Day 6: Progress and Musicals

It’s 10:43pm and I’m just back to the hotel after a long day.

I spent the morning with mom – and dad – at the hospital. Dad and I only argued once when he started commenting on my weight and exercise regime. I told him to “shut the f up” and mom agreed. I’ve always liked her.

Mom had a good day, overall. They removed her 2nd chest tube – which is excellent progress – and she’ll get more tests tomorrow to see how she’s recovering internally.

I left around 12:30 as 3 of her longtime friends were visiting from home. I went to my office (national office) and worked for the afternoon. I was supposed to do “retail therapy” with a colleague, but another colleague asked for my help on something so I didn’t make it.

I left the office just as it started pouring and there wasn’t a cab – or an Uber – in sight. I asked a bellman to help me, but he said he couldn’t because he was helping his residents. Then he mentioned something about Boston & I told him, “that’s where I live!” He told me to take the subway 2 exits and I headed to the station. I was waiting on line for a ticket and suddenly he appeared, metrocard in hand – and helped me into the subway – on his dime! I tried to give him the money i would have paid and he shook his head no. What a lovely human being! It made up for my dick of a taxi driver earlier.

I walked around Times Sq and then headed to see “Come from Away,” which is a delightful musical. I started crying towards the end. I was peacefully with my thoughts and needed to emote.

A lot of you are asking when she is going home, how is she, etc. I don’t have the answers. And if she wasn’t doing well, I don’t want to be the bearer of that news. Bear with us as we navigate uncharted waters.

Probably the highlight of my day was when Mr T texted me that he really misses me. I told him it’s good to be missed.

Thank you for reading. Keep mom in your thoughts, prayers and all that good stuff!

Day 5: Evening Update

Dad and I left the hospital earlier than usual but just as we were leaving, the nurse was coming to help mom walk so Dad stayed, and I left to pick up dinner. We had bagels with lox and cream cheese – our favorite!

Mom was very tired today, in and out of sleep. Her memory is a little foggy so we’ll be talking about something, and the she’ll fall asleep, and then reference something from months ago. I’m sure it’s all the meds they’re pumping into her healing body. As we all know, she’s a sharp-minded lady.

Mom’s friend brought her this delicious-smelling lotion from Kiel’s, so I put some on her swollen feet. My dad is now referring to me as “Pope Lite.” If you know my dad’s twisted sense of humor, you’ll get the reference. I just shook my head at him and said, “oh Dad.”

Tomorrow a few of mom’s close friends are visiting and then I’ll be heading to work for a few hours. In the evening I’m seeing “Come from Away,” which I’ve been dying to see! I can’t promise I’ll stay awake during it but…it’s a chance of scenery.

I still stand by the praise of Sloan Kettering. As someone who picked up CDiff at the (now closed) Quincy hospital, I appreciate a place that constantly scrubs the rooms, floors, and patients!

The doctor who performed her surgery – Dr Jewel – will be doing rounds tomorrow so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see her.

That’s about it for now. Keep up with the prayers and good wishes. We need ’em!

Day 5: Quiet

10am:

Mom is very groggy this morning and feeling less comfortable, but I suppose that is to be expected. I am sitting in the “library” with my laptop, working and getting stuff done.

My poor dad lost one of his hearing aids yesterday – and the battery is nearly dead in the other one – so he has instructed me to speak slowly and look at him while speaking so he can hear me. I referred to us to one of mom’s friends on the phone as a “motley crew.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their support last night via Facebook and subsequently, via messenger and text. Everyone has been very gracias and lovely.

We have our routine down now. I’m checking my steps on my phone and am walking a lot more than usual, which is probably good for my own health. Tonight I am taking a breather, and having dinner & pedis with my friend who lives in the city. She has a puppy so I will enjoy some doggie therapy!

Dad is still catching up with friends and family via phone. He is funny because he shouts on the phone now because of his hearing aids. I told him this, and he told me he shouts for THEIR benefit. Uh huh.

It’s 2pm now. Mom is very sleepy still. She isn’t up for phone calls right now, so if you call her phone, you’ll likely get me. We’re keeping visits to a minimum right now too, FYI.

I have had a surprisingly productive workday today – even scheduled two donor visits next week! And we have a 1pm dismissal on Tuesday, and off for the 4th on Wednesday, so I have no doubt I will be sleeping for about 14 hours then! My hotel bed is super comfy, but there is no place like home!

I told Mr. T that a lot of people know about him now…and “are you ok with this?” I asked. He’s ok with it. Told you he’s a keeper!

