The Most Romantic Thing Anyone Has Ever Done for Me

It’s weird to think that the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me went largely unnoticed until this past weekend.  I realized it while standing in a hotel suite, wearing a long cotton-candy pink chiffon dress, and putting on some lip gloss.

I was getting ready for a wedding I was in, and I’d gotten to know a few of the bridesmaids pretty well over this whole wedding-planning week (because we were dealing with things such as trying to support the bride when she found out her mother-in-law was going to wear a long white crop-top dress to the wedding. Oy.)

While putting on our makeup, one bridesmaid saw a pill bottle on the counter and said, “What’s this?”  I’d set it there while digging through my make-up bag for mascara earlier, and I’d forgotten to put it back.  I guess she didn’t know whose it was (there were a lot of us going in and out of that bathroom), or she was just being super nosy.  Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and call it the former.  I hadn’t even noticed the bottle because pill bottles are such a non-noticeable part of my life.  It would be like someone coming up to you, looking at your hand, and saying, “Look! A fingernail!”  You’d be all, “Oh yeah, fingernails.  I forgot about those because they’re always with me.”  That’s me and pill bottles.

“Oh, that’s mine,” I said, grabbing the pill bottle and putting it back in my bag.  She looked at me questioningly, because I guess not everyone sees pill bottles as such a common commodity.  I was afraid she was going to burn her hair off with the curling iron while she stood there waiting for me to answer her questioning look.  I’m bad at lying and also pretty bad at saying, “None of your business,” so I said, “It’s no big deal…I have this tiiiny brain tumor that seems pretty bent on ruining my life, but I’m on it.  It won’t kill me.  I just take a crap ton of pills.”  I threw the pill bottle back in my bag and started putting on blush.  At that moment, my face was a bit red without it.

“Wait, whaaaat?”  The bridesmaid (thankfully) uncurled her curl and stood there with one piece of hair curled and pupils about as wide as her open mouth.  I hate this reaction, which is the one I get every time someone finds out about my health problems.  At least she didn’t say one of my least favorite lines, which is “but you look so healthy!”  Like I should apologize for not looking sick enough to have a tumor or bipolar disorder or any of the other issues I have.  SORRY FOR TRYING TO HAVE A NORMAL LIFE.  MY BAD.

I shrugged it off, because usually when I pretend like something is no big deal then people tend to roll with it.  She picked up another piece of hair to curl.  I dug around for my lip gloss.  Finally she said, “Wait…I know Elle said you had health problems in college…was this it?”

“Yep.”  I was still trying to avoid this conversation.  She didn’t catch it or didn’t care.

“Wait, so…you’ve been with your husband since you were seventeen….he’s been with you for this entire time?”

“Yep, since day 1.  I got the call the day after I moved into college.”

“Wow, that’s so romantic.”  She shook her head and unrolled the hair she was curling.  I stopped halfway through applying lip gloss, my lips in a perfect “O” of surprise even though I hadn’t been surprised until that moment.  I stopped and stood up, lips halfway glossed, and looked at myself in the mirror.  I had never heard my story called “romantic” before.  There’s nothing romantic about MRIs.  There’s nothing romantic about blood test after blood test after blood test.  There’s nothing romantic about countless doctors with countless treatment plans, most of which don’t work.  There’s nothing romantic about panic attacks or delusions where I think people are trying to kill me.  There’s nothing romantic about the extraordinary amount of drugs I’ve had to be on.  Nothing, I tell you.  Nothing.

Except…

Maybe there is something romantic about a guy who is willing to stand next to me through all of that.  It’s romantic that he is willing to take me to appointments so I won’t be alone. It’s romantic that he will bring me water and hold me when I’ve been so terrified that I cried until I threw up.  It’s romantic that he has never once complained about how difficult it is to be with me, even though I know it has a specific and difficult set of challenges.  There is something wildly romantic about that, and I’d never put that word to it until that moment.

It’s far more romantic than the fresh roses currently sitting on my dining room table.  It’s better than the cute notes he leaves in my bags when I travel.  I’d take that over any line from any movie or any surprise date he has ever planned.  It’s the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me, and I didn’t even know it.

