluetooth Technology earpieces affixed to their ears. I don't mean to say that they come in talking on a hands-free headset, I mean to say that they meet with my bosses with that thing that looks like a mutant hearing-aid strapped to their heads. This vexes me for a number of reasons.
a. It looks stupid.
b. Do you really need it when you're certainly not using it at the moment, and you probably won't be answering that phone during your time here?
c. I could be wrong, but it seems pretty simple to remove and reattach. Would it be so hard to, oh, I don't know, just take it off of your head?
d. It seems that, when you wear one of these devices while you're not using it, you're trying to convey a message that says something like: Yes, I am very important. My phone could ring at any minute, and I'll need to answer it. And I don't have time to mess around with picking up or flipping open a phone. I need to answer it and talk now, if not sooner.
e. Rarely are the people who wear such things actually that important. Usually, they're just your run of the mill 9-5 workers with average jobs. Like me. And you don't see me walking around with a wireless headset hanging off my ear, do you? No, you don't.
f. It seems like it would impede your hearing. Like, being that it covers the entire ear, I would think that everything sounds a little muffled if you're not actually listening to what's coming out of the earpiece.
g. It looks stupid.
3) Seriously? This Bare Escentuals stuff? Best. Makeup. Ever.
Even Billy, who rarely comments on my makeup (Side story: Sunday, we were at my family's house, and I began to extol the benefits of the makeup to my mother, telling her how light it is, how it doesn't streak, it doesn't pool in my creases when I sweat, there's no need to blend, blah, blah, blah. And Billy, who was sitting next to me with a look of what I can only assume was a mix of disgust, absolute boredom, and confusion, turned to my father and said "I guess this is what it's like when guys talk about cars?" Yes, Billy. It is. It's exactly like it. Every mind-numbing, boredom-induced-tear-falling, complete-lack-of-interest moment.) said to me this morning, "Wow, that makeup does look fantastic. Very natural."
If the man, who sees me without makeup AND with every item of makeup I can possibly apply to my face carefully and lovingly applied, says it looks awesome AND natural, I think we have a winner.
4) Mexico. I think we're all aware of my dramatic few weeks, so I won't bother boring you with my overly dramaticized accounts of my health issues and stress. Let me just say that I have never before looked so forward to a trip in my life. Nothing, to me, sounds more lovely than reading a lot of books, drinking a lot of tequila-based beverages, and perhaps taking advantage of our hotel's spa. I'm just going to forget about it for a week. No sense worrying when there's nothing I can do right now anyway. And there will be lots of alcohol to aid in my self-imposed amnesia.
5) Portugesa Nova told me to read a specific post on this blog today. And I did as I was told and fell so completely and hopelessly in love that I went ahead and made a mental note to read every post on the blog. More times than I care to admit, I have had to disguise a throaty guffaw as a nasty chest-cold-type cough, on account of not wanting to out myself as an Internet User to my coworkers. That blog is awesome. As is this one, a blog I've been lurking around for a few weeks, doing that same thing where I chuckle and say to myself "This guy is HILARIOUS," and then think "Maybe I'll comment," but then I get intimidated and I just...don't.
Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I feel creepy commenting on a blog I've been obsessively reading for a while, but haven't commented on. Like, especially when I know they have a stat counter, and they're probably all "Who the hell is this person in Milford, PA who's been logged on every day for four hours?" Because, once I comment, they'll have that moment of clarity where they're all, "Ooooh. It's YOU." Meaning, me. The lurker. It makes me feel creepy. I know I said that already, but, it does.
6) Can I just say how incredible my boyfriend is? He turned my horrible day yesterday into a wonderful night, with only some kind words, some sympathy, a vodka-tonic and some laughs. I won't go into details, but it's times like that when I'm reminded how truly lucky I am to have him in my life, and how much I absolutely adore him.
7) Anyway, I will be leaving tomorrow morning for Mexico. So I bought five books, some stupid pads, and some light, cute, airy clothes. Today, I've written a list of things I must remember to bring. But also, on that list, I've included some things I'm pretty sure I'll remember: like, "underwear," and "makeup." I shudder to think what kind of horrible travesty could possibly occur that would cause me to forget my makeup. Underwear, I could live without. Makeup? Absolutely not. In fact, I spend probably the first half of the drive to the airport every time I go somewhere checking and re-checking for my makeup. Which is why it always travels in my carry-on, so that I can compulsively open my bag and verify my makeup's presence.
So, with that list out of the way, tonight, I will furiously wash the clothes I already own, run some last- minute errands and pack. Probably until the wee hours of the morning. This is how I always prepare for trips: Weeks of fantasizing and thinking about what I want to buy/bring, capped off by one night of manic behavior in which I literally run from room to room, lay everything out on my bed, stare at it for a while, while wondering how the fuck I'm going to fit all of it in a suitcase, apparently blacking out and somehow actually fitting it all in, then falling into a deep sleep in which I dream about forgetting things and the subsequent remembering of those things.