Dad took a stroll to get some lunch, so I’m working from mom’s hospital room. Thank goodness I can work remotely! Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I’m heading over to our national office tomorrow so it’ll be good to connect with my colleagues that I usually talk to via Zoom or email.

Ciao for now!

Day 4: Spreading the Word

We’re slowly updating family and friends about mom, layer by layer. I shared this blog on Facebook because it’s a good way to keep everyone informed & up-to-date.

My cousin Pam visited tonight and it was so good to have her with us. She’s just an easy person to be around. She will likely return tomorrow.

Mom talked to several friends on the phone today, which was amazing. They got the scoop directly from the patient herself.

We left around 8pm, and stopped for Japanese food for dinner. Can’t say we’re not eating well this week. Dad and I discussed whether we should feel remorse for eating delicious meals, but we agreed that “we gotta eat.”

Fortunately, the 4-block walk between the hospital & our hotel has some good eats….and 3 pharmacies. I did not visit Duane Reed today for the first time all week!

It’s been a crazy few weeks. One visit to the doctor can alter one’s whole trajectory. The number of people who have been effected by cancer is staggering. It’s all of us. And now, my folks are asking me to look at myself & health differently so I won’t get cancer. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

Somehow life as we know it is forever changed.

Everyone keeps asking about Mr. T! We haven’t been dating long and I don’t want to scare the man away, so I’ll just say that his texts this week have kept me going! Thanks, Mr. T! ❤️

Day 4: Lucid

First and foremost, thank you for all of the support! It means a lot.

Mom is doing well today. She had one chest tube removed, and is a lot more lucid than the past few days. She’s dropping words here & there, but otherwise, her personality is there.

This hospital is amazing. Every staff member, every nurse, every orderly are kind, compassionate, and competent. They love hearing mom and Dad’s stories from Jacoby Hospital in the Bronx, where they met. Dad talks a lot about how much medicine has changed – how he was taught before cat scans – and it’s all teaching me a lot about my folks.

The outpouring of support continues. I wake up to texts, phone calls, and emails asking about mom. I appreciate it when people ask how me & dad are doing too. I’m honest. I tell them I’m exhausted but I’m also in awe of how strong my mom is.

As mom requested, I share her miracle story about how the cancer was found.

Did you all know that mom’s best friend – my second mom – Elaine was treated here too? She also had ovarian cancer. She passed away about 2 years ago. I still picture her with her warm grin and emoting personality, and I do believe she’s here with us in spirit. It’s been really hard for her kids to believe it’s now my mom dealing with this shit. Is it a coincidence or was it something in the water? They lived on the same street for years so it could literally have been something in the water!

If I wasn’t determined to raise money for cancer research before, you bet I am now. One of mom’s doctors went to the Technion. That makes me feel happy!

More later.

Day 3: Part Duex

It’s 9:25pm. Dad and I just had a nice dinner and a stop at TJ Maxx for a few items. We walked under the 59th Street Bridge and sang a little “Feeling Groovy” for cliche sake.

I broke down a bit at dinner – partly from pure exhaustion and partly from thinking about mom. Her doctor told her today she has 6 years of life left in her. On one hand, it’s a gift. And I hope she sticks around many more years beyond. I told her we have to plan a mother/daughter spa trip to Canyon Ranch.

Dad and I lean on each other. My brother is frustrated he’s not here. As soon as he gets back here, I’ll leave & be the frustrated one.

Waiting for my Tylenol PM to kick in.

Day 3: Pizza & Polish

It’s 3pm. Mom is getting a cat-scan to check for any blood clots. I’m chilling in her room, checking work email and trying not to fall asleep.

Dad and I walked to the local pizza shop for lunch. Damn, NYC pizza really is the best.

Then we wandered looking for nail polish remover because apparently, mom’s pretty nails are in the way of them checking her oxygen levels. So later, I’ll be giving her an official hospital make-under.

She’s still doing well, considering she has staples across her abdomen.

Thanks to everyone for the calls, texts, and emails. They’re all appreciated.

Day 2: Recovery Road

Mom is doing remarkably well. She didn’t sleep well last night because the attending doctor gave her Benadryl – which doesn’t agree with her – and she was very ornery this morning. She dozed off and on most of the day, so we told people who wanted to visit to give her some space today.

My brother and sister-in-law left to return to Boston, and they’ll return when I go home on Saturday afternoon.

Dad and I took a stroll in the late afternoon, got a nice lunch, and then sat in a park for a bit to get some fresh air.

When we got back, dad and mom both snoozed – mom, in her hospital bed, and dad, on the chair beside her. I observed and played games on my ipad.

Mom had some solid food – chicken and part of a smoothie (her fave). Guess who cut it up and fed her? My dad was touched that I did that. Just felt like the right thing to do.

