Featured

Back to School

IMG_1518School started this week.  For the past three years, I’ve missed the first day of school, so in a way I was excited this year that my life has settled down enough that I could do something normal, like go to work without being paralyzed with grief, or wondering if my son was dead, or rushing off to a radiation appointment.  I was ready, right?  Positive.  Cheerful.  Thinking about new projects. Ready to see my pals.   But when I got into the auditorium on the first teacher day, all my excitement drained away.

First off, when  I looked around and it was like a flashback from twenty-three years ago when I first entered the same auditorium as a student teacher.  I remembered looking at women pushing fifty sporting new dye jobs and geometric patterned skirts and thinking, “Lord, don’t let that happen to me.”  And while I don’t dye my hair, or wear primary colors or chiffon, I realized I have become one of those women teachers who are making fans out of handouts and rolling my eyes at the new teachers rolling out their Pinterest bulletin boards.  I sat and listened to two days of educational presentations and realized new ideas are just old ones dressed up in new clothes.  I went into my classroom and colleagues came to me whining and complaining about a schedule that didn’t meet their needs.  I acquiesced to their wishes.  Even if it puts thirty rowdy nine year olds in my room at one time, it’s way easier to agree, than to argue about what’s best for kids.   I came home in tears, feeling drained and trapped.

Hours later I was still crying.  And I wondered if maybe I was going through a mid-life crises.  Do women have those?  I mean I don’t want a convertible or a trophy wife, but I also don’t know if I can handle all the stupid shit.  All the discussions of hallway rules, and auditorium rules and bathroom rules and math scores and reading programs.  I’m so tired of acting like these things are important.  Where else in the entire world do people line up in single file to get to a destination, except for elementary school?  And dealing with the emotions of a building were half the women are having babies and the other half, hot flashes is intense.  I know I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I wondered if this might be the breaking point.  Kids hadn’t even stepped in the building and I was already dreading the year.  To cheer myself up, I went into my backyard and sat on my swing and watched the hummingbirds in the rose garden.

Last week, the kids and I went on whirlwind tour of college campuses on the East Coast.  One day we went to the beach and took a ride on the Wonder Wheel.  The Wonder Wheel is a eccentric Ferris wheel, which means that some of the cars are built on tracks that swing up and down as the wheel rotates.  Imagine that, swinging 150 feet in the air with the skyline of Manhattan on one side, the Jersey shoreline on the other.  I told the kids that when I retire I am moving to the beach.  Darian thought that was a good idea.  Shayne didn’t respond; he was still not completely responding to his meds and spent most of the trip, lost in his own head.

So I was sitting on my swing, thinking about all this and knowing retirement is not an option, when Shayne came out and joined me.  We just found out that his kidneys are being damaged from the antipsychotic drugs.  The drugs are fighting one war and staging another.  No wonder, little petty things about school are under my skin, I am watching my kid die a little every day.  Shayne turned to me and said, “Thanks, mom.” I said, “For what, bud?”  And he waved his arm around, indicating the yard, “For all this, thanks.”  I smiled and put my hand on top of his.  So I guess I’m not really having a mid-life crises.   I just forgot that this journey is about breathing and enjoying every moment. No matter where I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blogging

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I haven’t blogged much this month.  It’s not because I haven’t thought about it, but I’ve had so much going on that I’ve had a hard time narrowing down a topic.  At the beginning of the month, I thought I’d blog about being back at work.  Then I thought I might blog about apples or art.  Or about hot flashes again, because seriously, the heat outside and inside is making me absolutely CRAZY.  But the biggest reason, I haven’t blogged is that I reread something I wrote and it made me cry.  I don’t think I realized how sad I am.  I think, “it’s been three years since Mom and Dad died, why I’m crying.”  Still.  Probably because I didn’t let myself cry in the first place.  I completely suck at letting myself be sad.  And no one needs to hear about my tears.  But the thing about writing for me, is that it is a compulsion.  Eventually, the words spill out somehow or someway.

So here I am in the middle of this night, back to blogging.  I have been reading The Tale of Despereaux for this little book club, a colleague and I do with students.  The book is a fairy tale of a sorts about a mouse.  The story is charming, but in general mice scare the hell out of me.  So when I fell asleep tonight, I almost immediately had a dream where I was covered in mice and jerked myself away.  I shook it off and tried to get back to sleep, but then fell into a dream about riding a rollercoaster in the river.  Everyone fell off and drowned.  Again, I woke myself up.  My son is awake, so I lay awake listening to the sounds from his room for awhile and decided that if I was not going back to sleep, maybe I would write a bit.

