But as I walked out of the doctor's office, past all of these people who were waiting to see him, I realized how minor this all really must be. I mean, here are people with REAL problems. I walked by a lot of people waiting with their loved ones, usually pushing them around in a wheelchair because the Chemo/Radiation had made them too weak to walk. I walked by the Beauty Shop, where I saw a middle-aged woman trying on a beautiful Auburn wig to cover where her own hair once was. Walking out to the parking lot I saw a young girl, maybe in her 30's, alone waiting for her car. I had been sitting next to her for a few minutes when I noticed she was holding information on a Uterus Scan that she must have just had... I couldn't help but wonder if she was sitting there by herself worrying about a possible Uterine Cancer. She was so young, like I said maybe 30-35... who knows if she had children yet but maybe she never will, now. These poor, but amazing people. They have some serious stuff going on, some life-altering problems. And sitting there in the freezing cold wind someplace in LA, I suddenly felt very, very small. I wont pretend to have some Martyr sense of grace about this- I am still scared shitless for myself in the near future. But on another note I'm pretty sure I will be okay, probably even better, through this. And I feel lucky that I only have this small bump on the road rather than something that will completely alter my course in life.
If I don't write anything else before Friday- Merry Christmas. It's going to be a great one.
I blog-stalked my friend, Sara's blog today... only to find that her blogspot led to a discussion of blog stalking in and of itself! And so, I have decided to continue on with that. We are all guilty of it. It's like celebrity gossip, I just can't get enough. I'm sure there is some psycho-analytic explanation of it all, but I don't feel much like getting into that. Suffice to say I could read blogspots all day long. I follow links to other links to other links, and I have to admit- even reading some stranger's blogs just fascinate me. No I am not going to do drive-bys or anything. But people's lives are just so interesting sometimes. I especially like photography blogs or people who take a lot of pics of their exciting lives. So for any of you who are in the same boat as I am, here are a few of my favorite blogspots that I have found so far (In no particular order):
This is my friend, Holly's blog. She hasn't updated in in ages (shame on you Holly!) but her posts are always hilarious and put a smile on my face.
Sara, a friend who lives in Germany that I reference a lot on here. Her life is so exciting and she always has pictures of her adorable kids and sites to see during her travels through Europe. Also- another great writer whose blogs always put a smile on my face.
Mentioned this one a few times too. I don't know her but her photography is incredible.
Another of Sheena's blogspots. Fun recipes and a good read overall.
A family friend from years ago who I happened on during one of those "I wonder what this guy is up to these days...?" moments. Turns out he is up to the most awesome life ever.
Just found this one through my friend's wife. Looks like a good one...
If you're ever curious what "cool" looks or sounds like; go here. I stole practically their entire playlist because their taste in music is phenomenal. Another old friend of the fam.
My best friend all growing up. Her job is a totally awesome not for profit organization and so inspiring!! Love her!
There you go. Stalk on.