Around 7pm we left and walked back to our hotel. We stopped in the bar and had a few drinks with some interesting guys. One is a principal of a school in Gary, Indiana, where he said the average student does not currently go to college, but he’s working on it. Amazing man.

Dad and I are sharing a room – I talked the hotel into upgrading us to a suite so we each have our own domain. He was amazed how little time I spent primping in the bathroom before bed. I told him I’ve become lower maintenance as I’ve gotten older!

So, we each popped our sleeping pills in the hopes we have enough energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

My brother picked up a ticket for a musical for Thursday night, so that gives me something to look forward to. And, Mr T will pick me up from the train on Saturday. It’ll be good to hug him again!

Goodnight and probably see you here tomorrow!

Post-Op

My mom is seriously a superhuman rock star. After 7 hours of surgery yesterday, she is alert, awake, and her old self (mentally).

I spent about 6 hours with her today at the hospital. She’s got color in her cheeks and we talked most of the day. I continued to play assistant to her as friends & family continued to flood in the calls & texts. I spoke with her Cantor, her friend the Nun, her best friend from her 20s, her former Rabbi, and more. Mr T checked in, of course.

Around 2pm I hit a wall and left shortly thereafter, strolling down 1st Ave towards our hotel. I picked up a NYC bagel & lox sandwich, and headed back to my room, which is a king suite tonight. We’ve had to switch rooms 3 times because we’ve been extending our stay, so tonight, dad & I live like “kings” in our suites. Tomorrow we economize and begin sharing a double room. I hope he can handle my plethora of cosmetics.

My brother and his posse went to see a musical matinee. They’ve had the tickets for months. I asked them to get me one for one night this week so I can have a few hours of the “NYC” experience one night. I may even hit up the Times Sq Sephora and M&M stores just because. They leave tomorrow so it’ll be me & Dad against the world for the remainder of the week.

Waiting.

Today was probably the best and worst day of my life.

Mom and Dad arrived at Sloan Kettering around 5am for surgery prep. She went in around 7:30, and by 8:30, she was under anesthesia & her surgery began.

Having arrived at 1am from Boston, I managed to get up and arrive by 9am to meet my dad who was in need of company.

We got breakfast and then, slowly, everyone else arrived: my sister-in-law’s parents, my brother & sister-in-law, my nephew, and finally, my 1st cousin (mom had a brother who passed away in the early 2000’s – this is his eldest son). We took over a whole alcove in the waiting room.

My phone blew up all day. I must’ve heard from 20+ people via all forms of communication, including text, phone, email, Facebook, and more. It was mom’s network checking in – a rabbi, a nun, her bridge friend, my aunt, friends that might as well be family at this point…you name it. And my own support system checked in. I texted all day. It’s 10:30pm and they’re still coming in! Let’s face it, my mom is loved.

When I wasn’t playing assistant to my mother, we all talked about everything from coding to politics to cancer to my budding relationship with Mr T.

About every 1.5 hours, a nurse would come down and update us.

If I can remember, over the course of the surgery, which lasted roughly from 8:30am-6pm, the doctor removed aggressive ovarian cancer cells from: diaphragm, stomach, lymph nodes, appendix (removed), gall bladder (removed), reproductive system (removed), bladder…I hope I got it all. Crazy, huh? Apparently the cancer didn’t want to leave her bladder. That was one of the trickiest parts.

Listen, my mom had barely any symptoms! She had a little pressure on her bladder so she got checked out by her urologist. And it turns out the poor lady was full of cancer!

Here’s why the day ended so brightly. The doctor performed beautifully and removed the visible cancer. Imagine if mom hadn’t gone to the urologist? Who knows how long it would have taken for symptoms to show since these weren’t her “key” organs?

We had a few minutes with her post-surgery. She looked great! She was loopy but “with it.”

Dad and I will be staying here near the hospital for the week. I’ll head back next Saturday.

You never know how your life can change in an instant. Buy the shoes!

The Abyss

Mom went to see her doctor today and she said she saw spots of cancer in other places. That’s not good. I didn’t get into it with her but it is terribly worrying.

Still working 12-14 hour days this week. Tomorrow will be the doozy. Meeting at 1. Hosting a dinner with a professor & Board Members at 6:30. Flight to NYC at 10:30pm. Then mom’s surgery is Friday at 7:30am. I took Friday off from work, which I am glad that I did.

I’ve loaded up my iPad with movies, bought 4 books to read & then give to mom, and packed my most comfy clothes.

I saw Mr T the last 2 evenings for dinner, and then we said goodbye for about 1.5 weeks. It’s amazing how quickly someone can become so important in your life. He’s been so supportive.