So, anyway, this also means that I won't be posting for at least seven days. I'd go ahead and make you lots of promises about posting stories of my trip, but I think we all know that I suck at following through on promises like that. So I won't make any bold assertions, I'll just say that I will be back to blogging on August 17, and I hope to relay lots of fun stories.
Be back soon.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The reason for my visit today had nothing to do with my ovaries. In light of all of my ovarian issues, I'd forgotten that, back in June, I underwent the normal annual test, which included a breast exam and the dreaded Pap Smear.
Women hate this not just because it's degrading to be sitting there in some cold office, naked, save for an awkward paper gown that stubbornly refuses to lie flat around you. It's uncomfortable, but that's not the real reason I hate it, at least. I hate it because there's always a chance that your Pap, the procedure that tests for cervical cancer, will come back abnormal.
A lot of women have abnormal Paps. They do. Either it's a bad sample, or bad luck, but usually just another Pap test will be administered and then, more often than not, the results come back normal that second time around. But I've never had an abnormal Pap; Mine have always been fine. So, when the nurse, at my last appointment, told me that the test had come back, but that the doctor would go over the results with me, I knew something was wrong.
The level of abnormality, my doctor said, was one. Out of four. Which is good. But because she was fairly certain it wasn't just a bad sample, she scheduled a procedure for today where she paints my cervix with acid, and the abnormal cells, if they're actually present, will turn white. Naturally, because my luck is so awesome these days, I had areas of white. So we went ahead and did a biopsy.
I know that tons of women have this done. I know that tons of women have precancerous, or cancerous, cells in and on their cervix. I know the treatment is easy and recovery is common. I know that. I know, personally, many women who have had this very thing done. Multiple times. And every time I tell someone about what I'm doing, they offer me the same advice. "My wife/mother/friend/sister/coworker had that done, and she's fine."
Yeah, but she's not me.
It doesn't matter how many people I know, either personally or through six degrees of separation, who've had the procedure and gone through treatment and come out just fine. It's different when it's your body, your cervix, your biopsy. It's very different.
This sucks. This fucking sucks. Because it's one more thing wrong with me. Because the incisions on my stomach from my surgery haven't even healed yet, and I'm already getting ready to deal with something else.
Sure, there are bright sides. The areas were small, and there were only three questionable areas. IF there's anything wrong, treatment will be simple. It's not the end of the world, it was caught early, and we're being proactive and getting things in order now, instead of later. We're not burying our heads and Waiting and Seeing our way through this. We're acting. We're doing. We're consciously working towards a healthy outcome.
But it hurts. Not the procedure, not my cervix. Me. I hurt, just thinking about one more thing going wrong. Between the incisions on my stomach, the tenderness in my abdomen and, now, the fucking biopsy I just had done, I've had enough. E. Nough.
To add a little insult to my minor injury, this drastically affects my plans for my upcoming trip to Mexico. On Wednesday, I board a plane with Billy and his family to head to a wedding South of the Border. For seven days, there will be sun, sand, water, drinks, and dancing. Well, what with my still-not-healed incisions, my recent biopsy and my less recent surgery, I am not allowed to swim until Monday the 14th, five days into my vacation. Last week, it looked like I'd be able to swim on vacation, but the fact that my wounds are still open and not scabbed over yet mean that me and the beach chairs get to cozy up together. To accessorize the period I'm liable to get tomorrow, I am under strict orders to use pads, not tampons. Which, though I loathe pads because they fucking feel like diapers, is fine. UNLESS, you're in 104 degree temperatures, trying to look cute in a little sundress at the wedding you're attending; Or perhaps when you're sitting poolside with a group of folks who are fine to swim around in the pristine water, while you sit on the fucking patio in your skirt, with your book, longing to be in the water with everyone else. I'm not even going to go into why dancing is no fun. No sex for "a coupla' days," no swimming, no tampons. I feel like my vacation is ruined prematurely.
I know it's whiny. I know I'm making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill. I know my vacation won't be ruined. I know there are plenty of other things I can do. I know that. And I know Billy's going to be right there with me, being the awesome boyfriend that he is. But it's just one fucking thing after another. I feel like I can't win.
What do people tell you when you're having a bad day? "At least you have your health." Well then, what the fuck do you say when health is in question? What do you say when you feel like every time you turn around, something else falls apart or breaks off or crumbles? What do you do then? Yes, I have an incredible family, an amazing boyfriend. I'm young, I'm beautiful, I'm smart. I have so much to be thankful for, but I just feel like nothing is going right for me right now. It's not the results, it's not the fact that I may or may not have pre or cancerous cells in my body. It's just one more thing.