While watching the bride and groom take their vows, I thought back to mine.  I thought about how when Andy said, “in sickness and in health,” he meant it.  I thought of how he’s made good on that promise again and again and again, far and above what should be asked of any man.  Then I cried.

Too bad about all of that makeup I put on.

Now We’ve Got Bad Blood

The title of this post is an obvious reference to a Talyor Swift song, except I’m pretty sure she was writing about a guy.  I’m using the title to write about my brain tumor.  Despite that difference, Ms. Swift and I have a lot in common.  By “a lot,” I mean we both know what it’s like to get unfortunate phone calls from men.  A Jonas brother broke up with her in a twenty-seven second phone call, and I got a call from my endocrinologist last night in which he told me my blood work came back with bad news.  Her bad blood was metaphorical, but mine’s literal.  Let’s not compare our pain.

He was, after all, a Jonas brother.

The doctor called at almost ten o’clock last night, which should have tipped me off immediately that it was bad news.  Doctors never call that late.  If they do, it’s never to say something like, “Just thought I’d let you know – you’re totally and mysteriously cured!” or “I found a stray puppy and thought it might cheer you up; I’ll be dropping him off in ten minutes.”  Nope.  They always do that sigh where they  don’t want to say what they’re about to say, but they can’t pass the unpleasant task off to a lesser minion.  Then your heart sinks and you wonder, “Oh no, how bad is it this time?”

Is it bad that I am familiar with this process?  That I’ve gotten enough of these calls to know exactly how they go?  I could probably do them myself.  I should tell the doctor, “Next time just e-mail me the numbers and save us both the trouble.  I’ll call myself and break the news gently.”  I might put my husband’s lab coat and square-rimmed glasses on my dog and pretend he’s the one telling me.  Bad news would be less scary if it came from a beagle.

The bad news is that my blood results showed certain hormone levels four times above normal adult levels, which probably means that my tumor is growing.  There’s a bit of irony there: I can’t keep plants alive (at all), there’s a good shot I can’t ever get pregnant, but my body apparently does a damn good job at nurturing a tumor.  Thanks, body. You’re a gem.  I’d rather you had the ability to grow some healthy cilantro, but I don’t get to choose these things.

Anyway, the doctor’s trying to devise our next plan of attack on this little dude.  It’s not cancerous, it shouldn’t kill me, but it does a pretty fabulous job of messing up my life.  It’s like I’m in a dysfunctional relationship.  “It’s not you, tumor, it’s me.  Actually, no it’s you.  I think it’s time for us to break up.”  Then, just when I think my brain is rid of him for good, the tumor comes back and my brain is all, “Come here, ya knucklehead.  Let’s give this thing another shot.”  Because my brain is frickin crazy, that’s why.

I have to go back on a med I was on a while ago, and I need to double the dose.  I told the doctor that last time I was on that pill (taken once a week), I would be sick for the entire day after I took it.  It was pretty bad, stuck-on-the-couch-waiting-for-it-to-end sick.  I usually took the pill on Friday nights, spent my Saturday on the couch, and then recovered on Sunday to get ready for another week.  The doctor says I have to take it anyway because we want to be “aggressive” on getting my numbers back to healthy levels.  Now I’m supposed to take that same pill, and I have to take it twice a week.  I’m supposed to torch two days a week for at least the next six months?!  How am I supposed to do that?  I think I’ll torch Mondays.  Everyone hates Mondays.  Imagine a wonderful pill that lets you skip Mondays!  This is going to get complicated with work and everything, but we’ll figure that out later.  Right now I’m dreaming of a Monday-less life.  Who knows?  Maybe this drug won’t make me sick this time.  That was years ago.  I’m practically a new woman now.  Since that time in my life I’ve traveled the world,  I’ve voted for a Democrat,  I’ve learned how to make the perfect apple pie,  I’ve dyed my  hair purple, and…I’ve trained my body to better metabolize drugs?! (something like that…)

So. I’ve got bad blood results, but at least we have a plan.  I lamented to Andy last night that with all of my health issues, my life expectancy has to be quickly dropping.  I sighed and said I’m probably not going to live to see forty.  “Don’t worry about it,” he told me.  “Neither of us are even going to live to see thirty if Trump becomes president.  The rest of the world will nuke us off the map.”  And that’s why I love Andy – because he can make me laugh when I would prefer to kick a wall.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.  New pills start this weekend.