So, soon, we step into the abyss of cancer & Sloan Kettering. I appreciate you staying along for the journey.

Sunday Funday

Thank you to those of you who have reached out. It means a lot.

It’s Sunday and I’ve been busy working off & on all weekend to keep up with everything for work. My body and brain are pooped out. I have 4 “bumper to bumper” days at work and then I hop on the last flight out of Boston to NYC on Thursday so that I can accompany my folks to Sloan in the morning for mom’s surgery.

My dad bumped into his Rabbi this morning on a walk and filled him in on what is going on. See, my mom chairs the “caring” committee, so when someone is in this type of situation, guess who visits the family, brings them meals, drives them to appointments? Yep, my mother. So, what do you do when the chair of the caring network needs caring? I hope the congregants have learned by example!

My dad is so happy I’ll be there in the waiting room with him. He said that because so many people want to wait for her in the waiting room, perhaps the dr should consider moving to Lincoln Center? Such the jokester!

I’m doing laundry, trying to think about what I might need, and will plan to just bring a little bit of everything.

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Walden Behavioral Center, for a room full of people struggling with eating disorders. I had a chance to fill in my friend from MEDA about mom and dr’s suggestion to get bariatric surgery. She told me about a few people who’ve written about it, so I’ll be busy reading & researching next week. The thought of ditching my cpap and constant fatigue is appealing. But I need to be diligent about making sure it’s right for me.

Having this blog has been so helpful. Thanks for sticking with me.

Jacked up on Triple Espressos

Mom told me I didn’t need to come for her surgery. She knew I had a busy week at work. “You’ll come after my surgery, ” she said. “Really, we’ll have a full house. No need to come.”

Dad did not agree. “I want you to be here. The doctor will come out of surgery with news and you need to be here with us, as a family.”

I asked my colleague to cover a luncheon for me on the day of the surgery. She graciously agreed, and I bought a one way ticket to NY, keeping it open for when I return. I asked my boss if I could work remotely next week. He said, of course.

So we wait. Mom makes the most of her week and we pray like hell that it’s not, frankly, fatal.

I’m so fortunate to have Mr. T’s support. I don’t honestly know what I’d do without him. It’s only been about a month, but he has become such an important presence in my life. Not to be crass, but it’s like having a best friend you like to kiss. Seriously, it is the best of both worlds in one person.

It is so strange to be falling for someone while you’re in such personal pain. Literally – I was also diagnosed today with a damaged esophagus and recommended to have bariatric surgery. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

I’ve been working 12, 13 hour days – and weekends – to keep up with my tremendous workload in the office. My assistant quit so I’m covering a lot of her work in the interim.

Frankly, I’m exhausted. I rarely sleep at night – tossing and turning – and walk around like a zombie, jacked up on triple espressos from Starbucks.

How do you get through these rough patches?

I’m trying – I’m going to hear a favorite band tonight with my brother & sister in law. Tomorrow I’m sharing my recovery story at a local eating disorder clinic – I look at it as permission to cry. And Sunday–I’ve promised myself I can stay in pjs all day. Mr T will be visiting me on Sunday evening after he drops his kids at their mom’s place. I’ll get laundry done and pack for NY.

I also get through things by writing about it here. It’s not hard for me to open up but it is hard to ask for help. I’m sinking and feel very alone. If you reach out, chances are it will help. I’d even accept some “empty sorries” rather than silence.

(Since I wrote this, 3 of you have reached out. Thank you!)

Empty Sorries

So, I’ve had a few subsequent conversations about my post where I mention “empty sorries.” I just wanted to clarify a few things. While I do appreciate my friends offering their sympathy, I’m just requesting that the onus not be put on me. Like I said, I don’t know what you can do to help. And if I tell you, will you actually do it?

Two of my friends who read this blog reached out. One gave me some really great, sound advice. The other listened as I talked.

And I shared the post with my mom, who seemed to like it and said I get my writing talent from her.

And finally, I will reiterate: I’m allowed to have my feelings, good or bad. I’m also allowed to write them here because it is my blog. It doesn’t mean I’m right. It doesn’t mean I don’t reserve the right to change my opinion later. It just means that today – in this moment – this is how I am feeling.

Toodles!

The Secrets We Carry

secretWow, Kate Spade. Kate took her own life yesterday by hanging herself with a scarf on her doorknob. You have to think that her mind and psyche must have been pretty traumatized to take her own life in such a manner. You wonder – what if she had asked for help? What if she reached out? What would have happened? While she did leave a note, she didn’t leave behind what she was thinking the moment she felt like there was no way out but death.

