Wal-Mart Doors Can’t Tell Me What To Do

I have independence issues.  The fist full sentence I said as a toddler was “I’ll do it myself.”  Seriously.  That’s probably where it all started… *lies down on a therapy couch to discuss these issues*

Having a mental illness (or any serious illness) tends to rob people of independence. If I think a train is about to crash through my wall and I’m running away in panic…yeah, someone’s going to have to help me out with that.  If I’ve got a stubborn brain tumor that keeps growing even though it has way overstayed it’s welcome in my head…I’m going to need help with that too.  Hand over the drugs because I can’t, in fact, shrink it myself.  I’ve tried to Jiminy Cricket or Cinderella this sucker and dream with all my heart that it will go away…but DISNEY LIES.

Anyway, I think because of all of my medical crap and my loose grip on reality, I am always fighting to feel like a normal, respected human.  Maybe I’m even fighting to respect myself.  *puts arm on head dramatically as I lounge on the therapy couch*  The other day, I think I went a little too far.

I was walking out of Wal-Mart.  The sign on the door said “DO NOT EXIT THROUGH THIS DOOR.”  My honest-to-blog thought was, “Eff you, Wal-Mart.  You can’t tell me what to do.  It’s a DOOR.  I’ll go through any door I please!”  It’s not like it was a secret door to an employees only section; it was a clear automatic door leading to outside.  There is no reason why I shouldn’t have been allowed to use that door.  Wal-Mart was just trying to keep me down!  One more reason to hate Wal-Mart!

So I walked through the door.  No sirens went off, and no one stopped me.  I simply walked through, and I was outside.  Then I thought, “HA!  See, Wal-Mart?  You can’t control me!  I WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT!”  I felt jubilant.  I felt triumphant.  Then I felt like a complete weirdo and thought, “Holy wow, I AM crazy.”

Maybe life is about the little things…  I can’t avoid taking pills, I can’t avoid my tumor, but I can stick it to Wal-Mart.  I can be independent and rebellious on tiny things, and if that helps me avoid being rebellious on bigger things, then I say whatever.  Bring on the wrong door.

Bipolar Blackout

There’s a chance I cured cancer and I don’t know it.  On a darker note, I also could have robbed a bank and I don’t know it.  The chance of either is extreeeeeeemely small, but we’ll never know because I have complete memory loss about what happened from early September to the middle of October last fall.

I knew last fall was fuzzy in my memory, but who doesn’t have a hard time remembering things from a year ago?  I told my husband I am excited for this fall, because I was so mentally jacked last fall that I feel like I skipped it.  It’s the best season in Michigan.  I didn’t realize until this week, though, how complete my blackout of that month is.  Now I’m a little freaked out.

This week is professional development week at school.  Professional development week is when teachers sit around in mostly pointless meetings and discuss things about the upcoming school year.  This conversation happened yesterday:

Mr. T:  Should we do the raking leaves field trip again this year?  The one where we take the students to rake leaves for elderly people?

Me: That sounds like fun…but we didn’t do that last year.  You must be remembering a different year.

Mr. T: Ummm…we definitely did that last year.

Me: No, I would remember that.

Mrs. S: Hazel, you were a driver for the field trip.

Me: No I wasn’t!  *laughs nervously* No way.  You’re messing with me.  We didn’t do that field trip.

*everyone on staff looks at me like I’m crazy (which, you know, I am…BUT THEY DON’T KNOW THAT)*

Me: No way. *stops laughing, looks around nervously* Wait, really?  Are you serious?

All staff: YES.

Me: Huh.  I don’t remember that.

*everyone looks at me like I’m crazy again*

I cannot believe I forgot a field trip.  I tried really hard to remember, but I have literally no recollection of this.  Ask any teacher about the work that goes into a field trip, and they’ll tell you that there’s no way they could forget one, especially not one from last year.

