Sunday, March 18, 2012

No Spare Parts

It all started around 11am when I started to get sharp pains in my stomach, which for the majority of my life has been a signal to shove food down my mouth. So I self-medicated by eating all the food that was around me. 

Big mistake. 

I should have known that my instinctual medication wouldn't have been the best treatment. I'm not a dog that magically knows to eat grass after it eats an entire container of rotten cottage cheese (not that I did eat, or have ever eaten, an entire container of rotten cottage cheese).

So by this time, the pains had progressed from aggressive hunger pains into pains that felt like someone was using my intestines to make origami.  

When Jason got to my office I was balled up on the lawn, in a dress, and not caring about the poor children that were passing me to go into the dentist's office next door. Hopefully my mournful moans made them feel better about their fillings. 

My origami intestinal pain had now turned into a pain that made me feel like Hercules when Hades zaps his power. Except Hades, for me, was the massive slices of pizza that I had eaten for lunch to make me all better.

I was trying to figure out where to put my arms and my legs so that my muscles wouldn't have to hold them up, meanwhile telling Jason that I didn't need to go to the doctor. All I needed was a hot compress. I wasn't going to shell out a copay just to have someone in a white coat tell me I had really bad gas. 

Luckily, though, my dear husband spiritually guilted me into going to the ER by giving me a sweet blessing that said we should do all we could to get rid of my pain. I figured "all we could" meant a little more than curl up on the ground and watch Netflix. 

Once at the ER, it was barely lickety split before they found out that it was my quiet little appendix that was making all this hubbub in my body. However, lickety split had about 3 hours of intermittent waiting dispersed but I was enjoying the daydreams induced by dilaudid too much to care. 

I was definitely coherent enough to know that an appendectomy ranks barely above a hangnail when it comes to things that most people go to the ER for, but there was definitely a little part of me that wasn't really excited to hear that my little appendix would be leaving me so soon. After all, I had only had the guy for 22.9 years, you would think that the manufacturer would have a better warranty than that. 

Especially after I saw this little cutie on the old interweb:
Doesn't he look like something you would want to hold on to forever? Something that you might even be able to add to your constantly appreciating beanie babies investment? Granted, there were definitely some less savory pictures that I found, i.e. the bacteria filling that makes your appendix turn citis-y, but I was still feeling a little preemptory nostalgia for my appendix.

As I was preparing to get rid of my appendix (this mainly consisted of keeping my hospital gown somewhat in the closed position while multiple doctors were telling me that I couldn't wear my toe-rings into the OR) I realized that I have about reached the end of my spare parts. 

Way back in the winter of '98 I got rid of both of my tonsils and my adnoids; then in '08 I nixed all four wisdom teeth. Now, I'm typing this without any help from my appendix and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Like a kid who got his training wheels taken off too soon. 

To commemorate this loss of appendix, I composed this crappy haiku. I wish I could say that pain meds make me suddenly poetic, but I think they just make my face swollen. 

My dear appendix,
I hardly knew you were there
Til you screwed me o'er. 

Completely untouched image of me on pain meds

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Protecting Yourself From Sadness

8 years ago today my mom died. And 8 years ago I started feeling sorry for myself.

Even though I don't necessarily think it is natural for my personality, I kind of started seeing myself as some sort of victim. In class when we would be reading some book where a kid's parent dies, I always thought everyone was looking at me, or in church when we would talk about eternal families, I was sure that the teacher was sending side-long glances at me as if to silently tell me, "You know this lesson is for you, right?"

I've never liked being a victim; in fact, I don't even really like it when people hold the door open for me. I like to do things myself, I don't like to feel pitied and I don't like to feel like I am being looked down on. But for some reason, ever since I became this little half-orphan, I kind of expected it.

When I was going to Prom the first time I remembered thinking that people probably felt sorry for me that I didn't have a doting mother to help me find a dress or do my hair or take a thousand pictures that I would pretend to be embarrassed about but secretly adore.

Or when I went away to a different country for 4 months and I didn't have anyone to tell me how much they missed me and wanted me back home, I started to feel sorry for myself. Started telling myself that even though everyone didn't know my situation, they would pity me if they did.

And then I started being proud of my unfortunate self. "Look at me, I'm adopted and I planned my own wedding without a mom." "Yeah, I'm the only one in my family with brown eyes, but I still got into college." "Aren't you impressed that I didn't breastfeed and yet I'm still a fully-functioning adult?"

As embarrassed as I am to say this, it really wasn't until tonight that I realized what a complete idiot I've been.

A year ago I read the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Buy it. You'll love it. And I did love it. But I think I had so much on my mind a year ago that I couldn't really give the book my full attention, although I did remember the quote that says, "you cannot protect yourself from sadness, without protecting yourself from happiness."

If you haven't seen the movie/read the book, I'll give you a little teaser and just tell you it's about a kid who lost his dad on 9/11 and goes all over New York looking for clues from him and during the process, he meets all different people and learns about so many different lives.

Tonight, as we were watching the movie, I finally realized why my mom died. It's not so that I could prove to myself and everyone around me that I could grow up without a mom, it's not so that my dad can hit golfballs alone in the garage, it's not so that my little sister could grow up largely ignored and my older sister could have three beautiful children without a mom to brag about them for her.

It's just because that's life.

Life is good and bad! Being sad didn't make me unique, in fact it's the opposite--feeling sadness is the deepest connection we have with each other. There are happy times and there are sad times because without the sad we can't have the happy. Just like on a swing, you can't have your very best time at the peak of your swing without being at the very bottom. The good and the bad is what makes us human! It's what we all share with each other! The fact that we can let people both in our lives and out of it is the absolute best part of life!

I left the dinky old dollar theater absolutely in love with all of humanity and feeling so in tune with the human experience. Even though I didn't lose anyone in 9/11, I still feel a huge loss and deeply connected to those people. Just like my heart breaks when I see homeless people coughing at a bus stop, or an old person alone at a restaurant.

I love being sad because I love being happy! Each day is a miracle and each person in this world is miraculous!

The main criticism that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the movie got was that it was overly sentimental and a melodrama. As is this post.