Saturday, September 16, 2017

{The World Turned Upside Down}

Death day has rolled around again and my feelings about it are far more ambivalent than I expected them to be.

Most of me feels like I should be the happiest camper in the world because as Dr. Ahari my pulmonologist said, all of this time is extra. Today marks five whole years of extra time.

I'm not going to lie. That sounds like the shiniest thing in all the land, but extra time is just as much of a burden as it is a blessing. I have often heard in the last five years that I was saved for a reason and trying to figure out what that reason is is the hardest thing I've ever had to do! I often find myself wondering if the extra time is actually worth it.

There are so many sparkly, shiny things in my life that I try to remember when those thoughts invade my headspace. I have the most amazing family anyone could possibly ask for. My brother and sister-in-law let me invade their space on the reg and FaceTime with me at least once a week. My niece and nephews play wegos (legos), sing silly songs, giggle uncontrollable, and make me happier than almost anything else. My dad texts me every day just to remind me that I am loved. My baby sis and brother-in-law keep me laughing on the reg with memes, jokes, and the best pure, unadulterated sarcasm. My big sis keeps me rolling always with a shoulder to lean on and a space to be truly myself. My mom is my light and lifeline. She is willing to answer my phone calls at a whisper while stepping out of a meeting just for me. (And she's kind of a big deal, so that means I'm kind of a big deal to her.) I have incredible support from extended family as well. I have the best aunts, uncles, cousins and their babies who are incredible delights.

I  am so so so lucky to have found many families of choice in my lifetime. From Utah to D.C. to Iowa, I have met and been loved by so many who I have needed and relied on.

Tons of things changed that day five years ago. Things I never even thought of until I sat down and actually pondered it. I know that this is my new normal, but it is weird to think about the person that I was, the person that I am now, and how having almost walked into the bright light has fundamentally changed who I am.

I am going to continue to try and find the sparkly, shiny things in life. It's difficult but I can't imagine going through the next five years in a cloud of gloom. I'm going to work my face off to keep myself above the surface.

Friday, January 27, 2017

{Precious People Profile Part 1}

Last minute picture!
In the interesting of loving more (And blogging more. Let's be honest, I've sucked in that category.), I have decided to do profiles on my precious people. I have a lot. I have so many people to love that sometimes I forget how many. For Precious People Part 1 I would like to introduce you all to my favorite brother. My only brother, but still by far my favorite. He recently came and spent a week with me in frozen Iowa. I took approximately one picture to show for it right as we walked out the door of my apartment to take him to the airport.

I have a problem.

You bet your booties that we had plenty of shenanigans though! We mostly sat and drove and ate. That's how he and I roll. And it's legit the best way to roll. We went to all the best restaurants in town and even took a tour of the John Deere factory that is near my house! He also introduced me to my new most favorite TV show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If you don't mind the most terrible people in all of the land, it should be your new favorite show too!

He also helped me realize my vision of the gorgeous washi tape dispenser you see to your left. Isn't it pretty? He cut the dowels for me so I would have enough room for my obsessive collection. He didn't even mind going to the craft store with me. :) We even went to more than one. He's too legit to quit.

Nothing better than being with my boys.
Let me tell you why he is Precious Person Number One. He is kind. He is thoughtful. He is handy AF. He is funny. I never have more fun than when I am with him. He cares about people deeply and would do almost anything for anyone. He produces the most beautiful children known to man and then he is so amazing that they are obsessed with him. In fact, when he was here to visit me, he hadn't been here more than a few hours when we got a FaceTime call from his home with his ginger-headed five year old asking, "Can you come home nooooooooow?"

Baby PJ!

They didn't want to be away from him even for a minute. He is passionate about things that are important to him and the hardest worker that I know.


Anderson Ray!

Jo Jo!

Check the look on the baby's face!

I once was very sick. (You've heard about it.) I tried to tell him that he shouldn't drive the five hours from his home to mine just to have to turn around a drive back to be on time for work. After the second or third phone call he told me, "It's not a choice Meg." He literally drove down five hours to make sure I was okay, stay for a couple of hours, and drive the five hours back. He has always been there for me. Ready and willing to do what he can. He took a week off of work in 2015 to move me halfway across the country. He is literally the greatest.