I would love to say that Shayne is doing okay, but I’m not so sure.  He went back to work, but he’s been acting really weird.  He says he’s not hearing voices, but he is, I know.  He is constantly whispering and laughing to himself and lately, he is so distracted.  He barely can follow a conversation.  Sometimes he screams because he sees the soulsnatchers out of the corner of his eyes.  His screams can leave me terrified for hours. Yet, he isn’t saying paranoid things.  His eyes don’t have the tell tale glint of psychosis.  He seems to be taking his medicine.  I’d talk to his doctor, but she quit last week.  I guess a new provider will be showing up soon.  I could take him back to his old doctor, the one that just gives him drug after drug, or take our chances with the new person.  In the meantime, I am watching and listening to him.  It’s like waiting for a damn hurricane to hit.  Usually I try to get in front of the storm, but I’m not sure where it’s coming from this time.

Darian is navigating a storm of her own.  She started her last year of high school with a heavy course load and anxiety and tears.  I told her to talk to her counselor and change her schedule.  I never would have told her brother to do that, or done that for myself, but really high school is a small microcosm of life and in the big scheme of things, high school transcripts are not that important.  So she dropped Honors English for creative writing–a much better fit. She had to adjust her schedule a little and is taking an art class for the first time since middle school.  Darian never wants to be compared to me, so she steered away from art, but she’s got the eye for it and she is actually loving AP art history and drawing.  The really ironic thing is that Darian’s art teacher was my art teacher in high school.  This woman changed my life and it looks like she’ll also help Darian finish strong.  I’m trying not to think too much about Darian finishing high school this year and letting her go, because she is going for sure.  As far away as she can.  I am just trying to enjoy each moment that I have.

On a good note, I’m enjoying teaching more this year.  I realize that I haven’t been much of a teacher since mom and dad died.  That first year, holding everybody and everything together was so all encompassing, that school was way on the bottom of my list.  The second year, keeping Shayne alive and trying to figure out how to get some help for him was far more important to me than just about anything else.  And then last year, getting through cancer took all my focus.  I showed up to work and had a plan, and engaged kids, but my  personal engagement was completely turned off. This year, I’m working on being more present.   I’m really enjoying participating in the discussions about building a new school.  It’s so exciting watching the plans unfold.  I might get an art room with an outside terrace or balcony.  Although I’d be thrilled with storage and new sinks.  Currently, my closet floods whenever there is rain and I have mushrooms growing on the INSIDE of my door.  Apparently the sprinklers water the lawn AND the inside of my classroom.  And I’m really working hard on improving what I do with first grade. I always feel like teaching art to first grade is like teaching kittens to knit.  Sometimes they are more like tiger cubs.  I’ve changed up some of the projects and I’m trying to be better at embedding habits and routine.  I’m not saying I’m being successful.  Kids are still drinking the damn paint water and I’ve had kids finish something in two minutes that should take thirty minutes.  Today I was trying to get them to line up, one was crying, one was dancing in front of the mirror, three of them were still washing their hands, and one was under a table.  They all sounded like they were at a rock concert.  And that’s when my principal showed up at the door.  But overall, it feels better.  Like by Halloween, they might be tame.

The other morning, I reached for my toothbrush which is in a little white plastic tray that I took from my mother’s bathroom  She used to keep the tray under her sink and it had nail scissors and her nail file in it.  I just put my stuff on top of her stuff, and it’s been by my bathroom sink since she died.  For whatever reason, that morning, seeing her pink nail file brought tears to my eyes.  I swiped the tears away, sort of irritated with myself for crying over a nail file.  It seems like I miss her more than ever.  I miss my dad more than ever.  I have to remind myself that it’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to be sad.

So I guess dreaming about drowning on a rollercoaster it pretty indicative of where I am in my life.  I am  riding my bike, walking, skating some, and helping James with the harvesting when I can.  There’s a clay class starting next week to look forward to and another writing class coming up.  And of course I’m surrounded with great friends and family.  I know I avoid my tears and fake happy and try to pretend that everything is fine, but I guess when it comes down to it, I’m just doing the best I can.  I’m going to keep showing up and writing myself through this.

