Hope

There are days when I look at the world, and see a place that has gone totally off the rails. A place where the blatant discrimination and racism and cruelty that we see every day makes me want to scream.  To give up.  To weep for the future that will be left to my children. To think that I can’t possibly make a difference when everything around me seems so broken.

When I wrote Survivor, I thought I was prepared for anything.  I felt confident enough in who I am that I believed I could handle any criticism that came my way.  What I did not expect though, was the overwhelming kindness with which I was met.  So many people, some of whom I hardly know, wrote, or messaged, or texted, or emailed, or commented about my post with words of encouragement, and solidarity, and support.  I had multiple women privately share with me that they too are rape survivors who had kept it to themselves for far too long.  I had friends and relatives I have not spoken to in years reach out to me to compliment my bravery and show me love.  And I did not have any negativity directed towards me.  None.

And that was truly a blessing for the scared little girl inside me who wrote those brave words but still worried about what people would think.  If I would be forever changed in the eyes of those who knew my secret.  I wish I could share the hundreds of messages of support that I received with every rape survivor who is afraid to tell her story or who feels alone.  That secret held a remarkable amount of power over me, and now that I am not clinging so tightly to it, trying to keep it in and stuff it down, I can actually let it go.

I feel so unbelievably free.  Light and joyful and full of hope.  And I feel this way in spite of the fact that this has been a tough week.

A few days ago I was sitting in the ICU waiting room with my mother waiting for my dad to get out of an emergency appendectomy.  He is doing great now, but at the time I was getting a little nervous because his surgery was taking much longer than the doctor said that it was going to.  Then we started flipping channels and Shawshank Redemption came on – this is the new Walnut Hill Medical Center place and there are flat screens everywhere and the biggest hospital rooms I have ever seen. I seriously had hospital room envy that my dad had a palace for his few hours there and I had to spend twelve days in a drab shoebox, but I digress…

So it was the part where Andy says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  And I was reminded just how incredibly important hope is.  I realized that the greatest gift I have ever been given is resiliency of spirit.  After everything I have been through I still have hope.

Thank you to everyone who helped me re-affirm my faith in humanity this week by going out of your way to reach out to me and offer a kind word or a message of support, or a hug. I know a lot of you are going through your own struggles, so tonight I spent a few moments in meditation and prayer for those I know who are having a tough time right now.

I have this little candle that I bought as part of a youth fundraiser at my church; it is a tea light covered in tissue paper with the word “Hope” written on it and I lit it for the first time tonight.

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I wish for you that when everything is at it’s worst you can see the glimmer of that tiny scrappy little candle- held together with Elmer’s glue and tissue paper.  It may not be much, but just a little bit can change everything.  Hope.

 

 

 

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Survivor

I am a Survivor. I have learned this about myself the hard way. I have been put through more in my 36 years than many people experience in a lifetime.

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And I am so angry right now. Furious and frustrated that we live in a world where the first assumption about a woman who comes forward as having lived through sexual assault or abuse is that she is a liar or somehow “deserved it.” Now I will admit I’m not very hip to pop culture, but I like the song where Kesha sings about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack-I can get behind that. What I can’t get behind is a judge that rules that she is legally bound to work for the company of her rapist.

I don’t know all the details of the case, but I do know that coming forward as a victim of rape is difficult, and brave, and terrifying. And instead of surrounding these women with love and support we punish and doubt them. I felt this way when the Cosby allegations were surfacing and there were so many hateful comments about how no woman who was raped would wait 10 years to confront her rapist-so she must be lying, or trying to get money, or a whore.

I stayed quiet then because I was scared for myself, for people judging me. But now Kesha is being tormented in the same way so very publicly, and I have discovered my hidden super-power of not caring what people think of me, so here goes:

I love/hate therapy. Because part of the goal is to continually look at your life and assess it and figure out the ways to break some of your self-destructive patterns and bad habits. And that can be hard. Really hard.

I am in an upswing in my life; my health is finally stable, my energy is back to about what it should be for someone who runs around with 4-year old twins, my family is healthy and happy, and I have a good marriage to a man who can be a pain in the ass but is also my best friend and the best choice I could have ever made for a life partner. And yet I still have so much I have to work through, so much hurt that I never dealt with that comes back to the surface when I am overwhelmed.