Best. Family. Photo. Ever.
I am grateful that he is my brother every day. I am grateful that he (and his wife) let me crash their lives sometimes when I'm a little sad and need a boost. I have, on more than one occasion, called them up and asked if I could fly out for a long weekend. I am grateful that Thanksgiving is Aunt Megan Week and I always feel welcomed and loved. I am grateful that he loves to get in the car and drive. I am grateful that he loves to go on adventures. I am grateful that he is raising the best kids, and that he picked the best wife. I love him more than I will ever be able to say. 


I love these peeps!
He is my first Precious Person because he is literally the best at loving and living and being my person. He is the best dad, the best son, the best husband and by far the very best brother. Nate, I love you to the moon and back and am sooooooooooooooo grateful for you!

(Mostly photo creds go to Kate!)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

{I Wish You Would Step Back From That Ledge}

Trigger warning: Self-harm, worthiness, dramatics

I recently had what one might call an incident, or an episode, or suicidal ideation. I'm not sure what one might call it. I've had a couple in my lifetime but this was one of the worst. And in the spirit of the raw and real blog I'm writing these days, I want to send it out there to the universe and see if it helps.

I have always had what one might call a heightened sense of emotion. If the average person runs at 50% emotion all the time, I run at 900%. I also feel like I get let down a lot. Mostly by God, (or whoever/whatever is in the sky) but by other people as well. I'm kind of a sucker too. I often let people trample me, so I don't make any waves.

I am not by any means the most compassionate nor thoughtful person in the world but I have spent years of therapy and countless nights and days worrying about how what I do impacts other people. I would never want to put someone out. I would never want to not honor a commitment that I had made. But the rough part of all of that is that I expect that same courtesy back from other people and I don't always get it. Then because I have too many feelings ALL. THE. TIME. I spiral right on down into the tragedy that I feel my life is.

The previous paragraphs were written in February and never published, but I've been thinking about them a lot lately and thought I would publish them now because I am a little older and not so much wiser, but have slightly more insight into myself. I think.

Feeling let down is something I feel a lot. Just when I think that I have picked myself back up it feels as though I get knocked right down again. I recently suffered an excruciating personal and professional blow that in my estimation came from out of the clear blue. Someone who I trusted, respected and even loved decided that they thought I wasn't worth the air I breathe. And then decided to let me know all of the reasons why in written form so I could re-read them obsessively for the next few months.

Just as I had thought I was getting into my stride in a new position, in a new town, in a new body (no more baby maker, remember?) this person came a long and not only knocked me out of the way, but then chose to stomp on ALL my feelings like they were trying their darnedest to make some Megan flavored wine. The let down I suffered in February was nothing compared to the next setback.

When things like this happen to an average person, I'm sure that they are upset. I'm sure that it affects them. I'm sure that they are hurt and wish it had never happened. When things like this happen to me, I wish I had never happened. I don't say that to garner sympathy or for people to tell me how great I am and how sad they would be if I weren't around because logically I get it. I get that I need people and they need me. I get attachment. But when I am in the throes of my 900% feelings compounded with something that feels tragic, I wish I could go back to that sidewalk in 2012 and not wake back up.

Of course that would mean I wouldn't have met my gorgeous nephew PJ. It would mean I wouldn't have moved to Iowa to meet the glorious and delicious people that I know here. It would mean that the things I experienced in the last 4ish years wouldn't have happened and along with the bad, there are SO MANY good and wonderful things that have happened.

It's hard to describe when you look at life through that lens, but once you have touched the other side, it is so so so hard to think that anything that happens here could be better than being relieved of all your pain.

So that's where I end up. I can think and know and cherish all of the wonderful people, things and experiences in my life, but always and forever at the back of my mind is the thought that I wouldn't know what I was missing, and that it would have been okay to let go. 

Then when someone you trust decides to take your heart out of your chest and hook it up to a stick of dynamite and blow it to smithereens, you really wish you would have let go. All of those fantastic things don't matter anymore. You can't think of anything except not existing. Something that wasn't an option before you experienced it. But then you did. And there are no backsies. I can't go back to that street corner in 2012 and change what happened there.

So I get up everyday. I read the love text my daddy sends me every morning and I march myself into work where I feel valued. I hug and laugh and lunge with people that I love and who love me. That's all I can do. That's all I know how to do. And someday, I hope it will be enough to keep be from wanting nothingness.

