Misconceptions 

I’ve noticed that when one is severely sick, injured, or newly or temporarily disabled, there is a tendency for the people around that person to act differently around them. It’s like that people around that person are nervous to be around them now. 

I first noticed it in May when I had my back surgery, that people who normally called, texted, or visited me seemed to want nothing to do with me. I asked them why that had happened, and they said they wanted to “give me space” or “let me rest and relax”. Don’t get me wrong, these are both good things. But when you are unable to go out and do the social things that you used to do, and it becomes necessary for friends to come to you, the dynamic can change.

You now have to initiate all social interactions, whereas before it may have been more natural. I found it necessary to almost beg my friends to come visit me after my back surgery. Though they meant well by trying to give me space, I really just needed some company. I found that this time around more people have been willing to come to my house and hang out with me. It’s not glamorous and we may not be able to do things that we used to do, but I really enjoyed the company and the conversation. Several friends have even been nice enough to bring me food, because it’s difficult for me to cook and get around the kitchen. 

I have been most grateful with the friends and family who have come around me and not treated me differently due to my disability. I know it can be hard for people to understand how I feel but the best way to know is just ask me. Normally, on a day-to-day basis, I get to talk to my coworkers and people out and about and may not need as much company when I get home. But when you are alone and injured, it can be very helpful to have company around to stave off loneliness. 

Updated pictures below: 

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I keep forgetting… 

Today, I would normally go to the farmers market, get groceries with Jeb, and have dinner with Erik. I found myself wondering why I hadn’t been to yoga in a while, having forgotten for a moment that I have a broken leg and can’t leave my house very often. I am happy with the shape my legs are in now, as my feet now meet before my knees do. I’ve never had this shape in my life, and I think it’ll make life a bit easier and lower the amount of pain I’m in day to day. My leg is still pretty swollen though. 


The incision looks pretty good today, it’s healing up nicely. The one in my hip where they took the bone and marrow out is pretty irritatated. I think my skin is just sick of having staples in it!

I also have trouble remembering things lately, like how to speak in complete sentences and where I’ve put things. I hate not feeling like I’m on top of things, though I do feel a lot more clearheaded than last time when I had my back done. 

One thing I have been disappointed by is that I feel like my friends are too busy to hang out with me. I feel like they feel like because they were here for my back surgery, they feel like they’ve done their bit. I just remember when people got sick or had surgery when I was little, everyone in the community came around the person and brought them food and took care of them. Perhaps that’s a result of many of my friends not knowing each other. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s bothered me. I’m already pretty lonely, and I’m only two weeks out from surgery. 🙁

Mom gets here tonight though, which is exciting! I think we’ll have fun. ☺️

Straight leg!

So, two days ago I had knee surgery! They wanted to straighten my leg out to lengthen it and make it the same length as my right leg. Everything went really well, I’m still in the hospital though doing physical therapy and trying to recover a little bit before I go home. They did the incision on the left side of my left knee; it’s about 4 inches long. Here’s a picture of it.


It’s pretty grizzly but that’s OK.

I also have an incision on my left hip, which is about two inches long. It hurts when I do anything, coughing, sneezing, anything like that. 


I’ll update soon, not feeling up to it today. 

Meet your mental illness 

On tonight’s edition of meet your mental illness, crippling depression and anxiety have come out to play their hand. Here’s the list of things my brain is doing right now: 

  1. It is hurting over what’s happening in Virginia right now. How does the alt-right/KKK/Nazi faction walk around so freely and feel so empowered to spread hate and fear in America? Because our president endorses that rhetoric, the hate, and the fear that they bring. Hell, he’s trying to start a war with North Korea on Twitter. I don’t understand how people can hate people just because they are different. Diversity is what makes us stronger and better. This is not a difficult concept! 
  2. My brain is worried that if I post something about what’s going on right now, it will ring empty. 
  3. I’m worried that my birthday is coming up and it’s been a wash of a year. 
  4. I’m worried about possibly having to have major knee surgery to straighten my leg out. I don’t want to be out of commission or off work for another month this year. Would my job still be there for me? On the other hand it would be free, so it might be the right time after all. Both directions are so strong I feel paralyzed about making a decision. 
  5. I’m sad that I’m a morning person and my friends are all not morning people. I want to have a breakfast party for my birthday but I doubt anyone would show up because I’m not important enough to wake up before 10:00. 
  6. I’m sad for my family. For my uncle who is dying in jail. For my dad who is dealing with illness and in discomfort.

I’m happy a lot of the time. But tonight I’m just sittin in my depression pit. And it’s ok. 

Are you religious or something?

I dread being asked this question. The majority of people who have asked me this recently have asked it uncomfortably after making some sort of joke about religious people or religion, only to see that I didn’t exactly find their joke amusing.

The reasons I don’t find jokes made at the expense of the religious community funny are many. I was raised in the Christian church with an education of and appreciation for other religions, especially Judaism. My experience growing up was, for the most part, positive. I had a lot of friends at church, I got to volunteer a lot, and I got to see a lot of people benefit from what was going on. I think this was healthy for me as a child, to learn compassion and kindness, to learn to put others before myself, and, of course, how to make the biggest splash in the lake at kids’ camps.