I know I can handle it, I know I'm gonna make it through; it's just taxing. It makes me cry, it keeps me awake, it makes me angry, it makes me sad. It just hurts, all over.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
So, as of now, I've been with Billy for a year, a feat I didn't think was quite possible.
When we had been dating for merely a few weeks, he was aware that I wasn't putting a whole lot of stock in our budding union. Over dinner, he asked me why, and I hesitantly told him that I "knew" he wasn't a "relationship guy."
"Why do you think that?" he asked, taking a sip of his Jack and Coke.
"I don't know," I replied, my tone unsure and weak. "I guess it's just because you, you know, date a lot?"
"So what? Is there something wrong with dating?"
"No," I said, with more authority this time, "it's just that, from what I understand, you're rarely dating anyone longer than a few months."
"Yeah. Because if it's not working out, why should I waste my time."
"Ah, the eternal bachelor's creed."
"Did it ever occur to you that I'm just looking for the right person?"
It could've been that he just knew the right answer - and, God knows, it worked. It was enough to spur me into letting my guard down a little bit, enough to open up to the possibility of maybe having a real thing with this guy.
A year later, and everything is still the same: Blissful, fun, strong. It defies what I believed. Because, not only did not I believe he'd never dive into a relationship with me, but I didn't believe I could find someone who would make me this happy. And here he is.
2) Thursday night, despite the monsoon that ripped through Northeastern Pennsylvania, my friend and I drove the hour and a half it takes to get to the Garden State Plaza. We were on a mission for one thing: Bare Escentuals makeup. I've seen the infomercials for the stuff, and always wanted to try it, but found two things standing in my way: One, the fact that it was on an infomercial. Surely the excellent coverage and flawless complexion the makeup gave the models was all lighting and camera angles and infomercial trickery. Two, you have to order it. Which perplexes me because a) you have to give you credit card number out, and I don't like doing that (I know it's stupid. Shut up.) and b) you can't see it and/or try it on first. And I'm a big proponent of touching whatever I buy. I know it's antiquated and silly, but I just have to know I'm going to like a makeup before I go and spend nearly $100 on it.
But then I discovered that they had the makeup in the Garden State Plaza. So we drove, after work, all the way through New Jersey - so far, in fact, that we were nearly in New York City- to the mall. Neither of us was prepared for what we saw when we pulled up.
It was huge. Mammoth. Gargantuan. Ginormous. It was practically its own city. We pulled into the parking garage and were lucky enough to immediately stumble upon a a woman getting into her car that happened to be in a parking space right in front. I turned on my blinker and we high-fived each other (figuratively) and waited. And waited. And waited. And the lady in the car turned to face us and pointed toward the mall and mouthed something that I took to say "I'm going back in." And then she turned around and proceeded to reapply her makeup. I waited a little while longer, then, fed up, sped on. "If that woman pulls out of that spot," I said to Lindsey as we crawled through the garage, on the lookout for other available spots, "I'm gonna....I don't know. But I'm going to do something drastic. I swear."
Sure enough, moments later, we were rounding an aisle to see her car backing up and pulling out. I sped up to try and claim the spot that I believed to be rightfully mine, but I was too late. A Honda slipped in ahead of me.
I let out a moan of hate and agony combined, and promptly raised my middle finger to the lady who, as far as I was concerned, cheated me out of a spot that belonged to me.
Drama behind us, we found a spot and walked in. We strode through Neiman Marcus and out into the mall's corridor....And we could not believe our eyes. It was huge. HUGE. The main walkway forked more times than I could count, making it impossible to make a good lap of the mall. And we were on a time crunch. Two hours was all we had, and we had no idea where our destination store was located. I also had visions of buying a dress for the wedding Billy and I will be going to in Mexico. Clearly, I'm an overachiever.
Because, an hour and three dresses later, I bought a just-in-case dress ("I'll take this one just in case I can't find a better one.") and we still hadn't found what we went there looking for: The makeup.
Finally, we found a directory and located the name of the store. "It should be right here somewhere," I said, my finger on the illuminated map of the mall. We were standing in front of Nordstrom's, and according to the map, the makeup shop should've been right there. "But I don't see it," I said, looking in front of and behind me.
"It's right there!" Lindsey said, her long arm extended to reveal the store, tucked into one of the mall's many crevices.
"I'm an idiot," I said as we power-walked our way into the store.
Lindsey has used the makeup before and swears by it. "Trust me," she said, as I fondled a $75 starter kit. "You're going to love it. I promise."
