Category: dear diary

The Universe Is Making Me Feel Not So Fresh

(Writing from November 19, 2010.)

My husband just called from the store where he is picking out seat covers for our new used car. In the name of protecting our investment and all that happy horseshit.

He listed the options over the phone. My seat cover print choices were: Hello Kitty, Ed Hardy, cherries, or skulls.

I told him they should just make seat covers with pictures of actual douchebags all over them, and be done with it. Just ‘Summer’s Eve’ bottles with nozzles, floating happily around. I would totally buy those seat covers.

I tried to talk him into skulls, if only to freak out the other mothers at my son’s preschool, but then we decided my skull-fancy probably means I am a douchbag. Darn.

We went with the boring solid gray.

***

So I found a guy I’ve been looking for on Facebook. I’ve been looking for him for a long time. He was my biggest grade school crush. I loooooooooooved him with all of the love and lust and passion my innocent little girl heart could muster. We talked on the phone a lot as kids. We were both Scorpios, so like proper astrology nerds, we bonded over our shared water sign compatibility. I sat next to him in class. He probably couldn’t have cared less. I was a friend, like any other guy buddy.

This theme would carry on into my adult dating world, by the way. When you are the first one to make a “That’s what she said!” joke, they don’t usually consider you marriage material. You’re one of the guys… forever. My tomboy leanings served me well when playing in bands with boys, but oh, how they sucked in the dating world, where they made me the eternal Mary Stuart Masterson to every some kind of wonderful Eric Stoltz I fancied.

I eventually moved away to another state, but kept in touch with my very best girlfriend who still lived there there, via pen pal letters and occasional visits. She later told me (in high school) that she slept with him. I was ridiculously jealous. I say ridiculously, because I hadn’t seen him since we were, like, ten, so how could I be jealous. She told me he that he was good in bed, that he “did amazing things with his mouth,” and I was like, “I knew it!” My instincts had been right on.

So I found him on Facebook recently via other grade school pals; my grade school boy crush. He’s a man now, of course. And I decided to peruse his photos, just to see how he grew up. Because I’m curious like a cat. (That’s why my friends call me “Whiskers”.)

I started to look at his pictures, and became very uncomfortable inside. There didn’t seem to be many pictures of him, just pictures of clowns. Creepy clowns. Like not children’s party clowns, but performance art clowns. Pennywise clowns. I suddenly realized that all of those clowns were… him. I was horrified as it very slowly dawned on me… my childhood crush had grown up to be a clown. He teaches a clown school. He runs a clown camp every summer. A fucking clown camp. I’m not making this shit up.

You have to know me to understand how hilariously, awfully perfect this is.

So of course, I immediately told my husband. He had a huge laugh with me at my expense. Of course my childhood crush became a clown. Of course. The girl who freezes in panic at anything in a mascot costume finds out her childhood crush became a clown. Awesome.

My mom even used a clown theme for one of my birthdays because I’ve always been so afraid of them.

Look:

The candles are burning clown heads. Burn, clowns, burn!

I once received a package from her in the mail that had a little piece of cardboard folded in half inside. When I opened it up like a small book, inside I discovered she had taped a tiny plastic clown with the words, “I’m watching you!”

My mom is hilarious. Seriously. I hope I remember to do things like that with my own child.

So, yeah. My childhood crush grew up to be a clown. Literally. My life is like a bad sitcom.

***

There was a Facebook meme going around for a while, apparently in honor of breast cancer awareness, during which the supporter was expected to post as their status a suggestive-sounding description of where they like to keep their purse.

For example: “I like it on the kitchen table.”

Then we all snicker and fan our faces in genteel lady laughter because tee-hee-hee, oh my goodness, isn’t that hilarious, how it sounds raunchy but is actually quite innocent.

Blah. I hate this kind of shit. And because I hate it, I had so much trouble resisting the urge to be a brat. I very badly wanted to make my Facebook status: “I like it in my vagina with my husband’s penis going in and out.” But I didn’t do it. I was a good girl.

But I really, really wanted to.

Conversation stopping moments have always worked for me. I love random weirdness, odd things done for no reason, and I love inappropriate. I could never sit through church properly for this reason. I spent every service stifling laughter and making fart jokes, trying to get my little sister to join me. (She’s the good girl in the family. And I love a challenge.)

Last year, the Facebook breast cancer awareness and support meme asked us to post the color of our underwear as our Facebook status. I have no idea how this helps breast cancer research, but went ahead and posted “invisible” as I was freeballing that day. Or whatever I’m supposed to call a chick not wearing underwear. (I am a closet hippie. First thing I do when I get home is get comfortable, which means underwear and bra OFF. I don’t like restrictive clothes. Also: I am a lifelong Naked Sleeper. Don’t tell.)

A friend of mine pointed out how very little the stupid “funny” statuses help find a cure for breast cancer, and I realized she was absolutely right. I’m not joining in again.

Unless I get to shock people by talking about my husband’s penis, I mean.

***

Today in the car, my son made a sudden, loud noise. Like he yelled, “Watch out!” for no reason. I snapped at him not to do that when I’m driving because I’m really jumpy, and that makes it dangerous.

“Don’t shout like that. I’m jumpy. I’ll crash this car,” I whined.

“You shouldn’t be so jumpy,” he said.

I said, “I know, son. I don’t like being jumpy; I just am. I’d rather not be jumpy.”

He said, “Do you want me to give you some calm power?”

Except he said it like there was a capital letter in front of those words… Calm Power.

I laughed. He is such the perfect kid for me. When I was pregnant, my mom told me, “God gives you what you’re supposed to have,” and those words have rung true from the second I met my son. I was made to be the momma of a little boy. And this outgoing, funny little light I’ve birthed is so perfect for his introverted mom. He often pulls me out of a dark funk before I even realize I’m sinking.

Now smiling, I replied, “Yes, please. Give me some of your Calm Power,” and he waved his hands in my direction, magically applying the Calm Power to my soul.

It worked.

Hope you’re having a calm week, friends.

Advertisements

Happy Happy Joy Joy

 

(Writing from December 1, 2010.)

I don’t have much to say, but need to write something.

I can no longer stand having that whiny, pansy-ass Grumplestiltskin rant up as my last post here.

It makes me guilty when I spread negativity. Anyone else do that?

I feel like the world has enough of that crap without me adding my ever-so-important faux-dramas to the melting pot.

Yes, I would like a wahhhmburger and some French cries with my shake made of tears. Boo-hoo-hoo. Poor me. Sarcasm font.

SO… moving on. Shaking it off. I will be the duck and let the bad stuff roll down my back like so much brackish, filthy water. I will be the duck! The DUCK!

(Be the duck.)

***

I spent last week in and around Sedona, Arizona. I got to spend Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in years, like since I lived in Los Angeles and could drive there.

My husband, my 4-year-old son, and I flew from Tulsa to Phoenix, and drove to Sedona with my parents. Despite one night spent sleeping on the floor of an open recreation room in the Scorpion-filled desert with my husband and child, it was good times.

They have the machines that you stand inside while they whirl around you at the Tulsa airport. You have to put your hands on your head and stand very still. I don’t know if it’s an x-ray or not, just that it makes me feel self-conscious about my potential pit sweat.

I went through the swirly box, and was instructed by a woman wearing latex gloves on the other side to put my feet in the feet spots on the floor. (Yes, “swirly box” and “feet spots” are technical terms.)

She asked me if I wanted to go to a private room. I stuck a twenty dollar bill in her bra and asked for a happy ending.

Okay, not really. I said, “No, that’s alright. You’re just doing your job,” because really, I wasn’t nervous. She rubbed my legs, and I was like, “That’s it? I want my twenty back!”

Okay, not really. Actually she told me my son was cute, because he stood next to me for my pat-down. Then she showed me a picture of her son, who was adorable, and we cooed like mommies do over their offspring. Because that’s how I do. I make friends with people who gently frisk me in public. Don’t judge.

It wasn’t a big deal at all. All of the recent news hype had me worried. But I decided that after being in labor for 35 hours at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and having no less than 10 medical strangers stick their hands into my vagina to check my cervical dilation, an airport pat-down was like a polite handshake.

(My doctor chose the weekend my water broke to leave town. My son was eventually C-sectioned into the world by her replacement, Dr. Lisa Masterson from that television show, The Doctors. I shit you not. It was in 2006, before her TV stint. L.A. is freaky, you guys.)

After my uneventful, painless TSA pat-down, I had to wonder if all of the fuss is coming from men. Men don’t have to get on a table once a year and spread their legs while someone tells them to scoot closer to the edge so they can insert a cold metal speculum into their junk. Airport pat-down, airport schmat-down, say the women. At least we get to keep our pants on for this examination.

***

I was detained at the DMV on Monday. My driver’s license was expiring in 2 days, so I needed to renew. Airport security pointed this out, or I wouldn’t have noticed.

