April 30, 2008

I can handle the truth....

A good friend of mine wrote this phrase in his most recent blog, and it's resonating with me still:
Like most people I don't like to be told the truth about myself, but when I do hear it, when the skin has stopped the claret flush, and the room has ceased thumping, I can begin to respect the messenger. And love myself more honestly.

So what is the truth about myself?

I've been told that I give the impression that I'm arrogantly detached from what other's are saying. I don't give cues that show that I care at all about what is being told to me. It's of no value to me, or so it seems. I overtalk, I interupt, I get easily distracted and shift my attention away. What a selfish narcissist I must come across as!

I wish that people knew how hard I try to be everything to everyone. I plan ahead. I anticipate multiple scenarios and formulate what actions I can take to please everyone. It almost always blows up in my face, leaving me feeling ineffective and useless. And unappreciated. Could I ever be loved if I was just simply "me?" As messed up as I am?

My biggest fear is being abandoned. I'm always half expecting to be, and I've never been let down. How can I prevent my life from being a series of self-fulfilling prophecies? Is healing even possible? Who will be there to witness it all? There have been those who have physically stayed...even when the emotional abandonment was done years earlier. That kind of punishment just adds insult to injury.

I'm very proud of myself that I've been crying all morning. Numbness would be my familiar escape. I've healed enough that I can recognize this pattern in myself and stop it before it takes over. I've already lost too many years in that black hole. Still, the fear is paralyzing! It's so powerful and maddening and crushingly overwhelming. There are some who would delight to see me suffering — my own karma, they'd say. And I'd say, fine, I deserve this and I'll take it all. And more.

I've only found two things that can help me break through the numbness creeping in. Holding hands with someone who deeply loves me. Hugs and kisses won't do it — I can shut that out easily enough. But palm to palm, I'm forced to feel connected, and numbness begins to dissolve, always with tears. The second thing is music. I think I'd die without music. I'm an emotional poet at heart — and words heal my soul in very powerful ways. Even better if I can sing and scream and cry. As the old saying goes, "those that sing, pray twice."

I am willing to admit that I am damn hard to love. It's hard to love myself on most days, but I've learned that it's the only option. So I make peace with my faults and try to love myself a little more for them.

April 28, 2008


I'm doing pretty well, feeling like I did too many sit-ups, as my doctor told me I would. Hey, she got that right at least, right? When I talked to her the other day about what happened, she basically pinned it all on radiology. She said that all she gets after one of my ultrasounds is a report, and that the actual films are reviewed by doctors in the radiology dept. The last of my steri-strips came off this morning, revealing a tiny incision, still holding a stitch. I can barely wait till Wednesday when I'll officially be allowed to take a hot bath. I'm absolutely craving one with every fiber of my being.

April 25, 2008

A miracle under the hood? Not likely....

Heh. As it turns out, the car/mechanic analogy was pretty dead on, though a little reversed. You know when a mechanic gets under the hood of your car and suddenly there's a lot of "broken" stuff that needs expensive repairs? Well, reverse that, and you've got a picture of my surgery Wednesday.

They were ostensibly going in to remove my right ovary and fallopian tube. Over the past year, I've had five ultrasounds (aka, via "dildo-cam," or transvaginally) to monitor the cysts that were discovered on my right ovary when I went in to see my ob/gyn complaining of bleeding at inopportune times. After doing some blood tests, an internal exam, and a cancer screening test at my insistence, she ordered what would be the first of a year-long series of ultrasounds.
I was told that the cysts were not "functional" cysts — the kind that are normal and that every woman of child-bearing age produces when she ovulates — but that they were "septated" cysts, ie, full of fluid and tissue — the kind of suspicious cysts that are sometimes cancerous and at the very least, require serious attention. As the ultrasounds continued, the cysts were observed, measured and photographed for my doctor or analyze. At my last visit with her in early April, she told me that the cysts were not shrinking at all and basically piling up on my ovary (which was totally obscured in the ultrasound photos, and likely eaten away by the cysts) and that her recommendation was that I have the ovary and fallopian tube be removed, because the cysts would eventually weigh-down and twist my ovary into such a painful knot, I'd end up in emergency surgery.
Of course, I couldn't stop thinking about Delle, and her battle with ovarian cancer. If there was a chance that these cysts were cancerous, I was all for taking out the ovary. The decision was made and surgery was scheduled.
While I was being prepped for surgery, the gynecological resident who would be assisting during my surgery came over to talk to me about possibilites, and make sure I understood that they would be sending my cyst-covered ovary for frozen pathology during my surgery, and if cancer was found, they'd be shifting from the less-invasive laparascopic procedure to a full incision down my middle to give me a total hysterectomy. Gulp. Yes, I understood.
While I was left alone before surgery, I silently prayed. I called on Mother Mary to hold me in her arms. I called on God to show me mercy. I called on Delle to be with me.
When I awoke from surgery back in the recovery room, I was groggy when my doc said a few words to me, which I hardly remember. "Everything looked great," she said as she waved some pics in my face which I couldn't see due to my lack of glasses in the OR.
T (aka, "The Nurse," from here on out) was the first to tell me. "You know they didn't take out your ovary, don't you? There were no cysts, Val. Your ovary was totally healthy."

