Falling To Pieces

On the other side of my window

I realize just how much like them I am.

Parts of me falling to pieces

Just like the leaves cascading from those trees.

No longer the young 20 or 30 something

Will I age gracefully

Or go kicking and screaming?

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I Do Fear The Reaper

My grandmother is dying.  I know that in no way does this make me unique.  I know everyone goes through this.  Recently I have seen an influx of friends on Facebook who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and my heart goes out to them.  I guess my friends and I have reached that age where major loss of our senior family members should be expected.  Yet I continue to live in my fantasy world where they live forever.  I have been around my grandmother my entire life.  She has helped take care of me, she was there for me when I got my first period, and she has always been the gentle matriarch of our family.  Just this past July 4th, we celebrated her 90th birthday.

gma90

Cake made by my sister.

She looked great, aside from the normal aches and pains her age brings, and got to visit with so many friends and family members who came out see her.  I went to visit her at the hospital yesterday, and she looks like a tiny child who’s lying in a huge hospital bed watching Jeopardy.  She is on so many pain medications that it’s difficult to understand her when she speaks.  She began shaking at one point, and when we asked if she was cold, her response was “I’m nervous.”  In her drugged state, does she realize what is happening?  I held my mom as she cried and asked what she was going to do without her mom.  It is heartbreaking on so many levels.

I don’t take death well.  In fact, I take death very personally.  I am very sensitive.  I’m sensitive to the point that I absorb and manifest the emotions of people around me.  It can be very overwhelming and bewildering.  Just last week I attended the funeral services of the mother of a dear friend.  I had only met this lady once, but from what I heard I truly missed out on the wonderful experience of getting to know her.  Throughout the service, I fought hard to keep the tears down.  I had to frequently bite down on my cheeks and lips to prevent myself from sobbing out loud and making a spectacle of myself.  Just the other day, another dear friend called to tell me that at the end of the week she was having surgery to remove the dying embryo she was carrying.  She had only found out she was pregnant two weeks before.  I cried on the phone with her.

My grandpa struggled for months with whatever he had (pancreatic cancer? bowel obstruction?) before he passed away.  I was inconsolable at his February funeral.  The night we buried him, my then-boyfriend had to prevent me from going to the cemetery and lying on his grave.  I didn’t want him to be alone in that cold, dark ground.  When my cousin died unexpectedly (due to a broken neck and drowning), I was hysterical.  I came close to passing out several times.  Don’t even get me started on my pets.  One of our cats passed away at the end of May after a drawn out month of force feedings, subcutaneous fluids, and pee pads, and I was a complete wreck the entire time.  I find it nearly impossible to control myself in these situations.  It’s exhausting.

I’m generally looking to deal with my pain in this post.  I do not want to deal with the consequences of life and getting older.  The thought terrifies me, even though I know it’s an uncontrollable fact of life.  With death all around me, it forces me to face my own mortality and realize that it can happen to me at any time.  When I’m lying on my death bed, will I see a mysterious, disturbing cloaked figure in the corner of the room, awaiting my ultimate demise?  When I do go, do I go in quiet dignity, or do I go out kicking, screaming, and clawing?

NaNoWriMo & GrammoWriMo

Hello all of my fellow and aspiring writer friends!  That time of year called NaNoWriMo is rapidly approaching us.  Started in 1999, NaNoWriMo is a way for writers to come together, encourage each other to write daily, and work hard at writing a new 50,000 word novel in one month.  November is National Novel Writing Month, and many people couldn’t be more excited.  There are, as always, the nay-sayers.  Take this article, for example.  I do see the point she’s trying to make.  Even if you can get a novel written in one month, it doesn’t mean it’s a good novel.  It’s important to go through the editing process multiple times, until you are positive that you have something worth publishing.  Tighten up the document, remove unnecessary verbiage, have friends, family, and even professionals go over your novel to make sure everything fits together and makes sense.  I do not agree with her when she suggests that there are enough novels out there.  To me, that’s like saying, “All topics have been written about.  There’s no good material left in the world.”  Yes, there are many books that I will never be able to read, but someone is out there reading them.

I’ve been a writer for some time now.  I’ve never actually had a novel published, but I have had a few articles and poems published.  Also, I was a writer at a previous job, where I wrote procedures for different departments.  I had never heard of NaNoWriMo until last year.  The fine people at Grammerly.com gathered a few hundred of their loyal followers and were determined to participate in writing a complete novel as a group, giving the attempt the moniker of GrammoWriMo.  They succeeded in writing a novel titled The Lonely Wish Giver, and it was written by 300 writers from 27 countries (and 44 U.S. states)!  It is now an ebook and can be purchased here.  This year’s GrammoWriMo theme centers around the destruction of Pompeii, a topic that I have been fascinated with since about fourth grade, so I’m really excited to work on this project!