I have an analogy I like to use about all of my past traumas being like little (or giant) boxes stuffed on a shelf. One of my well-developed coping mechanisms is the ability to put things that happen to me into a little box, seal it up tight, and stick it on the shelf. This works great until that shelf gets over-crowded and trying to put one more box up there causes everything to topple down on me. That is how I ended up in a place that I was having panic attacks and severe depression.

Now that I am feeling good, I am trying to take down and unpack those boxes one at a time so that the next time something happens (which it will, life is never perfect) I have the room to cope with it.

That being said, I really hate unpacking those boxes. It is difficult, and painful, and I generally just don’t wanna. And I am unpacking a big box right now. One of the biggest on my shelf and the only one I have sealed up so tight that I have almost never spoken of it. Which is saying something because I am a major over-sharer.

I have used this blog in the past to be honest in a way that I just can’t be other places, and I feel the need to do that again.

I am a Survivor. I am a Cancer Survivor. I am an Eating-Disorder Survivor. I am a Depression and Anxiety Survivor. I am a Miscarriage Survivor. And I am a Rape Survivor.

That last one was a bitch to write. Because admitting that is really f-ing hard. It was a very long time ago and I am not going to share the details of my rape other than that it happened. There was no knife and no gun, but my rapist (only now can I call him that out loud) had sex with me without my consent. That is rape. I was raped.

If I am using that word a lot it is because it is totally foreign to me. I pushed it so far back onto my shelf that I did not tell anyone for more than 5 years. Five years. Before I told anyone. And to this day I have only told one friend and my husband what happened to me (and now the entire world who has any interest in reading my blog!)

I can’t give a real answer yet as to why I didn’t tell anyone. I know that I was ashamed. And that I felt it was my fault. And that on some level I knew that if I told anyone they would encourage me to report it, which terrified me. Because what if no one believed me? What if I went to trial and they used the short skirt I was wearing as evidence against me? What if I went through having to relive my rape over and over and over again only to find no justice at all? To have people taunt me and accuse me of lying? To have to hear someone say out loud the things I said to myself, that I shouldn’t have put myself in a vulnerable situation, that I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.

I was young and I was not nearly as brave as I am now and so I chose to shove it down and pretend it never happened. But it did happen. And I am a grown woman now. And I am stronger than I ever believed possible. So I finally have the courage to say it. I was raped.

This is obviously extremely personal, so why talk about it in such a public way? First of all, because I now know that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I did not do anything to deserve what happened to me, and if the person who raped me had any strength of character at all he would not had sex with an unconscious woman. I am “lucky” enough that I do have memories of telling him no and trying to push him off of me before the blackness came over me again.  But I want to make this very clear to everyone reading this.  Even if I had not woken up enough to try to make my rapist stop, it still would have been rape.

And it was not my fault.  I did drink a lot, and I now wonder if I wasn’t drugged, but the truth is it doesn’t matter.  Drugged or not, drunk or not.  I was raped and no part of that is my fault.  It is not a reflection of me or who I am. And if people comment with any sort of nastiness in response to this post, then that has nothing to do with me, they need to find their own therapist and unpack their own boxes.

But the main reason I felt compelled to write this is because I was at my therapist today and she asked me if I knew any other women who had been through something similar that I could talk to, and I said no. And then I thought about the statistics, some of which say that close to 1 in 3 women have been raped or sexually violated. So I must know people this has happened to. People just like me who feel scared and damaged and alone.

But you aren’t alone. Maybe you are in the crisis period of dealing with your rape immediately after it happened, or maybe, like me, you are coming to terms with it a lifetime later.

So this is for you. For Kesha, and for anyone who has been raped or brutalized. And this is for me. By giving a name to what happened to me and coming forward with it so publicly I am declaring that I am not ashamed. I am not embarrassed. I was raped and I should feel no more shame in saying that than saying that I had a miscarriage. Both are private and something I don’t want to talk about every day, but neither was my fault. Secrets have power, and this secret has had power over me for far too long. Not anymore.

I am a rape survivor. And I am working on all the crap that goes with that. But I am proud to say the rape doesn’t define me. Survivor does.