 

 

 

Joan Jett and the Class of ’19

40502028_10212675555588552_2524792199921532928_nI remember buying my first Joan Jett cassette tape.  I was about thirteen and I had money from my paper route, so I rode my brother’s BMX to Alco and forked over a ten dollar bill. I popped the cassette in my Walkman, and then in my car stereo when I started driving, then in my house stereo when I got my first apartment. Stevie Nicks, Janice Joplin, Melissa Etheridge, Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Ann and Nancy Wilson. They were my girls. I loved the guitars, and sultry vocals.  They kept me company on long drives, all night marathon study sessions, writing my grad school thesis, and grieving bad break ups. Except for Janice, I have seen them all on stage. That was back in the day, when people stood in line for concert tickets. And I did my time, sitting all night in front of the record store in all kinds of weather to get close to the stage. Sometimes I used my grocery money to get the t-shirt at the show. I could survive on ramen and hand-outs from my cousin’s kitchen.

Even though, I never stopped loving music, when I had kids, concerts stopped being a thing for me. First off, for years, concert tickets were a luxury I couldn’t afford. But more importantly, I never thought rock concerts were appropriate for kids–drunk, high people acting crazy.  One time when I was at Red Rocks seeing Stevie Nicks, and the couple right next to me started having sex. RIGHT NEXT TO ME.  It was traumatizing. So I never have taken my kids to a live rock show, but they had lots of other exposure to music. My son can play cello, guitar, and rock the house on the drums. My daughter plays the ukulele and guitar. Both have eclectic taste, and know the words to hundreds of songs. The radio gets way more play than our television and in the car we turn up the volume and sing along. I didn’t realize how much I missed live music though. When I was in Chicago in June, I went with my girlfriends to the Blues Festival.  We saw Mavis Staples take the stage.  She spoke about marching with King and moved the audience to tears with her rendition of “I’ll take you there.” It brought me back to the days when I loved sitting close to the stage and watching the musicians do their thing.  So when I got the chance last weekend to see Joan Jett, I broke my rules and asked Darian to go with me.  After all, she’s going to college next year and after what the girl has been through, I figured she was mature enough for a rock concert.

It turned out to be one of the best nights of my life.  First off, we got to go to the State Fair, which I secretly love.  I went every year with my parents.  We’d eat complete junk and wander through the livestock tents and catch the rodeo.  Dad and I would look at all the horses and usually someone would let me take a short ride around the corrals.  My brother and I would play games on the midway and ride the rides and we almost always ran into some of our relatives.  D and I walked through the creative arts tent and checked out the quilt show and she walked with me through the corrals as I talked to every horse that was peering over a stall.  She didn’t want to look at the livestock, but she did agree to do the dairy exhibition and gave milking the fake cow a try.  We got to our seats early and Darian was so excited–we were in the fourth row, center stage.  Once the music started, Darian shot out of her seat to dance.  She knew all the words to almost all of the songs. The ladies in front of us kept turning around to compliment D, impressed that she was so young and rocking out with them.  After the show, we rode back home, talking about how great the music was.  Darian knew without being told that Joan Jett is an icon. She is one of the first women to start a rock band.  She is one of the first women to play lead electric guitar. She took criticism from Rolling Stone and all the boy critics who didn’t think she could make it.  She has had bottles thrown at her on stage.   But she never gave up and helped pave the way for generations of women musicians.   Joan Jett is resilient and brave, which is how I often think of my daughter.

In August, Darian and I went on a whirlwind tour of colleges on the East Coast, with Shayne tagging along still dealing with the tail end of his psychosis.  I had this moment at Penn Station when I was trying to figure out what train to take to get to the Bronx to see Sarah Lawerence.  I looked over to check on the kids. Both looked so city; Shayne, gutter puppy city–he had on clothes that didn’t fit him because he’s so skinny and was looking down at the ground–moving quickly to pick up a rolling quarter.  And even through the crowd, I could see him talking to himself, in the way that he does since the voices came to call.  In a place like Penn Station, no one even noticed him.  Darian was leaning up against the marble wall, her bleached white hair curling around her face, tapping her Doc Marten to the beat of whatever she was listening to on her headphones.  I realized right then, that she already looks like she belongs.  I know in her mind she has already moved to the city.  It doesn’t matter how far away it is from what she knows, or how expensive, or what I say, she has already made up her mind that New York is where she is destined to be.   And I better catch up, or she will be gone before I realize it.