I didn’t know why I was detained. I waited in line for 30 minutes and my number was called. I went to the open window. The woman took my license and put my information into the computer.

She then asked me if I’ve ever had a last name I’ve never had, and I replied that no, I was born Tawni Leighanne P-word (nunya biznass). My last name is different now because I’m married, but I’d never had the name she told me.

She cryptically said, “I need to go look something up on the computer in back,” and walked away holding my driver’s license.

Oooooooo-kaaaaaay?

I stood there staring at her empty seat for 20 minutes. I watched 3 different sets of people come up to the window next to me and be helped, complete with photos taken. I took pictures of things with my phone. I even got my phone angled and ready to take a furtive picture of the agent when she finally got back to her seat because I wanted to be able to show it to a supervisor when I complained.

This is what I stared at FOREVER.

After her 3rd customer departed, I asked the agent next to mine, “Can you tell me what she is researching about me in the back? She asked if I had a name I’ve never had and walked away. Has my identity been stolen? I’m kind of freaking out.”

She said, “Oh dear, I hope not!” and walked to get the woman.

My agent came back out looking flustered, and sat down in front of me.

I secretly snapped her picture with my phone.

Gotcha! I’m like a spy and shit.

She said, “Okay, I think I figured it out,” without explaining what the fuck “it” was, so I looked down at the paper she’d set down. I don’t think I was supposed to see it, but I’m a fast reader.

Printed on the paper was the name “Tammy Lynn P-word” and I read it out loud.

I said, “I’m not Tammy Lynn, I’m Tawni Leighanne.”

She said, “I know, but there is a Tammy Lynn P-word in Oklahoma, and she has your exact same birthdate.”

Color me blown away.

And things suddenly made sense.

The last time I dealt with the Oklahoma DMV, I was moving here from California and had to get an Oklahoma driver’s license. They acted weird and treated me like I was trying to pull something over on them, but nobody explained why. I felt hassled and discriminated against, to the point that I finally called a manager to complain about my treatment. He had me come to his DMV and got me in a driver’s license that day.

But he also asked me if I’d ever had a different last name… apparently the one, Tammy Lynn P-word had at some point. Fortunately, he was able to recognize that “Tammy Lynn” and “Tawni Leighanne” share the same initials, but are still completely different names, unlike all the other ignorant witch (she was really suspicious and mean to me) I’d encountered before calling him.

So now I know from where the suspicion was coming.

Isn’t that bizarre?

I kind of want to meet Tammy Lynn P-word, if only so we can always go together to the DMV renew our licenses at the same time to avert confusion.

I also wonder what she looks like. I couldn’t find her on Facebook, but the Internet searches claim she lives in this city. I’m sure the DMV lady looked at our pictures on her computer in the back to make sure we were different people. I wish I’d asked her what my birthday and almost-name twin looks like.

DMV Lady was so flustered she sent me to the tag agency for my driver’s license without taking a photo, so I waited in line there, was told this and sent back, got the photo taken, went back to the tag agency to wait in line again to finally get my license. The simple process only took 2 hours. But hey, they had disgusting coffee and old popcorn at the 2nd (and then 4th) DMV I visited in 2 hours, so yee-haw! And also, gross.

(I can’t even do buffets. My inner germaphobe twitches at the thought of all the hands that have rummaged in and/or breathed on the food before me. I am not ashamed–nor do I judge those who aren’t ooged out by this type of thing. Enjoy your stranger-touched food and probably-super-to-mine immune system. I know I’m silly.)

Well, that’s my latest. Back to shitting rainbows now.

Hope you’re having a happy week, friends.

 

xoxo.

Best Actress

chains-433543_960_720

 

Marijuana. Mary Jane. Reefer. No matter what you choose to call it, I have never been able to smoke pot. What for some people seems to be a relaxed good time has always been for me a paranoid journey to the center of my mind, where I sit shivering in a cerebral corner, wondering if I’ll ever be able to think normally again.

In college, I reluctantly got stoned with the happy party people around me. Most of these attempts ended with me feeling lost, floating in the universe, indefinitely wondering whether or not I had to pee. Time crawled by thick as resin as I tried to decide if I looked as crazy on the outside as I felt on the inside. If I was lucky, I found a bed to pass out in, mercifully ending my hyper-analytical mental anguish.

It seems like a wonderful ride for most, so for years I tried to stay on the bucking bronco of marijuana before permanently passing the reins to the other space cowboys. Abstaining from pot, combined with my love of exercising and rising early, eventually conspired to make me the least rock and roll chick to ever play guitar in a band. I am decidedly not cool; I’ve made my peace with this fact.

Throughout high school, however, I was still trying to smoke the stuff. My older sister and I would sometimes hide behind one of the many outbuildings on our farm to do it. We’d sit in the grass, leaning against the hay barn; two teenage girls smiling into the summery blue Missouri sky, giggling about nothing and everything. When my parents took the family to Disneyland, she and I got stoned in the It’s a Small World ride. It was there I learned that hundreds of creepy animatronic children singing a repetitive song about the world closing in on me do nothing to ease my pot smoking paranoia. Noted.

On family vacation in Las Vegas that summer, my sister and I quickly tired of the little kid games inside of Circus Circus where we were staying. There were only so many stuffed animals a teenager wanted to win. Bored and seeking fresh entertainment, we left the pink ponies and casino to walk the streets of Sin City. Ducking into an alley, we decided to make our stroll more interesting by smoking a joint she had brought along. Standing next to a ten-foot-high concrete block fence for privacy, by the dirt road that ran between buildings on either side of us, we proceeded to smoke marijuana.

We’d taken a few tokes and I was just starting to feel blurry when a car turned quickly into the alley, about fifty feet away. I brought the joint down from my mouth and held it at my side. I was hoping that the person turning into the alley would think I was only smoking a cigarette, stupidly forgetting that as a non-smoker I looked awkward smoking anything I tried. As the dark blue car drove by and I clumsily passed the joint, we realized in our dulled awareness that it was an unmarked police vehicle. So of course we did the worst thing possible. We panicked.

“That was a cop!” she squeaked as he drove past.

Get rid of it. Get rid of it. Get rid of it,” I whisper-screamed at her.

She frantically tried to toss the joint over the wall next to us. It backed up to a neighborhood, so there was no convenient way around to retrieve the contraband. If we could just get it over the wall, it would be out of sight and virtually unreachable.

My sister has always been petite, and she was unable to throw it over the high fence. The joint bounced off of the wall, rolling futilely back toward us on the dusty ground. We jumped away in fear, as if it was a spider. I grabbed it out of the sand where it sat mocking me like a turd in a litter box and tried to clear the concrete wall again. I’m taller at 5’9″ with greater reach, and it went over this time.

This all happened in the span of a few seconds, so before we could feel relief to have ditched the incriminating evidence, we saw brake lights. No doubt tipped off by our frantic chicken-like scrabbling and obviously guilty behavior, the officer turned around and drove back in our direction while we watched in mute terror. There was nowhere to run, as we were trapped in an alley and didn’t know the area. We both turned our nothing-to-see-here knobs up to eleven, and then he was getting out of the car. Meanwhile, the pot we’d smoked was the kind that creeps up on you, and I was feeling exponentially freaked out by the second. I quickly realized an intimidating police officer was even more paranoia-inducing than soulless puppet children singing at me en masse. My world of hope was quickly becoming a world of fear.

“Did I just see you two girls smoking a joint?” the officer demanded.

It was do or die time. Time to sell it like I’d never sold it before. If we got busted by this cop for pot, there would be no end to the trouble we’d get in. We’d be grounded until I started college for this one, and rightly so. We’d fucked up, big time. I summoned every bit of acting ability I had in my dumb fifteen-year-old body, and tried to push the part of me growing fuzzy from the drugs to the back, working hard for a moment of ass-saving clarity. I put on my best shocked and appalled face at the mention of pot, because pot was awful, and oh my gosh, how could anyone think I’d been smoking pot?

“No officer! I would never smoke pot. But I was trying to smoke a cigarette,” I replied, shame dripping from my voice, eyes cast downward in good girl humiliation. “It was the first time I’ve ever tried it and I didn’t even like it. It was so gross!”

“It looked like a joint to me, whatever you threw over that wall, young lady. If I drive both of you around to the other side, are we gonna find marijuana? Do you think your parents are gonna enjoy having to come pick you up from jail today?”

Shit. If I didn’t pull this off, we were going to end up in a cell, the weak teenage bitches of hardened Las Vegas prostitutes. I silently hoped my prison mistress would at least have a heart of gold. In full self-preservation mode, I quickly realized that my best psychological tactic would be to act so distraught about being caught smoking a cigarette that the pot thing would be downplayed. If I seemed truly disgusted about the cigarette, he might believe me innocent of the worse crime.