Grace

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This year I am giving up self-criticism for Lent.  I mean, it can’t be caffeine, wine is obviously out of the question, and my Jamberry addiction is really just in it’s infancy, so I have to find something…

I thought maybe I could use this season as a jump start to a new mental space where I give myself a bit of a break.  In my last post I wrote about how I don’t care what other people think of me anymore, and that’s true.  But I am still pretty harsh in what I think of myself.

I hold myself to ridiculous standards.  Clearly not when it comes to keeping my house clean or washing my hair more than once a week.  But I ruthlessly criticize myself for not being able to truly appreciate every moment with my kids while they are little and adorable, I mean I should be grateful that I am alive to be a part of their childhoods and frustrated at myself when I don’t feel that loving glow every second of the day.  I project forward to when they are pain-in-the ass teenagers and I have turned into Beverly Goldberg and am clinging to them demanding “snuggies” and that I will regret that I didn’t cherish this time more. And if I slip and snap at one of the kids when I have asked them the same f-ing question 37 times and they still refuse to answer me, or if I yell “I don’t care, just figure it out” through the bathroom door while two three year olds are screaming that they need me, I beat myself up pretty badly about that later.

And it’s funny because my absolute favorite about being a Christian (yes, I’m out of the closet now, I love me some Jesus) is the concept of Grace.  That you do nothing to earn it and there is no way to loose it. That is some pretty amazing stuff. Haha Amazing Grace, I totally wrote that not intending the pun but I’m gonna leave it here anyway.

And I am really good, like really good, at giving Grace.  I don’t just give second or third, but 27th chances.  I am able to look at someone who is being a total asshole and give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe his dog just died or he has some chronic pain that is not visible to the eye but eating away at his patience.  Because I have been there, I have been someone who fell to pieces when my husband asked me to make a reservation because “it was all just too much!!!!”  So I am very generous in my ability to forgive.

Except when it comes to me.  I hold grudges against myself for things I did in the third grade.  I’m not kidding.  I obsess over the hurtful comments I made years ago that the person I hurt probably doesn’t even remember. These are things that I would easily forgive in another person, but refuse to do so for myself.

So that’s what I’m giving up this Lent.  I am giving up (or going to try to give up) judging myself so harshly.  I mean, I’m pretty great.  I made it through the past four years when life kept dealing me blow after blow.  And I survived.  And I thrived.  I still have hope, and optimism, and more faith than I ever did.  And grace.  So I am going to start using a little bit of that on myself.

My “Bad” Day

It could have been a bad day. For most people it would probably qualify in the seriously crappy day category…I even planned it that way.

See, I knew that I needed to have a wart frozen off/dug out at the dermatologist, and a filling, and an iron infusion before the end of the year. The iron infusions involve several hours, blood work, an iv, and inevitable abdominal cramping for the rest of the day- I know because I get them every month.

So I just decided eff it, I’m gonna have my supernanny take the kids and plan for a crap-tastic day of doctors and dentists and generally unpleasant and painful procedures.

I figured that if I planned for the day to be terrible then I wouldn’t be disappointed when it turned out that way.

And yes- the wart thing hurt, and the doctor had to apologize for having to dig so deep in my skin. But she was really nice about it!

And at the dentist he decided the cavity was shallow enough that he wouldn’t numb me. We discovered he was wrong when he touched a nerve with the drill and my whole body jumped. But he numbed me up after that and I got through it fine.

And that’s all just life. Those are normal people problems.

Because I planned for it, I wasn’t annoyed by all the stuff I knew was going to suck about the day. So I had space to not loose my mind when my three and a half year old decided it would be a great day to cut her own bangs and spread her hair out all over the floor.

And I was actually in a fantastic mood all day. When the nurse told me I didn’t have to do blood work this time, I almost high-fived her. It’s a good thing I stopped myself because as anyone who knows me well can attest, I am an extremely awkward high-fiver.

And then I sat down to get my iron and struck up a conversation with the woman getting chemo next to me. She asked how often I am in there and I told her “once a month, probably forever.” She said that she was just getting maintenance too- because she was past the point of a cure. I told her how sorry I was and she said, “You just decide to keep on going.”

Yep. That’s it exactly. So many people have asked me how I got through the past few years with everything I have been through. And I usually make some sort of joke abut Xanax. But she summed it up perfectly, you just decide to keep on going. And then you do. You do whatever you can that day, and then the next day, and then the next. She made me realize how lucky I truly am that my story is on an upswing. We laughed and cried together and I left there feeling grateful. For Life.