Jokes against people like the ones I grew up with hurt, because they are made against my family and friends. Don’t mess with my family, ya know?

But the other day, a friend just asked me, “are you religious?”, in sincerity and kindness. I was honestly at a loss for words.  I hadn’t thought about it in a while, and I didn’t know what to say.

Around the same time I moved to Chicago, I stopped going to church regularly. I didn’t know exactly why for a long time, but after some time and reflection, I think I know a couple reasons why.

I realized that I have been living in the “after” life. Not the afterlife many religions debate about, not any sort of heaven (though maybe a hell), just a different life after a traumatic event. The day after I moved into my apartment in Chicago, my roommate sexually assaulted me. This was it, the traumatic event that split my life in two. I had just moved to a new city to start a new life, I only knew one person in a city of over 3 million, I was trying to find a new job, I lived in an apartment with my attacker and another emotionally and mentally exhausting person, and I didn’t know who to talk to. Top that all off with having to have an interview for my current job 12 hours after being raped. I was embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened, and I was honestly terrified. It took me five months to tell anyone.

The “after” life has been filled with many things: fear, hate, depression, anxiety, sadness, but also love, happiness, and a lot of good experiences. One thing it hasn’t been filled with is church.

At first I made the excuse that I just didn’t want to go through the effort of finding a new church and all that entails, and to be honest that was true. Everything felt so difficult at the time, even the good changes. I had just met Jeb and started our life together, I had started my new job, I finally got a new apartment with Erik, and I felt a little more stable, even stable enough to go off my anti-depressant medication. But, it still felt like I couldn’t go to church. I felt like they would know I was “damaged”. Anyone who goes to church may be thinking (we’re all damaged, that’s why we go to church). But, my brain told me it wouldn’t be good, so I steered clear. Obviously there’s no way they would’ve known unless I had told them, but I felt vulnerable.

Since that time, I’ve experienced a lot of healing from the trauma. People have loved on me a lot, and honestly, time helps a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, unable to breathe, having dreamed that I am being attacked again. I still get sick to my stomach when people discount or joke about survivors of assault or abuse.

Another thing that’s made me question my beliefs in God and a religious system is having my dad misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I honestly wanted a miracle, I wanted to pray for him to be ok, I wanted God to step in. But I didn’t know if I was allowed to come back to that party just to ask for a favor. Did I? Yes. Did I believe that it would work? I’m not sure. Was I elated and relieved when we got a for-sure diagnosis that it wasn’t cancer? Absolutely. The rollercoaster of loss is a whole other ball of wax that I’m not really ready to dive into, but it definitely made me question things and wonder if, if I did ask for that favor, did I have to go back and start living that life because I had believed for long enough to ask?

I’m currently reading a book in which the characters are asked to answer an incredibly tough question in order to complete an important task. When answering honestly about if something will work or not, they dive deep and come up with the only answer that gets them through the task: “I don’t know.”

So, when you ask me if I’m religious or not, I’ll answer the only way I can.

I don’t know.

Pain series: Part 7

Yesterday, I was six weeks out from surgery.  The time has really flown, and I’m getting so close to feeling normal. I still have a bit of pain in my legs and back, but I’m down to only taking one Tramadol a day for the last week or so. I’m so happy to be off the narcotics. They were killing my stomach, my digestion, and my appetite. I’ve lost 15 pounds so far since last year’s knee surgery. That’s helping the pain in my knee go away, which is great. Ideally I won’t have to have surgery again on it, but they did say it was more a matter of when rather than if, that they’d have to straighten my leg out. I’m terrified of that.

More than anything though, I just want my dad to be healthy right now. We surprised him for Father’s Day this last weekend, and it was so fun to see the look on his face. It was pretty clear though, that he’s in a lot of pain. He has a PET scan Friday to see if they can find what is causing the nodules. I’m hoping they find something so they can start treatment. I am having a hard time with it all, because I can’t imagine life without my dad being there. Every moment this weekend was precious with him, as every day is. 

My pain today isn’t my back or knee. Today my heart hurts for my dad. 

Dad

Imagine everything you know in your life grinding to a halt. Cancer. We don’t actually know, but all the signs point to that, and because it’s taken this long to find out, it’s likely to be stage four. They still don’t know where the actual cancer is coming from or what is causing all the nodules on the lungs, liver, and kidneys, but dad has a scan yesterday and should know tomorrow, probably when he’s on the road to my cousin Charlotte’s wedding in MA. I feel incredibly lost right now. My dad has always been a calming and wise presence in my life. And now there’s a possibility he might not be here for more than five years. Every moment is precious, even as it always was, but even moreso now.  I wish I could be home to hug my dad, to help him when he’s uncomfortable, or just to sit and hold his hand. Trying to love from afar, and let him know every day that I love him.