Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Goodbye, my friend...

Tax season is in full swing. That doesn't mean much to most folks, other than that they're reviewing their W2 statement, wondering how they spent their entire salary and have nothing to show for it. For those of us who work in the financial world, it means working long, thankless hours for months on end.

It also means that those closest to us get shuffled to the back of the deck.

Yesterday, Mr. Puffy Pants was in his kennel for 12 hours. This has been a regular thing for three months or so, and apparently, it finally got to him. He chewed a hole in his hind side about a quarter inch deep and as big around as a dime, and took the skin off all around it about three inches in diameter. This morning, he's refusing to eat.

I called my mother and told her what he did. "Well, Mo, he's bored. Why don't you bring him out here til things calm down at work?"

The problem, of course, is that things aren't going to calm down at work. We're short-staffed and mis-managed. There's no light at the end of this tunnel.

Jenny and her friend will be down this afternoon to pick him up and take him out to the farm. It's distressing that I'll be without him so long, but I can't bear to keep him locked up all the time. I'll miss him terribly - he's such a good dog. It really is the best thing for him. I just wish it were easier.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mass and Prayer

"Full bladder?" the technician asks me. I nod emphatically. "Yes, I thought so. I think your eyes are floating." She laughs. I groan and try not to leak. I've finished off around fifty ounces of water in the last hour and a half. I'm about to burst.

"This won't take long, then we'll let you go, mkay?" I shrug my pants down to my hips and pull my shirt up under my pits. She squirts KY all over my tummy and proceeds to run the scanner back and forth, pressing on my over-full bladder. We chat a bit - I know she's trying to distract me, and it's welcomed.

Finally, she labels the last image. "All done, sweetheart. Bathroom's around the corner."

After I relieve my bladder, they show me into the doctor's office. Dr. Gyno dances in, chart and sonogram images in hand. He plops down in the chair. "So, what's new?" He's comfortable and casual.

I smile to myself and think again, "He's a good doctor." I give him an update on the abdominal pain from the journal he had me keep. He reviews the images the technician gave him. "Alright, so you've got a mass in your right ovary. Probably a cyst. I'd like to give you another sono before we do your surgery to see if it resolves itself. If not, I'll go in and remove it while you're out. You also probably have some endometriosis, which can cause a lot of pain. While we're in there taking care of that ovary, I'll remove as much of that as I can. There's a chance that I won't be able to remove the mass without taking your ovary, mind you, but you'll still have one good ovary left. If I get in there and there's something else going on, something that requires more extensive surgery, we'll button you back up and talk about a game plan before we do anything major. Deal?"

I nod. He purses his lips. "I was reviewing your lab results this morning from the biopsies Dr. Lee did. One of the samples they took that tested positive for abnormal cells was actually up inside your cervix. We may have to go deeper than I originally planned to. We're also going to have to be very aggressive with your follow-up. I don't want anything sneaking up on us."

I asked him about the possibility of children in a few years. He sighed. "Honestly? I don't know. I'll be able to answer that a little better after the surgery."

So that's that. Surgery's scheduled for the 15th of February, which means no candle-lit dinner for me on Valentine's day. I'll spend a long weekend recovering on my parent's farm, letting mom and Jenny fuss after me.

It's gonna be a long three weeks.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

January 17th

"Mo? Mo, honey, you gotta wake up." Pea nudged the slumbering lump he assumed was my shoulder under the mountain of covers in the middle of the bed.

"Groway," I growled, cinching the sheet down around my head.

"C'mon, Mo. We gotta go to work." He nudged me again. I flipped the sheet down, scowling. Pea knelt on the bed, holding a lit candle. "Happy birthday, Mo."

I smiled, wiping the sleep out of my eyes. "Make a wish." I thought of all the things I could possibly wish for. Settling in on the thing I wanted most, blew out the candle, grinning at Pea.

"You're too sweet," I said, leaning up for a kiss.

