Perception

Not too long ago, I watched a video of Dave Grohl’s keynote speech at SXSW – the one where he admits that PSY’s “Gangham Style” was one of his favorite songs – and he said something that resonated with me.  Referring to Kurt Cobain’s death, he says that he just “turned the music off” for a while.  It’s not something that I would have normally thought twice about, but I actually took a moment to wonder how long it had been since I had really listened to and lost myself in music.  I really only gave it a second worth of attention, but I did turn the music back on, so to speak.  However, I never really let go of the question of when I turned the music off in my life.  I finally had my epiphany last night.  It was nursing school.  I could trace a lot of my anxiety and depression back to nursing school.

See, here’s the thing.  Never in my life have I failed at anything that I’ve actually tried at.  I’ve never been shy about giving things up.  I know that isn’t really the most redeeming quality about me, but I’ve just never been one to put much effort into something that I didn’t really want to.  But I thought I wanted to be a nurse.  In reality, I just wanted to be a midwife.  If you really dig down into the heart of the matter, you could even say that I wanted to be a midwife as a way of compensating for the trauma that I went through during C’s birth – but, I digress.  At the time, I didn’t really understand the legalities of nurse-midwifery versus lay-midwifery and I didn’t really take my personality into consideration…but I wanted to help people.  And I was following what I was told would be a good path for me.

Ugh, I ramble.  anyway, here’s the thing about nursing school.  They have a different grading scale from the rest of the school.  What is still considered *your* “A” falls into a “B”, “B’s” turn to “C’s”, and so on.  Well, I made it halfway through nursing school when I received my first failing grade*.  How they handle this is they make your repeat the semester, but you only get one second chance.  This was my first “Oh shit” moment.  Not only was I faced with the very real prospect of getting kicked out of the program, but I was also getting threats to pull my funding from college because I received a “D” for my final grade.  I was freaking out.  I managed to get my funding together for another semester and I figured I would have this one in the can since I had already covered the material, right?  Wrong.

I struggled.  Hard.  I guess I was devastated.  Here, I had actually put forth some effort, and I had failed.  That had never really happened before and I didn’t know how to handle it.  I was also worried because I had PLANS and flunking out of nursing school was going to fuck up my PLANS.  And somehow, the PLANS became my focus.  I lost sight of why I went into nursing in the first place.  I lost sight of the wonderful and amazing things I had learned during my time there.  I began to focus on the negative.  The instructors were inconsistent.  We were without a director.  The place where they had us take our exams was inadequate.  I didn’t like working at the particular hospital I was placed in.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Then the inevitable happened.  I started tanking tests.  I quit caring about my work.  I had no motivation to do anything.  AND, my anxiety issues increased.  I was having daily panic attacks.  I was getting sick.  It got so bad that I went into therapy.  I eventually took my therapist’s advice and dropped out of nursing school, but in reality, I was already failing.  Quite spectacularly, at that.   I was devastated.  I was ashamed.  I felt like I had let everyone down.

To compensate, I lied about it all.  I told people, with a wink and a smile, that I had realized that “nurse Ratched” (my husband’s affectionate? nickname for me) had no business tending to the ill and I was following my passion instead.

The thing is, I took it extremely hard.  The worse thing is, I allowed my perceived failure to mold me and take control of me.  And I just gave up.  And I began to fill with bitterness and anger and self-loathing.  I quit reaching out to loved ones and friends and I began to close myself off from them.  I quit taking care of myself, both body and soul.  I quit caring.  As a result, I would get even more disgusted with myself.  It got so bad that I even quit looking in the mirror.  I couldn’t bear to look myself in the face anymore.

When I first got diagnosed with leukemia, I was in shock.  It took me a long, long time to accept what was happening to me.  I think the worst thing about it all was that I thought I had brought it upon myself.  That my self-hatred had somehow manifested into cancer.  I was diagnosed December 1st, 2011.  Up until this past month, I have held that belief.  It was one of those irrational beliefs that I just wouldn’t let go of and it worried me.  It embarrassed me.  So I never really told anybody.  I mean, what kind of person thinks things like that, right?