That was a little creepy, so I decided to consult my lesson plan book and see if I at least have note of this field trip somewhere.  I keep very detailed lesson plans, so if we had a field trip, it would have been in my book.  I grabbed my lesson plan book from last year, turned to last fall, and guess what I found?

BLANK. PAGES.

I could hardly believe my eyes.  I had weeks between mid September and mid October where the entire week was blank.  I teach six classes five days a week.  That’s thirty little white squares staring at me with invisible question marks.  What did I do?  What did I teach?  Why aren’t there any plans?  Why can’t I remember anything from last fall?

The couple weeks in that period that did have things written had haphazard, half-baked lesson plan ideas written in only a few of the squares.  I have no clue what I taught.  It was so eerie…I never leave lesson plans blank.  I didn’t know I did that.  I don’t remember.

I know that last September was the deepest depression of my life, ending with a suicide attempt at the end of the month and a subsequent emergency psychiatric evaluation that resulted in a bipolar diagnosis.  I guess it’s logical that I wasn’t on my A-game at school, but I didn’t know I had done nothing.  I didn’t know I would forget field trips that I apparently chaperoned.  I tried to remember other things from this period: what was my first day of school like?  Can I remember the leaves changing?  Did I go to any football games?

I can’t remember any of it.

Isn’t that super creepy?  What if I did something awesome or awful?  I have no idea.  Has this ever happened to any of you, readers?  Do you have an explanation?  It’s like people who get drunk and can’t remember the night before, but I got crazy and can’t remember an entire month.  I suppose, in the grand scheme of life, losing a month isn’t that bad.  It’s not like a remember anything about my first thirty-six months.  I haven’t lost any sleep over that.  I hear it was a lot of bottles and diapers.

This one’s weird.  I haven’t had anything like this happen before.  I told Andy I was planning to blog about this, and he said, “Are you sure you want to write about that?”  I asked why I shouldn’t.  He said, “People who read that might think you’re…you know…a bit insane.”  They say that if the shoe fits, wear it.  Call me Cinderella to the glass slipper of madness.

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you already know I’m a total nutter.  This one post isn’t going to make things better or worse.  Like Andy, you have the choice to stay or to leave.  He chose to stay.  I hope you do too.  Then again, if you choose to desert me…no big deal.  I might not even remember it.

If You Send Me One of These Cards, I Will Punch You

I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost a year ago, and I can’t believe I haven’t received one single card consoling me about this.

Oh wait, yes I can, because greeting cards about mental illness are SUPER WEIRD.

I should have known this was a thing.  I really, really should have known.  Card companies make cards for everything!  I could probably find a “Congratulations to Your Twin Girls on Third Grade Graduation” if I wanted to.  But mental illness??  There’s a line somewhere, and this is over it. It would be like having a “Sympathy – Humorous” section in a card store.  It doesn’t belong.

Here’s the link (please don’t buy these) and a few of the best (worst?) ones. http://hopestreetcards.com.au/collections/all

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If I got a mental illness card, I would probably open it and then look really confused.  I would look around to see if someone was secretly filming me (I frequently do this during “Is this really happening?” moments).  Then I would read the card and think, “Thanks a lot, you.  I was having a really good day.  Now I had to be reminded of my crazy, and also I have to absorb your sympathy at my plight.  I don’t want sympathy; I want to be treated like a normal human.”  Here are people who are allowed to treat me like a crazy person:

  1. My psychiatrist
  2. My husband, only when I’m being literally delusional.  And it will still make me mad.

You’re not on that list?  Then don’t buy me these freaky cards!  Even if you’re on that list, I don’t want the freaky cards!  I mean, WHY WERE THESE EVEN INVENTED?!