I used to think my dad was the bravest person I knew.  He left his small town to join the Army when he didn’t even speak English. He learned to jump out of helicopters in the midst of gunfire to save downed comrades.  He survived a prisoner of war camp.  He never ever once asked for anything, but got respect anyway because of his quiet, generous nature.  I know he left his strength for me, but I think he left his courage for Darian.  She might be little, but she is tough.  So many times in the last years, I’ve seen her gather herself together and move forward.  There has been a lot of tears and pain, so to watch her dance and laugh with a musician we both love was pure joy.  It’s impossible to know what the future holds, but I’m going to treasure every moment that I have left with my brave, wild child. She wants to change the world and even though I don’t know what form that will take, I bet she will succeed.  She’s already changed my world and I am grateful for her every day.

 

Bike wreck

18446646_10209329106689421_4810792243239010575_nFor quite some time, I was an avid bike rider.  I have both a mountain bike and a road bike and I’ve done some serious miles.  I’ve ridden to Rockvale, Pueblo, Cripple Creek, Florence, and Penrose many, many times.  Once, I even rode to Alamosa.  About ten years ago, I was in a pretty serious accident.  I was riding down Main Street and I jumped up on the sidewalk to avoid some construction, and my bike tire got caught between the grass and the sidewalk.  I flipped over and hit the low stone wall surrounding the canine unit on Second and Main.  The wall went through my chin and fractured my cheekbone and I damaged my kneecap, plus a million other scrapes and bruises.  I was riding before my stitches were out, but maybe not with the same fervor.  A year or so after that, I was attacked on the riverwalk while riding.  A man jumped in front of me and grabbed my handlebars.  He didn’t physically touch me, but he spit in my face.  I screamed and people on the riverwalk came running into view to help me and the creepy man ran into the woods.  Even though I was safe, riding my bike was never really quite the same for me.  I became a little skittish about riding alone.  Then the afternoon of my parents’ car accident, I didn’t answer the first phone call, because I wanted to go for a bike ride.  A million times I’ve thought–“What if I answered that call.  Maybe my dad would still be alive.  At least I might have been able to say good-bye.”  Every time I looked at my bike, I thought of my phone ringing, and I just quit putting on the miles.   One of the promises I made to myself after recovering from cancer was to take up bike riding again.

Here’s the thing, recovering my stamina hasn’t been as easy I thought it would be.  I still get fatigued pretty easily.  And if I get overtired, I almost feel sick.  So I have been riding, but I’m definitely not as fast or strong as once was.  Yesterday, I was so hot when I came home from work, that I thought a nice ride with the breeze blowing against my skin would be just the ticket.  However, I always feel like I should spend some time with my son when I get home and then my daughter came home from school in tears because she hates school so much.  So I got kind of a late start when I started out on my evening ride.  In hindsight, I should have settled for a quick ride around the neighborhood, but instead set off on a twenty-five mile journey that was one of my old routes when I was riding consistently.  Part of the journey involves the riverwalk from Centennial Park to Mackenzie Blvd.  I realized the sun was setting when I was at the highest point of the trail, and I might have turned around, but I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in awhile. So I stopped to catch up because that is what you do in a small town.  And I was rested enough after our ten or fifteen minute chat, that I felt like I could handle the rest of the route, so I kept on going.

I didn’t really notice the darkness until I reached the outskirts of town where Mackenzie meets the highway.  I paused for a moment and took a drink and unzipped my bike bag to get my cell phone and let the kids know I was okay.  That’s when I realized that I didn’t have my phone.  I knew they would be worried because I had been gone quite awhile.  So I tried to increase my speed and I decided to cut out part of journey to make the trip a little shorter, but I still had about five miles to go.  Maybe everything would have been fine, but a bug flew into my eye.  I tried to get it out with my hand, and I didn’t notice that I had steered into the soft dirt on the side of the road until my wheel skidded and I overcorrected with one hand and fell off, hitting my elbow on the asphalt of the road, hard.  My pedal knocked into my leg.  I lay for a minute on the side of the road, in the dark, with my bike on top of me.  I kind of either wanted to die or be transported into a nice bubble bath.  If I’d had my phone, I probably would have surrendered and had one of the kids come and get me.  I thought for a minute about who lived nearby and wondered if I should probably get some help, but instead I got up and took stock.  I had a tiny scrape on my elbow and my leg felt bruised, but basically I was fine, so I got back on my bike and did the long, painful last five or so miles, uphill in the dark.

