Wednesday, August 03, 2011
I am lying on my back. She is lifting my breast. My breast is where it always is when I am lying on my back.
I don't remember ever having pert, dainty orbs. Mine have always been pro-gravity and um… casual.
[Question: Perky breasts. Real thing or urban legend? Discuss.]
The "sisters" are still fab though [and always ready for their close-up]...
Now, she is lifting my other breast - in an awkward way [which clearly is the only way] - placing sticky pads to monitor my heart activity.
“I see why grandma said always wear clean underwear in case you end up in the hospital," I joke with the nurse.
Nurse Gidget proceeds to chirp away - like we are at a coffee shop… all of her bras and panties match, she says. If she collapses in the hospital she wants to look great naked in front of her co-workers.
This is the most proactive thing I’ve ever heard. [Work it, girlfriend.]
If I ever end up naked in front of my co-workers, I will have reconstructive surgery, change my identity and move to Antarctica.
Nurses and doctors are rushing in and out of my curtained corner in the emergency room taking X-rays and blood and asking questions.
Honestly, I thought I was dying an hour ago…
Curled up in the fetal position on my living room floor, wishing I actually threw some of my bras someplace other than my couch, and dreading whether to call 9-1-1 at all.
I kept thinking I am fit and healthy and don’t need an ambulance.
But the paramedic was kind of hot in a I’d-wanna-do-ya-if-I-wasn’t-ab
out-to-die kind of way. [I know. Right? Focus… Chest pains. Ambulance. Blah blah blah.]
Anyway, that was so one hour ago, now I am lying in a hospital bed with tubes shooting from both arms - trying to think deep thoughts.
Assess my life.
Meh. My life rocks. Bored now. I wish I brought my iPod like the dude in the next bed.
I am trying to reach around and adjust my sheet to cover the entirety of the plastic, germ-infested mattress. [Hospitals are Disneyland for germs.]
Then, one of the heart wires pops loose under my sister and the heart rate monitor goes ballistic.
Why aren’t hot doctors rushing in like on the TV show – Grey’s Anatomy? [Alas, no man candy. What a jip.]
No really. No one came.
I press the come-help-me button over and over.
And then I wait and wait.
Finally, a different nurse - Nurse Apathy - shuffles in [clearly, so over the work thing.]
Normally, I love workplace apathy. It’s my favorite thing at work – aside from leaving.
“Can I help you?” she says nonchalantly - like she is a waitress at the worst diner ever.
[Yes, I’d like to order pancakes. Duh. Helllloooooooo.]
“One of the wires came loose for the heart monitor,” I respond [Am I the only who hears the loud beeping – coming from the HEART MONITOR?! Hellloooooo.]
“Okay. Let me tell YOU how to re-attach it,” Nurse Apathy says. [Sure. I don’t feel complete unless I am doing someone else’s job.]
After 4 hours of waiting, modern science had no answers. I did have low magnesium. But everything else…
Heart. Thyroid. Blood clots. Blood sugar. Embolism check. And the list goes on…
Totally perfect. [That's right?! This body is a vessel of luscious, fabulous yummy with rock star endurance. For real. So what gives?]
Maybe the intake nurse, Nurse Subtlety, was right. Her look of shock and awe at my admission of drinking 80 ounces of caffeine a day was over-the-top, but still...
And I hate the idea that mowing the lawn in a heatwave [okay, okay, I get it] or too much caffeine or not enough water or stress can suck the life out of my vessel of luscious, fabulous yummy with rock star endurance.
But I’m not gonna lie.
I quadrupled my coffee intake when I started my Master’s thesis. And just kept on drinking that sweet, sweet nectar from the caffeine gods to deal with stress and work and ‘cause I love it.
And I’m not gonna lie
Because I was drinking so much coffee, I decreased my water intake by 50% [about a half a gallon.]
Confession over. I don’t like confessions. Those were just the facts.
But I don’t do my own taxes or my dishes or answer email consistently.