“Oh no, please, don’t tell my parents I was smoking a cigarette! They’ll be so mad at me because they hate smoking! This was the first time I’ve ever tried it and I thought it was so nasty. I’m never gonna smoke a cigarette again, I swear it,” I pleaded.

He asked again that if he went to the dreaded other side of the wall, would there be marijuana waiting? I repeated the Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Tried a Cigarette monologue, as if he hadn’t mentioned pot at all. I was working it. Totally owning it. I had the big, tear-filled eyes and the quivering lip; I epitomized the scared young girl gone astray. I was a living, breathing After School Special, begging for a second chance. Before I knew it, even I believed my lies. I was the innocent babe trying those yucky gosh darned cigarettes for the first time. And please don’t tell my parents I was smoking a cigarette, yes cigarette, can I say cigarette one more time? Because it was a cigarette and totally not marijuana, you know. Cough-cigarette-cough.

It finally worked. I couldn’t believe it, but it worked. The officer admonished us one last time with some sort of you kids stay out of trouble speech, got in his car, and drove away. Chastened and shaking like rabbits unexpectedly released from a snare trap, we headed back to the hotel, officially ending our stint as teenage streetwalkers. We walked dazed and confused into the pink nightmare of Circus Circus. Sad clowns and desperate elderly gamblers were definitely preferable to horrified flop sweat and handcuffs.

I never really gave myself much credit for my actions that day, always assuming the cop took pity on me, or had bigger fish to fry. But recently my mom mentioned to me that my sister had told her about the incident. I’m old enough now that my mom has heard most of my naughty stories, and I can only be grounded by myself, so this didn’t bother me. What shocked me was that my sister said my performance for the officer was amazing. She was blown away by my acting ability, and gave me full props for getting us out of what might have been the only arrest of our lives.

She also told my mother, “After I saw Tawni lie so convincingly that day, I knew I could never trust her again!”

Oops.

 

 

Shingle Bells

(Writing from December 30, 2010.)

Christmas is over. I find myself very relieved this year, rather than feeling the disappointment of childhood days. This is because it’s the first year in many that nobody in my immediate family of husband, boy child and self was sick. It’s a damned Christmas miracle.

My son was ill two weeks ago, and I was pessimistically certain that Santa would be gifting the same illness to my husband or me this year, but so far, so good.

Last year, in December, I developed shingles on the left side of my face and head. These disgusting lesions and goose egg-sized bumps on my scalp were possibly from the stress of college finals week, but most likely from the unbearable lightness of being me. I’m a pretty neurotic lass. And becoming a mother has only cranked that particular knob to eleven.

Shingles are caused by the chickenpox virus. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you also have the potential to develop shingles. What happens is that during times of severe stress or immune system suppression (such as chemotherapy, or being over 65), the virus that has been waiting in your nerve endings since your childhood chickenpox acquisition decides to flare up, causing unbelievably painful, itchy sores throughout the affected nerve group. Because what does a really stressed out person need more than painful, itchy sores, right? Thanks, body.

My dermatologist made the catch. I thought I was breaking out, because they were in the early stage, but she took one look at them and told me I had shingles. It was the placement of the lesions that convinced her. She explained to me that there is a branch of nerves that runs from the scalp down on each side of the face, across the forehead, and wraps around the upper side of the head. This entire bundle of nerves was flared up on my left side. You could draw a line down the middle of my forehead, and the sores were all to the left, like the branch of nerves.

This is how they looked at first. Like a rash or something.

She also explained to me that shingles on the head and face are extremely, exquisitely painful, and prescribed a gigantic bottle of hydrocodone. I remember thinking that was an odd word to use for pain. Exquisitely painful. We usually use the word exquisite to describe beautiful things, so the word nerd in me found her choice interesting. And scary. What the fuck does that mean anyhow? I’ve experienced childbirth, after all, and there was nothing exquisite about it. Nothing at all.

(Side rant: Friends who say things to me like “remember that pain makes you feel alive” when I’m in pain make me want to hurt them. And after I’ve hurt them, I would yell, “Hey, isn’t this great? Do you feel alive now, too? Invigorating, isn’t it?!” Because you know what, you carpe diem-spewing, wannabe hardcore dumb-asses? Pain sucks. Period. And when I hurt, I don’t want to seize the day, I want to go back to bed and try to be unconscious for as much of it as possible.)

The reason shingles hurt so much is because it is your nerves – those little reasons we all feel physical pain – that are inflamed. The nerves themselves are what are being affected, so you’re absolutely fucked pain-wise. (Yes, “absolutely fucked” is a technical term. Exquisitely absolutely fucked, even.)

After my shingles fully developed a few days later, I couldn’t even touch my head. To do so sent hundreds of flaming knives up into my brain.

To make it even worse, the sores start to itch like chickenpox after a few days too, causing you to scratch your head in your sleep, only to be awakened by the searing pain. I wore calamine lotion over the entire left side of my face, which helped with the itching, and entertained my husband by giving him ample opportunity to make Phantom of the Opera jokes at my expense. So you know. Win-win.

The Phantom of the Opera thinks you’re hilarious. No, really.

The shingles were on my eyelid, so I was sent immediately to an eye doctor for the first eye exam of my 20/10 hawk vision-having life, to make sure I didn’t have shingles in my left eye, because that could cause blindness. It was there that I experienced one of the few uplifting moments of my shingles experience, when the incredibly hot doctor read the age on my chart and exclaimed, “Wow! You do not look your age! You don’t have any wrinkles at all!” YES.

They apparently do Botox injections at this eye office, because there were ads in the waiting room about them, so maybe that was what made him study my face for wrinkles? I don’t know or care, really. At my age, when an attractive guy says I look young, it makes me really happy. Even if I am all gross and shingle-y and wearing no make-up because I thought I was only going to the dermatologist for a weird break out. Yes, even then. I’m not made of stone, people.

It got worse very quickly. I was soon having post C-section flashbacks as I constantly watched the clock for the four-hour mark to take my next hydrocodone pain pill:

This is my official “Fuck My Life” face. In case you were wondering.

I didn’t get pictures, but this was right before my left eyelid swelled halfway shut. I looked so hideous.

As my family doctor later explained it to me, there are different levels of shingles on the spectrum. For some people, it only involves the skin. But at the other end, some people get what feels like the adult chickenpox virus, so of course that’s the version I got. I was nauseated, weak, and felt like I had the flu for a few weeks.

Every day, I sat on the couch with a puke bucket between my legs, letting my toddler watch too much television, praying my husband would get home from work as soon as possible. It was a month before I felt human again.

They were finally starting to stop itching so much and heal when I took this picture. My head and face hurt to the touch for weeks after the sores went away. So weird.

My son also got H1N1 for Christmas that year. Joy to the world, the flu has come.

The Christmas before last, I had pneumonia for two months, and in the middle of the x-rays of my lungs for that, they discovered that my lungs are covered in calcifications from previous untreated pneumonias (I haven’t had health insurance for much of my adult/broke musician life). I had to get an MRI to determine whether or not the calcifications were lung cancer. So that was marvelous. Not stressful at all.

Are you starting to understand why I fear December every year?

So while I am nervous about tempting the Fates, or being smited by a god with a dark sense of humor, I have to very quietly say that it is really nice to see Christmas come and go without a major illness. (I will be barfing in a few hours because I dared to type that, I’m pretty sure of it.)

Wow. I was going to write about Christmas, and instead I channeled my grandmother who guilt trips me by nagging, “You never call! You never write!” every time I see her, without realizing that I never call or write because she guilt trips me, and then lists her health ailments for hours every time we communicate.

Sorry. You don’t have to call or write. I won’t guilt trip you.

I thought the shingles were really fascinating, though. What a weird thing to happen. It seemed so alien and trippy that something could live inside my body from childhood, biding its time, waiting for my lowered defenses to strike. And it was creepy how wounds formed all over my face and head, like some sort of pimpled teenager-emulating stigmata, coming from the inside out.

Kids nowadays receive a chickenpox vaccine, so they never have to experience it. I recently read some studies stating that if you receive the chickenpox vaccine as a kid, and never have full-fledged chickenpox, you aren’t susceptible to shingles as an adult. I was relieved to learn my son won’t have to worry about shingles. It makes me want to beg my anti-vaccine mommy friends to please, at least get your kids the chickenpox vaccine, because if they can avoid shingles later in life, trust me; they will want to go ahead and do that.

We had a mellow Christmas this year. I got a leopard skin laptop bag and a matching laptop skin to make my new laptop all leopard-spotted and awesome. I have an animal print fetish. I have since high school. It was cute and funky when I was young and playing in bands, but now it’s just kind of weird and sad. I tell myself it’s sexy in a Mrs. Robinson sort of way, but I’m not fooling anyone. I know I just look like a poorly aging rocker chick, but whatever. The heart wants what it wants, and mine wants leopard, zebra, and giraffe prints.