The truth is that we don’t know what others are thinking. We may glance at Facebook periodically and see our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances post what I refer to as a “slice of life” – a photograph of one moment in time – when life is actually made up of 60 moments per minute. You may see a smiling family on FB. But what happens when the cameras are off? Is that family still smiling? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m carrying two secrets right now. You won’t see me talk about them on Facebook. But I’ll talk about them here as this is my place to say, frankly, whatever I want to say.

First I am dating someone who is very special to me. You guys know that I have dated a lot. Heck, I wrote a blog about them for years. But this person – who has asked that I refer to him as Mr. T on my blog (you happy now?) – who I have only known for a few short weeks – is clearly a keeper. He’s smart, kind, funny, and the best part? He likes me!

The second secret isn’t so happy. My mom was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor last week. While it hasn’t been confirmed cancerous, she is nearly positive that will be the result based upon her many years in the healthcare profession (namely, hospice and cancer support). Ironically, her job was to support people going through what she is going through. So, in true mom fashion, she’s going through the steps to ensure she gets the best care. What I like is that her head isn’t in the sand. She’s actively taking all the right steps to get the best care possible.

I go through many emotions. Sometimes I just start crying thinking about it, and then other times, I just try not to overreact until we know more. I told my mom that I emailed my therapist about what is going on – because I said, “You’re the person I usually talk to about this stuff, and this time, it’s about you!” Mom said I can always talk to her. But the reality is: she’s going to have a lot of stuff going on and probably doesn’t need to hear about my stuff right now. So, it’s good to have an outlet. Plus, I now have Mr. T. Man, that nickname makes me laugh!

I’m not writing this blog post so that you’ll reach out and tell me you’re sorry about mom. I’m going to be honest – those “sorries” feel incredibly empty right now. I’ve gotten a few “I’m sorry.” or “Let me know what I can do to help.” What do I want to say in response? “Great, can you go back in time and remove the tumor so mom doesn’t have to go through this?” The answer is no, so at this point, there is nothing anyone can do except the doctors at Sloan Kettering. I’m not asking you to ignore the sadness we all feel but empty sorries don’t help either. They feel like lip service. Actions speak louder than words. My mom may need chemo. Her hairdresser said that she’d go wig shopping with her. Now that’s an action! I like her so much already and don’t even know her. (Mr. T, a note to you: this isn’t about you. You’re the best!)

Both my mom and I are action-oriented people. Do stuff. Help out. No empty sorries.

I didn’t know what direction this blog post would go, but it helps for me to write stuff out. You have to understand that we’re all in shock and our lives are forever shaken. So if I write something unsettling, all you have to do is stop reading.

I’ll use this as a place to update on things – Mr T, mom, and the like.

Thank you for reading, contemplating, and perhaps taking an action. But if you don’t, it’s ok. Just knowing you’re reading is enough for me at this point!

Freedom

I had a realization yesterday while walking from my office parking lot into the building. I was wearing a dress and tights but no spanx-like product underneath my dress. For those of you who don’t know what a spanx-like product is, it is basically the modern version of a girdle. You know what I mean: those spandex bike shorts in nude or black that we’re encouraged to wear under pants, skirts, and dresses to smooth out our lumps, bumps, bits, and pieces. I can’t remember when I started wearing them, but I definitely know, as I’ve grown up in a variety of shapes, I’ve owned them in size M, L, XL, and 2XL.

I last wore my undergarment a few weeks ago. I had on a dress with control top tights and a pair of bike shorts over my tights. Needless to say, I was sucked in. When I got home at the end of the day, I took off my layers and my stomach was killing me. I never thought about what I was doing to my body – squishing my outer layers into a tiny garment while likely squishing some internal organs as well. Ouch!

I was so relieved when I freed my body.

So, when yesterday came about, I must have been subtly channeling that pain I recently felt and I didn’t even attempt to put on my bike shorts – just a pair of cozy black tights to keep my legs warm on a wintry day.

And you know what happened? Nothing. The sky didn’t fall. The oceans didn’t overflow. The volcanoes stayed silent. It was not a big deal to skip the bike shorts. Actually, the results were likely positive: no pain and I never once thought that my stomach is protruding more than I’d like. The reality is that I am a women with curves, and a pair of bike shorts aren’t going to mask that.

I know I will return to them in the summer as they make wearing a summer dress more comfortable, but I will not be looking at them as a way to suck in my body anymore.

Freedom.

