Stress & Other Drugs

I get really quiet when I’m going through something. Usually when my physical pain is climbing or my stress levels are raised…..or life starts kicking back, I’ll write less. I don’t even journal as much as I know I should. Writing creates a pathway for me to find my way through the pain…..well, most of the time. I know I should write more, but I guess it’s a defense mechanism not to. But the positive side is when I do start writing again, I know I’m finding my way back.

The last week in particular has been pretty stressful. My SO is on some crazy business trip to somewhere to do something. The details are fuzzy and the leaving was mostly just 24 hours of whattheactualfuck, and then he was on a plane. I have a pretty general idea of where he is and when he could return, but in the interim, I’m dealing with all of….well, this…..by myself.

The Parkland shooting happened on February 14 (as most of us know). What you may not know is that by February 16, we saw two boys arrested for threatening to shoot up my daughter’s school. On the heel of these incidents I saw my daughter, her friends, and my friend’s daughters say things like “I’m wearing my running shoes today (instead of my cute shoes) in case we have a shooting” ; “Mom, remember what I’m wearing today in case my head get blown off”; “If I hear shots I can jump out that window and run away from school property”. Yes, I heard these all said. No, they weren’t trying to be funny or smartasses. Or waaaayyy too irreverent. This is their reality. They’re scared. And now they’ve had enough. On March 14, my daughter wanted permission to participate in the walkout. Of course I said yes. They’re standing up, and speaking out. They deserve to be seen and heard.

SIX DAYS later, on March 20 there was a shooting at Great Mills High School. Every school in the county was immediately locked down, and the GMHS students were transported to LHS (my daughter’s school) to be reunified with their families. The shooting was just before 8 am, at the “other” high school, but everything about that day went sideways. LHS was safely on lockdown, but classes were moved around and schedules changed to accomodate for the 1400+ students coming to this school.

Kids from LHS were signed out by their families so they could wait with their parents for family and friends that would be coming from GMHS. It was a little busy, but it was handled with amazing ability and compassion from all of the teachers and staff, the students, and the first responders. Somehow, we made it through that day.

The next day Winter Storm Toby hit the East Coast, and my kid and I hung out at home and watched several inches of snow fall. It felt like the universe gave us a minute to breathe.

By Thursday, school started back up for LHS (Great Mills will be back April 2, after Spring Break). And on Friday I got up at 4 am to drive my kids over to meet her school’s tour bus for the Theatre Group’s planned trip to NYC for the weekend!sbc-nyc

So….to sum up my week: Monday, normal; Tuesday, school shooting; Wednesday, snowmaggedon; Thursday, 2-hour delay for school, otherwise normal day w/ play rehearsal after school, Friday, @ the school at 4:45am to meet the bus for the trip to NYC!!

Saturday: March for Our Lives Marches happening in 800+ cities in the US and around the world. I’m proud of these kids, and I’m supporting the effort 100%!

I’m dealing with a lot by myself right now, but I’m dealing! Which means trying to be protective without throwing a fuckit bag into my car and driving for my mom’s house in California. I’m dealing with it…..tearing up at the news, but trying to be strong.

Until.

Until I logged into my FB tonight while watching one of my favorite movies (Love & Other Drugs….seriously, it takes a look at life with a chronic, progressive , incurable illness, and tells us we are not alone. Watch it! ūüėČ )

The first post that popped up was a friend who lives here, who went through the fear and hurt this week, who has friends at GMHS, who gets what this is like going through this with your high schoolers. They might be taller than you, and (in her case) getting ready to leave for collage, but they are still your babies!

To borrow a few of her words, she wrote “From the time my children were handed to me, my purpose in life has been to make sure they are safe.” She talks about car seats, and holding their hands to cross the street……and monster spray.

That’s how far I got before I just sat down and finally cried out the week’s fear, and hurt, and anger, and uncertainty. I set down my tablet, and I just cried out everything I’ve been needing to cry out for days….maybe even weeks. I sobbed, and I allowed myself to cry however I needed to, for as long as I needed to. And then as I shlepted myself over to the powder room to get more tissues, I realized my whole face was wet, as was one of my pj pants thighs. So, I sat there, and tried to breathe and come back to center and I realized S’s post said “monster spray” and that’s what opened the gates.