Because after all, love conquers hate.

Friday, February 12, 2016

{Had My Back Before I Had My Own}

This beauty is my mother. I have been thinking about her lately and about how darn lucky I am that she is mine. As you all I'm sure are aware, unless you live under a rock in the forest somewhere that the holidays have just passed us by and I had the good fortune to be able to spend it with this lady. (Yep, I just said good fortune. I'm 97.) I have so many favorite things about her it might hurt my little pingers to type them all.

First off let's start with the fact that she is brilliant. She graduated with her masters degree in Social Work at the tender (yup, tender) age of just 21. What a wee little babe to know what she wanted, and to go and get it! Also, I don't know about you but school is hard. Super hard. And she even graduated with one of those laude things. Don't ask me which one but I'm sure it was the highest one because of the sheer brilliance that is Catherine.

She is one of the kindest, most caring, compassionate people I have ever met in my entire life. And I'm a crazy person that talks to ALL the people so I've met a crap ton of them. She works in a profession where she helps people to become healthy; mind, and body. She cares so much about the clients that she meets with and about the people that she serves. She even saw a need in our community and co-wrote a program for a pre-school for children with autism that has helped hundreds of children be able to articulate their needs and participate in their communities. It's kind of a big deal. She also dreamed up, and followed through on a facility for teenagers who have some trouble in life. She got the grant, found the space, built the building (In theory. I'm sure there were some muscly men in the mix.), and oversees it now that it's up and running. She's a super grant-write, an awesome boss, (I know lots of peeps who work for her, and I don't think they would lie to me. But if they did I will punch them right in their bits.), and a fantastic community leader! In fact she is quite literally Utah County's TREASURE. You heard it. I said it. She has a giant statue that could probably kill a man if you stabbed him with it that has her name on it. She is also a super nice lady and probably wouldn't stab anyone.

She is driven. The lady never stops. She gets up early (and I mean EARLY) to hit up her local religious space and then to get fit with the ladies at Zumba. She spends her days helping our community to be mentally healthy and often works into the evenings. She even cooks dinner for hundreds of people some weeks for an awesome program that helps families strengthen their bonds around the dinner table. One thing we always did was eat together, and I can only imagine how much that model is helping others. She does all of that and then comes home to take care of my daddy who is the loveliest person ever, but can sometimes be a little cranky. (Love you daddy! ;)) And on top of everything she does where she lives, she still always makes the time for me to call and have a nervous breakdown on the phone whenever I need her.

She loves. So. Hard. She is the best grandma around. Always finding joy in the pictures and videos that get sent from across the country, and going to see them every chance she gets. She came to see me many times when I lived in D.C. and when I got sick in Iowa last summer she made three trips in two months to make sure I was taken care of. There are a million things I love about her visits, but one of the things that I love the most is that she holds my hand. Whether we are walking down the National Mall checking out cool monuments, or laying in bed commiserating about how sad I think my life is, she is always there, reaching out. I love that. I love her.

I hope everyone gets to meet this mom of mine someday. I know my life is brighter with her in it and I am so so so so so SO grateful that I landed in her embrace. I wouldn't change a thing about her. Mommy, I love you to Pluto and back because it's much farther than the moon.

Monday, December 7, 2015

{I Wanna Have Your Babies}

I have been the luckiest girl this past Thanksgiving week! I got to see my babies in DC and my babies in Pennsylvania. I don't think it gets better than that.

Guess who he was actually pointing at?
I started off my weekend in DC at National Adoption Day watching my little babe C get his forever family. There were lots of tears, tons of smiles, and giggles galore. (Which wasn't exactly expected given the projectile vomit I got hit with the night before. Gag face but I love him so much it don't even matter.) I am such a lucky girl to call his family my family. I strongly believe that you get to have two families in life. Your family of origin, and your family of choice. Matthew and Patrick and their kiddos are my family of choice. I am so grateful everyday that they welcomed me in to their family when I needed one the most and my family of origin was on the other side of the country. They have taught me so much about compassion for others, intentional parenting and unconditional love. I love them to pieces and am so glad that C baby got to join them for real and for always!