What’s next?  Hallmark might capitalize on it!  First they invented Valentine’s Day…then Sweetest Day…next we’ll have “Crazy Person Day.”  You can celebrate by watching Psycho and sending greeting cards to your favorite nutters.  Maybe on Crazy Person Day, you can have your copay waived for inpatient psychiatric treatments!  Can I request that this holiday also include candy like Halloween does?  Now there’s a good holiday, but what a shame that people aren’t allowed to celebrate as non-reproductive adults.  I may or may not have considered having a child to capitalize on trick-or-treating once again.  If we can just tack that on to our new Crazy Person holiday, then I can skip the inconvenience of labor.  I might even be okay with the people who made these strange cards.  Until then…I know I’m not normal.  If I’m not going to get candy out of the deal, please treat me like you’d treat anyone else.  If you’re a nice person, though, maybe you’d just give everyone candy.  My favorite is Sour Patch Kids.

Did You Know I’m a Sex Maniac Stalker? Me Neither.

My grandma recently retired from her job as a secretary at a doctor’s office.  Every once in a while, she still tells me about her patients.  Over breakfast today, we were discussing the book Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton (the protagonist in this book has bipolar disorder).  My grandma took this opportunity to impart upon me the following information:  “We had a few patients who suffered from manic depression.  That’s another term for bipolar, you know.  Manic depression.”

Yes, Grandma.  I’m familiar with the term.

“Dr. Keith told me to watch out for those manic depressives.  They’re complete sex maniacs.  They just have sex with everyone.  And my brother, he knew a woman with manic depression, and she stalked him.  Like, really stalked him.  It was so creepy.”

Okay, that felt a little like a stab wound…

“Insane asylums really need to make them a higher priority.  I mean, they’re out there wandering the streets untreated.  Who knows what they can do?  They need to be in a home for the mentally impaired.”

Knife twisted.  Thanks Grandma.

After this monologue, I figured that would be a very inopportune moment to reveal that I am one of these scary “manic depressives.”  What if she kicked me out?  I have nowhere to go until my plane leaves on Sunday.  The thing about grandparents is that it’s very difficult to change their minds on things.  Still, on behalf of myself and everyone else in the mental health community, I felt like I had to say something.

“Grandma, I seriously doubt that everyone with bipolar disorder is a sex maniac stalker.  Actually, I’m positive there are people who aren’t.”

“Yes, of course you’re right,” she said.  “But you just have to be careful.  You never know.  Actually, some of them are very smart.  Did you know that many very gifted artists and writers have been manic depressives?”

Again, I’m quite familiar with the concept.  I’ve only spent infinity hours researching this topic…but I don’t say that.

“Yes, Grandma.  I’ve heard that.  It’s great that they’re so creative…many of the best artists of all time have been mentally ill.”

She looks a little pensive.  “I wonder why all the greats are insane?  What’s different about them?  Hmmm…  Well, their brain unlocks different levels of creativity, I guess.”

Yes, let’s please focus on that instead of the fact that they’re all stalkers.  We talked a little longer in this new vein of less offensive conversation, but honestly I was ready to hop off of that before she started asking uncomfortable questions.  You never know with grandmas…she started our time together this week by asking if I’m planning to get pregnant soon, and just today she said, “Hmmm…I don’t think you need plastic surgery yet, but you will when you’re older.”  Grandparents say the weirdest things.  I didn’t want her to ask about my mental health, because I am the worst liar ever (just ask my husband).

I texted my husband after this exchange, and he said, “Don’t let her get you riled up…you know who you are.”  And really, he’s right.  I do.  For a world where people are bent on “finding themselves” and “discovering their true identities,” the fact that I know who I am is actually a pretty big accomplishment.  Perhaps “who I am” is a bit insane, but hey, at least life will never be boring.

It’s Hard to Kill Ghosts

Have you ever had a regret or memory that followed you around like a ghost?  If you’re over the age of ten, the answer is probably yes.  Everyone has those “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  When I was eleven, it was the fact that I left my favorite teddy bear on an airplane.  Man, I MISSED that teddy bear.  I tried calling the airport’s lost and found a couple of times, but who cares about putting a teddy bear in lost and found?  No one, that’s who.  It probably ended up in a trash bin somewhere.