Tawni’s Happy Fun Time Couch Spot:

My ridiculous: let me show it to you.

I got a laptop table and a thumb drive that will store everything I can ever possibly write. And Dexter: The Fourth Season. And the warmest, most awesome-est gloves without fingers, so I can type and be warm all at the same time.

So as you’ve probably surmised, yes, I recently got a laptop. I feel ridiculously lucky and blessed. I have wanted a laptop for years, and finally got one for my birthday (around Halloween). I am sitting in bed writing this on it, actually. I love it. I’ve been on my own since I was just barely 17, and pretty poor my whole life, so I haven’t been the girl with a lot of technological toys. I still can’t believe it’s mine.

I only got my first personal computer in 2004. My husband forced me to get my first cell phone in 2006. I hate talking on the phone. I am afraid of it, even. (When acquaintances want to talk to me on the phone, I get weird. It stirs up a big, steaming batch of social ineptitude and shy for me.) He often has to nag me to keep the ringer on. I like to be out of touch. There is a lot of peace to be found in out of touch. Not a lot of not-annoyed-spouse, though, it turns out.

We always had really relaxed Christmas eve and Christmas day celebrations in my family. I was born in Phoenix, where we lived until I was seven, when my mom remarried, and we moved to Lawrence, Kansas with my new stepdad. We were completely isolated from my mom’s large Arizona family, so we had our own holidays. No getting in the car and driving from relative to relative’s house. It was awesome.

As we got older, we would all spend Christmas eve and day at my parents’ house, which was eventually in Holden, Missouri, and then Blue Springs, Missouri. Once we were old enough to drink, Kahlua went into coffee, and mimosas happened with the fruity crepes my mom makes on Christmas morning. She had a deli tray with cheese, meat and little rolls for sandwiches. She also kept a fondue pot full of melted chocolate for us to dip the chunks of angel food cake, banana slices, and strawberries into. There was always a port wine cheese ball with crackers. I still feel nostalgic when I look at one of those swirly red and orange, almond-coated little guys. So appropriate that a cheese ball would make me wistful. (I’m such a cheese ball.)

Now my parents have retired to Phoenix, and I ended up in Oklahoma after getting knocked up by an Okie boy in Los Angeles, so I have had to keep these little foodie traditions alive by myself. (Especially the Christmas morning mimosas.) I had the cheese ball, fondue, and little sandwiches this year, but I didn’t make the crepes. I don’t think I could ever make those as well as my mom.

I baked my usual pumpkin pies, and got wacky with my banana bread this year, making banana bread muffins with chocolate chips instead. I even made pecan pies this year for the first time ever. I decided that it is ridiculous that I’ve never made a pecan pie. It’s a classic holiday dessert.

They came out fine, but inadvertently put me off pecan pie for the rest of my life. I used to really like it, but now that I know it is a big pile of corn syrup, eggs and sugar, I’m totally grossed out. Seriously. Hot, baked corn syrup and eggs. Eeeew. How did I not know that?

But despite the pecan pie repulsion, I had the first pleasant holiday season I’ve had in years. No illness. No oozing flesh wounds. No flu-ridden baby. No lung cancer scare. So big props to tha universe for that. One love. Word to your mother. Peace out.

Hope your holidays were awesome, pals.

 

 

 

Miles and me, Christmas 2010.

Pollyanna Loves Swim-Up Bars

I did something right today.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m really bad at all things social interaction, and I actually helped a stranger feel better today, rather than just making them feel uncomfortable.

Go me.

Seriously. I have noticeably alienated every one of the other kids’ mothers at my son’s school who have tried to talk to me. It’s a real problem. I get nervous, blank out, stutter, and freeze up. And then the weird things come out of my mouth, like some sort of poorly done German film noir I have to watch in mortification, while I have the usual brain self-dialogue.

Oh my GOD, what is wrong with me? Why did I just say that? Why can’t I say normal things like normal people? Why would she want to know that? You’re so fucking weird, Tawni. Stop! Just stop now, while you’re ahead. Shit. No. Why didn’t you just stop? See? You’re just making it worse. They’ve got the freezy eyes of discomfort. You made another one have the freezy eyes of discomfort. She’s trying to politely escape. The eyes are flicking around wildly, searching for an escape. Congratulations. You’ve turned yet another human into a frightened horse trapped in the stable of your social ineptitude and insanity. Let her go. Save yourself! Run from me! I’m a fucking monster! Be free, horsie! Balls. Why do I talk… ever?

Anyhow. A guy was dropping off his daughter at my son’s kindergarten this morning. It’s a small private school. The kindergarten classroom is upstairs, and consists of fifteen kids. The teacher is amazing. Very smart, hands-on and loving. I adore her. More importantly, I trust her.

I hugged my son goodbye, and he started immediately working on some artwork. I have always been blessed with the most nonchalant-about-my-departure child in the whole world. He never went through the separation anxiety phase he was supposed to, and has always given me a cheerful wave, hug, and see you later when I leave him with others. Not a single cling. I got so lucky, and am immeasurably grateful for this little mercy, as I am a huge pussy a total empath. I honestly don’t think I could walk away from my crying child, even though I logically know it’s okay.

As I was walking out the door, I noticed one of my son’s classmates, a little girl, because she was sobbing big, weepy sobs while the teacher hugged her and helped her put her coat and backpack away. I looked up in time to see her worried daddy going down the stairs, obviously feeling awful about leaving her there crying.

I was on the flight of stairs above him, and we met eyes. I gave him the Ugh Face, and said, “It’s so hard to walk away when they’re upset like that, isn’t it?”

He looked so sad. He looked like he was about to cry. And as I mentioned above, I don’t really know what it’s like to walk away from a crying child fraught with separation anxiety, because my son has never had any, but it seemed like the thing he needed to hear.

He nodded, and I said, “The important thing to remember is that she will have completely forgotten about it and be playing with the other kids in about thirty seconds,” and I smiled gently. He smiled back.

Well I’ll be damned. You seem to have said the right thing for once, dipshit. No freezy eyes of discomfort! You even got a smile on his face!

We were both headed to the front doors leading out to the parking lot, but someone cut me off because the women who bring their kids to this school are rude, oblivious bitches busy people with places to be, but he made a point of holding the door for the women who cut in front of me, and held the door for me too. When I made it to the door, he looked me in the eye and said, “You have a really nice day,” with a grateful smile.

I told him to have one too, and walked to my car with tears in my eyes because I was so fucking happy to have helped make somebody feel better. I helped! I helped! My inner Pollyanna was hugging herself and leaping around clumsily as I drove away.

And then, when I picked my son up from school in the afternoon, someone had brought their new puppy upstairs to the kindergarten, and she let me hold it for, like, five minutes. I made someone sad feel better AND I got to hold a puppy today! It was a good day.

I like to think I’m complicated, but sometimes I’m pretty simple inside.

***

My husband won Sales Rep of the Year again at his work. He also won last year. He’s really good at his job. You’d be surprised at how useful a drama degree is in sales.

With the award comes an incentive vacation that the company chooses every year. Last year it was an Alaskan cruise. I was not spoiled enough to not be excited about a free vacation, but really, honestly, if you asked me what my dream vacation might be, somewhere cold and still in the United States while trapped on a big boat with the elderly masses and the rotovirus would not have been my first choice.

We had a good time. Of course. Alaska was gorgeous. I saw whales. We got the honeymoon we never had with 24-hour room service included for free. And it was especially nice after four years straight of parenthood without a break to not be a small person’s bitch-servantmommy for an entire week. But my husband and I both got deathly ill as expected. It took three weeks, two sets of lung x-rays, and a few rounds of antibiotics to get me back in ship-shape afterward. (Ahhaha. Ship-shape. Get it?)

So you know. I’ve been poor my entire adult life. I’ve never been able to afford vacations. I was genuinely happy to get Alaska.

But wait. It gets better.

This year, the incentive destination will be… drum roll… COSTA RICA!

Or Costa Fucking Rica, as my husband called it when he sent me the confirmation text that he had won the trip.

Costa Fucking Rica.

I can’t believe it. This is a vacation spot I would have chosen. I am a warm weather girl all the way, and grumpily wait for spring every winter under an electric blanket, with a stack of books next to my bed. I am so ridiculously excited about this vacation. I scream inside with excitement every time I think about it.

Costa Rica! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful resort at which we’ll be staying:



My husband is excited about the golfing opportunities. I might actually be a very brave girl and go to the spa for the first massage of my entire life.

I’m really weird about strangers touching me intimately. The whole idea of a massage sounds so sexual and intense to me that I’ve been afraid to get one my entire life. How do you turn that part off? How do guys not get boners during massages? If someone is rubbing me like that, it’s kind of on, you know?