After a whirlwind weekend in DC, I headed to Pennsylvania to meet my newest nephew Uncle Phil and snuggle the Chim and Josie. Thanksgiving has been an Aunt Megan holiday for the past few years, and it has become a tradition that I look forward to SOOOOOOO much. Aunt is my favorite title. (Just until I get the title of Her Royal Highness, obvi.) I was greeted at the airport by my most wonderful brother and the cutest niece and nephew ever. I am so happy to be able to be there for a whole week, and am so grateful that I get to snuggle these babes. I spent the entire week snuggling, feeding, tickling, and playing.

All of this baby snuggling has been quite emotional for me. I know! Megan? Emotional? What?!?! It's not a thing. It's totally a thing. I know I talk about it a lot, but for those of you in the universe of the interwebs that haven't heard, I had a hysterectomy this summer.

This blog is about to get real. And REAL long.

A hysterectomy at 30 wasn't something I was expecting, and it absolutely wasn't something I welcomed. I was diagnosed with Complex Hyperplasia with Atypia which is an early sign of endometrial cancer. It is treated two ways, and the less radical way was to load me up on high dose hormones. My body hates artificial hormones of any kind in even a very low dose, and lets me know how much it hates them by throwing giant blood clots up to my lungs. Super fun. Not. So we went for the radical approach. All said and done, it was about 4 weeks from the time I found out I was going to need a hysterectomy, to the time I got one. Not exactly a ton of processing time.

(If you don't like to discuss lady parts, congratulations! You're part of the system of patriarchal oppression and you should get over it, but I'm going to give you a heads up anyway so you can look away if you choose because I'm nice like that.)

I have had lady bit problems all my life. They peaked in the summer of 2012 and I was at a loss as to what to do. I couldn't really even talk about my issues (still kind of can't, obvi because I call them lady bit problems and issues instead of what they really are) without using some sort of euphemism because I wasn't sure what was allowed in normal conversation. I never wanted to gross anybody out, and I was looking for a man, so I definitely didn't want any of them to know about my lady bit dilemma. So I suffered. My close girlfriends (shout out to AM, RJ, DL, MP, EB and the many more who put up with my dramatics) knew, but nobody really had any advice to give other than to see a doctor. And sympathy. Lots of sympathy. I am so grateful for the ears and shoulders I was allowed to moan to and cry on during one of the most difficult times of my life up until then.

So Mount Saint Helens, Niagara Falls, and/or The Red Sea commenced. It was super fun. The best part was that I couldn't ever gauge when it was going to happen. I loved that the most. I remember one day I got ready for work and everything was normal so I took the metro in to work and hit up the ladies room before I went through security at my job site that day, and lo and behold the Falls were rushing! I had to feign illness - I totally told them I threw up (Damn the patriarchy!)- and take a cab home praying the whole time that I didn't bleed all over the cabbie's seat. He would have been pissed.

I couldn't leave my house when Mount Saint Helens came a-calling because I had to be in the bathroom every 20 minutes or a clothing change was necessary. Believe me, people remember when you come back from the bathroom wearing a different outfit and it can lead to a lot of weird questions. I took seventeen years in the bathroom when I did venture out crossing my fingers that today wouldn't be the day. I carried around the BIGGEST purse known to womankind, because I essentially had to carry a diaper bag around with me 24/7. I had to change the type of underclothing that I wore, because it wasn't conducive to having to use tampons and pads and still getting bled on.

I finally had had enough and took myself to see the doctor. This is a whole other story that I will eventually write a blog post about, but at the time I didn't have insurance. I looked around at my options, and the only place that would take me as an out-of-pocket, walk-in patient was Planned Parenthood. It definitely wasn't my first choice, but it was my only choice. I walked in there hoping to just get the care I would need to be able to live my life again without the fear of having to melt and die if ever my little lady bit secret was accidentally revealed. Via an accident. It was my worst nightmare. I did get close one time when I was with a friend coming home from karaoke one night and I fretted the whole way home. I jumped out of his truck and down my legs it went. I was SO glad it had waited until I was all the way out of his car, and that I was wearing black pants. Black pants are my best friend.

I got my first pelvic exam (Yay me!) and the doctor asked me 372 times if I was sure I was a virgin. Apparently they don't see very many 27 year old virgins at the DC Planned Parenthood clinic. I was seriously going to kick her in her vagina if she asked me one more time. It was just a reminder that I was 27 and single, and not having babies.