But today I don't mind being tired, or hungry, or overloaded. I just feel very, very small. I feel like I am not where I should be in my life at all right now. Not in the "I should be married with kids and a Golden Retriever by now" sense of the word. I just feel like I should have traveled more or something. I guess I wish I had accomplished more in my life by now. I have been looking through an old family friend's blogspot and seeing all of the places that he and his new bride have been traveling to. They took a year off from school and work to just travel through Europe... everywhere from Morocco to Spain to France. And you know what? I am green with envy. All my life, all I have ever wanted to do is travel. I want to see the world and experience different cultures and lifestyles. But here I sit, living this dream vicariously through a number of my friends across the Pacific Ocean. Another of my friends is living in Germany, and yet another just moved back from doing a reality show in Shanghai. And of course I know that if I want to do these things I have to start now and make plans and just go for it, but the reality of it all is that I probably never will. I mean, maybe in a few years when I learn how to save up some money I can go explore Europe, but for now the thought of preparing and saving and "going for it" just terrifies me. I am literally frozen in my tracks. And I thought about all of this this morning, and I felt very sad, and incompetent for being unable to take such risks. And I felt disappointed in myself and jealous of all of these people who are living these amazing experiences. And then- I stopped. I stopped because I realized that even when I really, really want to it's wrong to compare myself to other people. I stopped because I know that everyone has their gifts and their challenges. I stopped because I ALSO know plenty of people who have never left California. I know people who have never had the chance to eat a snow cone in Hawaii, never put their feet in the ocean off the coast of Florida, and never hiked up to a cave in Utah and listened to bats up in the distance above their heads. I stopped because Thursday is Thanksgiving and this morning has been an ungrateful one. I stopped because I have a job where I make good money and really don't have to struggle all that much. I stopped because although it took me longer than most, I finished my schooling (for now) and had a blast along the way. I stopped because I am surviving having a tumor wrapping itself around a vein leading to my heart and pressing against my lungs this year. I stopped because I have been blessed to have spent the past 11 months with the love of my life, my best friend, and one of the most amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing... someone who I have never, not once since we've met, doubted that he's had me in his heart throughout any circumstances. I stopped because when I was in the hospital, my parents drove out in their motor home and slept in the parking lot so that I wouldn't have to be alone. I stopped because I spent yesterday evening having an early Thanksgiving dinner with my other best friend and her family and some friends. I stopped because despite my family going out of town, I am still managing to have 2 more "Thanksgivings," totalling three delicious meals surrounded by friends.
I have plenty of time to live my life, to go where I want to go and see what I want to see. And just because I'm not globetrotting and waking up to exotic breakfasts right now doesn't mean I never will. I am grateful for the blessings I have been given, for the head on my shoulders that God has seen fit to give me, and for the amazing people I have surrounding me. I have hope that one day I WILL see the rest of the world, but for now I am grateful for the world currently before my eyes.
Anyways... I have had a long time to reflect on some things, having been out of work for the past month or so. Before that my life had seemed, to me, to be repetitions of getting up, going to work, coming home, showering, and sleeping. The occasional event in between was usually seen as an obstacle, or a rushed affair where the getting there so quickly ruined the fun of the being there entirely. There was always a place to be, a call to take, or a thing to clean. I cant tell you how much of my time was spent running in what I now realize were simply circles, trying to tidy up an already quite orderly life. Then I would spend hours preparing for sleep because my body realized (more than my mind) that I wasn't tired because I hadn't actually DONE anything that day.
I have always known that it's important to assess one's own life every so often to see where you are and where you would like to go... but I have been so wrapped up in my own little pseudo-dramas that I haven't had a chance to pencil some quiet reflection time in. But when all that you can muster up the energy to do is sit up to watch movies in bed, quiet thought is pretty much your constant companion. And so I have been reflecting, thinking, wondering... all of those things I forgot to question or contemplate. And I also did a lot of watching. Staying at other people's houses and in their care reminds you of just how different everybody is.
Through all of this it has occurred to me that I am a control freak. I don't think I've always been one, I think it's just happened as I've gotten older. I want my room arranged just so, my life all very timely and in sequence... but no matter what, my room has always remained disorganized, my life out of line and chaotic. And through my bed rest, I realized that these things are out of my hands. My world doesn't always spin on my watch. My desk at work is going to be cluttered, my cat is going to get out of the house sometimes. All the small things that no one sees coming, be it a rainy day in June or a Sternotomy in October, they all will happen. Stop trying to arrange your life, I say. Life is messy... and while I could spend it straightening and planning I think I would much rather spend it living. I'm still learning, but I am attempting to take a different approach to my life these days. I want to loosen my grip on what I think "should be," and flow into what "is." My father, I have seen the older we both get, has this outlook. He's become very laid back these days and I love that about him. Obviously I want to be passionate about some things in my life, but I don't have to turn everything in my life into some life or death event. Sometimes it's okay to let your phone ring and not even bother to check to see who it is. It's okay to stay up long after your bedtime on a work night. Let go of that feeling I get in my stomach that says "this isn't on the agenda, you should be doing something else!" and just allow myself to go with the flow.