Aw man, now I miss that bear again.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, my “if onlys” have gotten a lot more serious than a missing teddy bear.  This past year, I’ve been haunted by the events of last summer (you can read a more detailed version of these events here).  Specifically, the guy from Tokyo seems to keep popping up in my life.  There are already enough regrets from that situation weighing on me.  If emotions could be quantified in weight, I promise you that guilt and regret would both be heavy.  Very heavy.  It’s kind of like someone dropped a boulder on your chest and you were like, “Holy Crap!  This thing is going to kill me!  No, wait, it’s not going to kill me, but OWWWWWWWWWW SOMEONE GET IT OFF!!  OW OW OW OW OW!”  Yep, that’s basically what it’s like.

Here’s my issue – I’m trying hard enough to get over that situation without him continually appearing in my life.  It was eleven months ago when I told him to stop contacting me and said (politely as possible?) that I never wanted to speak to him again.  It was ten months ago when my husband (almost as politely as possible?) said some permutation of “Dude, for real, leave my wife alone.”  Yet, even now, I’m still hearing from the guy.  He’s texted me a couple of times even though his number is blocked in my phone (AT&T – WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU??)  Just last week I got a Facebook message from him, and we’re not friends on Facebook.  I didn’t even know you could do that!  I don’t respond to any of these points of contact, so I don’t know why he’s still contacting me.

Issues of guilt and regret are compounded whenever I hear from this guy, which really is a bit ridiculous because I’m not contacting him.  When I saw his name pop up in my Facebook messages, I actually thought I was going to throw up.  I wanted to scream, “WHY ARE YOU HERE IN MY PHONE, AND WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO AWAY?!”  But of course I can’t say that to him, because I’m not speaking to him.  Shouldn’t my perpetual silence be sort of loud?  What else am I supposed to do here?

Basically, the specters of last summer still haunt me.  When I finally think I’ve moved on, that I’m ready to let go and get that boulder off my chest, it seems that somehow this guy knows that is the perfect time to try to show up in my life again.  Then I’m suddenly angry and sad and nostalgic all at the same time, and emotions and memories whiz around my head like lottery balls in that crazy mixer.  No wonder it makes me dizzy and nauseous.  It brings all of the ghosts back into my mind when I finally thought I was rid of them.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be haunted forever.  Forever is a long time, y’all.  I don’t know if I can handle that.

I need some comfort.  Excuse me while I go get my favorite teddy bear.

OH WAIT, I LEFT HIM ON A PLANE SIXTEEN YEARS AGO.

Bummer.

We All Have At Least One Working Body Part

Ever since I can remember, my sister Cara and I have had a pretty friendly intense rivalry about…ummm…everything.  She’s my only sibling, so with only two of us in the family there was always a clear winner and loser in every situation.

Last week I taught a Human Biology class, and Cara was my assistant.  (Just to clarify once more – I was the teacher, and she was the assistant.  See? I win that one).  We studied the respiratory system, and students did a lab where they had to hold their breath.  Cara said, “Since Ms. Hazel and I are sisters, genetically we should probably be able to hold our breath close to the same amount of time.”  She turned to me.  “Want to test it?”

I don’t think her hypothesis of a genetic connection to holding breath has any credence, but I’m not one to back down from a chance to beat my sister at something.  I said sure, and we got a student to test us.  Not only did I beat Cara, but I held my breath TWICE as long.  She didn’t stand a chance.  Once I finally had to breathe, Cara looked at my time, looked annoyed, and said, “Whatever.  You run all the time, so your lungs are super healthy.”

If I had to come up with one hundred adjectives to describe myself, “healthy” would not be on it.  “Super healthy” wouldn’t even be close.  Still, when she made that comment about my lungs, I thought for a minute that she’s right.  I DO have healthy lungs.  I AM healthy enough to run a lot.  I don’t run fast, and I don’t look good  while doing it (I look about as ridiculous as the American election season), but I can run.  I should spend a lot more time being thankful for that and a lot less time focusing on the one body part (my brain) that refuses to function properly.