When I finally got home, the porch light was one.  Darian greeted me first with, “DUDE, where have you been?  Are you okay?  Shayne is freaking out.”  Shayne came rushing in to the living room.  His eyes were big and bright.  I was scared for a minute that psychosis had taken over again, but he was coherent when he said, “You were gone for so long.  I tried to call you, but you left your phone here.  Are you okay?”  I reassured them both that I was fine.  Shayne went outside to put my bike away and Darian continued scolding me.  “You can’t do that.  He can’t handle it.  He was so freaked out and worried.  Remember he’s fragile, like a puppy.  And I thought you were dead.  I was making plans.  James would have to do the funeral, because I couldn’t handle that.  And I’d have to go to Chicago and enroll in school. I would do that over the Labor Day Weekend. And…”

I stopped her by saying, “Darian.  I’m not dead.”  Shayne came into the house then, walked over, and hugged me, then went to bed.  Darian waited till she heard his door shut and said, “Don’t forget–like a puppy.”

Well, that made a lot of sense, Darian would be tough and pull out her survival skills in a crises and Shayne would break down and fall into his voices.  I woke up with a bruised elbow and leg, but surprisingly little road rash.  I felt stronger, like I had broken through some kind of barrier.  Next spring, I turn fifty and I’ve always wanted to ride somewhere epic to celebrate–like to the Oregon coast, or along the Appalachian trail.   So I’m going to keep riding and building my strength.   I’ll just remember to bring my cell phone next time.  Maybe Shayne will ride with me.  We can take care of each other, so Darian won’t have to pick up the pieces.

 

Blue

IMG_1515As a child, I can never remember a time in my life when we didn’t have a dog or two.  But I grew up thinking dogs needed a place to run and play, so in my years of apartment dwelling, dogs were off the table.  But when I moved back to Canon and got my first house and had a boy and a baby, I thought a dog was in order.  We went to the shelter and looked at the puppies.  There were only five or six puppies on the day we went and they were all smallish breeds, except one–a blue heeler/lab mix little boy dog.  He had giant paws and in my mind, dogs should be big.  So we took him to the viewing room and he hid under the bench, trembling, until Shayne coaxed him out.  He was the puppy for me–shy and reserved.  We named him Blue–partly because he was a blue heeler, partly because I think animals should be named after colors (we had a gray cat named, Ash, at the time) and there was a dog named Blue in my favorite book–Where the Red Fern Grows. Plus Darian was too young to have an opinion, or the name debate would have gone on for two weeks. When my mom saw him, she rolled her eyes and said, “That’s all you need, another baby.  And look at his paws.  He is going to be huge.”  But my dad said, “Ven aca Blue-boy.” and rubbed the puppy’s ears thoroughly.

The first morning after we got him, I went out into the living room to find several piles of poop strategically placed all over the living room.  Tears came to my eyes, and I realized that the whole puppy thing was maybe a bad idea.  Shayne came out of his room, took a look at the scene and said, “I got this,” and he started the process of cleaning it up.  After that, Blue was pretty much Shayne’s dog.  He took him for a short walk before school everyday, and then a long walk after school.  He made sure his water bowl was full, and fed him and took him to obedience school.  Our shy little puppy transformed into a rowdy trouble maker.  He chewed big holes in the carpet.  He ate choice pieces out of the laundry basket, mostly my underwear, which could be a whole separate blog on its own, and he loved shoes.  He LOVED them so much that he’d chew them into pieces.  One morning he gathered up all the shoes from the neighbor’s front door and brought them to our door.  He could open the gate, the back door, and the bedroom windows.  We had to bungee everything closed.  Every time I got frustrated with Blue’s behavior, Shayne would hug the dog tight and say he would keep working with him.

Shayne started running seriously when he was twelve years old.  He started out training for middle school cross country and at first ran three to five miles a day.  He would take Blue with him.  The runs were great for Blue; he started getting a lot more exercise and settled down some.  As Shayne increased his miles, Blue was his constant companion.  They’d leave at four am and run for miles.  That lasted for years.  The year Shayne went away to college was hard on Blue.  He would lay around looking listless and forlorn.  His boy was gone and he didn’t really know what to do with himself.  I walked him everyday, and was surprised at well-behaved he had grown to be.  And he didn’t seem to age.