That's my opinion. Or perhaps the Diet Coke I'm becoming caffeinated from's.
I have more pictures to show you but I have to wait until I get to my mother's computer to transfer them. Love you all! Talk to you soon!
I am grateful today for something peculiar. I'm glad that I am not, by nature, a very emotional person. It seems like everyone I talk to is more upset about my surgery than I am. I've just been very cavalier about the whole thing. As far as I can see it- it is what it is and when it happens I will worry or be scared or whatever. But for now I am just very calm and prepared. I imagine when I am sitting in my hospital gurney I will have some very worried thoughts, etc., etc.... but for now I feel like my biggest worry is them putting the IV in my hand again. Past that I will have a gas mask put on and I will be out like a light for the entire surgery. I guess some days in recovery will be harder than others. Sometimes I will not get my pain medication taken in time and I will be in a lot of pain. Apparently they have to give you a special pillow to hold to your chest so that when you cough you don't burst your stitches or something- I'm guessing that will suck. But it just doesn't make any logical sense to me to sit here worrying about it NOW. I will worry about it when it's an issue.
It also amazes me how many people have sent well wishes or offered to come and visit. People I haven't spoken to in years have called me... friends whose lives are just insane have asked when they can visit me in the hospital. I have a feeling the male doctors are going to have a field day with the amount of cute young girls who will come by my room to see me. Should be interesting! My sister is flying from Colorado to stay with me for a week to help my mom take care of me, which is just amazing. I've got Kenneth who will stay with me at the hospital as often as his school schedule will allow. I've been fortunate enough to find this awesome girl, Amber, on the Internet. She is about my age and had a Sternotomy last year so she has been coaching me through what to expect and how to prepare. I would not be anywhere NEAR as calm and ready as I am without her.
So anyways- I have to get everything finished up here at work for my little "vacation" and I can't write out some long memoir. But to anyone who knows me and is reading this: thank you for everything. I am so lucky to have every one of you in my life and I'm not sure where I would be without each of your influence and guidance. I'm sure this will all play out according to plan and I will be fine. But on the off chance that anything should happen I want to emphasize how lucky I am and how blessed I have been to be who I am, where I am, and with whom each moment of my life has been spent with. Lots of love and I will talk to you all when this is over.
Sorry- I am seriously on some radical drugs right now so my attention span is zilch!
Haha, the little heart monitors look like funny little metal nipples.
Here is my CT Scan. You can see where my spine is at the bottom, and my heart is the thing to the upper left. The highlighted part is my tumor. I'm debating if I should name it... too far?
I go in tomorrow for another doctor's visit with my surgeon at the Lakeview Kaiser office and I have no clue what we are going to discuss there. I imagine it will be setting up a date for my surgery but with the way this is all going I really have no expectations right now. I'm still waiting for my doctor to call me to set up my appointment for my second opinion as well so I really hope they call today so that I have some idea of when that will be with all of this. We will also be looking at the results of the new CT scan from Friday so I hope those are positive. We did a high resolution CT Scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis because my surgeon wants to make sure I don't have anything else going on. My fingers are crossed that I don't.
Other than that, things are pretty boring for me right now. I'm trying to eat healthy and in abundance so that my body can get all of the nutrients it needs. I'm taking vitamins too, and trying to do some yoga in my office at work when I have free time (and privacy!). I'm making sure to get lots of rest and not stress about anything. I'm getting my paperwork for any financial assistance ready and doing as much of my office work as I possibly can so that my boss doesn't fall apart without me here. It feels like I'm forgetting something but I can't put my finger on it... but I'm sure I'll get everything ready in time. I'm kind of an over preparer in general so I'm not too worried about any of that sort of thing.
Sooo... here's to hoping tomorrow goes smoothly. Kenneth is going with me to my appointment so that should be helpful. He's quite smart and I know he will ask any questions I forget to. Love that wonderful, supportive man of mine!