And heaven help me if my masseuse is attractive. I got a really hot gynecologist at Planned Parenthood once, and it nearly ruined me. I turned red and splotchy and could barely talk to him as he stared into the depths of my nethers. If he hadn’t already seen my vagina, I would have given him my number. Humiliating.

But I want to move past this. What kind of a freak has never gotten a massage? I can’t die without ever having gotten a massage.

The website also mentioned a swim-up bar, and I decided that there really isn’t a more perfect creation in the whole wide world than a swim-up bar. I would have a swim-up bar in my living room if I could afford it.

So if you’re going to be in Costa Rica this summer, come join me for a drink. You know where to find me.

My Rogue Left Arm

(Writing from January 29, 2011.)

I tried to hurt a nice lady at the Urgent Care clinic this morning.

Let me explain. I’m sick. My throat has been burning all week, and I’ve been drinking hot liquids and overdosing on vitamin C (known on the streets as chasing the orange), waiting to see if my body was going to take care of it. But over the last few days, my bright red throat has decided to festively adorn itself with white blisters, so I decided to go to the doctor.

After waiting in another version of the hellish line I endured earlier in the week when I brought my sick son to the same clinic, I was led from the big room into the little room for my visit with the Wizard. Before I saw him, the nurse lady decided that because I had white pustules all over my throat, I would definitely need a strep test. She proceeded to, like, totally gag me with a cotton swab (<—read last sentence in a valley girl accent, please), and then left me alone for thirty-five minutes to wait.

I hate when they do that. It’s such a mindfuck. Don’t call me in from the group waiting room to sit by myself in a tiny cell, thinking I’m about to see the doctor, and then make me wait forever. I felt so shitty and weak that I decided to lie down on the table and take a nap. The doctor woke me up when he finally came in. Jerk.

He thought I had mono, or maybe the flu, so the nurse came back in to prick my finger for mono test blood, and swab my nose for the flu test.

Needles don’t bother me, but I casually mentioned that I would rather have blood drawn from my arm because there are so many more nerves in our fingers. So of course, my sweet nurse lady had diabetes, and responded by telling me about how she has to prick her fingers every day. I felt like such a whiny baby for saying anything about finger nerves. I decided at that moment that I am going to stop whining about everything, forever, because I’m a lucky, ungrateful shithead who complains about stupid, petty things, and I have all I could possibly need, including fingers to hurt and not diabetes. I’m also a ridiculous excuse for a human being, and I should probably not talk, ever.

Anyhow. Next came the nasal swab flu test. This involves taking a long, wooden swab and shoving it deeply into the sinus cavity via nostril. It is highly invasive and burns like a motherfucker when they scrape the demon Q-tip against the sinuses. (Not that I’m whining. I’m sure it’s better than having diabetes. Ahem.) It kind of feels like having one’s eye poked out from the inside with a stick, if I may engage in a bit of hyperbole.

As the nice lady shoved the stick into my brain, my left arm shot up and grabbed her arm. I grabbed her arm. It was pure instinct, but I was absolutely mortified. I actually grabbed my own left arm with my right arm and held it down while she finished, as if my left arm was an attacking dog, and my right arm was its distraught owner. But I could tell it freaked her out. She was flustered. I said, “Oh my god. I’m so sorry. That reaction was completely involuntary,” and she laughed nervously. She walked out without reassuring me that it was okay. Just a nervous little “huh-huh” chuffing noise, and then gone. I felt like such an asshole.

I texted my husband, “I just grabbed the arm of the nice nurse who was giving me the nasal flu swab. I feel like an asshole.”

This isn’t the first time. I’m a repeat offender. I have a history of grabbing the arms of medical people doing hurty things to me.

The last time I did this, I was getting an amniocentesis procedure done in Los Angeles, at four months pregnant with my son. The doctor pushed the really long needle through my belly and into my uterus, and I had a cramp or contraction which caused my left arm (he was standing on that side of the table) to reach out and grab him. It was just a baby-protecting instinctive move; I wasn’t trying to be aggressive. I immediately pulled the arm down and felt like a jerk, but the damage was done. He gave me a shocked look and got flustered.

I fluster medical people. It’s a problem.

Anyhow, I’m on antibiotics. I’m fine. End whining.

Oh, and my husband thinks I’m disgusting. Yesterday, he flopped down next to me in bed, where I had been lying, feeling awful, amid stacks of books and tissues. He looked at my face, and I watched his mouth curl in disgust as he suddenly remembered I was sick. He muttered, “Gross,” and quickly jumped out of the bed, as if I was a giant maggot and the mattress was my dead animal carcass.

“Did you just call me gross?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Gross? You actually got down next to me in bed so you could call megross and then get back up?”

“I forgot you were sick.”

“And then you remembered. So I’m just gross. That’s all you have to say to me.”

“Yes.”

Marriage is awesome sometimes.

My husband is out bowling with friends right now. I was looking forward to going out all week, but he forbade me to come along and infect other people with my rancid, filthy grossness. It’s okay, though. I can’t drink a beer because I’m on antibiotics, and I don’t think I could bowl without beer. They just go together so well.

And I get to write instead, which makes me happy.

Until I got sick, I had a great early week, actually. I got to talk to an online friend in real life, and I posted my first piece on a favorite website for which I am being allowed to write (The Nervous Breakdown). It was all very positive, despite the illness. And I haven’t been sick since June, which is pretty great for a lady with a kid attending a preschool, so I’m not complaining. (Because I don’t do that anymore, remember?) I had a long healthy streak.

I’m going to go snort a few lines of Emergen-C powder now. Stay healthy, friends.

xoxo.

My Bloody Valentine

(Writing from February 15, 2011.)

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Also known as Monday, if you were me.

I’ve never liked the holiday. I am extremely, stubbornly, almost comically averse to all forms of manipulation, which made me a willful, hellish nightmare of a child for my poor mother. So the idea of a holiday that forces people to show their emotions to each other really gives me a case of the ass. I don’t even like greeting cards.

I also don’t like the idea of “being romantic.” It sounds smarmy and false, like saying “making love” instead of “having sex” or “fucking.” It gives me the willies when women talk about wanting their guy to bemore romantic. It’s like saying you want him to not be a guy anymore or something. Which is fine. But, like, you chose him, so it’s kind of unfair to change your mind this late in the game.

I know I should probably be a smart girl and use any excuse possible to receive chocolate and flowers, but I’ve never felt it. I also dislike red roses and diamonds because they are as unoriginal as it gets, so maybe that has something to do with it; I just really don’t like unoriginal displays of affection. I have no idea.

I am aware that by being too outspoken with my Valentine’s Day disdain, I am being a downer, and ironically enough, not terribly original, so I usually just keep my mouth shut and ignore it until it goes away. Kind of how I deal with it when someone is trying to talk about their version of religion with me.

My husband has been forbidden to partake in VD, and obliged me once again yesterday, bless his patient soul. I am oblivious to the date nowadays, and if it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have even realized it was a holiday.

***

I have wanted to write lately, and have been itching inside to write, but I have been unable to write for two reasons:

1. We were snowed in where I live, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for two weeks. I’m kind of done whining about it because honestly, after two weeks trapped in a house with me, I’m sick of listening to myself. So let me just say that it snowed a lot, the kiddo was out of school for two weeks straight, and we couldn’t drive anywhere. This meant I was trapped in a small house with my husband and son, and that meant I really didn’t get a chance to write. Or to be alone for two seconds. Or to not feel trapped in that chewing-off-your-own-leg sort of way.

2. One of the things stressing me out lately, that I really want to talk about here, is too gross for sensitive ears.

I’m having girl troubles. Trouble with the plumbing. Female issues. Pick your polite-company euphemism and run with it. (I’ll just sit here with the heating pad clutched against my abdomen and watch you run, thanks.)

But it’s making me mad that I’m afraid to write openly about what’s happening to me in my own piddly little blog that maybe ten of my friends read.

It’s making me mad because it’s stupid that we act like a part of the body that 50% of the population possesses is too disgusting for discussion, despite the fact that the male equivalent is talked about all of the time. We can talk about penises, dick size extension, erections, pills for erections, with no trouble at all, but you mention your period, and half of the room groans. Never mind that every one of us is brought into the world by a uterus.

That’s right, my squeamish little chickens. A uterus grew you. Eeeeeew. You’ve touched an icky uterus. But seriously. Show some fucking respect. Your mom gave up ten months of drinking alcohol and her cute figure to bring your punk ass into the world, and all you can do is act like a little pussy over some menstrual blood? You should be raising a toast to your mother’s blessed vagina every time you drink a beer, and pouring out a little on the ground in honor of the dead pre-pregnancy wardrobe she’ll never fit into again.

So as you’ve probably noticed, I’m done with the whole not-talking-about-it thing.