For this messy, painful, beautiful, awesome, whirlwind that is my life.

And if yesterday was what “bad” looks like to me now, then bring it on. Because I’ve learned something about myself; that no matter what happens, every day I will make that choice to keep on going.

Lucky to be Annoyed

I’m in the middle of a 24 hour urine test today for my Osteoporosis. It will help give a progress report to my Mineral Metabolism specialist about how much calcium I am losing and what course of treatment we should pursue.  I’m hoping for a “just keep doing what we’re doing” response since all of the Osteoporosis drugs have some pretty serious side effects, especially for someone as young as me.  (Thank you Prednisone for giving me Grandma bones at 35!)

And this test is super annoying, because I have to collect all my urine for 24 hours and store it in a jar in my fridge.  Then I have to bring it into the clinic tomorrow after fasting for 12 hours (that means no coffee in the morning- I may be a danger on the roads) and get huge amounts of bloodwork.  So if you are someone like me who pees every 5 seconds, you basically can’t leave the house unless you want to carry a little mini pee jar around in your purse.  Plus my in-laws are in town so I had to be all “please don’t touch the orange jug in the fridge, it’s full of pee.”

Flopsy has pink eye and ANOTHER ear infection.  My Uncle, who usually takes our dog to play with his during the days, has been recovering from surgery- so my dog’s constant barking is driving me up the proverbial wall. My to-do list seems to be multiplying on it’s own and no matter how many things I cross off, it just keeps getting longer.  And we are transitioning the twins to big girl beds, which means they are crappy sleepers again and it takes roughly 800 hours to get them to go to sleep each night.

I was pouring my pee into a jar for the fifth time today and feeling extremely annoyed when I stopped and laughed and realized for a moment just how lucky I am.  I am so happy to be at a place in my recovery when my treatments, symptoms, and diagnostic tests are merely annoying to me.  This time last year I barely noticed when I had to do the urine test because I was so sick and in so much pain that I wasn’t leaving the house anyway.  And I wasn’t frustrated with my dog or my kids or my to-do list because I was completely incapable of doing anything.  I was in survival mode: trying to manage my pain, discomfort, and depression just to get through the day.

Even though I still have rough days where I am clutching my heating pad with wretched cramps for 6 hours because I accidentally ate a vegetable, if I step back and look at it I am truly grateful.  Because now I am in a place when every day is not full of pain anymore.  Life is not always easy, but it is livable.  And I have hope that it will continue getting better.  I get extremely frustrated with setbacks in my health, and even though I understand rationally that I have to be patient with my body because healing (especially from as much trauma as I have been through) is not a linear process, I don’t wanna.  I am so over being sick and just want to be “normal” again.  I am working on being kind to myself and coming to terms with the fact that like it or not I am missing 3 major organs now and my body will never function the way it did before I got sick.  Fundamentally I don’t trust my body anymore because so much has gone wrong with it in such a short time. 

But I am working on that too.  I am just starting to have a glimmer of confidence that eventually I will figure out this body and become comfortable  with my new normal.  It might not be on my timeline but I think it will eventually happen, and that’s a far cry from the days when I could not see any sign that I would ever feel good again. 

I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and my friend Annie has just finished her chemo and is in the middle of that intense healing process.  We are also opening up for applications for a new family to help with Mommies In Need.  So I am hearing from people who are in that really dark and difficult place where I was hanging out a year ago.  And my heart hurts for them.  Because being really sick sucks.  And it sucks for a long time.  But if I can do anything for the people that are in that place of intense suffering right now, maybe it is to be a little shred of hope that eventually it will get better.   

I am so grateful to be able to get down on the floor to play with my kids again. And I make an excellent sticker model!!
I am so grateful to be able to get down on the floor to play with my kids again. And I make an excellent sticker model!!

Maybe one day they will find themselves being annoyed by little daily tasks and laugh with joy because they realize that they are actually able to do those tasks again.  They will realize that annoyance is actually a blessing because it means they are past the point where being sick consumed their entire lives. That perhaps everything they went through lead them to a life they never thought they would have but are profoundly grateful for.

Now if you will excuse me I have to go pee into a jar.