If you are interested in participating in either or both of these events, use the following links to join:

NaNoWriMo – https://nanowrimo.org/sign_in

GrammoWriMo – http://www.grammarly.com/grammowrimo/

Endometrial Ablation, or a Pain in My Uterus

WARNING: This blog talks extensively about my uterus and female issues!

I have been writing this particular blog for the last month.  I have felt quite a bit of trepidation about finishing and publishing this due to its content.  Getting old is a horrible beast that does appalling things to our bodies.  As women, we’ve always had to struggle with Aunt Flo knocking on our door every month; some worse than others.  It’s like an unending cruel joke.  Aunt Flo has always maintained regular, moderate visitations with me that typically lasted about 3-4 days.  Then, I turned 42 and everything went whacko!  July of 2013 we went on a family trip to Michigan to see the in-laws.  Flo chose that time to show up.  On this five hour trip, I was going through the largest size tampons made at the alarming rate of one every 1-2 hours.  If I didn’t stay on top of it, there was a huge mess.  I think I was near hemorrhaging.  If that wasn’t bad enough, mid-October I began to have periods every two weeks, and they were still very heavy.  Sometimes they would stop for a day and then start up again.  To top it all off, I was becoming so dry downstairs that the delicate skin began to get tiny, excruciating paper cuts.  It was confusing, frustrating, and more than a little concerning.

So I went to my gynecologist.  I was poked and prodded and samples were taken.  Then I was told that it could just be a matter of me growing old.  I was put on birth control and was told of a number of other procedures I could get, ending in a hysterectomy if nothing else worked.  The birth control helped a little bit, but I was still having issues.  When I went back to see my doctor, she told me that she was concerned with the number of medications I was taking and she thought I should go off of birth control.  Her suggestion was for me to get an endometrial ablation via the NovaSure® procedure.  Basically, I was to get the lining of my uterus burned out of me.  Ouch!  They say that general anesthesia is not required for this procedure.  I was still nervous.  There were two options: get it done in the doctor’s office, not get knocked out, and pay my insurance copay, or get it done in the hospital where I would be knocked out and end up paying over $800 in doctor and hospital fees.  I apprehensively opted for the doctor’s office.

Before the procedure, I had quite a bit of reading to do.  My doctor had given me a booklet to inform me on what I needed to do and what to expect.  I was informed that I could not have intercourse for a month (two weeks before, two weeks after), but that there were no other restrictions and I should be able to be a productive citizen the very next day.  Reading this only seemed to stoke my fear and I was on the verge of crying the whole two weeks before the surgery.  I tend to have an issue with relaxation medication.  It works just fine on me, until the actual procedure it was meant for starts.  Then it magically disappears out of my body and the calm is gone.  I was terrified that I would feel some of the burn.

I had several medications I had to take the night before and the day of the surgery.  We arrived at the office and began the prepping.  I was given an anti-anxiety pill to calm my nerves and a shot in the butt of a pain medication.  There were 3 very friendly nurses in the room, and my husband was also allowed to be with me.  By the time the doctor arrived, I was feeling woozy and calm from the medications.  One nurse described everything that was going to happen immediately before the doctor did it.  First they filled my uterus with water, and then inserted a camera to ensure it looked healthy and there were no huge fibroids.  They even let me see it on the screen and showed me the fallopian tube entrances.  It was fascinating, but of course, the real procedure hadn’t started yet!  The doctor then inserted a slim wand, and I was told to prepare for a loud click.  I both heard and felt said click, and the panic set in!  After the NovaSure® wand was inserted, the head flared out to the size of my uterus and revealed a gold mesh, which heated up and emitted radio frequency waves for approximately 1 ½ – 2 minutes, effectively branding the inside of my uterus to hopefully prevent the build-up of the endometrium and any further periods.  Then, the wand was closed and removed, along with the lining of my uterus.  I was allowed to clean up and head home after about 15 minutes.

Let me tell you, that was the longest 1 ½ – 2 minutes of my life!  The click I had felt when the wand was first inserted was uncomfortable.  When the procedure began, it felt like someone had reached into my uterus and grabbed the inside.  No burning sensation here, folks!  For the duration of the surgery, the hand I felt in my uterus kept opening and closing, tugging at it and trying to pull it out of me.  I know I groaned quite a bit, and I think I clamped down pretty hard on my husband’s hand.  The doctor and the nurses were all full of encouraging words, most of which I did not hear.  Although I do recall hearing my doctor at one point chant: “Just remember, no more periods!”  After it was all done, I ended up getting sick a little bit.  Apparently one of the nurses gave me shots of anti-nausea and pain medications.  I do not remember this.