But I wasn't sure. I just knew I was going to be let down because, in my mind, the makeup was a miracle product. And there's no way that four jars of powder could possibly live up to the hefty assumption I had. I eyeballed the girl in the corner, a redhead, who was getting a makeover. She didn't look so great. But, after getting "color matched," I whipped out my card and paid the hefty price, taking my gamble.
"Look," Lindsey whispered, pointing to a small sign by the register, "they have a 30 day money-back guarantee. So you can bring it back if you don't like it."
This gave me piece of mind as I signed my name for the dark-eyed saleslady.
And, as it turns out, I will not be needing to take advantage of their generous return policy. Oh my God. This stuff is incredible. I have the dewy complexion of a thirteen year old, without looking like I'm wearing pancake batter on my face. I can't stop looking at myself.
I wore it to a party last night, and one of my friends actually said to me, "When did you stop wearing makeup? You look incredible without it! Your skin is beautiful!"
I felt like I was in the infomercial. "I'm not not wearing makeup, honey. This is just awesome stuff."
He smiled and took a sip of his Pina Colada. "Well, the idea of makeup is to look like you're not wearing any, right? I guess you hit the jackpot with that stuff."
Granted, it was dark outside, and he could've been a little drunk, but it was my first rave review, and I'll take it.
3) My follow-up appointment on Tuesday went really well. My incisions, which had been covered by a gauzy tape, were revealed to me for the first time ever. They are small, though bruised and sensitive, and dainty. They will heal just beautifully.
"Your right side is more bruised than your left," the doctor said, fingering the yellowish blue half moon above my hip, "because your biggest cyst was on that side. It was so big, it obscured your uterus. We were lucky we got to it when we did."
"That big, huh?" I said, shocked that I'd never noticed something that large in my belly.
"Yes, it was. All the nurses came in and looked at it. We were all amazed. It's one of the biggest I've ever seen."
"Well," I said, shrugging my shoulders, "when I do something, I do it right. I'm not gonna mess around with little baby cysts."
4) Billy and I joke around a lot. A lot. We're both dry, sarcastic people, who spend a great deal of energy trying to be witty. Normally, our senses of humor melt together famously. But, lately, they haven't. I don't know if it's my hormones or my extreme fatigue, but many jokes he makes fall flat.
Last weekend, eating lunch, I interrupted a conversation Billy was having with his cousin to say, "Great, just what I wanted to do: Spent an afternoon talking about Billy's List of Hot Ex Girlfriends."
Billy turned to me, a half grin spreading across his face, and said, "Hey, that's a list you could be on."
Instead of saying something like "Only if I'm lucky," or "it can't happen soon enough," I shot him my most evil look and fought off tears. He let out a nervous laugh and reached for my hand. I pulled it back in one sharp motion, determined to not let him lube me up with hand-holding and mushy commentary. I was mad.
"God," he said, after his third thwarted attempt at affection. "What, did you store your sense of humor in those cysts they took out?"
Apparently, I didn't, because this made me laugh until my stomach hurt.
5) Although it has been well over a week since my surgery, my abdomen is still a little sore from my surgery. I'll be feeling great one day, and I'll behave as though I never had surgery, and then the next day, I pay for it. For instance, last night, when my friend and I hustled our way through a band's rendition of "Car Wash," I acted like my stomach muscles had never been sliced. Today, I'm walking like a decrepit old lady, sore from too much action. Which does not bode well for my anniversary celebration tonight. Which makes me sad. But I will look hot for my date tonight. I will push through the discomfort, dress sultry, walk tall, and be the sexiest girlfriend I can be. Because some things are too good not to celebrate because of some minor pain.
Friday, August 04, 2006
I always looked at my parents and saw what I wanted. They're just so damn cute. My mom still gazes at my father like they're back in college, and she's just a lovesick Freshman. They still really love one another. They still enjoy each other's company. They go out on little dates, now that my brother and I are older and gone. They laugh together. They're just a really awesome couple. I'm proud to call them my parents, and I'm proud of the life they've built together. It's incredible, an imposing standard set, to have a relationship as good as theirs. I can't believe that, thirty-four years ago today they were walking down an aisle in a little church in Kentucky. My dad, who went without wearing his military uniform out of respect for my mom's father, and my mom, with daisies stuck in her 1970s 'do, exchanged vows in front of their families and God. And here they are now, older and wiser, and still in love. It's pretty amazing.
Speaking of ANNIVERSARIES, let's look at my post from August 4, 2005:
What Not To Wear
Tonight, I went to the mall and left about a million slinky shirts in my wake. They are all of the same variety - soft fabrics, cut low - but none of them were right.