Because maybe if people were allowed to comfortably talk about things like this, I wouldn’t be desperately searching the internet, trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with my body. Nobody talks about this shit, and it makes me angry.

About six months ago, I was at my yearly gynecological “well woman” exam, and I mentioned some odd things my body was doing for which I thought perimenopausal hormones might be responsible, like sweating, mood swings, and sleep disturbances.

My doctor scoffed at me, telling me I was too young to be starting perimenopause, despite the fact that all of the women in my family finish menopause earlier than average. (We all get our periods at 11, so it kind of makes sense.)

He even invalidated my concerns by joking to me, “Well, you’re too young for that, but you can blame your mood swings on that if it makes you feel better.”

Hardy fucking har.

When I told my mom what he’d said, she was indignant.

“Did you tell him that your mother was completely finished with menopause by 43?”

“Yes, Mom. I told him.”

“Did you tell him that all of your aunts did the same thing?”

“Yep. He just made a lame PMS joke about my symptoms.”

“Jerk.”

So of course, a few months later, my periods just stopped. Nothing for two months.

Five pregnancy tests later, I realized that ha ha ha, the universe ishilarious, and there would be no second child that I’ve always wanted magically growing in my womb, somehow defying the odds of my husband’s vasectomy a few years ago. (He quickly realized we couldn’t afford another child and got it done as soon as possible. He has more sense than me.) (I just want to buy tiny leopard skin coats and My Little Ponies for a baby girl. Is that so wrong?)

Nope. Not pregnant, just old. Oh, so very old.

After two months of nothing, my period started again on January 3rd, and hasn’t stopped since. I’ve been heavily bleeding for 45 days straight and counting.

I have always had really mild, regular, four day periods. I sometimes would feel crummy and crampy on the first day, but otherwise no big deal. But whatever is happening to my body right now is worse than any period I’ve ever had, and it’s been happening for 45 days in a row. It’s wearing me out. I spend days in bed when my kid is at school because I’m always exhausted.

If I sound dramatic, imagine yourself leaving a toilet bowl full of blood every single time you go pee, and you’ll understand why I’m so tired. It’s unnerving and scary, and every time I go to the bathroom, I have a minor freak out. I’m starting to wonder why I’m still alive, because the life is quite literally draining out of me. I’m relieved that my husband is the same blood type as me, because I think I’m going to need to borrow a pint soon.

I was supposed to have a sonogram/ultrasound two weeks ago, but then the snowstorms hit our city and shut everything down, so my appointment got canceled and moved. Now it’s coming up this Thursday, and I am relieved that we will hopefully figure out what’s causing this, but scared of the possibilities. It could be just hormones causing the bleeding, but it could also be cysts or fibroids.

If it is just hormones, then I qualify for a procedure called Novasure, in which the doctor will insert a rod in through my cervix out of which opens a mesh device that conforms to the shape of the uterus. Radio wave technology is then used to cauterize the walls to prevent them from rebuilding, hopefully ending my periods forever.

If I have fibroids or cysts, or if the Novasure procedure doesn’t work, I will have to get a hysterectomy.

I really don’t want a hysterectomy.

So that’s what’s happening in my life, and why I’ve been lame about writing lately. Snow and blood. Lots and lots of snow and blood.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ovary and Out

(Writing from February 19, 2011.)

 

I’ve been up since 3 a.m. Yesterday it was 4 a.m. My brain has been extra thinky since I got the news at my doctor’s appointment on Thursday.

I have been having some yucky symptoms for over two years, and have been getting what I call the Little Lady Treatment about them from assorted doctors. As in, “Don’t worry, Little Lady, it’s all in your head.” Condescending tone. Pat pat, there there, you’re just a tired neurotic new mother. Try to get more sleep and stop worrying.

(Both genders do this, but it is more often the men in my experience. Yet I was surprised to be told I was “just tired” by a female doctor I tried, before I switched to my male doctor, who is the best listener I’ve ever encountered in the medical field. He’s run blood work on me multiple times, however, and we can’t find anything wrong. Not only have my blood numbers been within the acceptable ranges, they’ve been excellent. I should be feeling great.)

But despite my proclivity for rising too early, like today, I do get plenty of sleep. If I get up ridiculously early, my husband almost always gets me a nap in the afternoon, or I go to bed at 8 p.m. like your grandma, no big deal. My son is five now, and except for the rare nightmare or bed pissing, he sleeps through the night. I am not well-rested, but I get enough sleep. And still, I always feel weak and tired.

I have not felt like myself for the last two years, and nobody has believed me. I’m sure they encounter hypochondriac and drama queen patients aplenty, but I have been without health insurance most of my life, and before my pregnancy, could count the number of times I’d seen a doctor in my adult life on less than two hands. I try to take good care of myself, have been blessed to not have major health issues in my life, and do not like to go to the doctor. So believe me, I don’t go unless something is truly wrong. But these people don’t know me, and I’d look like a freak if I recited the above paragraph of my history to them.

The first weird symptom has been excessive sweating. Throughout my life, I’ve had dry skin. Lotion was my friend. I would sweat during exercise, and that’s about it. I could usually not bathe for a few days, and could hang a shirt back in my closet at the end of a day without worry. Now, I sweat through three T-shirts a day. It’s freaky, and pretty gross. In the last few years, I’ve gone from never stinking, to smelling like an end-of-the-day construction worker by noon. I’ve been telling myself that pregnancy changes our body chemistry, so I just have to get used to it. But this is so anomalous for me that I’ve had a hard time believing it.

The second symptom is constant constipation. I am a vegetable loving chick who eats a leafy green salad every single day. I exercise 45 minutes, 4-5 days a week. I take Metamucil. I drink twelve glasses of water a day. I eat Activia with fiber, even though I hate yogurt. Sometimes I even mix it with high fiber cereal. I eat a handful of prunes a day. I avoid cheese, bread, dairy (except for the nasty probiotic yogurt) and meat. I do everything I’ve ever heard will help keep a person regular, and I am still constipated. The doctor told me it’s irritable bowel syndrome and caused by stress. Which is not out of the realm of possibility. But still. Not normal for me.

The next major symptom is nausea, especially in the morning. It usually wanes by midday. But every morning, I struggle to eat something for my blood sugar, so I’m not shaky and light-headed, but I don’t want to eat at all. Eating when you are nauseated is, like, the worst thing ever. Often, I break saltines into four pieces and eat them slowly, one little piece at a time. I also nibble crystallized pieces of ginger my mom sends me from Trader Joe’s. Even though I try to avoid HFCS and have never been a soda pop drinker, I keep Coca-Cola around for desperate mornings, because when it’s really bad and I can’t handle crackers, little sips of flat, room-temperature cola are the only thing that helps. It is exactly like the first three months of pregnancy were for me. Except I’m not pregnant.

The weirdest thing about the nausea is that I have always had an iron stomach. I’m not a puker, and rarely throw up, even when I want to because I know it would make me feel better. I have always been able to eat anything: spicy food, alcohol, coffee; all of the things that people with tricky stomachs can’t handle. So once again, like the sweating, this is so not me.

I’ve also had the first migraines of my life, complete with scintillating scotomas, which is the name for the flashing lights that serve as a precursor to the thunderclap headache that follows.

But lately, I’ve had weird, somewhat sharp pains on my left side, pains that wake me out of deep sleep. And a seemingly never-ending heavy period that has been happening for 50 days at this writing. So my gynecologist ordered an ultrasound for last Thursday.

And… bingo! The ultrasound technician found a really big cyst on my left ovary, where I’ve been hurting. I mentioned all of the above symptoms to her, the nausea, sweating, constipation, lower back pain, migraines, mood swings, crazy-long periods, sporadic bleeding, and the constant exhaustion, despite what should be plenty of sleep, and she said that it could all be explained by this cyst. “As it presses on the ovary, it can cause it to release excessive levels of different hormones,” she said.

It was a huge light bulb moment for me. “It’s not in your head,” she actually said to me without any prompting. Despite the lousy news, part of me wanted to cry in relief. I’m not crazy! I’m not imagining this stuff! Hormones are chaos-making and powerful, and a part of me that controls them has been shooting out randomly high levels, possibly causing all of this weird crap I’ve been dealing with for the last two years.

Oh, shit. This means surgery, immediately popped into my head too, but at least I might have an answer. And a solution. Oh, please, let this be a solution. I am so tired of feeling awful. I want my life back. I don’t even ask that I feel great again, I just want to feel not bad all of the time. It’s breaking my spirit. I have a beautiful life view, and am usually just pretty happy to be here; I can easily Pollyanna my way back into optimism. But damn, it’s hard to cheer yourself up all of the time when you feel like ass. All these health issues have been a slow, drawn-out chipping away at the sunny side of my soul.