I Refuse to Be Old

In a few days I turn 35!  I realize that in the grand scheme of things, that is not old, but I have to say that in the past year I feel like I have aged 20!  Seriously, old people love me because I can chat with them for hours about hospitals and doctors and drug interactions.  My 85 year old grandmother and I are dealing with about the same level of osteoporosis and my grandfather and I both go to the same hematologist for our iron infusions!  The final straw for me, however, is that both my doctor and my husband have suggested that I start drinking Boost or Ensure to help me get nutrients I need and to put on weight.

I understand rationally that this is a very practical suggestion and something that would probably be good for me, but still!  It’s like how I refused to go full mini-van when I had the twins… I got a compact SUV so that I could hang on to some shred of (probably imagined) coolness.  And so, I am refusing to go on a complete old people diet on principle.  I will eat bland and mushy foods and stay away from nuts and all vegetables, but I am drawing the line.  No Boost for me, I am still young, and hip, and funky fresh, or whatever the kids are saying these days.

Ok, yes, I have sort of thrown in the towel when it comes to getting ready.  90% of the time if I am not in yoga pants I am wearing maternity jeans, but comfort and ability to easily crawl on the ground with the toddlers is what matters right now.  And I only wear makeup about twice a month.  Seriously, a few weeks ago, Sebastian and I went to a formal event for Best Buddies and when we were leaving Curly said, “What’s wrong with your eyes?”  I had on eyeshadow, she had just never seen it before!

And I go to bed before 10 almost every night and nap as often as possible during the day.  I blame this one on the fact that I am still healing and anemic, which is true, but I also really just love to sleep.

My body may not be acting it’s age right now, but I REFUSE TO BE OLD YET!

So in order to feel better about my impending age shift to the over 35 bracket, I have decided to ask for your help.  I have been talking a lot lately about Mommies In Need, if you aren’t up to speed, then you can read about it here and here.

Basically I have jumped into a major project of awesomeness by starting a non-profit corporation from the ground up in a very short period of time- let’s see my grandparents do that!  (But if you are reading this Gaga and Gingi, please don’t be offended, I can only hope that I am as cool as you guys when I’m your age!)

For my birthday I am asking for everyone to help support Mommies In Need whatever way you can.  Obviously, money would be amazing (we really need it if we are going to keep going) and you can either send a check to Mommies In Need at PO Box 601562 Dallas, Tx 75360 or donate on our website here, you can use a credit card or PayPal so no excuses!

If you can’t support it financially, I totally understand, but please take a second to share a link to the website at www.mommiesinneed.org on your facebook or twitter or email it to your friends in the hope that someone you know might want to help.  And like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mommiesinneed and share the status updates we post there (while you are at it, you can always like this blog’s page too!)  Getting the word out is a huge part of building a charity, and I can’t do that by myself.

And finally if you have some other way that you can help, great!  I am open to ideas and suggestions, and would love to get more people involved with Mommies In Need.  Do you know a business who would like to help us financially or with in-kind donations?  Wonderful!  Do you want to have a garage sale and donate the money to us?  I would heart you forever.  Are you a web design wiz and want to help us spruce up the site?  I seriously need some help on that front since I am deficient in both iron and technology skills.  Are you or do you know someone who needs help caring for their kids in the middle of a major health crisis?  If so, I am so sorry because I hate that anyone else has to go through this, but let me know, we aren’t quite ready to expand yet, but if the right situation came along I would be thrilled for MIN to step in and help.  You can email me about anything related to Mommies In Need at natalie@mommiesinneed.org.

So, you have your request.  I don’t need cards (although if you already send them, thank you!) and I don’t need stuff (although if a certain someone already bought me a spa massage I will not turn it down) but what I do need is support for Mommies In Need.  This organization has given me an incredible sense of purpose and allowed me to find some meaning in all of the craziness I have been going through these past few years.  So feel free to wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook on December 4, but if you do that, please also consider giving a few moments of your time or a few dollars to a truly worthwhile cause.  And know that with every donation or share of the link that I see I do a little happy dance.  Please help me dance my way all through my birthday week, and know that the one time I don’t feel old is when I’m shaking my groove thang!

**I am clearly still young and hip as evidenced by my timely and relevant turn of a phrase!**

Here is one example of me doing a Happy Dance at my wedding.  Yes, it is almost always awkward and often involves booze!
Here is one example of me doing a Happy Dance at my wedding. Yes, it is almost always awkward and often involves booze!

