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.

Burn, Berry, Burn.

I thank God for my friends. Not only are they gorgeous, successful, creative, fun and witty people (who make me look good when out in public together!), but they are well-read and resourceful as well! So, as a side-note, if you cannot say at least five things similarly about your friends, get new friends (but leave mine alone… they’re already spoken for)! Now, back to Mercedes. She is the friend specific to this post as she was the one who told me yesterday about a little scandal (you know I am prone to dramatics!). Indeed. And, in the fashion industry to boot! Get ready yall. Did yall know that brands (like Burberry) burn their surplus stock? No; we’re not talking comparatively to the bag of donations you may put aside for goodwill, but millions of dollars’ worth of unsold and out-of-season inventory that gets burned to prevent it from being too steeply discounted (thus diminishing the brand), thereby allowing it to become too easily accessible to just ‘anybody’… thus diminishing the brand. Did yall know this?! I didn’t. This won’t take long. Let’s address this

  • In as recent as 2015 Habitat for Humanity reported that globally those living in “inadequate shelter” amounted to 1.6 billion. So, just imagine what they are eating. Or not. Or wearing. Or not.
  • In the past five years, it is estimated that the value of the surplus Burberry has destroyed – not donated, not contributed, not re-purposed – is more than £90m. To be very clear, more than US$117,994,050.00.

Yes, I understand business. And, I understand branding. But my understanding of and appreciation for either will never circumvent humanity. I find this obscene. Their [Burberry’s] trench coats alone (forget their perfumes, bags or even shoes) could be used to shelter some of the world’s homeless from the wicked elements they are subjected to. That to me is branding! Instead, they burn them in the name of branding. Poof!

You know something, I am glad I have never been a ‘label-whore’. And now that I know what I know (thank you, Mercedes), my aversion has increased. The callousness with which we dismiss accountability toward each other, especially in the support of capitalism, is reprehensible! We must do better! We must force change. And awareness. Remember the hands they (the likes of Burberry) are attempting to prevent their items from falling into by being too discounted are ours. Remember that.

I have a pair of Burberry sneakers. I am looking forward to seeing them on the feet of a homeless person (they were a gift; but in light of this I am certain my actions will be understood and respected ). I will keep you all posted.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s That Time Of The Mon… My Life. Period.

Menstrual cramps are kicking my ass! My period is yet to make its appearance, but in the meantime my lower back and front have collaborated on a duet. Apparently my head had been feeling a bit left out because it too has decided to join in. What I should do is walk out of my office, walk… okay, strut to the train, go home and get into bed. Instead, I will continue to sit here and grin through the pain and discomfort. I have been egging the pain on and applauding its efforts to have me fold. I have been taunting the fuck out of it, asking, “this is all you got?” Yes, I have been, through the “ouches” (almost) luxuriating in the wonder that is the human body. I have been, I think for the very first time, truly marveling at the mechanisms that collude each month. For the first time I am letting my body do what it was designed to do, without complaint. I am allowing it its moments to show off. I am sitting back and bowing down to its momentary dominance over me. And I am doing so because this will be its last time.

I am scheduled for a hysterectomy in approximately three weeks.

There are fibroids and too many for my doctor’s comfort. So, they need to come out. No big deal. What IS the big deal however, is the decision to, while they will be poking around, to go ahead and remove the one organ that will prevent any future occurrences of fibroids; my uterus. We (the doctor and I) had the conversation with regard to her recommendation and I had the conversation with that other doctor whom I trust explicitly, my sister. Ultimately however, the decision was/is mine and I am very clear and resolute… it comes out. Let’s address this…

I’m not using it. It is truly that simple. My uterus has already served me very very well and, I am eternally grateful. But, I truly do not have any further plans for it. And aside from that, its presence now causes a health risk. So, no hesitation.