When Shayne came back from California, he was showing symptoms of schizophrenia.  At the time, we didn’t know what was wrong with him, but Blue knew there was something wrong with Shayne.  It wasn’t his boy anymore.  And in the last three years Blue has turned his loyalty to me.  He became my dog.  He followed me, slept in my room, and greeted me with tail wags.  Yet, when Blue had a stroke last spring and his leg stopped working and he seemed to be suffering from dementia, Shayne was the one that refused to let me consider putting him down.  He said, that he would still care for Blue and we couldn’t kill him just because he was old.  He said he would help him get outside and clean up if he had an accident.  Shayne has been through so much, and Blue was still eating and able to move around on his own, so even though, Blue needed assistance getting up and down the steps and couldn’t really walk far distances, and sometimes fell, we kept caring for him.

Last week we went on a short trip to the East coast to see a friend, get a taste of the ocean and visit college campuses.  I wasn’t sure about leaving Blue or Shayne.  Shayne is still not quite stable.  Traveling with him is worrisome, because I would hate for him to run away far from home, but leaving him alone is just as worrisome.  So I elected to take Shayne and I got care for Blue.  But it was too much for Blue.  He fell when he was outside and didn’t bounce back.  When we got home, he couldn’t get up at all and was lying in his pee.  Shayne picked him up in his arms and carried him outside and set him down on the grass.  The dog took two or three stumbling steps and fell onto his side and started crying.  Shayne swiped at his tears and told me that it was time.  He didn’t want to watch Blue suffer anymore.

We made an appointment to put him down.  When we got home, Shayne went to his room.  I didn’t know how he was going to handle losing Blue.  Stress can and has lead Shayne into psychotic breaks.     But when I checked on him, he was asleep and Charlie was curled next to his side.  It made me feel better and at peace.  I think all of us will miss that crazy, old dog, but he had a good life with lots of runs, plenty of stolen pizza off the table, and a boy who loved him beyond measure.

August 2–Oncology Report

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On August 2, my radiation oncologist said that if I promised to go to my yearly mammograms and kept following up with my medical oncologist, he would fade into the shadows unless I needed him.  It made me think of Batman, but I didn’t tell him that, instead I promised I would keep up with my care.  Believe it or not, I have learned a few things on this journey.

  1.  First off, some doctors actually DO know what they are doing and can be trusted.
  2. Cancer is not created equal.  Some kinds are worse than others.  I was fortunate enough to get the kind with a high cure rate.
  3. Despite my fortune, cancer still has jacked with me.  Any little thing can cause paralyzing fear–a headache, a cough, an upset stomach.  It is back?  How do I know? How can I be sure I am okay?
  4. Cancer has brought me in touch with a certain amount of rage that I didn’t know I was capable of.  Everyone knows the words to respond to a cancer warrior.  There are catchy slogans and T-shirts and greeting cards.  Friends and family bring dinners, and give gifts, send cards and ask about my health.  But I promise this is nothing like what schizophrenia has brought to my life.  Cancer is nothing compared to that.  Nothing.  Don’t tell me you don’t know what to say or what to do for me.  You did when I had cancer.
  5. I care about my breasts more than I knew.  It was hard for me to imagine them cut.  And the glimpse of the bruising and scars was one of the hardest moments I’ve ever faced.  I wondered if I’d ever be able to take my shirt off again.
  6. That being said, plastic surgery has gone way up on my list of appreciative items in life.  And I totally understand dropping a few G’s at Victoria’s Secret now.
  7. Radiation is deceptive.  First off, you take off your shirt, lie on a flat surface with your arms over your head.  My feet got tied up and I was instructed to lie perfectly still.  Usually I closed my eyes while the machine passed over me.  It’s painless and over in about a minute.  I’ve heard that sex is like that for some women;). But the thing about radiation, is that it’s cumulative.  It builds up in your body and causes burns and bone crushing fatigue. In my case, it has damaged some of my muscles forever.  But that’s a small price to pay for my life.
  8. My dad was strong.  He was in two wars and never, ever complained about pain.  I feel him inside me every day, telling me, “Come on, chica.  Get up.  You face the day.  It’s a good morning.  Don’t miss it. Bueno.”  I am glad he wasn’t hear to see my pain.  I am glad he left me his strength.
  9. My friends call me Wonder Woman.  They gave me tons of Wonder Woman Swag–cups, shirts, socks, belts, wallets, pens.  I love it all, because she is a bad ass.  But I don’t think of myself like that at all.  She’s trying to save the world.  I’m just trying to find a little peace.
  10. There was a never really a lot of doubt that I wouldn’t be okay.  I have the best friends.  The best family.  The best man.  And a pretty great cat.  They saw me through.  Every step of the way.

So, yeah, I’ll go to my appointments and do the damn mammograms, if that’s what I have to do.  Life is short and I want to live and love every minute.