Did you know P!nk has a new album out? Yes? No? Xun, what does this have to do with anything? I love Pink. She’s a better, badass, outspoken version of who I want to be. I have lyrics from one of her songs tattooed on me…
…because I tend to be pretty self destructive and I want to give better words, better directive, better inspiration to my daughters. So I try to teach them, and I try to live the words… “Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead”.
Have you ever listened to the way you talk to yourself? Women, it seems, tend to be pretty unkind to themselves. Would you let someone say something you tell yourself to your loved one? Your mom? Your daughter? Your best friend?
My point is I have been listening to Pink’s new album on repeat because I woke up with What About Us stuck in my head.
It feels like there’s always so much going on. Wildfires, threats of war, natural disasters. How can you breathe when the world gives you so many things to dodge and worry about? I have family and friends in Northern California too close to the fires right now and I hate how helpless I feel. But I know that they are all staying on top of the news and keeping tabs on each other…
“You good? No evacuation orders?
“Nope, we’re good here. You?”
“Yup. Good so far here too.”
“Okie dokie….stay inside. Can’t breathe out there.”
My mom, my son, my uncle….I’m worried and I wish I could just put them in a bubble and bring them here where it’s been raining for the last couple of days. Just long enough to be safe…
Maybe that’s why I woke up with another black eye today. That’s the hidden truth of chronic invisible illness. What you see is not my reality.
The picture on the left is me just out of the shower, no make-up, half way between what the rest of the world sees and what nobody sees. Dark line under my left eye, and something that almost looks like a bruise on my left cheekbone. The picture on the right is hair and make up done and what I show the rest of the world.
One of the biggest reasons I think “invisible illness” is invisible is because on the days that the flares, the pain, the struggle is the highest, we disappear. I know I do. If my pain levels are higher than I can handle I tend to go off line. No social media, no writing, no phone calls, no connections. And call it vanity, but I definitely don’t leave the house if I look like crap. In fact, anyone that knows me knows I almost never leave my house without my hair and makeup done.
Just because you don’t see the struggle, the pain, the fear…doesn’t mean it’s not there.
What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us? ~ P!nk
June and July are funny months in the Xunnie household. There’s always the changing of the seasons, graduations, etc ; but we also have the anniversary of my Dad’s death coming up (06/23), what would have been his birthday (07/06), and the anniversary of what I call My Line in the Sand(07/17).
And now, three years into this, we have the anniversary of my diagnonsense. My brain tumor was found because I started falling down the stairs as some kind of a hobby and I complained to my pain docs about more headaches, so she wrote me a referral to a neurosurgeon who ordered the first MRI. I then saw who has become my steady spot in all of this, my neurologist, who then made a face at me and ordered a second scan. And then it was confirmed on June 20, and the next thing I knew I was headed up to Georgetown for half my Summer.
Yes, THE Georgetown hospital. And the coolest thing (is there is such a thing)? My “team” included the HEAD of Neurosurgery and the HEAD of Radiation Oncology. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I must be an interesting case and I’m grateful for it. But yeah, that was a tough Summer. My son was deployed at the time, so I couldn’t tell him all hell had broken loose and inside of 30 days we signed a contract to have our house built, my dog died, and I got diagnonsensed.
June 23, 2012 my Dad lost his fight with cancer and June 20, 2014 I got diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The point of all of this is:
- I did, in fact, get this year’s results and the tumor is “stable with no change in size”.
- I realized today as I was telling my oldest daughter a story about the time my Dad came to Michigan and they didn’t know what to make of him that I have all these images and memories that my kids don’t get to see the way I did. They’ve heard the stories, but they were so little, they don’t remember.
The story I was telling my daughter was: Grandpa was so dark skinned and we’re all fair, blue-eyed, etc so when people see my kids run up yelling “Grandpa! grandpa!” they don’t know what to think. When he visited San Diego, they thought he was Mexican. When he went to Egypt (for work) they thought he was Egyptian. But in Michigan, USA, this lady could not figure out what was going on. (It sounds terribly racist, but when you see his reaction, it’s just funny!) So, as she’s following us through the grocery store and staring, he turns to me and says “if she doesn’t stop it, I’m gonna run over there and kiss her!”
No, he didn’t take himself too seriously.