Oh and if you need any more incentive, If I raise $500 or more for Mommies In Need before December 7 (in the week of my birthday) I will post a truly ridiculous video of myself dancing with the dog taken by my husband when I had no idea the camera is on.  It is fairly humiliating and probably quite hilarious to others, but I am willing to sacrifice my dignity for a good cause!

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award!
One Lovely Blog Award!

The rules for accepting the award are:

~Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
~Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.
~Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
~Nominate about 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

Yay!  I actually got double-nominated, so I have to thank fightlikeagirl333 and momofone2010.  Here are 7 things about me:

  1. I have twin toddlers, Flopsy and Curly.  They are hilarious and awesome and I am pretty sure are already smarter than me.  Example:  Flopsy is having a tantrum wanting to watch TV.  Curly stops her and says “No, Flopsy, that’s not how you do it.  Watch me.”  Then she turns to her father and says, “Daddy, can we watch 5 minutes of TV, pweese!” And then bats her eyelashes at him.  We are in serious trouble!
  2. I have a kind of wacky medical history including Thyroid Cancer, Colon Removal, Hysterectomy, Anxiety and Depression.  Good Times!
  3. I love drinking red wine and binge watching crappy TV shows.  I also believe that TV can be good for kids!
  4. I regularly wear maternity pants even though it has been 2 and 1/2 years since I was pregnant.  Seriously, if you see me wearing jeans, ask to see the waistband.  There is a 90% chance it will be stretchy
  5. My favorite color is purple and my favorite food is carbohydrates.
  6. I used to do improv comedy and was professional actor, and still occasionally do theater.  So whenever my husband doesn’t laugh at my jokes I can tell him that people used to PAY me to be funny!
  7. I started my own charity, Mommies In Need, to help sick moms pay for childcare.  If you want to really make my day, go donate a few buck to our Indegogo campaign to help it get started!

And now for my nominations:

drinksandpositivity.wordpress.com

blessings2savor.wordpress.com

lightthelie.wordpress.com

livingwiththreegirls.wordpress.com

thepersistentplatypus.wordpress.com

beautyfrosting.com

asadsongbetter.com

beretolsen.wordpress.com

discombobulatedmom.wordpress.com

kelzbelzphotography.wordpress.com

tinyhumansrunmylife.wordpress.com

martinisandminivans.com

bestbuddiesblog.wordpress.com

twinfamy.com

mominthemuddle.com

Love to all you guys, keep on writing so I have something to read!

 

Thyroid Cancer Sucks Too! (Part 1)

Did you know that September is Thyroid Cancer awareness month?  No?  Well neither did I and I am a survivor of it!  It is not one of the more “popular” cancers to talk about but it affects a startling number of people.

So I want to do my little part to raise awareness about thyroid cancer by sharing my story.  If you are interested in learning more about the types of thyroid cancer, signs and symptoms, treatment, support groups, etc, you can visit http://www.thyca.org/.

I have an unusual cancer story because I only found out that I actually had cancer after it was already gone.  I realize just how lucky I am that I had a type of cancer that is usually pretty curable and we caught it relatively early, but the truth is- it still sucks.

When I was getting ready to have my colon removal surgery they did a body scan as part of my pre-op.  Nobody mentioned anything strange to me but then I went to see my endocrinologist (for my osteoporosis- yes, I am 34 and have old people bones) and she said, “Hey, did anyone talk to you about this nodule on your thyroid?”

Um, nope.  I’m just here discuss my bone density because of all the prednisone I was on for my Ulcerative Colitis.  (By the way, if at any point you get confused about my host of bizarre medical problems, see A Brief Timeline of Crazy)  So she felt my neck and said there was definitely a lump there and decided to do an ultrasound.  The ultrasound was “suspicious” (was my thyroid nodule wearing a dark hoodie or something?) so she said it was potentially cancer and we needed to do a biopsy.

This is the point where I should tell you that this happened on a Friday and on Monday I was scheduled to go in to have my entire colon removed, knowing that I would be in the hospital for at least a week and would have to go back in to get a second surgery 3 months later!  She said I could wait until after I was recovered from the surgery for the biopsy, and not to worry too much because even if it was cancer, thyroid cancer is one of the “best” kinds you can have.