When I got to work, my fellow cubby-gophers had strewn my desk with streamers that reached to the ceiling. Kay, the gal who sits next to me, laughed as I shook my head. "Happy birthday, Mouth." She'd baked me a dairy-free birthday cake, which sat on my desk amid the crepe paper.

"Thanks guys!" I beamed. At nine, my mom and sister called to sing me the Happy Birthday Song, completely out of key, with my sister catching on every third word or so.

Pea sent me an email saying to expect a FedEx package, which showed up shortly after lunch. It was full of all sorts of lavender-scented bath products. The night before, he'd run me a bubble bath, complete with candles and music. The disc was one he'd recorded - music he knew I'd love, and in between songs he was reading poetry. He'd sent it to work with me so I could listen to it over lunch.

L took me to dinner at a great local Italian joint over near the River Market. The last time we'd gone there, it took us nearly an hour of driving around to find the place. He'd driven down there during his lunch hour, so he could drive straight there that night. We laughed for hours over ravioli and gave the waiter absolute hell.

"What's that island down under South America?" L had asked him.

"I have absolutely no idea!" We'd all three laughed. A few minutes later, he practically ran back to the table. "Madagascar!" he crowed.

"See, I told you there was an island down there!" L squinted at me, playing the part of the all-knowing teacher.

"I didn't disagree. I simply said you didn't know which island it was. And you, young man," I said, turning my attention to the waiter, "have just cost me bragging rights." He bowed, grinning, and trotted back to the kitchen.

A year ago I resolved to take better care of myself. I've cut ties, trimmed fat, and discarded dead weight. I've removed obstacles and jumped hurdles. I've streamlined and minimized and toned down. The people in my life now are those who contribute positively, those who support me, those who love me. The things in my life are things I enjoy. M and I have fallen into a happy friendship. Despite the physical difficulties I've recently encountered, life is good.

The resolution for next year? Health and education. Seems like a cakewalk, comparatively speaking.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Twenty-Something!

Well, it's official - I've been doing this for a year now. I went back through and read some of my earliest posts - my how time flies. It's amazing how much can change in a year.

If you're new, welcome. I'm glad you found me. If you've been reading the whole time, thanks. I appreciate all the emails and IMs. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, sometimes they make me think. I'm just glad to know I've got friends and strangers out there sharing my life with me. You guys are the best!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Round 2

The announcer screams into the microphone, "In this corner, wearing the white lab coat and completely unnecessary stethoscope, we have Doctor Gyno! He's spent the last 15 years staring down the gaping holes of women all over the city in preparation for this very moment. In the opposing corner, wearing the exceptionally revealing paper gown and complimentary threadbare lap sheet, we have the increasingly suspicious Mouth! She's spent the last month worrying about the turnout of tonight's fight. Let's get ready to rumble!!"

And the crowd goes wild....


"Mouth?" The nurse standing in the door way looked expectantly over the crowded waiting room. I'm not sure why I feel this way, but a crowded waiting room at a gynecology office is usually a good sign. "Mouth?"

The nurse is smiling, revealing braces with multi-colored bands. She's not much older than I am. It takes guts to sport a hunk of metal in your mouth at that age. She's got a no-fuss ponytail and generic, single-colored turquoise scrubs on, with bright pink tennis shoes. She's carrying a laptop, which probably has write-ups of every patient in the place and then some. I like her instantly.

She extends her hand to me, balancing her computer on her hip. "Heya Mouth. I'm Doc Gyno's nurse, Sporty. Nice to meet you." I smile and accept the handshake. "Wanna follow me?" I look at the wall clock before we disappear down the hall. Ten minutes before my appointment was supposed to start. That means they're running on time, which means that the waiting room isn't crowded because the office is late. They're just that busy. It's a good sign.

She shows me to a room painted in a subdued blue and plops her laptop down on the countertop. We chit-chat about weather, what I do for work, if I'm dating, her fiance, and somewhere in there, she manages to squeeze my medical history out of me. Just about the time Nurse Sporty breaks into overwhelming laughter from my dry sense of humor, there's a knock at the door.