I have done everything in my power to keep my babies safe. Cribs, playpens, carseats, bed rails,….and monster spray. K and D, my two oldest, are 18 months apart. So if one or the other had a scary dream, or was worried about monsters under the bed, we¬† created ” Monster Spray”. Pretty little pump spray bottle, looked pretty, smelled good. No monster guarantee.

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close approximation of ours

 

It took me a little bit longer, and a couple of tougher experiences (stories for another time) for me to finally have my little Bug. She’s my Rainbow Baby, and her big sister is as protective over her as any momma you ever met!

But after this week, I couldn’t scare it away with monster spray. I couldn’t shield her from it, or change it. She marched last week. She saw it happen. She’s speaking out this week from New York. She blanketed all of her social media with #ENOUGH #enoughisenough #neveragain

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I’m proud of her. I agree. NEVER AGAIN.

All of the fear and stress……..I guess I just needed to cry it out. She’s safe, we’re okay. But OH! my Marvel!!! It has been hard!

**deep, deep breath** (This is why I have “ana’laigh” tattooed on my left forearm, Gaelic for breathe.)

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Just….breathe.

And tell the people in your life you love them!! ‚̧ ~ xunxun

Oh Shit.

The last week has not been easy for me. I watch as the country gets torn apart from the latest massacre. The kids are going to speak to their state legislatures today, for which I am incredibly proud of them and in awe of their strength and their fight.
More are heading up into DC.

They’re not wrong. When is enough ENOUGH?!

I’ve watched the arguments and the fear spreading across the country. Family, and friends, and acquaintances, and perfect fucking strangers fighting like hell on the internet and in person. Demands for NO MORE DEATHS. Arguments for second amendment rights. The right and the left slinging nasty words at each other.

That’s not doing a damn thing and today….right now. I don’t give a fuck about the arguments anymore.

I didn’t sleep last night, and what sleep I got was punctuated by nightmares. And then I get this news today:
Students arrested for threat of mass violence.

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WJLA Washington, DC ABC News

That. IS. MY. KID’S. HIGH. SCHOOL.

That post yesterday? That fear? It’s real.

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Check Yourself

Like the rest of the US I have been watching the news over the past 5 or 6 days and trying to figure out what to say….or do…or think. 17 more dead. This is not okay.

I sat here this morning catching up on news and social media and I came across a friend of mine’s Facebook post about sending her daughter off to school this morning. It was just a quick blurb inviting thought by sharing that her daughter said “remember what I’m wearing in case you have to identify me.”

I had tears in my eyes and I had to catch my breath. Her daughter goes to the same high school mine does.

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I live about 9 miles or about 15 minutes from my daughter’s high school because we live in a pretty rural county It’s middle America. (Seriously google it….”Middle Earth” pops on my zip code)
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There was an incident several years ago at this school. Yes, even all the way out here, we had a “threat”. I didn’t have any kids in the school at the time, but I watched the news coverage as reports of a handgun in a student’s backpack prompted a lockdown of the high school, the tech center, and the middle school because they are all essentially one campus. The parents could not get to their kids and gathered at the county fair grounds across the street from the school.

Tears in my eyes as I tried to imagine NOT being able to reach my child and protect them. Anybody that knows me knows I am a Mama Bear. DO NOT mess with my kid. Do not threaten my kid. Do not get between me and my kid. I will hurt you.
My oldest was in a car accident almost 2 years ago. I got the phone call and pulled up to the accident scene in less than 10 minutes. (To be fair it was about 2? 3? miles away)

But I have never forgotten what that felt like to watch these parents stuck on the other side of a 4 lane highway (I use highway loosely….main road?) unable to go get their kid in the middle of a lock down.

So when I read S’s post this morning, I stopped. Time stopped. I couldn’t breathe. Because that is a horrible truth. That is an unthinkable truth.

This has to stop. #NeverAgain

I’m watching my country, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, people I care very much about, and people I’ve never met argue over opinions, fault, policies. This is insane.

Do you get that?! This is crazy. We are supposed to be a First World Nation. We are supposed to be The American Dream. If you work hard enough you can have anything, remember that?? Milk and honey and opportunities.
But we have more gun violence, more deaths, more fear and threats than many Third World Nations. People are afraid to visit the US because they’re afraid they will be shot like in the Wild West.

But Xun….2nd Amendments? Individual rights? Who are YOU to tell me what I can and can’t do?!

To that I say, Check Your Privilege.