I’ve finally started to open up to P.  He listens to my confessions and worries and fears and let me cover his shoulder with snot and tears while I work myself out.  He doesn’t judge.  He just helps guide me through my thoughts and feelings so I can begin to understand myself.  And when the occasion calls for it, he entertains me when I wake up in the middle of the night to work out an epiphany.

My most recent one was regarding my nursing school experience, my crippling fear of failure,and how those two things tied together – more importantly, how I had been allowing these things to control and dictate and shape my life.

These are all things that came barreling into my head in the middle of the night last night.  And since then, I’ve been overcome with a feeling of peace.  I’m a little bit in awe at how simple it was.  I feel like I just learned Rumpelstiltskin’s name.  For a long time, P has been telling me that I needed to identify the problem.  I thought he was full of shit.

I like my crow served well done with a side of greens.

*By the way, that “failing” grade…The one that sent my whole world crashing down around me…it was a 74.4 (I had to have a minimum of a 75 average to pass the class).  Technically, a “C”.  Here I had fallen into this cycle of depression, I had given up, over what I had PERCEIVED to be a failing grade.  If you really simplify it and put it into NO BULLSHIT terms, I gave up on life over a fucking “C”.

Ridiculous, huh?

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Fear

The Litany Against Fear

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

F.H., Dune

 

I had an interesting realization today.  It’s not the first time I had this realization, and I hope that one day it will finally stick with me.  I realize just how much fear fucks with us.  I don’t like it.  P suggests meditation.  Sometimes it irks me because he’s just so zen about it all.  BUT, he does have a point.  Perhaps I’ll give it a go.  What could it hurt?

It”s been a while.

All I can say is that I’ve been fighting despair.  I don’t really know why.  All of my test results have been fabulous.  I appear to be winning my fight.  I can’t really explain why I’ve felt like everything was going to shit, I just did.  Perhaps I’m too afraid to let go of my fear.  Maybe I’m worried that if I relax, then the leukemia will come back or I’ll get a secondary cancer.  

Bah.  

I’m starting to slowly let go.  Having a clear head certainly helps.  It’s been close to three months since I got off Lortab.  Withdrawals are not something that I care to repeat, ever.  I still have three hard days every week due to the Methotrexate, but it’s manageable.  

I’m setting goals.  Goals are good, right?  Right now I’m working up the courage to go to the gym.  I’m scared I’m going to pass out in the pool or something so P said that he’d go with me until I’m comfortable going by myself.  I want to take yoga again.  I’ve been considering taking the ‘Silver Sneakers’ classes since I’ve essentially got the body of a geriatric right now.  All the same, my doctor is ecstatic that I joined a gym, but he warned me about MRSA…perhaps I should tell him that I’ve become a bit of a hypochondriac.

I started listening to music again.  I gave up playing music in the house long ago since most genres triggered C’s meltdowns.  Now I just cue up Grooveshark on my laptop and C seems to have a handle on what bothers him, but he ignores most of it.  I’m happy and he’s not screaming in pain.  Win-win.

I’m planning lots of activities this spring and summer.  We’re taking the kids to the Renfair in Atlanta because I’ve always wanted to go and I can justify it as a field trip (we’re covering the Middle Ages in lessons this year).  I also get to plan camping trips since my port got removed.  It’s a bit of a PITA since they have to dig around my pitiful veins for a good stick when I need an IV.  No matter, I’m happy to be able to swim and take a decent shower.  Having to wrap your upper body in saran wrap and hope like hell that no water seeps in sucks.

P and I are also starting to discuss plans for ‘after’.  I’m looking at one more year of chemo, but eight more years of monitoring and biopsies.  We want to move away from here, but we’ve been stuck on the where.  All we know is ‘the beach’.  We’re tied to SC until the study ends, so we’re looking at Charleston.  We considered Hilton Head, but neither of us have been there and we’re not sure if we’d fit in.  I guess it would really boil down to where P could find work.