Two days have passed and I still haven't wrapped my mind around it. As I see it, there are a couple of possibilities:
•I was miraculously cured. Of course I say that without even believing is such things are possible. Not likely, in my opinion.
• The ultrasound department consistently a)misread my films or b)gave my doc another patient's films
• My doctor made a huge mistake, is unqualified to read ultrasound results, and/or made a series of mistakes.

This is what I know: I had a totally unnecessary surgery. Yes, I am of course thankful that there is nothing wrong with me. I had a year of anxiety and grief leading up to this surgery, the last few weeks being the hardest. Many tears were shed. So I'm angry. And my doctor STILL hasn't called me post-op. I really can't WAIT to hear her explanation. The Nurse let her have it -- and asked all the appropriate questions. My doc tried to insist (and get her to repeat) that I had been complaining of abdominal pain all along (remember, it was bleeding that was my symptom, not pain.). The Nurse was smarter than that and said no, no, no. My doctor scurried away (probably to consult a lawyer) and promised to call me to answer all of my questions. I left her a message but haven't heard anything back. Stay tuned....

April 23, 2008

A metaphor...

I've been wanting to blog a little about my surgery today, without making too big a deal of it. Trying to think of something clever to say. I didn't manage to come up with the perfect witty metaphor, but I relay this little bit of information: as I ran out of the house to shuttle the kids off to school this morning, I was greeted by a dead car battery. It wouldn't start or even show the slightest sign of life. My dad came by to give me a jump-start and help me get my car over to the repair shop this morning — as the battery was refusing to hold a charge. It needs to be replaced. So I'm getting a fancy-shmancy new battery, but because of the poor design of my 2000 Dodge, they have to take off the whole fender and wheel to get at the battery. It pretty much requires a professional installation. It should take about an hour-and-a-half. While they're poking around, I told them to check out my front tie-rods too, because they sound loose to me. I've had them replaced 5 times now, so I should know.
While this was definitely NOT what I wanted to wake to this morning, it's only a battery....everything will be fine. Or will the repair shop call and tell me that x, y, and z was discovered and blah, blah, blah? We shall see....

April 21, 2008

something profound

I suppose I should say something profound before I go into surgery this Wednesday — you know, just in case. I have about 50 gajillion things on my mind, mostly lists of things. Things I need to do before surgery, things that are on hold until after surgery, things I need to do as soon as I get a job,etc.
I just finished a big freelance project (emphasis on the "free") for my kids' school, so at least that clears away a little mental space. But profundity will have to wait till tomorrow.

April 09, 2008


Diving seems to be the reoccurring theme for me lately. Something about the imagery associated with diving — sinking deeper and deeper into the dark water intentionally. It's probably not anything I'd ever do in the literal sense, as I'm pretty much terrified of the ocean or anywhere else where I'm not at the top of the food chain. But in a figurative sense, diving seems to embody my sensations lately, and perhaps on a subconscious level, my intentions.
In my job search, I have found myself more than once getting really really excited after an interview — absolutely positive that I was going to land the job this time — only to have it all come crashing down when the cruel reality hits in the form of a rejection letter. But I still keep doing this, over and over, despite the extreme highs and lows. It has become more than just a psychological ebb and flow, but a physical one. When I'm riding high, I feel invincible, like God's chosen one. I'm giddy and grinning from ear to ear and talking a mile a minute to anyone who will listen. All good things are one the horizon, baby. And when the rug gets yanked out from under me, I feel hopeless, and physically ill....but only until the next door opens and then I do it all over again. One might mistake me for a genuine manic-depressive these days.
And it reminds me of the opening lines from a poem my brother wrote years ago:
We sink so low just for the high
while losing ourselves in the starlit sky
Where wishes streak across the black
to give us all the hope we lack
That faith so hidden, hard to find....

(read the rest, here)

And then a couple days ago I stumbled upon Leona Naess' song that I now have featured here, Swing Gently. It adds a comforting rockabye feeling to the sinking and rising — which reminds me that this is all just part of the cycle of life and how things are supposed to work, which in my sensibilities makes the whole process a sacred one. Keeping that in mind makes it a bit easier to surrender, and to have faith: that everything will work out in the end, because it always does. Everything is always exactly how it's supposed to be. Letting go of my need to control things comes as a huge relief. So I just ride the the waves, up and down, sometimes diving deeper, and sometimes racing back to the surface.

A friend brought up an upcoming Adrienne Rich lecture and T pointed me back to the poem that made me cry when she introduced me to it last year, so I picked it up again today and reread it, and cried again.
It's called Diving into the Wreck, and although it is deeply personal, it also embodies the experiences of all women who confront not only personal demons, but our patriarchal culture as a whole. This poem reminds me that the lows, the diving, only seems like a time of despair if we neglect to use it for what it is meant for: a time of confrontation and healing.

As of today, I'm riding high again with another hot job prospect on the horizon. But if it doesn't work out, I know that everything will be ok eventually, because it always is.