I thought about this a lot over the last few days. I am white, middle America, middle income, living in a house we built 3 1/2 years ago, standing in a shower in a bathroom I designed, crying this morning because time stopped for me as I thought about what to say or how to write about this. Suddenly  it was 2 years ago when I lost my sister, or 5 1/2 years ago when I lost my Dad and I was standing in the shower trying to figure out how to live in a world without them.

Because 17 funerals are being planned right now. Do you get that? 17 people that did nothing more than get up and go to work or to school last Wednesday, that didn’t know the shooter from Adam, are now gone.

BUT…

I am watching the next generation, the survivors, stand up and say NO MORE….

Emma Gonz√°lez is amazing and brave and strong. And I am watching the news of her and the other students, the other “kids”, organizing a fight for #NeverAgain. Speeches, walk outs, marches. These kids and their community are fighting for everyone else. No more mass shootings. More deaths. No more sense acts of too many people dying in one day for what?
NO MORE.

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students 

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I debated what to title this post. Because I’m watching the news and the debates on social media. What do you say? How do you talk about it? It’s been almost 19 years since Columbine and can you say anything has changed?

17 funerals, memorials, celebrations of life being planned. 17 people gone. 17 more gone. In an affluent suburb in Anytown, USA.

So check yourself. Check your privilege. But for the Grace of God go I.

 

 

Gen X? Only Child?

I always said the one thing I got out of college (besides a degree and being the first woman in my family in 4 generations to go to college) was a birth order theory. I was a Psych major, which if you know me is kind of ridiculous because psychology is waaayyy too subjective for me.

I have discovered I am a really, really objective kind of girl. I like things to be true, and proveable, and empirical.

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But somehow I failed algebra twice, I have a psych degree, I’m a writer, and I believe psychology is good for understanding birth order theory. And I have emerging observations about the generations in addition to birth order.

I’m Gen X. Born in the first half of the 70’s so I’m pretty sure that puts me squarely in Generation X. My parents being 20+ years older than me puts them in the Baby Boomer Generation. I had kids young and then, for several reasons I have touched on in previous blogs, I have a 10 year age gap between my oldest and youngest child, which was just enough to put them in millenials (kid 1 and 2) and almost Gen Z (youngest).

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I am also an only child. Something that seems to be less common in my generation. But then I went on to have 3 children of my own. So when I started studying birth order in my second year of college, I found it really interesting. And, observing my own behaviors, my husband’s (he’s an oldest), and my three kids; I found a part of the abstract, subjective major I had chosen that made more sense to me. I always say in the unlikely event I ever go back to studying Psych I would focus on birth order.

One of the most interesting things to add, for me, is also throwing in the generational changes.

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(I haven’t been blogging a lot, so I thought I’d share some of the noise in my head since health-wise I am mostly stable right now. Post MRSA, stable brain tumor, managed pain, waiting til June for more all-metal hip implant related tests. But I’m a writer, and it’s always noisy in here, even if most of it just ends up in my journals. So the birth order thing is a subject I find interesting. And this is today’s noise in my head.)


And the world is crazy enough right now so I’ll skip the commentary.

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I am a born in the 70’s Gen X’er, very (very!!) much an only child. It’s not a bad gig, but I always knew I wanted more than one child of my own because there’s a lot of social skills you don’t necessarily¬†learn as an only. Throw in that we moved A LOT when I was a kid (5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 3 high schools), and you have me. Red-headed rebel child, introvert, music lover, dancer, writer, weirdo.

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My husband is an oldest. He has 2 younger brothers in an age spacing kind of close to our kids. I had my oldest kid early in adulthood, which is a blessing because I started showing symptoms in my 20’s, so if I had waited to have kids until my late 20’s or early 30’s I might not have more than one….or maybe any. I have 3 kids, but I have been pregnant 5 times.

Anyway, back to the story. My oldest is squarely in the millenials. My oldest two actually. Born in the first half of the 90’s (92 & 94), they are all millennial. My youngest wasn’t born until December 2002, so she’s more of a gen Z. It’s interesting to see not only the differences in who they are as oldest, middle, and youngest; but different in generations.

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Did you know it’s not uncommon for onlys to marry oldests? The oldest is usually more independent and responsible. The middles are often peace-makers or entertainers.¬† Youngests are more easy going and happier. Onlys have traits of both oldests and youngests. (I mean, it makes sense right?)

I am an only, and an introvert, and happy to spend plenty of time by myself. But my youngest is known to follow whoever’s home around the house and just like to be nearby. My oldest is responsible and (too)hard on herself sometimes. My middle has always tried to make us laugh and he’s an entertainer.