Everything checked out with my exam, and she simply wrote me a prescription for Oral Contraceptive Pills. The pill. Birth Control. Blah blah. I took them faithfully at the same time every morning and after 7 straight days of the heaviest bleeding I had ever had, I called the clinic back and asked if that was normal. They told me that it was and just to continue taking the pills and everything would be fine. I called back every 4 days after that because I didn't stop bleeding for THIRTY. FOUR. DAYS. You read that right. 34 days! The nurses at the clinic just continued to tell me that some bleeding was normal, and if I was really worried I could go to the emergency room and blah, blah, bullshit. Of course I wasn't going to go to the ER! I was nervous about how much everything was going to cost in the first place so the ER was out of the question in my mind. That and I dislike doctors, and had never been to the ER in my life. So I stuck it out. It finally, mercifully stopped and a week later I was in the exact place I didn't want to be - the ER - with a giant pulmonary embolism. I was the .01% of people that have one of those incredibly nasty side effects that doctors are supposed to tell you about but they don't always remember to. That is also a story I will chronicle for you at a later date. It's a fun one. :)

So the birth control had to stop. The synthetic hormones were a large contributing factor to my PE and the doctors told me that hormones were simply not an option for preventing pregnancy. Of course preventing pregnancy wasn't the first thing on my mind. The Red Sea was far more pressing. No one agreed with me though because in their minds the most pressing problem was that I had just died and could potentially die again at any moment. Dumb doctors. Didn't they know the more pressing thing in my mind was that I was bleeding to death all the time?!?! Is there such a thing as quality of life? They may have gone to medical school, but they sure didn't know how to listen.

Fast forward three years. I had had a period for three straight years. I was spending $200-300 a month on feminine supplies and couldn't stand the surprise all the time. Some days it would be very light and other days I would be in the bathroom every 10 minutes. And there was no way to predict which day would be which. I had moved to Iowa by that point and was finally in a place with good insurance and decided to try to fix it again. The Falls were starting to get out of control again so I made an appointment and went in to see an OB who was actually a midwife. She and I both agreed that a Mirena IUD would do the trick, and I wouldn't be at risk for another PE because it only has a very small amount of progesterone which isn't "thought" to cause blood clots and the hormones are localized. Meaning none would hit my blood stream, triggering another PE.

After a week of Niagara Falls again I ended up back in the ER with a PE. So. Much. Fun. They told me it couldn't happen with an IUD, and of course, me being me, I was the .01%.

A couple of weeks of the Red Sea later I was back in the OB's office, this time with the actual doctor. I explained in very careful and exact detail how much I was bleeding. Including the fact that Depends were now my source of underclothing because nothing else would allow me to be outside a bathroom for longer than 10 minutes. He said, get ready for it, it's going to be good, "Women come in here all the time telling me they are bleeding to death, and they aren't." Not kidding. Word for word. I have a witness. Not only did he not listen, but he brushed all of my concerns away like they were nothing.

Now I am the first one to admit that I can present information in an incredibly dramatic way, but when it comes to medical things I would much rather not be sitting in a doctor's office so I don't generally exaggerate my symptoms. But he seemed to think that I wasn't worth listening to so he did an exam and sent me on my merry way.

Three days later I got out of bed late on Sunday morning and couldn't really breathe as I walked myself the fifteen steps to the bathroom. I of course called my dad who is my voice of reason and he suggested that perhaps I ought to take myself in to the ER. I hate the ER. I had already been there twice in the last month and was definitely not wanting to go in again. After all, I had just seen the doctor a couple of days before, and he told me I was fine. Right? Well the voice of reason prevailed and I texted my best Iowa friend Cosette to see if she was available to perhaps take me in to the ER. I have a nasty habit of driving myself to the ER when I probably shouldn't. :) I decided to take a shower because I was pretty sure they might need to get up in my lady bits, and a girl should have clean ones in my humble opinion. I couldn't breathe by the time I got out of the shower. I had just enough air left in me to throw on a Depends and drop to the floor before I passed out. The one thing I remember is that I was absolutely terrified that someone was going to have to break down my door to get in and whoever it was would find me there wet, and in just a diaper. I managed to reach up and grab a shirt and pull it half way on my body. So if any peeps were to bust in on me they would have gotten the most beautiful view of their lives! Me in a diaper and a crop top. Best. Day. Ever.