Here is my thing.
I acknowledge in a non-judgmental way. I tell myself I’m still fabulous. I get on with it. Next.
I find that confessions are so easily confused with self-flagellation.
And the same self-abuse I heaped on myself for decades just with a different intention.
I mean one minute there is the admission that a Number 1 Big Mac Meal was consumed.
And the next, there is talk of being on or off or under that stupid wagon while clutching a pillow and fighting with your cat about who’s gonna lick the Haagen Daaz lid after the pint is gone.
[Idea: Replace the “wagon” with a Toyota Hybrid? It is 2011. Discuss.]
I am not trying to undermine the gravity of the emotions behind getting in the Toyota Hybrid.
I’m just sayin’ every twist and turn in this journey does not have to be a cataclysmic event.
It’s [OTTA] over-the-top accountability.
When I first got my driver’s license, I was trying to be slick when pulling out of a convenience store parking spot.
[Just for the record, I am only good at driving slow and forward. I don’t pull into things or do that backward parking magic. Anyway….]
I barely tapped a car next to me. And I popped out of the car like someone stuck a hot poker up my bum. The door to the other car opened slowly.
And a teeny, tiny nymph of a woman got out. She was pregnant with an elephant.
When I saw the mountainous belly, I proceeded to burst into tears and sob uncontrollably. I was fully prepared to give her my house and call the police on myself.
The pregnant nymph consoled ME for 15 minutes.
That was me. Over-the-top accountability.
Translation: Inconsolably crazysauce when regular crazysauce would suffice.
Not to worry
With years of workplace apathy under my belt I have found a middle ground
But it does take a lot of not caring to find a balance
And even then…
Parts of the journey still suck massively.
There is a painful stripping away of all the things that just don’t work anymore
Because you’ve changed so fundamentally.
I mean people, ideas, things, and places that just do not fit.
And the stripping is like peeling off a thin layer of skin ever-so-slowly.
But like that fierce drag queen prophet, RuPaul, says: “If it didn’t hurt. Then you are not done.”
Today is my birtday. [Yup, 29 again.]
And I am lucky to say that all of the stripping away left me with a whole new me
And a support system that continues to challenge, lift and love me.
My friends now – on- and off-line remind me of the boundless generosity of Jane L.
I escaped my abusive household at 17 and slept on a friend’s couch for months. But then her mom said I had to leave two weeks before college started.
I had no family or friends or student loan money to help me.
I ended up in a homeless shelter in Midtown, NY. Even for someone who grew up with a sociopath that was pretty scary.
I sat in the student lounge at college for hours waiting for check-in time at the shelter with my bags piled next to me.
A grad student named, Jane L., just walked up to me, asked what was wrong, and then said I could stay in her apartment while her roommate was away. I could pay her $100 if I ever got the money. I am sure she knew the likelihood of repayment was slim.
And just like that, I had a place to stay [and it was nice too.] Taking a stranger into one’s home in New York City was/is unheard of.
But not for Jane L.
She was barely there. It was like having my own apartment stocked with food.
My life has been filled with unexpected angels like Jane L.
Teachers. Strangers. My friends here and offline. The family that I have chosen.
People always ask me why I write about details of my abusive past.
There are many reasons [most of which have to do with self-empowerment]
Because I want anyone who thinks they are alone
To feel that they are not.
That life can change in a split second
Sometimes you have to work hard for your luck
And other times it just floats – like a feather – into your lap.
That hope can take you farther than you dream.
And I have always found that
Where ever I am
I am always miles away from where I started.
And yes, there are angels.
That is the gift that was given to me.
That is what I want to give back.
Years after I graduated, I saw someone who looked like Jane L. on a crowded New York street. She was stunning in a trench coat and a short, trendy do.
I ran to her and tapped her on the shoulder.
She was shocked to see me – but remembered the girl she took in years ago.
I quickly pulled out my check book and scribbled a check for a $100.
She insisted that I didn’t have to.
Yes I did.