But my doctor, God bless her sweet soul, has encouraged me to ‘check in’ with myself with regard to any feelings I may experience regarding any thoughts related to my femininity. Specifically, she has cautioned me that many women do experience a form of grieving at the loss of the organ that represents the possibility of birth. And femininity. And womanhood. That the removal of the uterus can spark emotions of loss. And possibilities. Okay. I (kinda) get it. And, I appreciate her sharing this with me; so on the off-chance I start to get weepy afterward, I and all around me, could understand why. Cool. But I seriously doubt it. My response to her then and, as I continue to check in with myself my response still is, “I have never seen the thing! It and I do not have any conversations on a regular basis. In fact, THE only time I acknowledge its presence is once a month questioning why the fuck it is still carrying on! I think I’ll be just fine.” That truly was my response. Hers was to burst out laughing J

But I do understand how for some/many women it could signify a much greater loss. Especially for those women who may still be in their child-bearing phases and for whom this eliminates a hope or a dream. I get that. And, I do empathize. For me however, the removal of my uterus means nothing more than the elimination of a problem and the probability of future problems. I have already received the best it could have done for me and now, the only uterus’ health I am interested in is my daughter’s 😉 I have also realized that those signifiers that mark the stages in my life, are incredibly sacred to me. As I age, I have become quite comfortable with and welcoming of those age-related occurrences. Those conversations that start with, “after fifty you should…”: the bone-density tests, colonoscopy, mammogram, stop wearing the short-shorts… ha-ha. Seriously though, I value the conversations and recommendations that are now part of this phase, because people, the alternative to aging is of little interest to me! I freely and openly have conversations about menopause because it is ‘that time’ and sadly I know there are many people denied the privilege to grumble about hot-flashes.

So I will be heading home next week for my beautiful daughter’s (thank you, uterus!) wedding. Then I will have my surgery because that is in the best interest of my health and well-being. Three weeks of recovery (I told them they have two!), then I will head back to school at the end of August to complete my second-to-last semester before graduation. This blog will spawn a podcast in September; I will keep you all posted. Graduation next spring; then, heading to my master’s. So, I have plans. And they demand I am healthy. Period.

I am scheduled for a hysterectomy in approximately three weeks. But I am scheduled for a (healthy long) life every single day.

Love.

 

 

 

 

I Refuse To Ca[r]ter To It!

So, the Carters have announced their first collaborative full-length album. But for me, this is not the news.

Let’s address this

This morning on GMA when this was announced, naturally everyone was all a-twitter about what this meant and how it signifies, apparently to the world, the fact they had “made it” past their and I quote, “marital troubles.” To substantiate this, they [GMA] showed clips from Lemonade and 4:44 that were geared to remind us just what those “marital troubles” had been and then they showed a clip of a Jay Z interview when he was waxing eloquent… well, eloquent for a cheating black man, about the fact that the divorce rate was fifty percent and the reason for that? Well, in case yall did not know, the reason, according to that particular cheat, is the fact that no one stays and works things out. Yes folks, the divorce rate is at this high not because of cheats like him, but because after they cheat, the wronged parties bail instead of “working it out.”

He said that. And, was quite smug when he did so! It was as if he thought he should get a fucking award for the fact that his wife, instead of treating him as badly as he treated her and treating herself better than he did her, decided (for God knows what reason) to stay with his cheating, disrespectful ass! He truly sounded as though he has attained some higher moral plane because they decided to “work it out!” What the fuck is wrong with him?! And, heaven forbid, us, if we buy into this shit?! Just how does a cheat get to change the narrative? Did she allow that when she decided to stay? So it no longer is about the offense but we are to shift our focus to the fact they are not contributing to the divorce rate?! Wow! VERY well done! (Oh… in case you missed it, that was my sarcastic voice). So, their “we made it” collaboration (the album, not the twins; although…) is their proof to us that their love is strong, renewed and sustainable. Okay.