My daughter smiled and said “I’ve always heard the stories, but I don’t remember….”. All I could think after she went to do her thing for the rest of today and as I’ve gone through my day was I wish I could close my eyes and show them.
Buzzfeed famously has all these ridiculous “What Superpower Should You Have?” or “If You Were in the Marvel Universe, Who Would You Be?” quizzes and lists, but if I had a superpower, I’d want to be able to close my eyes, hold your hands, and show you a memory. I have all these amazing memories and with the 5th anniversary of his loss coming up, I’ll write another blog with some of those. But, God!, what I wouldn’t give to be able to show you.
Hear the music, feel the wind, feel the joy, see the laughter. How much would you really love to be able to do that?
I have been terrible with up dates, I know.
“hey Xun….whatcha doin? How’s the brain? Seizures? What’s the little fuuuuhhhnny thing doing in there anyway?”
Well, What I DO know is that
Percival is still hanging around. I have images from this year’s scan that were done on Wednesday, June 7.
Good news(ish): He IS still there and not like the size of a grapefruit, and if he’s grown, it’s not much. At least I don’t think so….
Xunnie, a deviated septum, Percival (the kid loves this one with the eyeballs….)
So, not a lot to report on just yet. But I do think I have a demon in my brain….
Should I be worried? Anybody got any Holy Water hanging around I could maybe borrow for an experiment? =D (Should we name the demon?)
I am hoping to get the report for this MRI in the next few days. I did explain that I was waking up feeling like the bed was shaking a couple of times, and that I had managed to scratch my face on in my sleep. Dysphasia ruled neurologic in origin, aphasia as well, EEG better than the last one, minor changes to my meds.
So….yeah, updates on Percival and me in a couple of days hopefully. Until then…..
we start with what’s been stuck in my head for 3 days….
Along with stuff in the back of my head, on my playlists, haunting me….
There are a lot of memories intertwined with allllllll of the music on my phone, my hard drive, and hell even still the CDs I shepp around!
Xun = Music, Music IS Xun.
I saw a lot of support for International Women’s Day yesterday, but there was also some really ugly closed minded responses (here’s to the “real women” that didn’t “strike” today). Did you know that *every* March 8th is Women’s Day? And November 19th is Men’s Day? And yes, this year Women’s Day held some extra weight. Because of the events of the past….6 months? (give or take) women are marching, speaking out, striking, 10 Actions in 100 Days.
I personally lean pro-life, but I’m standing up to make sure Roe V Wade isn’t overturned. I personally lean more hetero feminine female, but I’m standing up for people to have the right to be who they are. I personally am married to a man in a traditional marriage, but I’m standing up to make sure Same Sex Marriage is not overturned in any of the 50 states that it’s now legal in.
I have a mother, and a grandmother, and 2 daughters. I stand up for them. For me. For women that can’t. For my friends, and family, and all of the women in my life that I love. And for all the women before me, after me, and the women that inspire me. It doesn’t cost you anything to be compassionate and supportive, but it means everything to the peoples that need it now, and in our future generations.
Chronic illness doesn’t take a day off, chronic pain doesn’t take a day off, life doesn’t take a day off, but I did post a strike notice yesterday on my blog. No, I didn’t march on Washington or lay on my couch and check out for the day. But I spoke out and I supported the women that were doing the marching and the protesting. Because I have daughters. Because I know what it’s like to be a woman in this county, in this time period, in this world.
Why did we speak out on International Women’s Day this year especially?
Because being a woman means….
1. Carrying your keys between your fingers as a “weapon” when walking alone at night.
2. Turning your headphones off (or way, way down) to make sure you’re not being followed.
3. Mastering the “I’m walking quickly but not so quick you’ll know I’m afraid” when someone is behind you.
4. Calling friends when alone in a taxi/Uber/Lyft/walking from the Metro to your car in order to feel safe.
5. Texting your bestie/boyfriend/parents/brother your driver’s details “just in case”.
6. Messaging them when you get home to let them know you’re okay.
7. Sitting near other women on public transport to minimise the risk of being harassed.
8. Pretending to be on the phone in any number of situations to avoid harassment.
9. Giving men fake names/numbers rather than risking them lashing out at being told “no, thank you”.
10. Staying silent when being verbally harassed out of fear if you say something it’ll turn violent.
11. Keeping your drink covered with your hand/ getting your friend to watch it if you need to go to the bathroom/having to throw it out & get a new one if it was unattended at a bar so you don’t risk getting drugged.