So I went from there to the waiting room, then back into the rabbit warren of offices to talk to my doctor, where I was informed that I would be having a biopsy procedure to take a chunk of the uterine lining to check for cancer, because my excessive bleeding could also be caused by this. Surprise!

Relieved that I’d groomed and shaved the appropriate parts in case of an impromptu pelvic exam, I tried not to look at the wicked and extremely long uterus grabbing tool the nurse had left for the doctor after informing me of the biopsy. Deep breaths, deep breaths, out through the nose, you can handle it, you have tattoos after all, right? Come on, girl. Get it together.

When the doctor came in, we discussed my options. I could have the Novasure procedure to stop the excessive bleeding, which is basically the cauterization of the uterine lining, plus minor surgery to remove the left ovary. Two week recovery. Or, we could just take out the uterus and ovary in one fell swoop, with a six to eight week recovery, just like my C-section.

My doctor mentioned that my uterus is enlarged (which prompted my husband later to make me giggle when he described me as “well-hung”). He said that this would make the Novasure procedure less likely to work, diminishing my chances of having lighter periods afterward.

I groaned, because I know how much a C-section sucks firsthand. A C-section is major abdominal surgery. I had no idea how debilitating they were until I had one when my nine pound, five ounce, twenty-three inch long son wouldn’t fit through my hips. So the idea of going through that again, without the awesome reward of a healthy baby at the end of it all just really super sucks.

But what is the point of going through the stress of having my uterus burned out (Will I smell it roasting? I grotesquely wondered to myself) and then being put to sleep in the hospital for the lesser surgery, when my enlarged uterus might make it so that the Novasure procedure doesn’t even work? Then I have a two week recovery from the ovary removal, a Novasure procedure with recovery, and then the six to eight week post-hysterectomy recovery anyhow. I have a five year old who needs his mom. I can’t draw this ordeal out over the next six months.

So with all of that in mind, after discussions with my husband, my mom, and internet pals who’ve gone through similar surgeries, I have decided to get the uterus and left ovary removed in one surgery. This is pending the results of the uterine lining biopsy and blood test they are also running to check for cancer markers. If cancer is detected, I will be sent to an oncologist who specializes in gynecological matters, and we’ll go from there. Big sigh. If you’re reading this, please send me some good thoughts, prayers, positive vibes, anti-cancer mojo, or whatever you’ve got to spare, because I really don’t want to go from there.

My mom offered to fly out to Oklahoma from Phoenix to help out with my five-year-old and post-surgery recovery, which is so awesome. I am so grateful and happy to have such a wonderful momma. My husband’s family is also amazing, and will help keep my son busy and distracted while I am in the hospital.

I’m trying to be brave, even though I know I’m in for a world of pain. It was a year after my C-section before I could do my entire ab workout DVD again. But I know I can get back there again. I did it before, after all. And the doctor said my C-section scar looks great, so he won’t have to make a seven inch incision like they had to to get my son out, just a five inch one. I’ll also be heading into the surgery with a normal amount of sleep under my belt, instead of exhausted from thirty-six hours of labor, which is very good. And I get to be unconscious this time, instead of awake and horrifically aware that on the other side of the sheet of paper, I’m being cut open.

I’m trying not to think about the petty stuff, like my poor twice-scarred stomach, and how bad I’m going to look in a bathing suit next summer after not being able to work out for months again. Vanity is boring and pointless, and in the end, it doesn’t mean a damned thing. Being alive for my son is all that ultimately matters to me. I’ve gone to the Dark Place a few times, and begged the universe, Buddha, God, Baby Jesus, the aliens, the Fates, Ghost Elvis, my guardian angels, and anyone else I can think of who might be out there listening, to please let me survive this and be strong and healthy again for my kid. He needs a mommy like me to look out for him in this world. In the meantime, the shower makes a really private place for a good ugly cry.

I’m also trying to remember that there is always something worse. Perspective, perspective, perspective. I’m still alive and this is treatable, so I have options. I have health insurance, a wonderful, supportive husband and family, and I can do this. I will get through this, and I will come out on the other side of post-surgical recovery, hopefully feeling better than I have for the last two years.

Other positives: If there is no cancer right now, then after this surgery, I will have 50% less of a chance for ovarian cancer, and a 100% less chance for uterine cancer. And no more periods ever again. Bright side, right?

This morning, the sound of a loud voice in my head was what woke me up. I don’t know if it was my subconscious comforting me, or a sign, but I’m going to look at it as a good thing either way. It said, calmly and confidently, Everything is going to be okay.

I’m going to trust that voice. It is going to be okay.

It is.

Competitive Convalescing

 

(Writing from March 24, 2011.)

I woke to the sound of a soothing female voice saying, “Hi Tawni! You’re awake and in post-surgical recovery, and you’re doing great.”

I couldn’t open my eyes. The lights were unbearably bright. I knew it wasn’t heaven, because it was so ridiculously loud. The sounds of machines beeping, conversations in the room around me, and the clanking and shuffling of surgical necessities assaulted my eardrums. Through my squinting, I could make out the form of a petite, softly rounded woman standing in front of the surface of the sun.

“I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s too bright,” I told her. She assured me this was normal.

I started shaking uncontrollably. I wasn’t afraid, so it felt like the involuntary shivering of the very cold.

“I’m going to give you some Demerol now that should make the shivering stop.” It worked immediately. “We’re going to move you to your own room now,” she said.

A large, friendly man introduced himself, and I tried to look at him. It was getting easier to see, and as we smiled at each other my eyes cracked halfway open.

He wheeled me down the halls to my room while I giggled. I was warned that I might come out of anesthesia feeling disoriented and confused, that I might even cry, but all I felt was relief. I had survived the surgery! I had woken up after anesthesia, and the surgery I’d dreaded for the last two weeks (since we scheduled it) was finally over. Hallelujah!

For me, the anticipation of pain is always worse than the actual pain itself, be it emotional, dental, or medical. One of the ways I mentally comfort myself in the middle of the nasty parts has always been to imagine life fast-forwarded to the point of after. Just think how good you will feel when this is all over, I will tell myself, This pain is only temporary. It always helps.

The nice fellow wheeling me to my room seemed surprised by my cheerful mood, and acted a bit uncomfortable with my odd behavior. I’ve always been a lightweight about drugs, and morphine was no exception. I was ready to party. He pushed my hospital bed down the length of the hallway on the women’s floor, past the window of new babies I would never take home, and stopped outside room 240.

“I still need to mop the floor!” barked a woman wheeling a bright yellow bucket of water, “It’s not ready yet!”

“That’s okay. We can wait,” I told her, laughing, while my escort gave me a weird look. A nurse came quickly walking down the hall from the central work station, where computer monitors and medical professionals huddled near coffee and bagels.

The approaching nurse said to the orderly, “Room 204 is clean; you can put her there,” and down the hall we moved, past the glass and the babies, to the opposite side of the building. I exclaimed, “Weeeeeeee!” as we rolled, garnering two strange looks from my cruise directors.

Deposited in room 204, I waited for my husband to arrive as a nurse hooked up my morphine drip to a little hand-held button I could push as often as I needed. It was like I was on Jeopardy! and the answer was “What is IV relief from pain that makes you feel like you’re floating?” Good stuff.

My husband and his parents, who had waited with him during my surgery, came into my room. Apparently it took a long time to rouse me from anesthesia post-surgery, because they mentioned they had been waiting a long time. The surgery was at 8:30 am, the doctor told them I did great around 9:30 am, and it was now 12:30 pm.

They reported that once inside me, the doctor discovered that my uterus was not only twice the normal size, it had adhered to my abdominal wall, probably after my C-section 5 years ago. Normally, when this happens, the adhesion is one quarter of an inch thick, but mine had thickened to over an inch. It involved abdominal nerves and pulled the intestine out of place, causing my nausea, stomach pain, and constipation to worsen as it progressed.

Before the surgery, I could no longer eat, and had been reduced to nibbling fruit and not much else every day. I’d lost 12 pounds in the last few weeks. Immediately after surgery, even though anesthesia is known for making people feel nauseated, I already felt amazing relief. It was the first time in forever I’d not felt like I might throw up. I was elated, and continue to be every day.

With the end of my debilitating nausea behind me for perspective, it’s going to be a very long time before I’m in a bad mood again. All problems seem so petty when you don’t have your health. When you’ve been in pain and puke purgatory for more than a year, and people complain about little things like rain, you really want to tell them to stop it. Let’s just say that I’m a bit more particular and stingy with my sympathetic comments on Facebook now. If you or your family member is sick, you have my heartfelt condolences. But if you’re whining about traffic, shut up and remember that you’re lucky to be healthy enough to drive, you whiner.

I am so grateful to be feeling better. I’m probably going to be obnoxiously Pollyanna about it for a while, but I don’t care. I went into surgery knowing I was lucky to be able to have surgery and options for better health, health care, a supportive husband, and family to help me. There are so many people dealing with natural disasters like earthquakes who would love to be merely having surgery right now. I am blessed to be alive, and I know it.