A man with spikey hair and glasses perched on the end of his nose peeks his head in. "You ladies mind if I interrupt?"

"Of course not!" chirps the nurse. "Mouth, this is Doctor Gyno." The doctor shakes my hand and smiles at me.

"So, what's up? I hear you're having some problems."

I hand him the copy of the medical record I carried from Dr. Lee's office. I tell him that I only vaguely know what's going on, but that they want to do surgery next month. He flips through the chart, taking note of the diagrams and lab results from the past few months. We chat briefly about my sexual history. He gets out a marker and starts drawing all over the examination table paper. "This is your cervix. These are your problem areas. All this needs to be removed." He draws a circle around the bottom third of the illustration. "If you were in your forties and I knew you weren't planning on having any children, we'd take all of it - cervix, uterus, the works. Because you're so young, and there's still a possibility you might be able to carry a child, I'd like to take a more conservative approach. I still think you're borderline pre-cancerous, rather than cancerous. I don't think at this stage that you're spreading, but I don't want to mess around with this thing. We need to get this taken care of as soon as possible, so no flying off to Europe for the winter until we're done, okay?" I laugh. He's a good doctor.

We talk about pregnancy, and my previous miscarriages. He mentions nine months of bedrest and a few stitches in my cervix. I ask him if he thinks it's possible. "Possible," he says, "yes. But not likely. We'll see how the surgery goes, okay?" I nod. I had already braced myself for that.

I mentioned that I'm in pain, that it flashes off and on throughout the day and night. "Well, then, that's something different altogether, isn't it? We'll want to take a look at that before I get you under anesthesia. Can you schedule an appointment for an ultrasound first, then we'll do the surgery to take care of the other, okay?"

When I leave his office, I'm all smiles. I feel like the Governor just called in a reprieve. The ultrasound is scheduled for the 22nd, with the surgery to follow shortly behind that. I'm nervous, but at least now I have a firmer grasp of what's going on. I hear the remake Cake did of "I Will Survive" playing in my head. Guitars whine as the singer breathes over the mic, "I will survive. I will survive! Hey, hey!"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

To every thing there is a season...

"Ten minutes!" a dippy blonde cried. Black mascara was smudged under her eyes as she swayed on unsteady feet, trying to take a drink from her bottle of beer and not dump it down her shirtfront. Ashes from the end of her forgotten cigarette floated from her hand to the floor.

Ten minutes, and a new year. A fresh start? Not for me. Ten minutes before I got to dive right back in. I sat on the sofa, wondering what I was doing there. What had driven me out of my house at 11pm on New Year's Eve, when I didn't at all feel like being around people.

I wondered where M was, and what he was doing. He'd graciously allowed me to beg off on the Tennessee trip. I didn't have it in me to be bright and shiney.

"You okay?" Pea asked me, his brows knitted in concern. I've been seeing Pea for a few months now. He's quiet, and thoughtful, and mindful of my space. He knew I wasn't in the mood for people, but I didn't want to be alone, either.

"Yeah, sweetie. I'm okay." I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He sighed and laced his fingers through mine. We sat on the couch in silence while the rest of the party danced around counting the seconds to midnight.

The ball on the television reached it's final destination. The party cried simulntaneously, "Happy New Year!" Somebody blew a horn. Somebody else spilled their champagne.

Pea looked at me furtively, a small smile playing across his lips. "Happy New Year, Mouth."

"Happy New Year, Pea." We kissed briefly, dryly.

I lost myself over the next few hours in contemplation. I don't know what the next year will bring, only that it won't be like anything I've yet experienced. Life is changing for me at an alarming pace. I feel like I'm on a speeding train, heading towards a tunnel. I have no idea where I'm going, and there isn't any way to see from where I am. I guess I'll just have to try to be patient, and wait to see where this ride takes me.