Cosette came to my rescue and took me in to the ER. It turns out that the reason I couldn't stand without getting woozy or breathe so well was because I had lost about half my blood volume over the last couple of days. Imagine my surprise! Luckily not-so-nice-or-attentive OB was in the hospital so I could say, "I told you so!", but I didn't have the guts to do it. He finally admitted that perhaps there was a problem, and took me in for a D&C.

My pathology report came back a few days later and my best-friend-doctor the OB gave me my diagnosis. I think he was getting my not so subtle hints that he may not be my favorite person and he referred me to a Gynecologist Oncologist. Heaven only knows that I wasn't going to let that man do anything else to me.

I saw the GYN ONC (that's what the HysterSisters call them) and he walked me through my options. Of course because of my blood clot history there was really only one option and that was a radical hysterectomy.

I was devastated. I'm still devastated. As a younger more naive Megan I had said that kids weren't my cup of tea, but as an older and probably not so much wiser Megan I desperately wanted them. I love babies. I love kids. I wanted to raise babies and send them in the world to treat everyone they encountered with love, kindness and respect. I wanted to send more love into the world. Also not to brag, and this might be a delusional statement but I think I'd be a bitchin' mom. And there I was sitting in a doctor's office having someone tell me that that was no longer going to be an option. Of course being a mother wasn't off the table, there are things like surrogacy and adoption, but all I could think about was that my body was made to have babies. And now it was betraying me yet again. In a way that I didn't think it ever would. I had never thought about my womanhood being necessarily connected to my lady parts but with the idea that those parts were no longer going to be a part of me ... it slapped me right in the face. I was also heartbroken because even though I have some ambivalence about my church, I was taught that women had the divine gift and responsibility to bear children and now that that was off the table I felt like I was less-than. Not worth very much. Or perhaps anything at all.

I was 30 and about to lose the ability to have children, and facing an unknown cancer diagnosis that could potentially be nothing, or something huge.

The surgery ended up going much better than anyone had expected and the pathology came back with clear margins. Yay for no cancer! Cry face for no uterus. I went in to the see the GYN ONC for my one week check up and when I expressed my feelings of sadness over the fact that I let him cut out what I thought was a perfectly good organ and not find any real cancer he patted me on the back and said, "You're going to need to get over that." I shit you not. Where do these men come from?! And who taught them bedside manner? They all need to go back to school and take a lesson in sensitivity. Especially being in the specialty that they're in. You can't tell a 30 year old that they need to get over their feelings about losing their ability to have children when you've never experienced being a woman. I wanted to ask him how he would feel if I castrated him and all of his children and grandchildren were then nonexistent (even though it probs would be quite the same thing). There was no reason to dismiss my feelings, but he thought that he needed to do just that.

Of course I lost my mind at him. My emotions were all over the place and I'm not exactly the calmest person under the best of circumstances. Once the tears started flowing and the hysterics settled in, he then sat down and spent the next 20 minutes giving me the eternal perspective speech. I moved to Iowa and got a Mormon surgeon. Seriously. What are the odds? I let him talk but the running commentary in my head was, "Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. You can't have a life that you always thought you wanted and tell me to wait for the next life to have mine. Also where do you get off bringing religion into this? All I needed was an acknowledgement of my feelings." He also told me a story about his residency where he delivered twins from a 65 year-old grandmother who was a surrogate for her daughter who was born without a uterus and blah blah blah. I didn't hear very much of what he said because the condescending pat on the back and immediate dismissal of my feelings had turned me completely off. Afterward he made sure that I didn't hate him and that we were okay with each other. I love that he felt the need to make himself feel better. My mom was with me and thought it was so nice that he took the time to talk to me, and I could have gotten on board with that if it hadn't been for the fact that he only took the time to talk to me because he was trying to fix something that he royally messed up. He did have the good sense to tell me that if his wife had heard what he said to me she wouldn't be very happy with him, so at least he acknowledged some wrong doing. It's more than I can say for douchebag OB.