We’re also tentatively planning a second honeymoon for when I finish with chemo.  I’m torn between going on a trip with the kids and going somewhere for just the two of us.  I’m leaning towards kid-free, but just because P and I never get time alone.  It’s a tough call because we both miss the kids terribly when they’re gone and we enjoy being with them.  Meh.  We’ve still got some time to decide.  

Well, that’s it for now.  I need to kick the dog off the laundry and get back to work.

Quick update

Just a quick update to let everyone know I’m okay. I’ve been working on my jewelry again and I’m working on opening a shop at Goodsmiths. It’s similar to Etsy. I just started a new blog to keep my jewelry updates in one place.

On the health front, my blood counts are beautiful. My platelets and hemoglobin are building up nicely and I was in normal ranges last week…something that hasn’t happened without medical intervention in a year! I’m still in pain and pretty much bed-bound Thursday through Saturday, but I can’t really complain. We’ve been working on gathering Christmas gifts for the kids and I’m trying to figure out what to do for decorations. I’ve been kinda torn since I’m so worn out and I’ve been in a weird mood. I imagine that it is normal to feel out of sorts on the anniversary of a crisis. But on the other hand, I feel like I should be going out of my way to celebrate. I don’t know. Right now, I’ve decided not to force it. I’m going to plan small and allow room to expand. For now, I have plans to set up the living room to make room for the tree and we have plans to go to at least one holiday gathering. As far as family Christmas goes, we’ve all decided to postpone it until New Years day.
Until then, I’m taking things one day at a time.

The Amherst Rape or Why I Think So Many of the Uber Wealthy Seem Like Sociopaths

*Trigger Warning*

**Regarding the sociopath comment, a quick Google search will bring a plethora of articles and blog posts.  This is just the first one.
I read this last night. It is appalling and comes with a trigger warning. Do you want to know what is *the most* appalling? It’s not (entirely) the way that the administration treated the victim while her attacker got off scot-free…it’s that this is an actual problem. It may just be me, but I see a connection between this story and the ruthlessness and lack of compassion that we see among the Wall Street set. These people think that they are above the law. They see things through a predator’s eyes. That there are no consequences for their actions. And, sadly, they’re right. This article  illustrates how these people can do whatever they want without repercussion. That nobody will stop them. That they can do it again.

We mock Romney and Ryan and Akin and the like for their distorted views on “the lesser folk” (I mean women, minorities, and the poor). But really, we don’t look at *why* they think this way. We don’t inspect why these people think that they can just take without conscience. I think this article sums it up quite nicely.

What we see is a man taking from a woman. Not only is the man *not* punished, the authorities in the scenario go one step further and punish the woman, the victim. Any time she gets mad, gets vocal, or threatens to go above their heads, she is punished further. Anything to silence her.

What they are teaching the attacker, as well as anyone who knows the situation, that there are no consequences for their actions, ever. It is disgustingly eye opening.

 

The notebook

No.  Not that romantic pap.  MY notebook.  Or notebooks.  I have several since I tend to lose them or use whatever I can find when I need to jot something down.  These books are filled with ideas, notes to self, designs, whatever.  I don’t know what to call it, but I tend to obsess over an idea until it is either (a) completed, (b) written down, or (c) horror of horrors forgotten.  The notebooks serve two purposes.  They are placeholders until I either am able to or want to see a design come to fruition.  That way I am able to give P some rest from my incessant ramblings and I am able to get some sleep.

… I’m rambling right now.

What I was getting on here to talk about today was the state of my health, both mental and physical.  My platelets and hemoglobin are both within normal limits, ergo, I am feeling somewhat human again.  As a side note, normal levels means an increase in chemo dosage.  It got bumped up to 75% today.  We’ll see what next week’s CBC brings us.  Back to feeling normal… I have energy to do more than moan on the couch and I’m bored.  This means that I’m jonesin’ to do stuff.  What it really means is that I’ve got a ton of DIY projects pinned, a half-finished quilt on my dining room table, and a notebook filling with home renovation ideas.