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The Gifts of Imperfection

A few hours ago, about 15 miles away, author and psychologist Brene Brown took the stage at a conference and spoke, likely, about her newest book and research. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience her lecture in person, but there are plenty of her past interviews and talks to listen to online.

brownI can’t remember, but I feel like I’ve probably written about brown in the past. I first learned about her if you jobs ago when we read the book “Daring Greatly,” which focuses on vulnerability. It particularly resonated with me because she discusses that when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, we can help eliminate the shame we feel about our imperfections.

I recently purchased Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection” to help me continue on the path to “knock down” and remove the power of my so-called perfectionism. You see, perfectionists like myself aim to be good at everything – or, at least on the surface – so that we don’t have to deal with the shame or hurt feelings as a result of making a mistake or being imperfect.

My past history with an eating disorder clearly matches up with a perfectionist personality. When I didn’t want to feel, I would attempt to numb my pain with food. Well, guess what, that didn’t work!

Through years of hard work, I’ve been able to tackle my perfectionism and exist with my feelings – good or bad. But, let me tell you, it is hard!

I listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast where she interviewed Brown. Listen. Trust me, it’ll be 30 minutes well spent. And there is a part two!

Brown mentioned something that has been resonating with me all day. She said that we don’t pair “joy” with “gratitude” enough. We need to take the time to relish the good things that happen every day, whether it is the wind on our face as we open our sunroof and windows on a beautiful day….or the company of a good friend over an unexpected lunch date….or a morning with little traffic on the way to work.

I can tell that I’m conquering my perfectionism. I made a silly mistake today at work – no big deal and typical for someone still learning their job after only being there for 3-weeks. I am not obsessing over it the way I would have in the past. I acknowledged it with an “oy vey!” and moved on (besides writing about it here!). In the past it would have kept me from sleeping at night – this silly little thing that means nothing in the scheme of life. But tonight, I will not let it fester. I will work hard to let it go!

I will continue to look for things in Brown’s writing and research that resonate. I look forward to discovering more of her wisdom and using it to grow as a person.

Now, go out and dare greatly!

The Importance of Good Sleep

cea1e377395511529d66103cf19c6183Every have one of those good night’s sleep where you wake up so refreshed and energized? I know. Seems to good to be true, right? I remember having one of those nights and just feeling so incredibly content the next day.

Sadly, for me, it has been a very long time.

I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in several years now. I don’t always remember waking up at night, but I can guarantee you that, every morning, no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, I wake up exhausted. For years I suppressed this and chalked it up to stress, but more recently, I’ve realized it is like due to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, according to WebMD, ” is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep….sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain– and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”

Woah! You wake up 100 or more times during the night? Well, no wonder I feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning! And you stop breathing? Double woah. That’s scary. I remember when I went on a cruise and was matched with a roommate as part of a “singles” trip, she commented, “It’s so cute. You stop breathing during the night!” I responded, “That’s not cute – that’s sleep apnea!”

Imagine the crap I’ve been doing to my brain all of this time. And, other side effects include: high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and headaches. That’s some scary, serious stuff.

I’ve done an “at home” sleep study and the results came up inconclusive. What is the reason I’ve held off doing the “in hospital” study? One reason: money. It is going to cost me between $2,000-$3,000 after insurance kicks in. For those of us who have been on a fixed budget, that’s daunting. But, I’ve spoken with the sleep center and I can go on a payment plan.

I realize now that this is something I must do. I can’t go on walking around like a zombie all of the time. I seriously never feel rested. For years. It’s terrible.

I can’t wait to write about this in the near future and comment on how I don’t know what I did before I got a CPAP, which is the machine that delivers oxygen to you while you sleep.

Sweet dreams, dear readers!

 

 

 

External Forces 

It’s been a tearful week–sometimes joyful, moreso, not. I’m working hard to treat myself kindly and respectfully, but it’s hard to fight the external forces that are cruel and unkind. There is a potential light at the end of this emotional tunnel, but it is somewhat out of my control. The light symbolizes growth, focus, and reprieve from the unkind forces. Unfortunately I’m surrounded by the unkind forces despite my best efforts to leave them behind. I long to leave them behind without looking back. 

I blame myself. How did I get here again? And, how can I escape these dark forces?

I have started believing that I don’t deserve to be treated with respect because of these outside forces – you’re not good enough, you don’t work hard enough, you need time for yourself & we don’t accept that. 

I am fighting hard against these forces and need to believe I will come out, on the other end, unscathed and at peace.

I am determined.

Self Worth

df12f790163687ca82751dc370d9baafSelf worth. What does that mean? It’s not self esteem, but rather, it is more about feeling worthy.

I’ll admit it. There are days that I can feel little worth. I come home from work, defeated, because I waited all day for a “thank you” or a”good job” or a smile.

And I got nothing.

According to an article on PsychAlive,  studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.