So here I am almost 5 months after my surgery snuggling babies I desperately want to snuggle and underneath the absolute joy there is an undercurrent of utter sadness. I love these kiddos so much and it is quite painful to think that I might not get that someday. I know there are options like adoption and surrogacy, but there is something about bringing forth life (that sounded so lame I know) that really resonates with me. I also at this point, can't imagine myself doing surrogacy. I think I would just be angry watching someone else carry my baby, and I think I would feel weird about how invasive it would have to be when there are tons of babies out there that already need love. I can adopt. I feel as though I will adopt, and I feel strongly about fostering to adopt. I know it can be difficult and painful to have a child with you and then have to give it back to someone else, but I truly believe that I can love a child unconditionally for the amount of time that I have them, and if that is what their parents need to get a little respite time and work their things out, I can provide that. That does mean that I probably will never get to have and to hold an hours-old baby. I won't get the luxury of being able to breastfeed. I won't be able to experience being pregnant. All things I think I will have to mourn for a long time.

There will be moments when I feel totally at peace with what has happened, and then something will slap me in the face and I'll be mad and angry and feel a total sense of loss all over again. I'm hoping that those roller coaster rides will go away eventually, but for now all I can do is hold on, keep on keeping on, and snuggle all the babes that I can for as long as I possibly can.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

{Somebody Get Me A Doctor}

I watched documentaries all weekend (I know, slightly nerdy) and I came across a great one I think everyone should watch called The Waiting Room. A camera crew follows doctors, nurses and patients in an Emergency Department in Oakland, California where the vast majority of people are uninsured. This really struck a chord with me because the first time I ended up in the Emergency Room in 2012 I was one of those uninsured people.

I am going to talk more about my experiences and feelings and thoughts surrounding all of the medical problems that I have in the last few years, but today I wanted to mostly talk about the kind of care I got in the facility I ended up going to as a result of not having insurance.

My initial ER visit and hospital stay happened at George Washington University Hospital, but when I was discharged I was referred to the DC Unity Clinic because it was a federally qualified health center, and it would be my least expensive option for care. I was already losing my mind because I was just in the ICU and I knew that I was going to have the biggest medical bill I would ever have in my short little 27 years. I had spent a week in the hospital crying about the fact that funerals were cheaper than the ICU. Of course the doctors were then concerned about me, and they didn't seem to understand the fact that living with this kind of debt was going to hang over me for the rest of forever, and I would rather have stayed dead on a sidewalk than have it. We eventually got over that, and they agreed to discharge me because I double-pinky-promised that I would go to my follow-up appointment the next day. My new mantra became: "comply or die".

The next day my dearest Nathan (the naughty babysitter) took me to the clinic. I was really nervous going in because I felt like I was taking advantage of the system by taking away an appointment time from a person who really did need it, but I was in what I thought was a dire circumstance so I complied so I wouldn't die.

The doctor I met with there was the on-call doctor for walk-ins. Apparently the appointment that GW had made wasn't really an appointment at all. She was a wonderful doctor who listened carefully to my story and my concerns. She explained to me what I needed to do going forward, and referred me to the clinic's social worker as well as a primary care physician that could see me on a regular basis. I will never forget this doctor's face. I will never forget the way she listened and spoke to me with such concern and understanding.

She treated me with love.

I was skeptical about what the social worker would have to say to me because after all, I was raised by one, but he also listened carefully to my story and concerns and even informed me that I was qualified for the District's open enrollment insurance program. I sure wish I would have had that information two weeks before, but I felt like the giant hole I was in got a little more shallow because even though I would have these enormous bills from the hospital, the subsequent care that I needed (remember, comply or die) wouldn't rack up even more. I could handle co-pays and deductibles. I will never forget this man and the compassion that he showed me.

He treated me with love.

The next week, I went in to see my new primary care physician, Dr. Makaroff. I can say with absolute certainty that Dr. Makaroff is one of the best doctors around, and is going to change the world. She came to DC to work on public health policy, and was working part time at the clinic seeing patients. She took a special interest in my case and even wrote a blog about me. She was the first doctor that I had seen that cared about the fact that I cared that I was going to live with this giant black cloud hanging over me. She showed such kindness and was so thoughtful about how to coordinate my care without making my situation worse. She was the first doctor that was thoughtful about how to treat my mental health and not just my physical health in the aftermath of this devastating, life-altering event. She showed empathy, kindness, and compassion to me and treated me like Person One of One, rather than Person One of One Million. I will always feel grateful to her. Dying on a street corner changed the course of my life. Dr. Makaroff set it straight again.