What do you think? Are you an only? Or a youngest? Do you see bits of yourself in some of these traits?

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Side note: Friends of mine lost their daughter to brain cancer this last week. Please consider donating to Stand Up 2 Cancer or The American Brain Tumor Association. Both causes close to my heart . Or even just share my post or the pages for either organization.
Prayers, positive energy, love, hope, or strength are all gratefully accepted and I will pass them on to the family.

My heart hurts so much for them right now. I don’t have the words….

‚̧ ~ X

Lazy Xun & the Updates

So…..um, hi. It’s been a minute. I can honestly say I have been meaning to sit down and write out an update since my last post was…..um, a minute ago.¬† But I plead that we have had 3 birthdays, 2 holidays, 1 school play, 2 auditions (the kid), 1 school break, 2 doctors appointments, 3 scans….and a partridge inna pear treeeeeeeee!

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Overwhelmed by holidays and birthdays and general end-of-the-year insanity, I kept meaning to send out an update, but when I had time, I didn’t have motivation. And vice-versa. I kind of managed to get through holiday insanity this year, but I’m not really sure how because it felt like I didn’t have enough time or my act together. But….we made it.

So. Updates. I actually have something.

My yearly check-in with Dr. PCM-Traffic-Director last summer lead to follow up labs 3 months later in November, and surprisingly Doc added Cobalt and Chromium checks to my labs. B12, Iron panel, TSH, T4, CBC were all pretty good. Most of my levels have stabilized since the MRSA mess of 2016, and thyroid levels meant no change in my Synthroid dose. But my Chromium and ….well, mostly my Cobalt levels sent doc to an ortho surgeon referral.

I have a giant hunk of metal for a left hip. I’ve covered that pretty extensively in the past…

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new hip, 2007

…and November 19th was the 10th anniversary of my hip surgery. Diagnosed in my 20’s, snarled at and told to lose “as much weight as I can”, and several ortho docs attempting to get me close to my 40th birthday (I had the surgery the day before my 34th birthday) later, I got a shiny new hip.

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My docs have just started watching my cobalt and chromium levels in the last 4?ish years and I have learned that there’s:

  1. normal cobalt and chromium levels
  2. high cobalt and chromium levels
  3. implant level cobalt and chromium levels
  4. high implant cobalt and chromium levels

and unfortunately us implant patients pretty much all eventually end up climbing the ladder.

Right now my Chromium levels are acceptable (2.0: 0.1-2.1 mcg/L serum), but my Cobalt levels are creeping up (2.3: 0.0-0.9 mcg/L serum), so off I went to a new ortho surgeon.

Ortho docs like my case. They get to learn from me and I’m a pretty unusual case. At this point it’s labs and x-rays, basically yearly. I have a whole file I keep with my op report, yearly scans, etc. Ortho doc went over my case, read my file, checked my labs, examined me, and sent me down for this year’s scans.

Two things popped up this year.

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One: it seems pseudotumors can pop up around the implant area, and my cobalt levels indicate that may be the case with me. He found one spot in particular to watch, but conceded it could reabsorb on its’ own, or it could just be bowel gas. Options for further studies include a higher level MRI to account for the affect from the metal or an in-office procedure to get a sample from my hip to test cobalt levels. I told him “That does NOT sound like fun.” He just looked at me.

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hip, 2017

Two: I have¬†Myositis ossificans (calcified muscle tissue). Huh. I didn’t know that could happen.

So, after I told him shoving a giant needle into my hip joint wasn’t my best idea for fun, he conceded that he could check my levels again in 6 months and we can go from there. He seems pretty good, and I like him. I think the only argument we may have is if he decides I need a revision. I’m not really open to hip replacement revision surgery. That’s why I had the surgery I did 10 years ago. But it’s really interesting that most people just assume I would have the surgery.

I guess we’ll see…the story continues in June….

Hip Hip Hooray!

So in spite of my best efforts to ignore anything that even remotely resembles a birthday, my mom called me today to remind me I have a birthday tomorrow. We disagreed about exactly which birthday it is. Suffice to say we’re (read: I’m) going with I’m 36.95 plus shipping & handling.