Waiting. Get Me Out of Here.

I’m sitting in my endocrinologist’s office, and I just lied to the nurse.  I don’t know exactly why, but I know that doctors’ offices make me all jumpy and nervous.  Then I do stupid things like lie, when that really defeats the purpose of going to the doctor in the first place.

This room is so….white.  Why do medical offices have to be aggressively white?  I understand that they’re supposed to look sterile, but they end up looking stark and scary.  I’m in an albino room.  It’s not natural.  There’s a slightly peach model of a swollen thyroid on the counter, but I’m trying not to look at it.  It’s disgusting.

I’m here to get a checkup on my brain tumor, and you would think that after nine years of various endocrinologists, this process would be old hat.  Nope.  Always scary.  It doesn’t help when the receptionists are extremely mean, the other patients look just as scared as I am, and the only friendly person around is the lady on the waiting room TV smiling while she talks about genital yeast infections.

If I ever ruled the world, I would make the word “genital” an expletive.  It’s so clinical and just…ew, but the lady on the TV was awfully cherry about it.  Why can’t they show something nice and calming on a waiting room TV?  Or stand-up comedy? THAT’S a great idea.  Let people laugh so they won’t cry.  Instead, we have to watch creepy health shows.  Or we can read totally obscure magazines like Osteoporosis and You.

I lied to the nurse when she asked if I’ve been feeling down or depressed at all in the past two weeks.  I immediately said no, which was dumb because just yesterday I told Andy that I was scared I might be falling into depression again.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but maybe it’s not depression.  It was probably just a couple of lethargic and down weeks, and I’m sure I’ll perk up any day now!  I’m sure that’s it. Plus, whenever anyone asks how I’m doing, I automatically say fine.  Either it’s true or it’s probably about to be true.  I don’t like the weird and scared looks I get if I admit that I’m not doing well.  Plus, depression is a psychiatric issue, not an endocrine one, right?  I mean, RIGHT?

Fine.  I should have told the truth.  I’ll tell the doctor if he ever actually decides to come in here.  The nurse also asked if I have ever smoked, and I immediately said no to that one too.  That’s because she obviously meant “smoked as a habit, and not for less than a week while you were in Korea being stupid.” Korea’s like Vegas, and what happens there stays there.  Something like that.

The doctor is still not here, so I will take this opportunity to tell you about the meanie receptionists.  The first receptionist totally ignored me when I got here.  I stood there in front of her window awkwardly for a minute until she finally snapped, “Can I HELP you?” in a way that meant that was the last thing on earth that she wanted to do.  I said I was here to see Dr. H.  She rolled her eyes and said, “then you need to check in with the endocrine center.” I think it took all of her willpower not to add “duh” at the end of that.  I looked up at the glass window that clearly said “Endocrine Center.”  There was another lady sitting to the right of that sign, but there was no partition between the lady I was talking to and the lady I apparently needed to talk to.  They could have shaken hands.  I’m sure they’ve borrowed pencils from other.  Yet CLEARLY I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN to talk to the lady on the right instead of the left.  Oops.

I finally talked to the correct lady, and she was wearing a pin that said “Miracles happen!” I’m pretty sure she meant that to be encouraging, but I found it annoying.  For those of us on my side of the counter, no miracles have happened.  We’re there because we still have our tumors, our diabetes, our whatevers, and the trite encouragement from a piece of plastic felt less than genuine.

I have to go to the bathroom.  What if you have to go to the bathroom while in a doctor’s office?  I’d better hold it.  I don’t want them to think I left.  The nurse outside my door is calling patients and saying things such as, “Hi, is this Jane Smith?  Hi, I’m calling to give you the new dosage of ______ drug that you’re taking.  Take two tablets once a day with meals, okay?  Okay.”