She treated me with love.

Dr. Makaroff referred me to the clinic's psychiatrist to take care of my mental health medication. (I call them crazy pills, but I think that might be slightly offensive to some. My bad!) Dr. Johnson was the best psychiatrist I had ever met. And the most busy. He was only at the clinic two days a week because he also served the county jail population as well. The psych appointments were only 15 minutes and back to back. Going to see Dr. Johnson was an all day affair, but totally and completely worth it. He mostly ignored the 15 minute thing and helped people the way they needed to be helped. He made me feel important. He made me feel cared about. He made me realize that even if no one else knew, he knew how awful I was feeling, and he treated me like a person of worth.

He treated me with love.

Because of the blood-thinners I was taking, I had to go into the clinic's lab every week to have my blood drawn. Every week I was greeted with the biggest smiles and the warmest hugs by the nurses in the lab. Those two women made my experience in the lab every week - which was often a painful reminder and an annoying detour - not only bearable, but wonderful.

They treated me with love.

As I watched that documentary this weekend, I watched the patients' faces. I watched the worry and fear. Fear for their lives, fear of how much it might cost to live, and fear that they may not get the treatment that they need. I watched the doctors. I watched them treat people with care and listen to their concerns. I watched them worry over what to do, and how to ensure that the patient got the care that they needed, while worrying about how long the line in the waiting room still was. I watched the triage nurses. I watched them listen to people's complaints, provide food and laughter, and care for everyone they saw.

I watched a documentary full of compassion and was overwhelmed by my own experience and the doctors, triage nurses, and fellow patients who mourned, and joked and loved with me. We need a little more love in our lives, and I am grateful everyday for the love I received at DC Unity.

They treated me with love.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I have felt an outpouring of love these past few weeks. A perfect example of loving more!

My sissy-poo Katie came to visit me just when I needed some love from home the very most. She has that thing where she always knows when I need her, and she shows up! We had sooooooooo much fun! We saw Jem and the Holograms which was AMAZING! And we were the only people in the whole theater, so we were obnoxiously fun.

 We got to swim in a pool of corn. A POOL OF CORN! Corn's my favorite, in case you didn't know. We went on a hay ride and through a corn maze, and to see the High Trestle Trail Bridge. I had a much needed week getting my soul revitalized. Skate is simply the very best.


I got a package almost every day last week. If there is anything I love the most, it is unexpected packages in the mail. 

My bestie-estie Emily sent me a box full of sunshine. My Grandpa and his wife DeDe sent me a box full of things they bought on QVC in a QVC box. (It all also said Merry Christmas. I'm worried about some forgetfulness. :/) My little sister sent me her in a box: candy and $1 for a frosty bev, and my mom send the best gift of all! Her note said that she couldn't think of anything to give me that I hadn't already given myself (true story, I buy all the things) and wrote me this beautiful book chronicling my life and all the of the times a miracle has occurred that has kept me alive. Spoiler alert: It's happened a bunch of times. It was sweet and wonderful and reminded me why my mom is the best ever!

The week was filled with the silliest shopping trips, public readings of hilarious books, floating around a clothing store like a bird, TWO cakes, and a trip and overnight stay at the oldest funeral home in Iowa.

It was simultaneously the most fun and the ickiest thing I have ever done. I went with my beauties from the office, and my beauties that I interpret with. It was a night filled with weirdness, laughter, accents, and karaoke. And they gave me a gavel. Basically the perfect storm for a great birthday!

I have realized that no matter where I go I am surrounded by love. The people here in Iowa have embraced me totally and completely. I couldn't survive without daily contact with my family. My friends back in Utah as well as D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are always there even when they're not physically there. I have friends all over the country that I love and appreciate. And I have decided to love and appreciate them more.

I have found myself saying more often than not, that the move to Iowa made it so I don't have a support system. I am finally starting to realize that a support system can look many ways. It doesn't have to be people that are in close proximity. It can be anyone that reaches out. As I have struggled through the last few years, I have had many, many, MANY people reach out to me.

My vow for the next year is to be the person that reaches out.