BUT one thing we can agree about is 10 years ago today I had my hip surgery! A cutting edge, new, all-metal hip replacement designed to last the rest of my life. At the time of my surgery, it had only been FDA approved for about 14 months, and from what I can tell, it is not done much, if at all, anymore. And I was unbelievably lucky enough to have the #2 U.S. surgeon, who had, in fact, traveled to Birmingham, England to train on the surgical technique!

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So today I celebrate that I have a hip I can still walk on, and I am grateful every day for that ability!

Whether or not my brain tumor is related to said hip implant remains to be seen, and they just drew Cobalt and Chromium levels last Thursday, so I will keep you up to date when I get the results. I already know my chromium levels are high, but they’re normal-people high, not implant-patient high. Or at least they were 2 years ago.

Whatever. Ya’ll ain’t getting my implant back. I am not open to a revision surgery. It’s really damn hard to learn to walk again in your 30’s.

Side note: also, 15 years ago I was within 12 days of delivering my youngest child, my Rainbow Baby, my miracle I went through Hell and high-water to have.

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And the last thing to share this week is that I got to do a bucket-list, incredibly cool thing last Friday night. We went to the Kennedy Center and got to see FLUFFY!!! (Gabriel Iglesias!) (& if you know who that is, you know how funny he is!)
I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as I did at his show. I had tears rolling down my face, bright red (thank goodness for awesome water-proof mascara). It was one of the best things I’ve gotten to see!

We had awesome seats, second row, stage right.

So, Happy Birthday Hip. I got to see Fluffy. And cobalt & chromium levels coming this week!

 

*gentle hugs* ~ ‚̧ Xunnie

7 Photos, 7 Days; Day 7!

Merry Samhain! Happy Halloween! And a good boo! to you all!

Today is my last day of my Photos From My Life series. Did you guys like anything in particular? I always think it’s interesting to see photos from someone else’s life. Where are they? What do they tend to take pictures of?

Some people take pictures of places, or things, moments, or other people so they can hide behind the lens instead of being in front of it. Some take pictures of places and people they love to remember.

As I was looking through my social media today, I counted how many of the past years I have thrown on scrubs and dressed up on Halloween as my alter ego: Meredith Grey. Since I created my personal Facebook page in 2008, I have dressed in scrubs 6 out of the last 9 years, with 2 other years as Alice (one was Evil Alice, inspired by Warehouse 13), and one year I was Sarah Sanderson. (and if you don’t know who that is, get your booootay over to Amazon and order Hocus Pocus stat!!)

This year I am dressing up as an Arkham inspired Steampunk Harley Quinn. (I’ll post pix tomorrow! The girl child is doing my make up!)

So, onward to the final Black & White Photo for my series!

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Merry Samhain! ‚̧ ~ Xun

7 Days, 7 Photos; Day 6

Hello Spoonies! I won’t say happy Monday because….well, does anybody like Mondays? On my Facebook page for the blog I try to remember to do “Music Mondays” because 1) any reason to listen to music is a good one! and 2) music helps reduce pain (and it makes a fabulous painscape!)

Today’s Photo:

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Tomorrow is day 7! Suggestions? Inspirations? Anything you hope to see?

‚̧ ~ Xun

 

7 Days, 7 Photos; Day 5

It’s a cool, rainy, windy Fall Sunday for us in the Northeast. And a bit somber for me today too, as I learn of my friend losing her Dad to cancer this morning. My own Dad passed, from cancer, 5 1/2 years ago so I understand my own experience with mourning the loss of a parent. I’m trying to word that right because I know my feelings and experience aren’t the same as hers, and I’m trying to remember that and respect it.

But it definitely feels like there are far too many of us in the Club now…

Cristina: “There’s a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can’t be in it until you’re in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss… My dad died when I was nine. George, I’m really sorry you had to join the club.”
George: “I… I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t.”
Cristina: “Yeah, that never really changes.”
~ Grey’s Anatomy, S3; E12 Six Days, Part 2

And onward to today’s photo….

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Happy Sunday Spoonies! See you tomorrow for day 6! ~ ‚̧ Xun

7 Days, 7 Photos; Day 4

Happy Saturday! I love Saturday. It’s my favorite day of the week! I can be lazy and snuggle back under the covers just a little longer, or we can choose to go do something fun on a family adventure. Renn Fest season just ended for us and we always try to go at least twice during the 8 or 9 weekend run.

Movie nights, museum visits, trips up to The Kennedy Center. Saturdays usually have something good!

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See you tomorrow for day 5! ‚̧ ~ xun