Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doctor Hopping

In the last two weeks I have been squeezing work in between medical appointments. Every day I have had an appointment for something.

Dentist for a cleaning. Bad tooth. One day for a crown prep. And then back for the final crown.

Mammogram. Called back for an ultrasound. Something not quite right so back to Sloan Kettering for more study. (Not new cancer. I am just a lab rat)

Went to the family doctor about the hurting knee. He referred me to an orthopedic who thinks I tore my meniscus and will likely require surgery. MRI next week to determine degree of damage. Then back to ortho to determine next step.

Today is the only day on my calendar that I don’t have a doctor’s appointment but I am picking Beanie up to get her to the doctor for a follow up blood test for her mono.


There is nothing life threatening here. I just really hate all things medical.

End of rant.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Open church door survey

In my life I have belonged to 3 churches. And each of these churches has, in its own way, provided sanctuary for me in times when I needed to feel safe or to re-center myself on a spiritual level. There was a time when having an open sanctuary literally saved my life.

The doors of the first two churches were always open when I needed them. I could just walk right in. The last church was always locked, but since I had a key because of other work I did there, I was able to use the sanctuary whenever I had the need. Until they took my keys away.

Having no quiet sacred space currently in my life continues to be a huge void I need to fill.

I have now become very interested in how physically welcoming churches actually are. When I went to the cemetery last month there was a church there, doors wide open with a sign outside saying “all are welcome”. I sat in that church before and after visiting the grave site and I am very thankful that it was there. I recently visited NYC with my daughter and every church we passed had its doors open.

My former church as just completed a new mission statement where one of its eight missions is a welcoming facility, although the text only talks about freshly painted rooms and new computers in the education building. The building is always locked, although the Elders have a security code to get in. When the secretary is there you can hit a call button to be let in but it is at a tiny side entrance a visitor would not know about. And in their newsletter is this.

Does not feel very welcoming to me.

So I am asking my limited (and mostly atheist) readership if their places of worship are available to anyone wishing to use their sanctuary. Are there only certain times, security access, or other impediments to welcoming a stranger? Even if you don’t have a church now, any info on your childhood or neighborhood church would be welcome. If you have a story about how the availability of an open sanctuary helped you, I would love to hear that too. And for all those readers who never comment, feel free to answer anonymously. I am just trying to get a sense of it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

18 Again

A couple of weeks ago I received a text from one of Beanie’s high school friends, now in her first year of college. She is also the daughter of the man I work most closely with. I have known her since she was born, watching her grow up through the pictures and stories and occasional office visits to her dad.

After a couple of greeting texts -

Hi, this is A.

Hi A.  how is college life?

Okay. Lots of drama.

What’s going on?

I think I’m a lesbian.

You want to talk about it?

Oh yeah.

And we arranged to have lunch when she was home on break.

I have had this opportunity many, many times - to talk with some young person struggling with their sexual identity. I generally enjoy it. But in light of all the recent gay teen suicides, I have to admit I was feeling a little stressed about it this time. I was feeling a lot of pressure about saying the right things, and giving the right encouragement, and generally not screwing it up. I read a lot of things on line. I talked to my therapist. Suddenly this seemed like a lot of responsibility. I was very nervous.

On Monday we met at a local pizza place. I started with questions about her classes and activities at school. And then asked her about what she was feeling about her sexuality.

Well, it turns out she is quite comfortable about who she is. I asked if she had told her mom (her parents are divorced) “Yup, she’s cool with it.” Then I asked if she had told her dad, thoroughly prepared to go back to work and rip him a new one if he had been a schmuck. “Yeah, he said he just wants me to be happy.” Hmmmm. I was feeling very relieved but quite curious as to why she wanted to talk. I asked when she first recognized her feelings. She replied she had her first girl crush in 10th grade. “Who was that?” I asked. “Your daughter.” I smiled. “Did you tell her?” I asked thinking that *this* must be where the conversation is going. “Yep”, she said “she wasn’t interested in that but would always be my friend. In fact, she always told me that I should talk to you”   

So I finally asked exactly what it was she wanted to talk about. And then she welled up with tears. She had fallen in love and the girl first reciprocated and then backed away and they had just shared this heart stopping sex and spent the night snuggling and eating Oreos and they were just made for each other and now this girl is acting like she didn’t even know her and flirting with other girls and she thought this would be forever and why is this girl acting like this and what did she do wrong and why are lesbian relationships so fucking complicated and how will she ever be able to find someone again and what should she do now?

And yes, she said all that, and more, in one long heartbreaking sentence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Infirmary

Wednesday night Beanie came home for her mid-term break. Thursday she looked like crap. Friday the doctor said she had mono.

On Friday Peachie said she was feeling crappy. Then she played in her field hockey game, in 42 degree weather in a cold, driving, drenching rain. Apparently an hour and a half of that was not enough for all of the teeth chattering, soaked to the bone players, the game went into over time. And to finalize the misery, they lost. Peachie now has a full blown head and chest cold.

On Thursday Martha was informed that there are 3 cases of whooping cough in her school. She works with two of these children very closely. On Friday the doctor put her on a five day course of intense antibiotics, just in case. We have to wait and hope that she didn’t catch it. Meanwhile, we are not supposed to exchange any body fluids. What?

Saturday morning while bringing in groceries, I slid on some wet leaves and wrenched my knee. It has blown up the size of a grapefruit. My athletic family tells me I have most likely torn my MCL. It will require a doctor’s appointment. Damn.

All day Saturday we sat around in various stages of misery. Beanie can barely stay awake and has a sore throat. Peachie just keeps blowing her nose. I sat with my leg elevated with an ice pack on the knee. Martha is just generally run down and worried about getting seriously sick.