12. Making sure someone always knows where you are if you’re going on a first date with a stranger.
13. Toning down statements with words like “just” and “sorry” to avoid being perceived as pushy or aggressive or bitchy.
14. Faking being happy even when you don’t feel like it to avoid being seen as a bitch.
15. Not being TOO perky so that people don’t think you’re stupid.
16. Pretending to be patient when you’re interrupted/talked over repeatedly by men.
17. Spending money each month on period products, which are still considered a “luxury” by men/governments.
18. Hiding said products up sleeves/in pockets when going to the bathroom in public places, because there’s still a stigma around periods.
19. Wearing makeup because you’re conditioned to believe your bare face isn’t good enough
or heck, just because you like it – and being told you’re fake/called false advertising.
20. Or not wearing makeup because you don’t want to & being told you look tired/sick/”you’d be so pretty with just a little make-up”.
21. Debating whether the tweet or Facebook status you’re about to post will result in being harassed,& having to make the decision about whether it’s worth it.
22. Answering/deflecting personal questions about your relationship status/fertility/home life from friends/coworkers, potential bosses, current bosses, or random strangers.
23. Dealing with birth control/side effects if you have sex with men & want to avoid getting pregnant because there’s still no male equivalent available.
24. Fighting with the knowledge that the government (dominated by men) has the power to legislate against your body, and standing up to make sure they don’t.
25. And, finally; dealing with people telling you your concerns aren’t valid, you should stop complaining because “women are equal”. (Also known as the “what rights DON’T women have?!” argument.)
I’ve been pretty quiet lately. Mostly because I feel like I’m up to my eyeballs in trying to understand and survive the new version of Sims~The Insane America version. And, based on the blogs I have seen, and the spreading silence of the others, I’m guessing a lot of people are doing the same thing.
But, I saw my neurologist today, so I figured I’d post an update (and I can share the song I have had in my head for weeks now!)
So….oh, back up. Actually I have a funny story and it sort of relates to my new reality of “Is this brain tumor or not?”.
Last night I was making dinner and …..well, I had to stop for a few minutes and ended up calling hubs (who I knew was already on his way home from work) and …
ring……ring “Hey baby, what’s up?”
“Oh hey. Um, how far out are you?”
“I just pulled into the neighborhood, why?”
“Oh……I may or may not need a stitch or two…”
….”See you in a minute.”
I was slicing mushrooms and the chefs knife decided I was a mushroom too.
Fortunately it wasn’t big or too deep, so we actually went over to urgent care. They said yes, I needed to come get checked out, but instead of 1-2 stitches, the doc elected to do surgical glue.
So I am being a little bit whiny today because I tried to chop the end of my finger off. And ow. And 1/10 do not recommend.
So, forward to today. I had a follow-up with neuro after my swallow test last month.
Mild Dysphasia. Because of brain tumor or not? Hard to say for sure, probably yes, but stable for now. So I tell Dr Neuro I’m having more memory issues. It’s worse if I’m forgetting something and I start to get flustered or if I’m already upset. But it’s a thing, and I’m starting to write things down and back myself up with support people or apps/phone/tablet/etc. So she asks me “What don’t you remember?”
Ummmmm, I don’t know. I can’t remember. Anyway, she followed up with a memory (Alzheimer’s?) baseline test and a quick neuro exam. Declared me stable (ish) and gave me 4 months before I have to see her again, and bounced me back to pulmonology because I’m still coughing, my voice comes and goes, and occasionally I have a productive-ish cough. It’s gross and hanging around since MRSA last April.
So I go see pulmonary dude on the 16th and plead with him again to please just do the damn bronchoscopy. Please? The coughing thing is kind of a pain in the ass.
So, Xunnie and her brain tumor are mostly stable. A little chopped up, kinda whiny sometimes, still coughing, but…..stable.
And I have had this song in my head since the Women’s March.
(But I kinda love it!)
The question of the year: Has it really just been a frickin dumpster fire of a year and WAY more people have died? Or does it just seem that way?
A select list of deaths this year….
Alan Rickman (my heart starts breaking….)
René Angélil (Celine Dion’s husband/manager) Her performance of The Show Must Go On brought tears to my eyes.
Dan Haggerty (I grew up watching Grizzly Adams.)
Glen Frey, The Eagles
Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire (Have you figured out which decade I was born in yet?)
Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice
Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Joey Martin Feek (F*ck Cancer!)
Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Frank Sinatra Jr.
Rob Ford (Mayor of Toronto, in the news all last year, and then…..gone! wow)
Merle Haggard (truly a loss….)
Prince (I’m heart broken….)
Billy Paul, Singer “Me and Mrs. Jones”
Muhammad Ali, Boxer
Gordie Howe, Hockey Player
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor (My oldest actually got to hear him speak in high school.)
Garry Marshall, Writer/Producer/Actor
Gene Wilder (The world lost a little bit of laughter.)
José Fernández, Baseball player (all over the news, much too young.)
Zsa Zsa Gabor
It’s been a rough year. I have had some personal losses and struggles as well. We have a week to go. Spread a little love and hope, and maybe we can make it….
I’ve had so much stuff rattling around through my head. It always resets me when I see that I haven’t actually posted in a minute because I am always writing, but I guess it takes me a bit to write through my journals for enough time and words to come together for me to make the hop into publishing it. But…okay, here we go!
It’s just been such a weird year. I was scrolling through twitter and saw a re-tweet I sent a few months ago : I hope 2016 doesn’t get renewed. The plot is ridiculous and none of the characters are likable.
Between my own personal journey around the 4th gate of Hell this year, and losing so many people, this insane election season, and now we careen toward the end of 2016. Anybody wanna come hang out in my blanket fort and color til the crazy moves on? Can it? Would it? Where would it go? Can we get together and vote it off the island?
The good: The Cubbies won the series!!!! Holy ssshhhhhhhhiiiiiitttt! I am personally not a fan. Of baseball or the Cubs, but my Bren was a YUGE fan I just know she was up in Heaven dancing her ass off the other day! I spent half the day after the Cubs won talking to her. Just wondering around my house getting stuff and telling her I knew she was so excited. And how weird it was that they won, they *finally* won 9 1/2 months after she passed. She died and they won in the same year. Idunnoknow. I just miss her. And her Cubs won!
Bittersweet. I have so much joy knowing her team won, and all I can do is close my eyes and know she is up there dancing and celebrating!
On a different, but related, note. I saw today that one of my friends I play games with online lost her granddaughter. My heart is absolutely hurting for her and her family now. I watched through FB posts as she shared the unbridled joy of becoming a Grandma less than 2 years ago, and the fear & struggle as baby girl was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at just over a year old last December. And today I open my FB feed to see her post that babygirl had passed late Thursday night/2 am Friday morning.
Don’t wait. Tell your loved ones you love them. Don’t let your last word be in anger. Don’t wait. Life happens in real time…..one of my favorite sayings and it reminds me there isn’t always tomorrow or next time.
So send out some positive energy, or a prayer, tell someone you love them, hold on to the good stuff. It all happens in the blink of an eye.
Quick update on me:
It’s becoming more likely that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Two of my doctors have brought it up, with my pain doc advocating for me to go back to my PCM for the testing.
I have a referral to a pulmonologist this week. I choked waaaaayy back in February, had MRSA in March & April, and I still have a random cough, with an even more random productive cough. My chest xray was mostly clear, but my PCM and the ER both suggested a broncoscopy, so it’s off to see the guy in charge of throat-lung scopy things.
Meds are mostly stable, but frustrating. I am so over this damn “drug war”.
Minimal T-spine and C-spine degeneration and slight curvature. Scoliosis and Pectus Excavatum noted in my chart.
I’m blowing off my GI referral. Still don’t think I need it. Off to pulmonology instead. At least that one makes sense right?
At any rate, I think that sums up most of where I’m at right now. Think I may start an extra tab with my diag-nonsenses.
Hugs & an extra hour tomorrow! XoXo ~ Xun
The dictionary defines grief as: “Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction of loss; sharp sorrow, painful regret.” As surgeons, as scientists, we’re taught to learn from and rely on books, on definitions, on definitives but in life, strict definitions rarely apply. In life, grief can look like a lot of things that bare little resemblance to sharp sorrow. ~ Meredith Grey
I’m sitting here tonight finally watching the SNL episode from a couple of weeks ago that honors Prince. It’s been sitting on my DVR since it aired. I didn’t think I could watch it right away, but I didn’t know how long it might take me to get to that place.
It’s so strange for me to see movies, even just home movies, voice recordings, pictures…they’re gone but we can still see them or hear their voices. I suppose I might sound a little child-like as I try to figure out how they’re here, but they’re not here.
I have yet to be able to watch Robin Williams. It’s like somebody pulling my guts out and handing them to me. He was amazing. He was magic. He was one of my favorite people.
And this year….Goooood Lord. Bowie’s magic (the Starman; the man who fell to Earth). With his loss, we are truly without.
And Alan Rickman. That voice….my heart broke just a little when I saw the Through The Looking Glass preview spots.
I know a lot of us are still trying to find our way through loss. Even if we weren’t superfans or knew him, we were children of the 80’s and Prince was an icon. He will be missed.
Grief may be a thing we all have in common but it looks different on everyone. It isn’t just death we have to grieve. It’s life, it’s loss, it’s change. And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, it has to hurt so bad. The thing we gotta try to remember is that it can turn on a dime. That’s how you stay alive when it hurts so much you can’t breathe. That’s how you survive. By remembering that one day somehow, impossibly, it won’t feel this way. It wont hurt this much. Grief comes in it’s own time for everyone in it’s own way. So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty. The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can’t control it. The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes and let it go when we can. The very worst part is that the minute you think you’re past it, it starts all over again and always, every time, it takes your breath away. There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us but there is always five. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. ~ Grey’s
I’m a writer. We all have words we use to define ourselves, so if you ask me I would say I’m a writer, an only child, a mom, and a wife. I write almost every day. Sometimes on my blog, sometimes in my journal, sometimes in the journal I write out song lyrics and poems in and create word art out of said words, lyrics, and poems. Sometimes in all three. I have journals all over the house. I write to work on my book. I write to share experiences with other chronically ill people or share my experiences of living with a brain tumor. I write to figure out the noise in my head. The point is I write. A lot.
The past few months (six? ish?) I keep writing the word villain in my journals.
I do that when I’m trying to work through something. I’ll write it over and over in a lot of different ways. I define it. I write journal entries about it. I make word art out of it.
I refer to song lyrics or movie lines. Just call me Maleficent, because I make a fabulous villain. (But things are not always what they seem.)
I keep chewing on the word. I’ve defined it, wrote out song lyrics, movie lines, and even referred to my favorite movie villain. I keep trying to figure it out. I do make a truly awesome villain in some people’s stories. My ex-husband, ex-friends, ex-lovers, ex-mother-in-laws, current mother-in-law, and even some current acquaintances that keep me around because I make a fun topic and a good bad guy. I’m raw, and real, and difficultly honest.
There’s a saying along the lines of “If you’ve pissed people off or made enemies, that’s a good thing because it means you’ve stood up for something”. I guess I’ve stood up for plenty of things because I’ve pissed off plenty of people. Like I said, I’m raw and real, and that seems to be a hard thing to take.
As you can see, there are a lot of entries, doodles, and contemplations of the word villain and how it may or may not refer to me. This is me working through a word, a thought, an idea, the noise in my head.
I’ve been writing this blog in my head for the last three days, but yesterday the final piece clicked into place.
I was driving over to the store, listening to the radio, and a song came on. Five Finger Death Punch covered Bad Company’s “Bad Company”. (And they did a really good job, I think!)
Those words stood out.
The last piece for my blog clicked into place. And (more importantly), the last piece for me to figure this out.
You can call me a villain, because the truth is I am a rebel soul. I finally got it.
I live a lot of my life on my own terms.
“…I deal with my problems at my own pace
With your screwed-down, anti-human views
Deal with the pressures by playing the blues
If you wanna live life on your own terms
You gotta be willing to crash and burn…”
~ Motley Crue, Primal Scream
Villain. Rebel soul. Either way, I found my way through the word. Use which ever one you like.