To be fair to myself, the brain is a pretty bad body part to have malfunction.  BUT STILL.  I can whine and complain about that, or I can look at all of the body parts I have that do work.  Do you know how many people in wheelchairs would love to run even a few yards, let alone a few miles?  I often feel resentful about the fact that I have to run to keep my brain working properly.  I swear running helps me stay sane (which is something I discovered in college and only later figured out has scientific basis).  It’s like I’m Mario in SuperMario Brothers, and running is how I get those mushrooms that make him big or even give him an extra life.  Feeling small?  POWER UP!  GO FOR A RUN! *insert mushroom power noise here*  Instead of whining that most people don’t have to run regularly to keep themselves out of a psych hospital, I should spend time being thankful that I can run.

Everyone with health problems has at least one working body part.  They actually have quite a few.  If they didn’t, they’d be in coffins.  Take some time to be thankful for what works.  Maybe it’s your brain (lucky you).  Maybe it’s your lungs.  Maybe it’s your left pinky.  For goodness sakes, maybe it’s your butt.  My grandpa has a colostomy bag – he would love a working butt.  Feel grateful next time you poop au natural.  It makes sense to pay attention to the parts that don’t work, but take time to pay attention to the parts that do.  Maybe you can start to feel a little more healthy, which is a pretty encouraging feeling.

You might be reading this and thinking, “By George, I don’t have any body parts that don’t work.  I have a pretty run-of-the-mill, somewhat boring, healthy life.”  If so, I hope you wake up every morning PRAISING GOD for your run-of-the-mill, somewhat boring, healthy life.  Lots of people would give everything they have to be in your position.  Then go buy yourself a drink and toast to your health, because I hope you keep that health for a very long time.  It’s a pretty sucky thing to lose.

It’s almost as bad as losing to my sister.

My Nalgene is Where I Hide My Crazy

Tomorrow I’m leaving for a camping trip in the Adirondack Mountains with a bunch of fellow teachers that I have never met (it’s kind of a long story…the teachers are not the important part).  The important part of this story is that none of them will know about all the drugs I take because I found a super-ninja-pill-disguiser that will allow me to masquerade as a normal, healthy adult.  CHECK IT OUT!

Look.  This is a normal, run-of-the-mill Nalgene water bottle, right?  It shows I’m a little hard core and like to stay hydrated.  That’s it.  Nothing to see here – move along people.

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You’re probably sitting there at your computer thinking, “Wow, what a boring water bottle.  Who writes about water bottles?  I’m clicking on a different post.”  But wait!  Watch this witchery!  Out of nowhere, BAM – there’s a false cap!  It has four pill compartments hiding in what looks like an otherwise normal lid.

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*thunderous applause, gasps, and how-did-she-do-thats*

It’s like they hired Houdini to work for Nalgene, and he made my pills disappear.  I’m so happy.

Now I’ll have my pills with me wherever I go.  This means no missing doses, no worrying about having a panic attack while I’m in the woods (or anywhere!), and no trying to hide away from people while fumbling with incriminating orange bottles.  There will be no more awkward questions!  If someone sees my false top (which, HA, would be ridiculous because it’s VIRTUALLY INVISIBLE), I can just say, “Oh, I keep vitamins and stuff in there.”  I’ll put one vitamin in so that it’s not a lie.  They don’t need to know that “and stuff” means “the cocktail of drugs that keeps my head from exploding all over this frickin forest.”

It’s like I’m crazy, but I’m secretly crazy.  I’m very excited about this water bottle.  It’s so amazing that I feel I should make a speech in honor of this marvelous invention.  I know!   Let’s toast to it.  Are you holding a beverage?  Find a beverage.  Please hold it up to your screen in a toasting fashion.  I’m holding up my water bottle to you, dear reader.  Let’s toast to secrets being kept for as long as we want them kept secrets, and to places (like the mountains) that make life infinitely more worth living.

*long drink*

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.