The sales girl in the final store I visited, bless her heart, did her best to supply me with what she thought I would like: "I'm looking for something simple, classy...A little sexy, but not too dressy or, you know, va-va-voom," was what I'd told her. And she listened. She brought me creamy satins sheaths that tied in the middle of my back, lacy spaghetti-strapped numbers, silky halter tops cut to reveal just enough cleavage. But none of them seemed to fit what I was going for. They all screamed either Stuffy! or Slutty!; Desperate! or Back off! None of them whispered sophisticated, or sultry. And, more important than that, none of them said "I'm the kind of girl you want to date, not the kind of girl you want to bang." So I left the mall, three hours after walking in, with a really great pair of pants and two mediocre shirts. (The pants I love, but the shirts I bought hoping that maybe they'd look better once I got them home and tried them on with the right bra. And, honestly, I felt like I had to buy something, since the girl had been so nice.) And after all that trying on, I'm still not satisfied. I'm stressing myself out over a shirt.
But here's the thing: I know I'm making a huge deal out of nothing. I know that no shirt is going to say more than I will. I could probably show up in a t-shirt and ratty jeans and be either liked or loathed depending on what I say. But I can't help myself...
I'm going on a date. With a boy that I actually picked out myself.
And I am excited. And, honestly, a little nervous.
And when I get nervous, I fret over what to wear. Fret is probably the wrong word. Obsess. That's more like it.
So know this: Tomorrow, while I'm "working," I will really be running through a mental fashion show of every single, solitary shirt in my closet. And I will continue doing that until I have to choice but to wear something, anything and go.
Wish me luck.
We decided, a long time ago, that we'd just set our proverbial stake in the relationship ground at the very first date, seeing as we were with each other every day since then. And, so, I can't believe that tomorrow marks a year since my first date with Billy. Which means we'll be celebrating our first anniversary tomorrow night, and I'll be all gooey and romantic and he'll indulge my girly tendencies and let me get misty and reflect on everything that has happened since August 5, 2005.
In our year of dating, we've been through a lot. We've survived family tragedy, we've survived surgery, my health issues, we've survived my first backpacking trip, we've survived a robbery, we've laughed our way through difficulty, we've transitioned nicely into a couple that lives together. We have a nice balance, he and I. I feel blessed.
Back then, a year ago, I wasn't anticipating making it this long. I really wasn't expecting to be in a fulfilling relationship with him now. I thought we'd date for a few months, then we'd go our respective ways. He shocked me and became exactly the man, the boyfriend, I wished for. Which is why I'm so furiously excited about tomorrow.
This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I kissed Billy goodbye while he stood in his dress shirt and pants in the closet, staring at his tie collection. "Babe," I said, mid-kiss. "It's our anniversary-eve!"
He laughed - at me, really - and indulged me with an exasperated, "Yes, it is."
I know boys don't get excited over anniversaries and little landmarks in relationships. And I don't force him to celebrating arbitrary milestones; our first time, the first time we said our I Love Yous, the first time I did his laundry, the first time he brought me coffee, etcetera, etcetera. Though I'm sure I could dig through my archives here and find those very dates. Because those? Those just don't seem as substantial as this, three hundred and sixty five days of being an "us." I didn't expect it.
I didn't think he was a relationship guy. When I accepted his invitation for a date, I was expecting just that: A date. A casual relationship. I wasn't expecting one day to roll into the next, until we looked back and saw that we'd become inseparable. I wasn't expecting to love him this much, I wasn't expecting him to love me back as much as I love him. It was an awesome surprise, and I'm looking forward to celebrating that.
So, tomorrow night, when normal people are out just having dinner and maybe a drink or two, I will be gazing adoringly at my boyfriend over the table, smiling and grinning and batting my eyelashes like it was our first date all over again, all the while wondering how I got so damn lucky.
Luck, and love, like this must run in my family.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
"Laurie? Hi. This is Lori from the State Police Barracks."
My eyes went wide. Did I miss the arraignment? No, it was only 1:00, and the arraignment wasn't until 1:30. And besides, I'm not the homeowner, I don't need to be there.
I was just the one who got home Monday of last week to find the front door unlocked. Doors open that are never open. Clothing and unmentionables hanging out of drawers when I know I left things neat and tidy this morning. Boxes overturned and empty on our bed. My makeup scattered all over the floor.
I was just the one who took a pair of jeans and a shirt from the closet quickly, with shaking hands, and ran back out of the house on wobbly legs, sure that whomever had been in our house was still there. I jumped in my car, my breathing shallow and panicked and headed to my parents' house.
I was just the one who called Billy, who cut off his affectionate hello with "Did you go through your boxes this morning, empty them, and leave them on the bed?"
"Babe. We were robbed."