I’m sorry what?  There is a good kind of cancer? Look I understand that if you know you have cancer and are spinning a wheel to find out what kind it is you are probably hoping for something like thyroid that has a high cure rate rather than say pancreatic or ovarian.  But cancer is still cancer and it is really f-ing scary, there is no best kind.  I was lucky that my Wheel of Cancer landed on thyroid and it was caught in Stage 2 (before it spread), but I would much rather have been on a different game show all together… like American Super Ninja, I wish I were that cool!

But I digress, I managed to keep it together in her office and make it to my car before I had a complete mental breakdown.  I was crying and shaking so much that I could not drive.  I mean WTF, wasn’t I going through enough right now?  No, the universe decided to go ahead and pile on some more to worry about.

This is what I felt like when I heard the news, see bottle of wine!
This is what I felt like when I heard the news, see bottle of wine!

So I let myself freak out for a few hours but then I had to put on my big girl yoga pants and suck it up, I was going into the hospital in a few days for major surgery and had to make sure everything was set up and ready for my kids and myself during my hospital stay and intense first few weeks of recovery.

When I was recovered enough I went in for that biopsy, waited an excrutiating 10 days for my results only to find out that they were “indeterminate.” So basically there was a 50/50 chance it was cancer but no more tests that could help narrow that down.  Awesome!  All the doctors agreed that it was too risky not to operate and remove the lump but I got to make the choice of removing my entire thyroid (which if it turned out not to be cancer would be taking out a perfectly good organ that I really kind of need) or just removing the half with the lump in it (but if it was cancer, I would have to have a second surgery to take out the rest.)  Knowing that I would be having a minimum of 3 surgeries in 4 months at this point I made the choice to take the damn thing out and be done with it.  I could not face the prospect of a fourth surgery.

In part 2 (soon to be blogged) I will talk about my recovery from the surgery, the discovery that I did in fact have cancer, and the complications I came across.  But I just want to pause a moment and say here that thyroid cancer is a real cancer, that it can be serious and even deadly (the girl from The Fault in Our Stars had thyroid cancer) and that if you are having any issues that could be thyroid related (one of the biggest of which is fatigue,) please get them checked out.

I am praying for each of you that you never have to spin the Wheel of Cancer, but if you do, please know that it is ok to be angry and freaked, but that there is a ton of support out there for you.  I hope this blog becomes just that.  A place for inspiration, laughter, and comfort when things get rough.  Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty more crazy where this comes from!

One Hundred and Thirty Pounds

In 2003 I was living in New York and trying to make a go of it as an actress.  I wasn’t having much luck getting paying gigs and at 5’11” I was always being told that I should model, so I got myself an agent and added aspiring model to my resume.  I got a few modeling jobs but quickly felt the need to drop some weight to be more competitive.  I was about 145 lbs, which is pretty thin for 5’11” but that agent told me that I would do a lot better if I lost 15-20 pounds.

Ok, I thought, I can do that.  Stop drinking so much, eat healthy, exercise more and the weight would fall off, right?  I dropped a few numbers on the scale but was nowhere near my “goal weight” of 130.  So I started throwing up.

Now, I didn’t think of myself as bulimic or having an eating disorder or anything, because I didn’t do it every day and most of the time I didn’t even have to stick my finger down my throat.  See I had a system… I would go all day, running around to castings, exercising, walking everywhere, and only eat 1 or 2 “Zone” bars a day just to keep myself from fainting.  But then sometimes at night my discipline would waver and I would be so starving that I would eat whatever I could find, which would make me so nauseous that I would be clutching the toilet in no time.

And still that magical number eluded me.  I got to 135 and broke down in tears one day when I went into a casting and while measuring me the casting director said, “Oh, you’re a big girl huh?  Might want to lay off the chips for awhile.”

I realized at that moment that I was never going to be what they wanted me to be, that I was not meant to be one hundred and thirty pounds, or at least that I couldn’t get to that weight without doing serious damage to my body.  So I quit.

If a modeling job came my way and they liked the way I looked then fine, but I was done making myself sick for it.  I am not going to lie and say it was easy.  Over the course of a few months I figured out how to get my eating back into better habits and I started keeping track of and celebrating the days I went without throwing up.  I figured out that it was more important to be a happy, healthy me than to be 130lbs.