The doctor had to cut my uterus off the abdominal wall, making my surgery more serious than a typical abdominal hysterectomy. My left ovary was multi-cystic, with a ping pong ball-sized cyst, so he removed that, plus the left fallopian tube was covered with small cysts, and he took that too. He also removed my cervix, which had small cysts. On the bright side, this all means I have no chance for cervical or uterine cancer, and only half the chance of ovarian. And my labs all came back clean for cancer as well. My cysts were full of liquid, not cancer. Yay!

I can also eat again! Food sounds good again! I can’t believe it! I can’t even remember the last time I could eat anything before 1 pm every day, and now I can eat breakfast like a normal person again. I am still in the amazed phase of disbelief. Because I felt like I had a stomach flu that never went away, I had stopped being able to drink coffee, and I can have a cup again in the mornings. And I have been eating healthy oatmeal and yogurt and fruit for breakfast, all unthinkable before the surgery. It feels like a miracle. It is a miracle. I’m so happy.

After my husband’s parents left for the afternoon to take care of our son, a nurse wheeled a baby into my room. “I brought you your baby!” she chirped happily. We told her already had our baby at home, and that I had only given birth to a uterus, and she got confused. I told her they’d wanted to put me in room 240, but had moved me last minute to room 204 because it was clean, and she figured it out. It looked like a very cute baby, but no thanks. I’ve already done the “trying to breastfeed an infant every hour with a 7 inch incision on my abdomen” thing once in this lifetime.
I was determined to get up out of bed and start peeing on my own again and walking as soon as possible. I wanted to get home to my son so his life could be closer to normal. We are closely bonded, and I knew that his momma being gone at the hospital was probably rocking his little world in a bad way.

The day after surgery, the nurse took out my catheter and took me off the morphine drip. She had to leave the IV of Doom in the middle of my arm because it took two people and two painful botched attempts to place the IV in both of my hands before they finally got one into my arm. I have tiny, stupid veins. I think wanting to get the IV of Doom out of my arm really motivated me to work towards an early hospital release.

I was up and walking, peeing on my own, and passing gas (anesthesia shuts down your gastrointestinal system… they won’t let you leave until you fart) like a champ by that afternoon. My doctor came to see me and said, “Wow. You look better than any of the patients I’ve visited today, and you had the worst surgery!” The freakishly competitive part of me basked in his praise like an eager puppy. I was going to be the best at recovering from surgery! I was going to WIN. Haha.

Thursday was the day after my surgery. I asked if I could go home by Friday, and he said, “Well, normally I’d keep you until Saturday after your type of surgery, but we’ll see. You’re looking much better than I expected.”

I was released early Friday morning. Ever watched the show Friends? You know Monica, the character with the obsessive-compulsive cleaning streak and brutal competitiveness? That’s me. The stubborn, iron will that makes me annoying to live with makes me very determined in positive ways, too.

My husband took great care of me over the weekend, and I got my staples removed by a nurse on Monday. Then my dear, sweet momma flew in from Arizona to take care of me for a week so my husband could get back to work. She was so amazingly helpful, and because I was feeling so much better than any of us expected, we were able to have a really nice visit.

She made me too much delicious food, as is her way, and I think I probably gained back 5 pounds in a week. I don’t care. It was so nice to see my momma, and I got spoiled. The day she left, I stood in the kitchen and whined to my husband, “I already miss my mom!” She helped so much by allowing me to really rest for a week, as she cooked food for everyone, and played with my 5-year-old son. She also drove him to and from school, which was wonderful.

When my mom took me to my first doctor check up since the hospital, it was less than 2 weeks after my surgery. He told me that most people come in for a check up at this point wearing a nightgown and slippers, still hurting and feeling awful. I was dressed, wearing make-up, and walking normally. He couldn’t believe it.

Normally, he doesn’t give his patients permission to drive until 6 weeks post-surgery, but when I explained to him that I have been taking only 1 Percoset every 6 hours, instead of the 2 every 4-6 hours allowed, and rotating them with Motrin, he gave me permission to drive my son to and from school, as long as I’m on only Motrin and not Percoset when I drive. This permission eliminates the only problem the surgery created for my family, as my husband can’t miss any more work to drive our son twice a day.

He told me that my healthy diet and the fact that I was in such good shape going into surgery is probably why I’m recovering so much faster than most of his patients. That is always nice to hear from your doctor, isn’t it?

So life is already going back to normal, and my recovery from surgery is progressing beautifully thus far. I am so thankful for all of the prayers and positive thoughts from friends and family, and hope this update finds you all doing well and feeling great. I’m going to post some pictures from my adventures in surgery below, including a picture of Dr. Lisa Masterson from the television show The Doctors, who is the one who performed my C-section 5 years ago that healed so poorly. As I sat in my hospital bed watching her, I thought it was pretty funny. Life is so strange sometimes. 🙂

xoxo.


















The Dominant Vagina

(Writing from April 8, 2011.)

 

SelfPotraitApril2011

 

I watched a show the other night on TLC (The Little Channel) that has haunted me ever since. It was called Strange Sex.

I’ve watched the show before. I try to catch it when I can. Normal, average sex is pretty fascinating to me already, so I am all aboard the strange sex train.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

And that’s what he said.

Anyhow.

The show that I watched as I drifted off into a Percoset-laced slumber featured a woman with two vaginas. She has two vaginas and two uteri. She got pregnant twice in one of the vaginas, and has two healthy kids. And two healthy vaginas. This blew my mind.

I am presently recovering from the removal of my measly one uterus, so the idea of having two of these uterus jerks to torment a woman filled me with sympathy for her. I wondered if she has to deal with two periods every month. I wondered if she could get pregnant in both vaginas at the same time, or with the children of different men. I wondered about the porn movie making possibilities available to a woman with an extra opening to offer. She could probably make a fortune.

Apparently she has a dominant vagina that she uses for sex, and a smaller vagina that is the width of a pencil. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/woman-two-vaginas-strange-sex-174009) I discussed the show, and the dominant vagina versus the lesser vagina with my husband a few minutes ago, where he sat watching golf as I typed this. I theorized that it would be very convenient to have a tiny vagina that you could use after making the discovery that your date had a very small penis. You could choose the appropriate vagina based on the size of the penis. Or you could save it up as a special treat for your well-endowed significant other, like, “Guess what, birthday boy? You get the teeny vagina tonight!”

From the depths of this odd conversation, my husband pulled out the name of his next album. It will be called Choosing the Appropriate Vagina Based on the Size of the Penis. It will be a concept album, and when you play it at the same time as the movie The Wizard of Oz, it will sync up in ways that mystify and amaze you. Brace yourself.

***

I heard a Styx song today that somehow filled me with nostalgia and rage at the same time. It was on the radio in my car after I dropped my son off at school this morning. My iPod ran out of batteries, and when I turned on the radio, the song was just beginning. It was that “Babe” song by Styx. Babe, I’m leaving… came pouring out of my car’s speakers, drowning me in sickeningly syrupy vocals and inane, insipid lyrics. Oh my god. It was so bad that I actually got angry listening to it. I had to turn it off. What a ridiculous piece of horse crap. I remember listening to it as a kid. “Mr. Roboto” is a travesty as well. Are you kidding me with these songs, Styx? What’s the deal with airplane food and Styx?

***

I used my laptop to take today’s Self Portrait of the Day. I will probably do this a lot. It’s so much easier than using a camera, and then having load the pictures onto a computer. I can’t believe how easy my laptop makes everything. I already sound so lame and ancient, telling my son tales of how I never had computers or the internet as a child. He just looks at me like I’m boring him when I say such things. That might have something to do with the fact that he’s five, but you know. Whatever. I destroyed my body to bring you into the world; you will act like I’m fascinating, damn it.

I put on lipstick for today’s picture because I never wear make-up anymore, and lipstick is pretty intense. Lotta bang for your twenty seconds spent primping. I usually only take photos of myself when I’m made up to go out somewhere, and these unplanned shots are making me painfully aware of my pasty, washed-out redhead complexion and invisible blonde eyelashes. I’m like an auburn ghost. So yay, lipstick. Today I have lips. No promises for tomorrow.

Also: I’m wearing a convalescence nightgown in today’s picture. I have a healing five-inch-long (I measured it because I’m weird) incision on my lower abdomen right now, so I have to wear nightgowns or dresses; only clothes that don’t rub on the wound.

I took the photo at the top of this blog first. My son came into the office to see what I was doing, and a mother/son photo shoot ensued. I will leave you with some of our goofy shenanigans, wacky hijinks, and madcap tomfoolery below.

Happy Friday, pals. Make it count. I don’t really know what I mean by that, but make it count anyway. You can do it. I believe in you.