I can clearly hear all of this from my room.  I could type you a list of a bunch of local residents and the drugs they’re on.  Isn’t this some sort of HIPAA issue?  It seems like it to me, but hey – I’m no doctor.  I’m the invisible patient with a brain tumor.  Don’t mind me.

So here I am, an hour and a half after my scheduled appointment time, chilling out in an albino room with a plastic inflamed thyroid and feeling bad about lying to the nurse.  I really have to go to the bathroom.  I’ve spent hours more pointless ways than this…probably.  I’m struggling to think of one at the moment, but I’m sure it’s happened.

Doctor’s here.  Gotta go.

When My “Sparkly Brain” Pukes

Sometimes my brain pukes out on me.  I’m not sure why this happens or even exactly what goes on when it does.  It’s this weird thing where I’m not in a distinct episode of depression or mania, I’m not having a panic attack, but I also can’t think straight at all.  My brain gets “swirly and sparkly,” which is apparently what I told Andy last night.  When I tell him I’m “not doing so great,” he knows exactly what that means.  I frequently go sit in the closet when this happens (don’t ask me why…), and I’ll sometimes write rambling weird things on bits of notebook paper.  It’s strange to look at it the next day, because even my handwriting changes when I write in this state.  It’s very, very weird.

Last night I apparently had no notebook paper, but I did have my phone.  I logged on to WordPress and typed the following “blog post.”  I was going to delete it today because it was so strange, but then I thought, “Well, this is kind of an interesting look at what’s going on when my brain is AWOL.”  I ran it by Andy today and asked, “Is this really how I talk when I’m not doing great?”  He read it and said, “Yeah, that’s exactly what you sound like, except all of that should be in caps because a lot of times you’re yelling.”

“I do not yell,” I said, indignant, as if I had a clear memory of last night (I never have a clear memory of these episodes, which is terrifying in and of itself).

“It’s not like you’re angry,” he said.  “You’re just…really loud.  Sometimes yelling.  I don’t know.  It’s just how it goes.”

Sounds pretty awful.  Glad I don’t remember a lot of it.  My mental illness guru readers – any clues on what’s going on here??  I would love some insight.   Anyway, here’s last night’s literary genius:

Sometimes I can’t think right.  I say the same things over and over again.  I keep saying them.  I say them over and over again I do not know why I keep saying them.  It’s like I have to say it one more time.  One more time.  One more time.  I don’t know why.  It makes me feel a little bit better to keep saying them.  It’s weird.  I think I’m a bit mad.  I mean, I know I am, but sometimes I also feel that way.  That’s very strange.  Then I think and speak in ridiculous run-on sentences when – HELLO – I am an English teacher and avoid run-on sentences almost as much as I avoid sushi, which is an awful lot because I really really hate sushi.  I am telling you I really hate it. You have no idea.  I hate it a lot.  A lot.  So I avoid it

And then I sit in the dark typing blog posts on my phone, but I have to go back every two words because my brain types much faster than my fingers even though obviously my brain isn’t typing so what I end up with is a jumbled mess of auto corrects that I have to fix because maybe I can’t stop thinking in run-ons, but I’ll be damned if I’m also going to let this thing be riddled with typos.

Wanna see what happens if I type without rereading?  Here:  this iswhay happens when I’m typing without feedstock and unfeeling like ohm going at a normal typing speed but obseear to you that my normal texts arntw so humpback and what the duck jab an overeat anyway because THAT MAKES DNO SWNSE.

So.  There’s that.  A bit disconcerting.  Trying to be intelligible forces me to slow down at least.  Maybe I should stop typing this in the dark and go take a shower.  Who can be stressed in the shower?  I mean, it at least puts a damper on things.  Okay.  I’m gonna do that.   Hazel out. (Like Ryan Seacrest – does anyone else remember that?? Man, American Idol was my life.  I wish Clay Aiken’s devastating second place finish was still my biggest problem).

Brilliant, no? *eyeroll*  Anyway, wherever my brain decided to escape to last night, it’s back now.  That’s good.  I wish I could find a way to lock it down and keep it from leaving me in a lurch again.