Flash forward to 2014.  I am 34 and way past my modeling days with twin two-year olds.  I step onto the scale and start to cry when I see the numbers flash until they reach 130.0.

See for once in my life I am trying to gain weight.  I am recovering from my third major surgery in four months and no matter what I do I keep loosing weight.  I had to have my entire colon removed because of an auto-immune disease called ulcerative colitis and now it is difficult for my body to process nutrients.  In addition to being super skinny, I am also deficient in several vitamins, severely anemic and weak and get out of breath when going up half a flight of stairs.

And yet… everyone is telling me how good I look.  Joking that colon-removal is the new fad diet.  Making me wonder if when I am better and start gaining weight again I will miss that little number on the scale.

This was supposed to be a pic of me shaking my fist in Righteous Fury but it really just shows how skinny my arm is!
This was supposed to be a pic of me shaking my fist in Righteous Fury but it really just shows how skinny my arm is!

No matter how crappy I feel, there is still a tiny voice in the back of my head that is pleased that all my clothes are too big and that for the very first time I can remember in my adult life I can look in the mirror and have no criticisms about my weight.  Old habits die hard and old dreams even harder.

I try to remember that now I have different dreams and the ones I have actually make me feel good about myself and my life.  I want to get strong and healthy again so that I can play with my adorable girls without running out of breath.  I want to get back my energy so I can spend time with my amazing husband who has supported me through a really tough period of time.  I want to learn to feel good about my body so that I can teach my children as they grow up that their bodies are beautiful whatever size they are.

I realize that I am crying because 130 is a number I never thought I would reach and because a part of me is doing a little victory dance but also because I realize what a toll it took on my body to reach that goal from so many years ago and hope that I can finally let it go.

Wonder J – The Super Nanny

With all the drama surrounding the Corner Market incident I would like to take a moment to give a written standing ovation to my own personal superhero, Wonder J, the Super Nanny!

We have had quite a few sitters, and since I got really sick last fall, I have needed pretty much full time help with the kids.  We went through a few nannies (some great, some not-so-great) until we found Wonder J.  My process for interviewing a new person is to hire them for an afternoon and then have them play upstairs in the kids room while I spy on the monitor (Yes, I’m sneaky like that.)

The first time that J came over and I heard the way she played with the girls it was like the skies parted and I heard the Vienna Boys Choir singing Halleluiah!  She was engaging, entertaining, and was teaching them things, all while being firm but gentle and keeping the toddlers in line.  My own personal Mary Poppins! Although, if I am being honest she could really work on her singing, she sounds nothing like Julie Andrews…

Throughout my surgeries I knew that if Flopsy and Curly were with Wonder J, I didn’t have to worry about them at all.  It took so much pressure off of me to know they were truly being loved and cared for when I could barely get out of bed.  When I got a little stronger but still couldn’t manage them on my own I would go with them on outings and to playgroups.

Before my first surgery I thought I would really miss all the alone time I was used to with my girls, but Wonder J became like family.  She knows just when to back off and let me have time with them and when to step in and take them off my hands because I am exhausted.  And I truly enjoy her company.

Recently she had to go out of town for a month and when she got back the girls were so happy to see her that Flopsy just sat in her lap and pet her hair for an hour.  I have to admit that if it were not super creepy and inappropriate I probably would have done the same thing!

That is part of the reason I was so angry that the owner of the Corner Market immediately turned the blame on her by saying that she is just a “bad nanny” who was on her phone the whole time and let the kids run wild.  I think he was just taking the chance that we didn’t really know what she is like with our kids but he picked the wrong nanny to accuse of being irresponsible!

I have first hand knowledge of how great she is, but I have also heard countless reports from friends and even play center staff about how she is one of the best nannies they have ever seen.  Last week I hosted a playgroup in my house that ended with 5 toddlers sitting around our table having a lunch that she made with all of the moms in the other room talking.  At one point we stopped and realized just how good all the kids were being and were amazed.  I couldn’t do that, I have a hard time keeping my two calm by myself.  But Wonder J is a master nanny and I bow down to her skills.

I just want her to know just how very appreciated she is, and if you have a Wonder J in your life (be it someone you pay, a family member, or friend) make sure they know how special they are to you.

Oh and NO! You can’t have her number, she’s mine…my preciousssss