Anyways, to update everyone on my surgery, yesterday was crappy. He told me that they still didn't know if they were going to do surgery or chemo, which made me furious because I feel like my time is being wasted but I guess it is what it is. But I just got off the phone with him and he told me that after a meeting with a board of surgeons, they've decided that surgery is the right answer. When I talked to him yesterday, though, he told me that if we proceed to surgery it will need to be a Sternotomy. For a full description of that:
Median sternotomy is a type of surgical procedure in which a vertical inline incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is divided, or "cracked". This procedure provides access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures such as heart transplant, corrective surgery for congenital heart defects (CHDs), or coronary artery bypass surgery.
Basically this was my worst case scenario on surgery. I will be in the hospital for about a week, then on bed rest for two to three weeks. This means I will have to take a month off of work, which I really hope wont lead to me losing my job. What a mess. There are other health as well as some aesthetic concerns that I have, but I wont get into that right now. Anyways- I don't know my surgery date yet but I will be sure to keep everyone posted.
On a more spiritual note: I have been doing some thinking throughout this whole experience and know, without a doubt, that God wouldn't have given me this test if he didn't KNOW that I could handle it. I was thinking about this a week or two ago and kind of playing the "pity me" card to myself. Lately I have been haunted by images of myself laying on an operating table with my body cut open and me knocked out cold... it's a scary thought. But I know that this is something I can deal with. I know that I don't have it so bad, and that catching this thing when we did was a gift to me from God himself, because if we hadn't then who knows how long this may have gone on or what could have happened if the tumor had grown to press more into my heart or lungs. I know that this tumor could have been malignant, and I'm not sure I would have dealt very well with that. But God knew what I could deal well with and grow from and he delivered that to me- no more, no less. I know that bad things happen, even to good people. Even to people like my sister's friend, Jenny, who has Cancer and is dealing with it with more strength than I can even imagine. God knew she could do it, and although my burden has nowhere near the severity of hers, it reminds me that God knows I can do this too. And in a way... I'm flattered. I'm flattered the way I was the first time my Dad told me that he saw great things possible in me and I believed him. Someone as amazing as my father (and in this new case my Father in heaven) has a great faith in what I am capable of. He must think I am pretty great. And with that esteem in myself from the both of them, I know that I can handle this and not only get past it, but thrive through it. I WILL come out of this a better, stronger, and more complete person. Funny how taking something out of you somehow makes you more complete...
I am also looking to get as healthy as possible before this surgery, but having a hard time with it. I get winded pretty easily because of the placement of my tumor and how it's now pressing on my lungs. But I still want to do some kind of workout... yoga, perhaps? Any suggestions are more than welcome!
Anyways, today will be another page in this chapter and that much closer to the end of it... so today is a good day for me. Hopefully my doctor gives me some encouraging news. Wish me luck!
Anyways. Sorry to vent, but cross your fingers that my doctor calls me today!
My mom went with me and was so great the whole time, as were the nurses over at the Irvine Kaiser office. I went through my recovery time (got a little sick from the drugs) and went home and relaxed. By 6pm I was okay to go to my own house and even did a little laundry. Today I feel back at 100%... well 100% for still having a tumor in my chest but I'm starting to forget what it feels like to not have chest pain on a daily basis.
So now I wait. I wait until Friday or so to get my biopsy results and see what this thing is and what I have to do next. I really hope it doesn't involve any more biopsies or surgeries... as it turns out I do not enjoy those. Weird, I know.
What I will talk about is an interesting conversation I had with my sister, Charity. She told me that my dad had told her an analogy where we all skied. Ky skied down the mountain, effortlessly and gracefully, and everyone was shocked because he was such a laid back person that no one expected him to be so great at it. Charity skied down the mountain, carefully and precisely. When she got to the bottom, she stopped and looked around to see if anyone noticed how well she had done. But rather than approval, Ryan flew by her on his skis. He passed where she stopped with big hurrah and flair, and then turned past him to ask Charity what was taking her so long to get to the bottom. Charity didn't get into what Jill was doing on the slopes... but knowing her it was something along the lines of being social with a big group of people. Then, apparently, my dad ended his story with me, saying, "And of course Megan just wasn't there."