I do not know about you, but this one is ridiculous to me. I am a huge fan of God’s and am well-acquainted with forgiveness (in theory, not so much in practice). There is not the scenario that will ever allow me to forgive my partner for being unfaithful; whether once or the multiple times he has committed the offence. But if I were to ever allow my self-esteem and self-regard to plummet so low that I kept on standing at the side of a cheat, never will I allow their participation in a narrative that shifts the focus from their sin to the sad state of affairs in our world. Never will they be allowed to be anything other than infinitely grateful and awed at my allowing their presence at my side. “The reason the divorce rate is at fifty percent is because people give up and refuse to work at their problems.” Nigga (pardon my ineloquence), the reason the divorce rate is at fifty percent is because people like you broke your vows, disrespected your partner and children and those partners refused to accept it!

But listen, all you forgiving souls go ahead and buy their album, give them your money and enjoy.

 

When The Exes… Nope. When The X’s Matter.

Ever wonder why so many middle-aged people go to such lengths to either deny their true age or heaven forbid, hold it up as some sort of trophy they gained for either (whether true or not), looking younger or, still being able to perform x, y or z? It’s kinda like, “I think doth does profess too much” and the only two choices left once some have attained any age past fifty, are deny or amplify. Truly. Listen to some above-fifty-year-olds, when cornered their conversation about their age will either start with, “I am fifty-something…” or, “so and so could not believe I am fifty-xx.” It seems as if finding an above fifty-year old simply content with just being and devoid of all that middle-aged baggage is a rare commodity indeed.

But exactly when did we get so prickly about aging? Did our partners who traded us in for a younger model do it to us? Was it when we realized that employers valued longevity and naiveté over experience and maturity that our insecurity regarding aging reared its ugly head? Or, was it the moment we conceded to not just flipping our wardrobe for the season, but needing to flip those shorts and mini skirts to our daughters and nieces that broke our spirit? Is it the realization that we have crossed into the realm of having more years behind us than ahead of us that is fucking with us mentally? Perhaps all of it?

Let’s address this

All of the above possibilities are valid. Accepting the reality that what was at one time potential-suitor eyes no longer lingering on us as they used to, but brush over us and light on the younger versions of femininity can take some getting used to. So, an almost-desperate attempt to grab onto and potentially squeeze so tight one may suffocate the vestiges of our youth may come over us. Yes, we may purchase the red convertible, stand on line with the anorexic would-be model, cougar-it, and convince ourselves we still look good in clothing from Forever 21 (and only our friends have put on the middle-age weight). But truth be told, we just need to let it go and stop embarrassing ourselves.

Listen, I do not have any of that fear-of-getting-older problem. Quite the contrary actually… I have zero interest in the alternative. I look forward to any of the aging signs that choose to show themselves on me physically; anxiously awaiting the gray hairs… everywhere! All I ask of the process is good health; aside from that, I thank God every day He has seen fit to bring me this far (many are denied the privilege) and, I ask Him every day to please take me further. I deny shit! I will be fifty-three in November and am proud! My conversations are not peppered with any attempt at coyness with regard to my age. In fact, as often as I can, I lead with it 😊 I consider it a blessing and an honor. I have nothing to prove to anyone with regard to what I can still do at this age. I am alive; and living is all I need to do.

People stop dropping your voices after you mention fifty-xx…those x’s matter too (in fact, for many of you they may be the the only exes that do! Ha-ha). Truly, stop. Celebrate those ones, fives or nines. Say them with pride; they prove you survived. Fuck any and all who choose to miss the value in experience (wait, in this instance I mean “fuck” as in “to hell with them!” not the other kinda fuck). Hand the clothing down to the youths… it’s okay. Date appropriately; don’t take that “age is only a number” stupid-ass cliché too far! Do not play yourself! Start positioning yourselves to become the matriarchs and patriarchs in your communities. Bring your childlikeness with you, but do not confuse it with your childishness.

Grow up. Fuck that! Age up. It’s okay.

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