I was just the one who waited for the State Police to show up, after Billy called them. I was just the one who had to give my statement a hundred times, over and over, about what condition I'd found the house in, how I realized that we had been robbed, what was missing. "No, nothing of mine," I said to the Officer. "I even had a pair of big fake diamond earrings on the sink, and even though I know someone was going through the bathroom, they didn't take the earrings. And, I'm thinking, if I were a thief, and I saw earrings that might or might not be fake, I'm going to take them and hope they're real, right?"
"It does seem odd," he said, scribbling on his notepad.
I'm just the person who, four hours later, followed those same State Troopers downtown, stood on one of the main streets in town, and watched the cops lead the handcuffed perpetrator out of the rusty doors of the rundown hotel the kid was apparently calling home.
But I'm not the person on the deed. And I don't own anything that was taken. The doorknob that was pried open doesn't belong to me. It wasn't me who had to identify the items taken by the 20 year old who rifled through our belongings.
But it was me who was flooded with relief to see the kid sitting in the backseat of a cruiser, having already admitted to committing the crime. And it was me who praised the benefits of living in a small town, where local cops may not know who you are, but they certainly know who you're not, and you're not the William on that credit card in your hand. And was me who, despite the fact that the criminal was arrested and taken to jail that very night, was still afraid to go home, and more frightened by knowing I'd have to be there alone eventually.
Specifically, three days later, when I was in bed recovering from surgery. Where Billy left me for work, but made sure I was able to protect myself should the same thing happen again. "You know," he said, his voice crackly over his cell phone as he drove into work, "I think you should have your mom come over and just hang out with you. So you don't have to be alone."
Suffice it to say that I've been pretty willing to admit that I haven't had much luck these days, considering that I went in for a surgery and couldn't get it, my house was robbed, and then I went back in for the surgery to remove those cysts, to be stuck in bed, pained and miserable for three days, the whole time worried over every sound that drifted its way upstairs.
So it wouldn't shock me to find that I might've missed the arraignment today. Because that would make sense. Luck would have it that way.
"Are you okay?" Lori from the Barracks asked.
My face contorted in confusion. Wasn't this about the arraignment? "Yeah," I said, still unsure of why she was asking.
"Are you alone?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, except for my coworker."
"So no one else is in your establishment?"
"Nnnnooo?" I still didn't know where this was headed.
"Okay. Good. Can you lock your door? I think you should lock your door."
"There's a large man, in a trench coat and a hat who is walking in your direction. He was just in the business next door to you, and scared the hell out of those girls. We have a trooper on our way to you now, but just make sure you lock your door, and keep an eye out for this guy. You can't miss him - Tall, yellow track suit, coat, hat. Call me if you see him, okay?"
It's a hundred degrees outside today, and humid. Clearly, anyone who is walking around in that much clothing on day like this is either just plain crazy, or hiding something. I worried he was already in the building, that he'd slipped in while my coworker and I ate lunch.
"Okay, I'm doing it now," I breathed. I hung up the phone and ran to the door. The reassuring thump of the deadbolt was delicious.
"Lisa," I said, calling through the office. "I'm locking the door because that was the cops on the phone and they said there's a threatening guy walking around out there."
We stood at the glass doors and stared in opposite directions to see if we could see the guy.
Twenty minutes later, after we'd chatted with the trooper who showed up and after he'd parked in the lot of the business across the street from us, we watched as another police vehicle pulled in behind the first, and the crazy man in question made his way up the street. And we watched as the cops talked to him, and as their gestures became more stern, and until, finally, the State Trooper made his way behind the crazy man and cuffed him.
That makes the second time in ten days that I've watched someone duck into a police car, their hands pinned behind their backs. I don't know if I find it disturbing or comforting that this is happening in my teeny town. On one hand, you just don't expect it. Crime and craziness is everywhere, but when most people around here have known each other since birth, you think that the delinquents would be easy to weed out. But, on the other hand, both instances were wrapped up within hours, if not minutes. And there's something to be said for that.
Of course, I'd rather not have to know that my local and state police have surprisingly quick reaction times. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.
I need a drink.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I guess I thought that, though I'd be under general anesthesia, that I'd only be out for a few minutes. That my ovaries rested right under the skin of my belly. That it was no more invasive than my annual gynecological checkup. (Because, let's face it, as far as invasive goes, the speculum on its own sort of maxes out the invasive scale.)
I was wrong.
And I realized how wrong I was on Thursday, laying in bed on my first day of recovery.