When we got home, I ended up sleeping the rest of the day, with breaks to take more pain medication.  I had quite a bit of pain and cramping from the surgery, and my husband said I was moaning in my sleep.  The next day I was pain free, but I did get some mild discomfort if I stood for too long.  It’s now been a month since I’ve had the procedure done.  The pain has faded in my memory, as well as has most of the procedure itself.  However, so far things are looking and feeling great!

I recently had a follow-up visit with my doctor.  She says everything looks great.  As of right now, I cannot say for certainty if I will continue to have periods or not.  Mine is currently due, but is not present, so that’s a good sign!  Aside from the aforementioned pain, I would definitely recommend this procedure to qualifying women, but I would strongly suggest getting it done as an in-patient.  If this is something you and you’re doctor are talking about, and you are interested in pursuing, you can find lots of information at NovaSure®‘s website: www.novasure.com.

Depression: A Tribute to Robin Williams

I know there are many articles out there now about Robin Williams.  I feel compelled to share my personal point of view.  Robin Williams was one of the best comedians of his time.  He was gifted in improv and impersonation, and his unique outlook on the world helped him to connect with millions of people.  He brought us joy and laughter, and tears from the laughter that made our bellies ache.  I grew up watching him and I sometimes wondered if he were that unbridled as a child.  It was obvious just looking at him that he was a warm and caring person, a teddy-bear at heart.  He oozed kindness from his very core; it was evident in his eyes.  It has been said that the best comedians hide the most pain, which is obvious in Robin’s situation because of his nearly life-long struggle with addiction.  Some may have put this off as an artist suffering for his work; that he needed the drugs and alcohol to make him a better performer.  I would argue that this was the only way he felt he could deal with the tempest he had raging inside.  But none of us would ever have guessed how truly bad things were after seeing his wonderful smile and his boisterous personality.  You could hear the world’s collective gasp when it heard of his death.  I wonder if he realized how many lives he touched with his comedic genius.  I wonder if he realized how greatly he would be grieved and missed.

As a survivor of severe depression, I can see clearly where he was.  There are many out there who don’t and will never understand what he was going through.  He was not a coward.  He was not weak.  He simply didn’t know what else to do or how to continue managing the pain.  What does depression look like?  It looks like you and me.  We wear masks to hide what we’re feeling from the outside world.  We become experts at playing the part of the happy person living a perfectly normal life.  Many times even our loved ones and friends cannot see what’s going on.  From where does depression come?  Sometimes it’s genetically inherited.  Many times it is the result of traumatic events and troubled, regrettable pasts.

What does depression feel like?  It is excruciating pain.  It is mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically agonizing.  It takes away your energy and your desire to go anywhere or do anything.  It closes all the blinds, lays down in the fetal position in bed, and sobs fiercely into your pillow for hours on end.  It looks out the rain streaked window at the traffic passing by and silently plots out various ways you can end your life.  If you have family or roommates, you try to think of ways to do it so that there is minimal mess for them to deal with, or maybe even so that they will not find you immediately.  It goes to counselor after counselor in frustration because you cannot find someone who will connect with you and will ask you the right questions to draw you out and help you to figure out what is happening.  It diligently tests medication after medication, and combinations of medications, desperately searching for the right mix that will give some relief from the relentless grief you are experiencing every day, that will make you more clear-headed, that will turn you back into the person you used to be.  It is suffocating.  Your brain is an amazing jumble and a constant tornado of swirling confusion, self-loathing, and pain.  Your emotions and your thoughts don’t make sense anymore.  You wonder if you would be missed if you checked out of life.  Depression doesn’t just affect you, but it affects everyone close to you.  You become angry and aggressive and irrational.  It causes you to lash out at those you love.  You say things you don’t mean and would never say if you were in your right mind.  You tell those close to you to go, all the while pleading in your head for them to stay and help you fight this monster.  Your loved ones become overwhelmed and confused and don’t know what to do to relieve your state-of-mind.  You are drowning in the thick sludge of terror, with just your arms and hands sticking out.  You grasp at anything near, trying to pull yourself out of the quagmire and grab onto the hand of someone dear.  Then you begin pulling, bringing them down with you while you are trying to get out, and they must then latch on to someone else in order to stay afloat.  And it continues on and on like this.

I grieve every day for the loss of this great man.  My husband and I prayed for him the night of his death.  He brought me so much joy and laughter.  I wish he could’ve gotten the help he so desperately needed.  I love you, Robin.  The world has gotten a little bit dimmer now that you are gone.

If you are depressed and suicidal, please do not hesitate to get help!  The following are resources to use if you or someone you know are depressed and/or suicidal:

Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255 (http://www.crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices_sp.html)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness:  http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=Depression
Healthfinder (find local support groups): http://healthfinder.gov/FindServices/SearchContext.aspx?topic=833
GoodTherapy (find local therapists): http://www.goodtherapy.org/