So far, I’m planning to change the kids’ rooms.  C has requested a Borderlands theme and D has requested Monster High.  I’m also planning to work on the rest of the house as well.  I want a complete change.  To be honest, it would be easier to move, but P and I went through all of the pros and cons over the course of a few months before finally deciding that it would be better to stay put until I finish chemo.  I’m fine with staying, but the house has to have a total revamp.  This is not just a cure for my boredom.  Everywhere I look, the sounds, the smells *particularly at this time of year* reminds me of illness and death.  It consumes me, and the closer I get to anniversary time, the worse the depression gets.  If I have to stay within these walls, I have to change them.

So now I plan.  It’s going to be a challenge, particularly since I’m under a tight budget, but I look forward to it.

I’ll be putting pictures up of the progress.

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Chemo updates, etc.

**I’m feeling a bit lazy today.  I wasn’t in the mood to write anything original, so this is just copypasta from my CaringBridge post**

I had about a month off of chemo because my platelets just weren’t coming up like they should have been. I had gotten tested for a genetic mutation to see if my body was able to metabolize drugs properly, and the test came back clear. My doctor is now of the opinion that I just can’t have the “recommended” dosage. I got a transfusion and I’ve been at a half dose for a couple of weeks now and things have been much more tolerable. My blood counts have been great, as a matter of fact my hemoglobin was within normal limits for the first time in months! I’m sure it’s getting knocked back down with yesterday’s vincristine, but I hope that my CBC will bounce back up within the week.

I started a quilt last week. It’s a baby quilt (it said that it could double as a lap quilt, but it’s way too small) but I don’t have a baby to give it to. Wrong colors and all. It’ll get used by somebody, I’m sure. I haven’t finished it yet, but I think I’ll be able to get back to it before the weekend is out. I also picked up materials for a new project and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’ve got high hopes for it, but I’m a bit nervous about screwing it up. If it turns out, I’ll post pictures on the blog at the end of the month.

I’ve been having a lot of pain lately. It’s part chemo, part muscle waste. There are days when it’s manageable and everything is hunky dory but there are days when it’s unbearable and it’s all I can do to move off of the couch. There was one day this week where it got so bad I had to call P home from work. I’ve been reading about exercise helping with pain management. I’ve got a few kettlebells around the house and to be honest, I’ve got more than I need for a home exercise program, but I think that (for the meantime, at least) I need a change of scenery. I’m just not motivated in my home. Sadly, I now relate my home with sickness and pain. It’s gotten to the point where we’re talking about moving to another place. I think that we’re all uncomfortable here. But that’s another story. What I was trying to get at is that I want to exercise and I’m not motivated to do it at home. I’ve been looking at joining the Central Rec Center. P has done the math and he’s confident that we can afford the expense. I’m excited about it because it’s just a few minutes down the road and it’s got pools! I think that swimming will be great for my joint pain and I know that the kids will love getting to swim regularly. I’m hoping that they can get proficient enough to join the swim team. I’m not sure about D, but I know that C would enjoy a swim team much more than anything else. Anyway, we plan to take a tour and hopefully sign up next week. I’m excited at the idea of getting my strength back. I’ve joked about taking senior classes, but I really do think I’m going to ask if I would be allowed to join. I know that I’m not ready for anything remotely fast paced and the senior classes looked to be just right.

Well, I think that’s just about it for now. I’ve started sewing again and I really want to start making jewelry again. P and I made a pact the other day. He would sign up for school and I would create a shop to peddle my wares. We’ve both been putting those tasks off for so long, but we are running out of excuses. I mean, really. How can opening an etsy shop or signing up for online classes be scarier than, say, cancer? Or regular spinal taps? Or a life-threatening case of pneumonia?

I’m ready to move on with my life. The tough part is that my mind and my patience are more ready than my body is. I hope that joining the rec center and exercise will help that part. At the very least, it should help with the pain. I just need to keep up with the anemia. However, I’m getting weekly CBCs and I think I’ll be okay if they keep the chemo dosage where it’s at. Well, that, and lots and lots of steak.