Still its nice to have everyone home together - even if it looks like an infirmary.

This too shall pass.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting Up

We had our first frost last night. The temperature dipped below 30 and I had left the bedroom windows wide open.

It is really unusual for me not to be the first one awake. But I have not been sleeping particularly well, and last night I just crashed. A good, sound sleep - all night long. Bliss.

We were both snuggled way down under the duvet when she woke me with tiny butterfly kisses on the back of my neck.

Martha: You left the windows open last night.

Me: Sorry, but I slept so well in the crispy air.

Martha: That wasn’t sleep, it’s so cold in here you were cryo- frozen. I am defrosting you.

Me: Sweet.

Martha: Yeah, now get your ass out of bed and close the freaking windows so I can get up.

Alright, not exactly how I wanted that story to end.

I have been using this blog to document a rather painful journey through therapy. But I did want to relate that it is balanced by all the abundance in my life.

My children are both healthy and very happy, moving smoothly through the transitions of their lives. They make me smile everyday. Martha and I just celebrated another anniversary. Work is starting to pick up again and I have a major nursing home development to sink my teeth into. Life is good.

I don’t know if I have been through the worst yet. Seems like every time I say it is getting better, something else knocks me down so I am hesitant to say it anymore.

But I am still getting up. Everyday.

Although some days, I admit, it is only because someone kicks me out of bed to close the windows.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I am not crazy . . .

. . . I am healing.

This is what my therapist tells me.

But I know I am losing my grip. Or as someone recently told me - the wheels have come off and I am careening all over the place.

Years ago I went through therapy and learned how to cope with flashbacks. Mostly I experienced emotional (feeling overwhelming sadness or fear) and visual flashbacks (seeing parts of the attack in rapid screen shots). These lasted anywhere from seconds to hours, and were very disruptive and disorienting. But I learned the tricks of getting myself back to the present - visualizing a safe place, counting out and naming the things I can see, hear, touch, wrapping myself in a blanket, etc. - and eventually I was able to manage it and get through my days in a reasonably sane fashion and sustain a career and create a family and a very happy life.

But then Martha and I fell apart. And then I had issues with my church. Or more accurately, the pastor had issues with me. And that seemed to create all sorts of cracks in my already jerry-rigged foundation. Sadness returned. The flashbacks became more frequent. And it started to negatively impact the quality of my carefully structured life. So back to therapy I went.

This time to try exposure therapy, because okay, I have buried the pain for far too long. The theory involves the person recounting traumatic memories until they lose their sting. This can be done by saying them aloud repeatedly, writing, reading over and over until they are no longer distressing. And so for the last few months this is what I’ve been doing. Pulling out long buried memories, going over the torturous details.

Trusting my therapist, onward I went. I choked out the memories of the torment my lover went through. And the flashbacks became more vivid and longer and debilitating. And still I continued, opening doors I still think should remain forever closed, trying to speak about the physical pain and the humiliation done to me. And the memories are flooding back. Things I do not want to remember. Why would anyone want to remember this?

And now, this week, physical flashbacks. I sat in her office Monday answering her questions, and suddenly had so much pain I doubled over. Body memories she called them. And she was very good in getting me back to the here and now, but do I really want this happening at random moments?

I started this process feeling 90% normal with occasional cracks that needed repair. I now feel totally wrecked and don’t see how this is getting better. My therapist assures me this is quite normal and I will break through it, but I do not want to spend this much time in the past.

I can now talk about some great memories with Daphne which was a goal. But the good memories are always shadowed with the horror in a much greater detail than before. I now know why the smell of a laundromat is a trigger for me, but I now also have the memories of why. It was easy to avoid laundromats, not so easy to relive broken bones and lost teeth.  And why am I doing this to myself?

I fear that this therapy has taken too great a toll on my life. Tomorrow is my and Martha’s anniversary, but she is sleeping on the couch since all my tossing and turning has been keeping her up. I am missing a wedding this weekend because I don’t feel confident going anywhere in public. (Martha is not pleased)   My daughter is avoiding me. I am trying to stay in a routine but often leave work after an hour or two, totally spent. I want my life back. I need my life back.  I am afraid I will never feel normal again.

I feel like I am going crazy.

My therapist says that I am healing.

But I fear that the cure is far worse than the disease.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Thing I Ought to Be Doing

Another Thing I Ought to Be Doing


Marilyn L. Taylor

So now I should be taking special care

of them, is that it? Every month go pat

pat pat—when what they’ve done for me is flat

out zero? Nothing? Case in point: where

were they when I was fourteen, fifteen,

and topographically a putting green?

Not to mention nights when I disgraced

my gender, stuffing tissue paper down

my polo shirt or confirmation gown—

my philosophy on staying chaste

having less to do with things profound

than fear of giving off a crunchy sound.

And now you’re saying, Minister to them!

these very breasts that caused me great gymnasiums

of misery and high humiliation—

Institute a monthly regimen!

meaning I’m to walk my fingers gingerly

around these two molehills in front of me.

Sorry, but my hands have dropped straight down

like baby birds. They will not rise

to the occasion, won’t get organized,

refuse to land on enemy terrain.

They simply twitch and fidget in my lap

as if they sense a booby trap—

As if they hear the moron in my head

insisting that I’ll never be caught dead.

Many women fail to check their own breasts for suspicious lumps on a regular basis.
- The American Cancer Society

October is breast cancer awareness month. Early detection made my breast cancer easily treatable. I am now ten years cancer free.

I urge you all to have a mammogram if age or history appropriate. And do those self exams !

To learn how to do a Self-Breast Exam Click Here: