Mr. & Mrs. Tears & Kisses.

I am fascinated by the ‘encouragement’ some people give in the face of momentous life events. And, some even go so far as to attempt to ridicule or shame into a behavior they find more appropriate, or that makes them more comfortable. I and my family, have just experienced one such momentous life events. Let’s address this…

On July 28th my daughter got married. The day… that day is one I still struggle to find the words to properly articulate my emotions. I will say this. Everything was perfect. Everything was terrible. The perfection of the moment arose from a parent’s comfort in knowing her daughter was happy. Her heart was home. Her soul was cherished. And yet, every terrible moment arose from that same knowledge. Listen, every wish I had ever had for my child started with her soul-safety and sprouted roots from there. That wish has been actualized. What I never did however, was envision what the moments after that moment would look like… for a parent. What the reality of handing your child off to a life-partner can manifest… in you. I now know. There is a duality that is soul-wrenching. I know, I know my child is safe. Her heart belongs to a man who cherishes it. A man who is dedicated to cradling her soul and helping her to give it wings. A man whom she adores. I have experienced peace. But, there is such a fullness in what they have between them, I mourn the possible shrinking of the space I once inhabited… in her.

I cried. I cried in uncontained elation and I cried in sorrow. I cried because on that day, I watched my daughter cross the threshold from my child to his wife. I saw it happen. It scared me. It made me smile. My tears were a forgone conclusion to this momentous event, however. Those who knew me expected the tears. My daughter expected the tears. I expected the tears. What I did not expect and reject outright however, are those who (not my daughter) encouraged me to “don’t cry” and those others who label expressions of emotions “drama.” I could have a question here. I could ask “what is wrong with [my] tears?” but instead I will state, there is indeed something wrong with you for finding the show of emotion in the face of such an emotional life-changing moment either dramatic or should be handled stoically.

Listen, in no way am I disparaging those who internalize their emotions; I respect we all get through in the ways that work best for us. What I am fascinated by, is the naiveté and utter foolishness that allows for one to cry at the ending of a relationship to a stranger (and, I could care less how long you have been together and how many times you “got down”… you are literal strangers!) and yet reject the expression of emotion when attached to a child. Ahm… related. Shared DNA. Gave birth to. Ridiculous! We are more comfortable and think justified with the outpouring of emotion – regardless of the emotion – when applied to celebrating a success, loss of something or someone, the purchase of a damned house. We cry and celebrate at the birth of a stranger’s/celebrity’s baby, yet dare to tell a mother to “don’t cry” when her child takes those life-changing steps?!? Don’t be stupid!

I will cry, laugh, celebrate and do it all outwardly at every single momentous step my child takes! I will write, tweet and blog about it! I will bring the “drama.” I will make her feel as important and more so even, as you all did when Michael Jackson died and yall wailed and carried on! I know her. I talk to her. We laugh and cry together. She knows my name and I know hers. I gave birth to her. Why would showing the world just what she means to me ever be something I need to hold in? Why are we so more willing to express to our lovers and not our children? Why would I ever leave her to wonder how I felt about her? Or ever let anyone in the world think she was unloved? Un-cared-for? Unprotected? Why would I never allow her to see yet another manifestation of what loving her does to me? My tears in those moments, mean as much as any of the words I have ever spoken. As much as any of the disciplines I have ever doled out. As much as any of the clothing I have bought or food I have provided. They mean as much as any of the hugs and kisses I have given. As much as any of her tears I have wiped away. My tears in those moments are my acknowledgment that love is a verb, not the noun some think.

Yesterday my daughter relocated to the other side of the world to start a new life with her husband. They are embarking on an adventure I know will be spectacular. I awoke this morning to messages from them both; she’s arrived safely. I am proud of her. I am excited for her. I am in tears. And that makes me proud of me.

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body…” Elizabeth Stone.

See-Saw.

At times some marvel at the transparency I choose to allow in my life. They graciously use words like “brave” and “badass” when describing…. me. Many times, when I hear it I shrug it off, not because I am disrespecting their opinion, but because I am overwhelmed by the sentiment. You see, I do not consider myself “brave” I consider myself a product of all I have been through and, because of those experiences, I have dedicated to no longer living in the shadows… of fear, rejection, secrecy, survival, abuse or other people’s limitations or hang-ups. The former years of my life I tacitly gave away to others’ agendas and now? Well now I reclaim it. You see, humans have a way of keeping you close as long as you are useful and summarily discarding you once their agendas have been fulfilled. I get that. What I reject outright however, is my participation in this scenario; and what I have realized once I introduced myself to me, is that I had been participatory in their subjugation and silencing… of me. Let’s address this.

History, and certainly our more recent history, should teach us that there is very little I, or you, have experienced or could experience that another, or many anothers haven’t or will not. Now, don’t get all pouty… you are still quite unique; I promise. And some of what makes you most unique are your responses to those experiences. How you process any experience you may have, actualizes from the remnants of other experiences you have had. The layers of past emotions are what we all draw from when embroiled in our current situations.

Yes, I am transparent. I am so because experience has taught me that baring my soul – my joys, pains, insecurities, hopes… my scars – gives me strength. Strength, because I step from the shadows and show up understanding my imperfections are not unlike yours and, I am entitled to them. As you are. We need to stop allowing others’ agendas to confuse our fates and purposes here. We need to disallow others from stealing our goodness for their own purposes, leaving us to navigate the barren carcasses left in their wake. We need to stop allowing the emotional and physical vultures from feeding from us and fattening their own coffers. We need to stop believing the lies people tell that are meant to cripple us just because they recognize and are threatened by our strength and joy. We absolutely must stop others from dimming our lights, plunging us into darkness, leaving us to navigate from the shadows.

So, I speak. I share. I listen. I am not “brave.” I simply cleared up the delinquency and got the lights turned back on.

I can see.

Nothing Hospitable About This Hospital.

My surgery was performed at East Orange General Hospital. This was no personal choice on my part, nor was I consulted on my opinion… this was the hospital attached to the office where I visited my GYN. Prior to the surgery, in fact as far back as the time of the biopsy that led to the determination this surgery was mandatory, I had been given advice to not go to this hospital (by someone I trust without question who happens to be a medical professional; but again…), and, her reasons for advising such quickly became evident. They were terrible! Let’s address this…

There are few instances in one’s life that highlight vulnerability like illness or the need for medical attention or intervention. Worry, anxiety and fear cuddle up to physical incapacities, limitations or pain. They become intimate and regard you as the interloper. They gather strength and conspire to manifest every. single. one. of the worst case scenarios the doctors may have shared, and you and Google may have concocted. Hope and Faith become names of girls you know (and quite frankly, hate) and not anything you possess. It is bad. Shit! It is in those moments, in an effort to stall the anesthesiologist, you wished you had paid better attention in Math class, so you could show off your ability to count backward from one hundred, not just ten!

But, you survive; and God allows you to forgive yourself for all you said about those heifers [hope/faith] and you restore them to their rightful place… alongside, trust. They wheel you to your room and truly, this is where your convalescence truly begins. I will not go through every infraction or disregard of their (the nurses’) oath to care for and heal, because truly, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” But I will speak of those that particularly stood out.

Approximately twenty-four hours after my surgery (I had spent the entire Monday after my 10:00am surgery in bed, on an IV drip and heavily medicated), the catheter was removed. After it was removed, I indicated to the nurse I needed to go to the bathroom. Her response, “It’s right there. Go.” Ahm… I was incredulous! I had not moved in twenty hours or so. I did not know how to roll over in bed, much less get up and out. And, I certainly did not know how to walk. All I knew was pain! I asked her to help me. She got me sitting up on the side of the bed, again told me the bathroom was “right there” and left the room. I sat there for half an hour, stuck and crying. Which did not help because every breath I took felt like I was being stretched and tortured. No one came back. I was finally able to contort myself, risking popping stitches, grabbed onto the end of my earbuds, drag my phone to me and called Peggie at work. She came; finding me still sitting there where the ‘nurse’ left me almost an hour before.

After midnight on the first night, two nurses got into a screaming-match with each other at the nurse’s station. I shit you not! Full on, so that in a drug-induced haze, with my door closed, I was roused from sleep. This went on for approximately twenty minutes or so… complete with f-words. The next night while she was offering up an apology for the “disturbance” I made the mistake of politely saying to one of the nurses, “I hope all is well now” to which she then launched into how it most certainly is as she is positive the other nurse will never make the mistake of stepping to her again as she now should know her boundaries, because sometimes you just have to “put people in their place.” Sigh.

My IV was unclipped to allow me to go to the bathroom. It was never restarted. My leg compressors were unclipped to allow me to go the bathroom. The ‘nurse’ says “let me show you how to do it so you can reattach it yourself.” Ahm… My sister is a doctor. Thankfully, whenever any of us are unclear, uncertain or afraid her bedside manner is impeccable. Throughout this experience she stayed in constant contact. She explained to me why I had to pee and poop before I left the hospital. I trust her, so if she says it needs to be done, I will stay and get it done. When it finally happened on day two, I informed the ‘nurse’ on duty so he could inform my doctor… so I could get the fuck out of there! His response, ‘Good; I will tell her. But I have to eat first, I am hungry, so will tell her after.” Ahm… I asked two ‘nurses’ why no one has checked my incision, for anything – bleeding, signs of infection, anything. One responded, “You didn’t look at it yourself?” Ahm… I was given 800mg of Motrin every six hours. I asked, “Shouldn’t I eat something first?” They responded, “Oh… you want something to eat?” Ahm…

I have subsequently looked at where East Orange General Hospital ranks, and it gets a one [1]. As you should figure, that is not a Yay! Number one! That is a one [1] as in the lowest on the totem pole! Here’s the thing… I am very well supported by medical professionals around me, to whom I can turn for advice and comfort when things aren’t right; what about the millions who do not? How does one survive, both physically and emotionally, a place like that? How do people, charged with caring for the vulnerable, allow themselves that level of disregard? How do they reconcile the innumerable times they put my health and well-being in jeopardy?

So yes, I shit and I got out. Thanking God for that truly took on an entirely different connotation. They were negligent. Unprofessional. Impulsive. Untrained. Jaded. Lazy. They were dangerous. They should not be allowed around the sick, frail, elderly, vulnerable and afraid. I am strong. But I was found at the side of a bed, exposed, in excruciating pain, heavily drugged and in tears. Vulnerable.

Closed For Renovations.

I no longer have a uterus. Or fallopian tubes. Or for that matter, a cervix. On Monday August 6th, 2018 I had a hysterectomy. Oh, before I forget, there was a cyst on one ovary that they also removed (but left the ovaries). The pain is incredible.

Let’s address this…

The past few days have I had to become quite intimate with my body. The movements I had previously taken for granted I now have to prep to execute. Seriously. Turning side to side, rolling over and getting out of bed can take four to five minutes… each. There have also been those attempts I outright aborted, because of pain. Walking is very slow going and standing straight and tall, two things that had been as automatic as waking up black, have now become part of a check-list. Breathing. No, I do not have to remind myself to do it; but I do have to make re-inflating my lungs part of my recovery routine. I was kept in the hospital for two days until I pee’d and poop’d and trust me, I had to coax both out. My alarm is set for every three hours for the next week or so as it is imperative I “stay ahead of the pain” by taking my pain meds on time. Every time. I have the cutest little bikini-cut incision (my dr’s decision; I truly did not care), but who knew her regard for what I/it could look like can also be the reason I cannot yet sit up for more than three minutes at a time? Think about the placement… Narcotics (prescribed) make me quite loopy and nauseous so eating is a chore; so, I am fighting the gas that is being trapped. Luckily the bedroom and bathroom are both on the second floor as I am not allowed to navigate stairs for a bit, so once I came up two days ago, I can no longer go back down or up another flight. I cannot cough or sneeze, literally, and laughing necessitates a pillow against the incision to brace it.

But, I feel great! Truly. Because this will all pass. Soon (school resumes on August 27th; so…) I will look back on this time and marvel that I actually made it through… with a LOT of help and patience from those who love me. I will get cleared to wear my heels again, strap them on and resume my strutting through life. The memory of this amount of pain will fade. What will remain however, is my good health. With the removal of my uterus, my countless fibroids were also removed, as was the possibility of their ever recurring. With the removal of my cervix, the possibility of cervical cancer was extinguished. The pain is indescribable, but the reward is infinite. I wish I could promise to remember to never take coughing, sneezing or laughing for granted again, but given our ability to forget as soon as we are delivered from the moment, I probably will. Shame though… because this certainly merits remembrance.

My uterus was enlarged; look at the pic. 
The fibroids were plentiful (you can see some imprinted under the lining of my uterus). My menstrual period was painful and way too heavy for someone of my age. First clue something was wrong. With the removal of my uterus my last period was my last (WOOHOO!) but by leaving my ovaries I will not be immediately plunged into menopause… I plan to gracefully saunter into it as soon as I strap those four inches back on 😊

Okay, I gotta go. This post has taken me about eight hours to write as I had to take numerous breaks to lie down and manage some pain. Talk again soon. In the meantime yall, take care of yourselves.

Me.

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