Jennifer Crocker, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research,  did a study of 600 college students during their Freshman year. Their self esteem was pretty high, in general. Go frosh!

When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence, 77 percent said their family’s support, 66 percent said doing better than others, and 65 percent–70 percent of which were women–said their appearance.

Yikes. Lots of external factors. The people who focused more on external praise had….more stress, anger…..alcohol and drug use, as well as more symptoms of eating disorders. Ding. Ding. Ding. Yep. Yep. That’s me.

21b04491a57abbd3937c074608303830But I’m not a college freshman. I’m a 42-year-old woman who is still working on conquering perfectionism and finding her self worthiness from external sources.

So how what to do? Dr. Lisa Firestone called it our “inner critic.” How does one quash the inner critic and just embrace ourselves as we are?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is to focus on self care and less on my people pleasing. It’s hard, especially for those people who are use to me puckering up to them all of these years. But I have to be honest. My true friends…the people that really care about me….are encouraging me to do this. They aren’t challenging me looking out for myself. They’re actually supporting it.

Baby steps.

Fight for our right.

I was just writing an angry email to my mother – the only person I really open up to about my political views namely because we think alike – and I thought to myself, “I wish I had a forum to vent about political stuff” and I realized that I do – my blog!

I was just venting about the current administration working on repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood. Both make me so incredibly angry! As someone who benefited from so-called “Obamacare” when I was in between jobs, I found it to be incredibly important to have health insurance that wasn’t connected to employment. I was able to get a flu shot, stay on my medications, and seek medical care if needed.

And don’t get me started about Planned Parenthood! I wish the men advocating to defund PP would take a few minutes to learn about all of the things that PP does for our community. Some PP don’t even perform abortions, but rather, they offer healthcare options to college students, young mothers, and everyone in between. I went to PP when I first moved back to Boston because I hadn’t found a dr yet that I liked. I knew I needed annual tests so it was easy just to go there until I found a doctor. I know it is TMI to say I was just there for healthcare, but I’m just one example of thousands who benefited from PP’s services.

I can’t get into this stuff on Facebook because Trump supporters use it as an opportunity to throw stones at you. This isn’t about Trump. This is about women’s rights. I don’t tell you what you can do with your body, so don’t tell me what I can do with mine. Simple at that.

Phew, I feel better….for a minute.

Bad Medicine

There’s a simple reason why my last several blog post were a bunch of Debbie Downers. I was taking a very potent medication that, apparently, my body didn’t like. Over time, unbeknownst to us that the pills were doing more harm than good, my doctor slowly increased the dose, egged on by me because it was helping me lose weight. Little did we know that once we hit 50 milligrams, my body was going to completely rebel! As a result I was having abnormal anxiety that often turned into full blown panic attacks out of the blue. 
Like, for example, I would be sitting in my office & suddenly my hands would begin to shake uncontrollably. And my mind would split into a million directions. And I would frantically feel my heart begin to race. And pound. And I’d feel hot and anxious.

I couldn’t imagine life going on like that.

I rushed to my doctor’s office and we agreed: no more bad medicine!

Looking back, I am so relieved that we figured out what was causing my terrible feelings and anxiety. I feel so much like myself again–calmer, more “even”–if there is a calm version of me to be had!

Life is good.

Are you self-loathing?

download.jpegI’ve had a terrible epiphany recently. I’m a bit of a self-loather. Yep, horrible, huh? No matter what I accomplish in my life, I focus on the small mistakes and let them fester.

I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I can still remember bad things people have said about me from middle school. I can remember incidents at various jobs where I’ve done something or said something I regret, and I still beat myself up over it, including one specific incident from 2005 – almost 12 years ago!

But, as this article from Huff Post states, self-loathing is learned. One sign, says the article is that, “you set your hopes low to decrease the chances of failing.” I do this every day, but I refer to it as “self-preservation from disappointment.” I recently applied for a prestigious fellowship but I’ve already told already, “Don’t expect me to get it. It’s very competitive.” Or, I’ve applied for jobs in the past and said the same thing.

The article also says that you are self-loathing if you “You apologize for every little thing.” Holy shit. I’ve always thought I do this because I’m a women in leadership and have been put down pretty much my entire career. This is why I think I work so hard – to overcompensate for the cruel treatment I’ve received from some previous managers over the years. But I do apologize a lot! If I earned a dollar every time I’ve written “Many apologies…” in a work email, I’d be independently wealthy!

The article next discusses: “You try to motivate your work using tough love.” I am constantly punishing myself, making myself work harder and harder because I never believe what I’m doing is good enough. I am tough on myself! And then I make myself feel guilty when I take a break from work..or plan a vacation..but the good news is that I enjoyed my vacation this past September with no baggage. Pure joy!