Apparently, they did a lot while I was under the influence of whatever miraculous drug they pumped through my veins while I laid there on that tiny operating room table. They moved my IV from its uncomfortable spot in my left forearm to just below my right wrist. They outfitted me with a catheter; That's why it was imperative that I pee before I left the hospital and headed home, to make sure my bladder remembered how to go on its own. I was also the lucky recipient of a breathing tube. Additionally, they filled my abdomen with air, in order to move around my organs and reach my ovaries more easily. This gas would stay in my body for a number of days, settling in my right shoulder from time to time, producing a pain greater than the incisions themselves. The only way to rid myself of this pent-up gas was to pass it naturally, or to stand and walk around to break up the pocket of air in my right shoulder.
My incisions were another thing altogether, bigger and more frightening than I thought they would be. They are not huge by any means, just huge to me, the person who had to stare at the thick bandages and miles of medical tape that covered them for two days, a thick and unforgiving reminder of the procedure I'd just endured. I removed the gauze and tape on Friday afternoon, with the help of my mother, to reveal the bloodied tape that was stuck, with glue, to the incisions above each hip and the one inside of my belly button. Upon removing the outer bandages, and seeing, for the first time, the sticky wounds that hid beneath, the room began to spin and I had to sit down. They weren't horrible, just shocking. In my head, they would be tiny, flesh colored slits in my sides, my button, that would be hardly noticeable from the moment they were revealed. That was not the case. Removing the outer covering revealed the skin around the cuts, bruised and puffy, from the trauma of the instruments being shoved inside of me, from the moving of the laparoscope, from the cutting itself.
The cuts are glued shut to stave off the scarring that comes with incisions in general, but covered by thin strips of vertical gauze, that will fall off on their own. This makes for a more disturbing belly. And the adhesive from the many, many, strips of tape used to hold the bandages in place was still clinging to the skin on my stomach until yesterday, creating of roadmap of the tape that was. It's nothing terrible, and it went away with mere hours spent with cotton balls, rubbing alcohol and baby oil. But it was just something that made me want to cry a little bit every time I looked down and saw it.
But what is more disturbing than my vanity, is what the doctor told my family and boyfriend. The surgery went very smoothly and was ultimately completely successful; a nugget of information that - according to my father - made my mom cry with relief. But there was another issue at hand. The cysts - all of them - were bigger than we thought. Dangerously big, in fact. So big, that one was beginning a slow twist around my Fallopian tube. The surgery was just in time. Waiting much longer would've resulted in the loss of the tube and an ovary.
And, though the timing could've been worse, it also could've been better. I thought the severe and constant cramping in my abdomen, coupled with the sharp stabs of pain that would come and go every so often all of last week, were just psychosomatic. I only hurt, I thought, because I knew those cysts were there. The horrible and painful tension in my neck and back was, I reasoned, just the stress of how badly I wanted to get the surgery over with. And while that all made perfectly good sense, it was wrong. The pain in my abdomen, and in the rest of my body, was not self imposed, or stress. It was leakage. The biggest cyst, the aggressive one, the one that was threatening to smother my ovary, was leaking toxins through my body. It didn't rupture, as I've had in my past, just sort of doled out an extreme amount of pain for the last week. And, still, after leaking, it was large. My doctor couldn't even venture to guess how big it had been.
The good news, though, was that it was all fluid. There is no need for a biopsy, or more worry.
But, stretched out in bed for three days after my surgery, I realized that Percoset didn't offer me the giddy reprieve I'd hoped for following my surgery. It didn't make me feel full of love and free of pain like whatever they gave me in the hospital had. In fact, it just made me feel like crap. It made me shaky and nauseous, worn out and tired. Lazy. And it didn't help the sharp pain that came every time I had to sit up or lie down. It calmed the tremors in my belly, helped alleviate the expected cramping that comes with messing around with the ovaries, but, other than that, just made me feel generally horrible.
"How do people get hooked on this stuff?" I said to my mom from my spot in bed. I turned the brown bottle over in my quivering hands. "It just makes me feel shitty." I put the bottle back on my night stand, next to my bottles of water and snacks.
"I didn't like it when I had to take it either," she said, eyeing me for signs of pain.
But I took it. One and half pills every four hours, without fail. Because even a slight lapse in my schedule would make me suffer. "And why suffer," Billy said, after waking me up at four in the morning to tell me it was time for my pill. "I just don't want you to be in pain."
Neither did I. So I swallowed my pill and a half as instructed.
And while I wasn't in pain, I still wasn't comfortable. That's what happens when your stomach muscles are cut to get to your insides. Even sitting up poses a problem, and you find yourself turning and bending, trying to find a way to hoist or prop yourself up without ripping open your glued-shut incisions and spilling your insides out all over the place.
There is no dignity in recovery.
More times than I care to admit, Billy stood and straddled my limp body, steeling his legs against the give of the mattress beneath me, and offered me his hands. "Let me help you sit up," he said from above me, his head grazing the light fixture on the ceiling.
"This is humiliating," I whined, extending my arms and letting him pull me upright.