Now I can get into the whole part about me not being there but that would just end up being some long analytical story about my childhood or my relationship with my family. I'd rather address the part my sister and I talked about after that.
I mentioned to Charity that I never thought of her as the type to seek approval. She replied that she always heard from people how "together" she had it. Everyone constantly tells her how good she is with her money, or how perfect her family is, or how together she has it... but the reality is that none of those things are 100% ALL of the time, and when they are close to it- it takes her a LOT of work to get there. I'm sure just about anyone can relate to that part of the conversation. She said that a lot of the time, people just expect her to get it right, and so when she does it isn't a big deal or a surprise. But in reality, all she wants is for someone to tell her, "hey- you worked really hard there and it turned out great." Some validification.
And so on to my next topic: the very same validification. How underestimated it is. I know that I don't ask for it, but I crave it. I want someone to tell me, "Wow, Megan... I'm noticing what you're doing." It's also funny because in order for our society to see us as 'humble,' we take those comments from people and reflect them with a grain of salt. Example:
"Hey, Sarah, I really enjoyed your speech in class today. I could tell you worked really hard on it and I thought it turned out fantastic."
"Oh, gosh, yea it was alright... I totally messed up at the end, though."
Did you notice what happened there? I mean, this chick could have spent days on her speech, and whether or not it was perfect, she DID work hard on it. When someone tells her it was great, she ought to have replied with something like, "Really? Thanks so much! I worked my ass off, it's cool that you appreciated it."
Why do we work so hard for someone to notice us, only to downplay it when they do? I think we believe that if we agree that we did something great we will come off as arrogant or self-absorbed. The fact is that we are neither. I also think that may be why people don't compliment each other as often as they should... because the response is never what it should be. No one is saying your life has to be perfect. No one is telling you that you should be turning water to wine or some other such biblical miracles... you are not an all-perfect being. And that's totally fine. I wrote a piece on friendship a few years back that mentions that a true friend will pick you up when you fall because they know you are not perfect- but they DID see you try. So when we TRY to do something great, and a friend takes notice... don't brush off their attention because your efforts fell short. Instead reflect their optimism like a mirror and thank them for it.
I kind of bounced around on this post, but I hope it makes you think at least a little!
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.Strive to be happy.---"Desiderata", Max Ehrmann
My point is: I have a difficult time explaining myself. And my outlet is, more often than not, here. Today's entry is no different.
Today I am grateful for the small things that the people in my life do for me. I don't like to gush, and I don't like to talk about my personal life in certain aspects- but there is one particular person that I am grateful for today and that person probably has no idea. You see, I have always thought of myself as someone who notices things no one else sees. Where some girls will completely brush off little gifts or kind words from a guy, I will cherish them. I will notice you if you pick up something at the store "just because." I adore it when you ask me if I am comfortable when we are sitting together, especially when you are completely comfortable but you want to make sure that I don't need to adjust the way I'm sitting. Each and every single time a guy opens a door for me, I think to myself, "wow, this is so cool!"... no matter how many times it's been done. If you send me a text or an email, I will always notice that because I am so flattered that you took time out of your day to let me know you were thinking about me. I don't ask for big bouquets of flowers, or jewelry, or grandiose trips halfway across the world because I know what's important.
It's the little things that not every one else sees... nor should they, now that I think about it. The inside jokes, the hand-holding, the supportive presence at an event or place that the other person probably didn't want to be that day; these are what relationships are all about. And I think that this is why people become so twitterpaited during the beginning of relationships, because they are still taking the time to notice these little things rather than to get caught up in their busy little lives. I would like to think that I do a pretty good job of not getting caught up in all of that, though. Because to ME, life isn't about the infamous "big picture" at all. It's about the days, the minutes, and the moments. It's not about the summary on the back of your biography- it's about the pages written in the chapters of your life.
So thank you for making today's page a little bit sweeter.