Sign. Next up in the article: “You place emphasis on the times you are wrong.” Yep, yep, yep, and yep. See above.

Ok. We get it. I am a clear cut case.

Now, what do I do about it?

Simple. It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it’s all about forgiveness and self-compassion. One of the things I try to do is put myself in other people’s shoes…it helps…and also to recognize that just because my mind is going there, doesn’t mean it is fact.

This article gives some great tips, including embracing being “good enough.” Still working on that.

The other thing I do about it? I write about it here – admitting it openly is a big step for me towards letting it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My non-New Year’s Resolutions

goals.jpgMy dear friend emailed me last week and said that he found that when he shared goals for the New Year with others, he was able to achieve them because others held him accountable. So, I’m game! I sent him my 2017 – and beyond –  goals (listed below) but I am also posting them on my blog for those of you to read and hold me accountable. They are not New Year’s Resolutions. They are things I’ve been working on for a while now and will continue to pursue in 2017.
1. Be kinder to myself and focus on self care when I need it.
2. Stick with taking my weight management medication but don’t be angry with myself if I gain some weight back…it will ebb and flow.
3. Focus on my career goals and don’t let your others make you feel like you are less than you are. Work towards your goal of becoming a leader of an organization.
4. Don’t let your work dominate your life in 2017. Make time for dating, relationships, friendships, love.
5. Keep up with the journey on keeping your home clean. Remember, you’re doing it for you.
What are your goals for this year…and beyond?

Looking up at the glass ceiling, still intact.

When her husband heads out of town on business, one of my college besties often taps me to come over after work for dinner and help her get her two adorably-precious daughters ready for bed. I look forward to these special evenings, as I get to spend some quality time with her 5 and 8 year olds, and of course, catch up with my gal pal.

I just got home from one of these evenings. After work, I hopped into the terrible Boston traffic – mind racing in a million directions – to have some sushi followed by an episode of Cake Boss.

Of course, the 2016 Presidential election was top of mind tonight. As I watched the girls doing their gymnastics routines for me, I couldn’t help but think of how, if things had happened differently, we would have been celebrating the first female President – Hillary Clinton – and how we had finally shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. But instead I tried to distract my mind from ruminating about my fears, the uncertainty that many of us are feeling, after Donald Trump won the Presidency.

Frankly I still feel like I’m living in some alternative universe because I can’t allow my brain to process what lies ahead. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night – maybe 2am or 3am – sporadically checking CNN.com or Facebook. But when another state was called for Trump, and the map of the US kept getting redder and redder, my fear took over and I closed my eyes for some relief. I woke up a few hours later – about 6:30am – and looked immediately at CNN.com with a glimmer of hope – and saw a large photo of Donald Trump that said “President Elect.” My heart sank. My mind started racing. I went back to Facebook and posted this:

Not feeling like America is so great again. Feeling sad, scared, and concerned about what’s to come. My only solace is that I live in a progressive state like MA. Trying not to let my mind imagine the worst; I’m committed to doing what I can to fight for my rights as a woman, as a Jew, and as an ally. For those of you posting that we should support whomever won – I reserve the right to grieve first for the civil liberties that may be lost.

I’ve often associated with the term “minority” being Jewish in the US – we make up less than 2% of the population. And being a woman is tricky – we’ve come far, but we still make about 70 cents on the dollar to men (in general) – and we have a long way to go in terms of filling leadership positions…although I do have to say that the pay inequality between men and women is not applicable at my current workplace, and two of the three senior leaders at my nonprofit are women….so that’s positive.

I want to keep an open mind going forward with our new President Elect. I really do. I don’t want to protest or complain or sign petitions. I want to move ahead. But the unknown is keeping my mind racing:question-mark10-1

  • Will our religious freedoms – for Jews, for Muslims – be compromised?
  • Will Trump follow through with building a wall between the US and Mexico?
  • Will immigrants start disappearing as they are deported?
  • Will the right to choose what I do with my own body remain legal?
  • Will Planned Parenthood not be able to provide free or subsidized cancer screenings?
  • Will I have to worry about being sexually harassed in the workplace because our “President does it, so why can’t I?”
  • Will all pharmacists gain the right to prevent me and my fellow women from obtaining birth control?
  • Will unemployment skyrocket?
  • Will I lose my job because arts funding dries up?

I thought it was important to document my questions so that I can hopefully look back soon and say, “All that worry was for nothing.” I hope that when my friend taps me to return to help with her children that their lives are relatively unchanged other than typical growing pains.