"No it's not. You need help, and I'm giving it to you. There's nothing humiliating about that."
Oh, Billy. You're so naive.
When you have to literally roll over before you can get out of bed, because failing to do so is likely to make you not only wince, by cry, in pain, you start to feel silly, weak, helpless. And handling helpless or in need of help at all has never been my specialty.
I'm the kind of girl who stops people mid-instruction to say "I know," even if I don't. Because I don't like feeling like I need someone's helping hand. I hate, especially, to be told something I already know. And so I have to announce that I knew that already. Because not correcting someone who is instructing me on something with which I am already familiar fuels the assumption that I didn't know, and I needed help. Which I didn't, thank you very much. And asking someone, even the boyfriend that I love so much, to help me sit up just seems ridiculous.
"I hate this," I cried to Billy. "I hate that I still hurt. I hate feeling like this, I hate that I need help. I hate feeling like an invalid. I just want to be able to do things on my own."
"Do you know what I would give to be able to spend three days in bed?" He said, frustrated with my whining.
I pride myself on being independent, on handling on my own what I watch other women ask their husbands and boyfriends for. But, in my current state, I couldn't sit up on my own, let alone drive and pick myself up something to eat. It's one thing to spend three days in bed because it's something you've chosen to do. It's quite another to be forced to do so.
"It's not that great," I said, blotting at my teary eyes. "I feel like an annoyance, and inconvenience. It's horrible."
It was. All of that sympathy-wrangling I talked about doing never materialized. I just couldn't. I called my mom to come hang out with me, but I refused to admit that I wanted anything, much less that I needed anything. Because she would've made the trip all the way downtown for a milkshake if I wanted it. And I didn't want her to have to go out of her way. Billy's offer to pick me up something on the way home was always met with "I don't need anything." Even if I did. Because he wasn't leaving work until ten at night, and I'm sure the last thing he wanted to do was pick up some Sprite for his lame girlfriend.
Between the sitting up, and the Percoset-induced laziness, I had just about had enough of Recovery.
Percoset finally wore me down and made me sick on Saturday. I hovered over the toilet and gave up the small breakfast I'd had that morning - an apple and some ginger ale - with my hands around my belly to keep my insides inside. It was the most painful thing I can remember experiencing. You can't keep your compromised stomach muscles from contracting, and you can't do anything to alleviate the sharp sting that comes with your belly going tight, then slack. I washed my face and sat with my mom, where I decided that Percoset and I were just going to have to break up.
The pain made me surly, though. "I liked you better on your drugs," Billy said. "You were sweeter."
"I was whiny and annoying."
"Yes, but it was sweet."
"Well, now I'm back to normal, I guess. You know, not sweet."
Monday was my first day back at work. And it felt good, to be out of my bedroom. Even though I'd had the air conditioning on full blast since Wednesday, and enough pillows and snacks within arm's reach to never have to leave, I was ready. Driving felt good, as did getting up and walking around. When the end of my workday came and I still felt good, I drove to Wal Mart. I was jumping head first into my regular schedule. Shopping, laundry, cleaning, taking out the trash. I did it all.
"Way to take it easy on your first day back in the world, Laurie," my mom said sarcastically over the phone, while I bent over to pick up a pair of Billy's pants that had made their way onto the floor.
"Oh, I'm fine," I laughed. "I took my Tylenol. I feel good."
Ah, but I paid for it later. Feeling good for a few hours is deceiving. Because you forget to favor your sensitive areas. You forget to use your back and legs when lifting, and suddenly your wound reminds you that it's there. And, three hours later, I was in bed, pain in my stomach and pain in my back rendering me completely still.
"I think I overdid it today," I said to Billy as he walked in the door from work. "Everything hurts. I think my back hurts from using it more than normal. My knees are bothering me. And my stomach feels crampy."
After I detailed what I had done during the day, he shook his head. "You have to take it easy, babe. You had surgery, you need to recover."
"I know," I said, turning up the volume on the TV.
Today, I'm feeling the overactivity from yesterday. My entire midsection feels like it has been twisted, and like my muscles shrank to the size of toothpicks and standing up straight would only serve to sever them. I'm all hunched over, walking like a little, old, arthritic lady. My incisions itch ("a good sign," Billy said this morning, slapping my hand away from my belly, where I threatened to scratch) and I'm still uncomfortable. But my doctor and I have a date this afternoon, where we'll follow up on my surgery and chart my progress.I'm certain she'll show me pictures of my cysts, both before and after removal. And she'll probably tell me to take it easy and to keep my incisions dry and clean. And I'll probably just nod and say "I know." Because, with the added pizazz of a few wounds, bruises, some pain and medical tape, I'm back to being me.