Thursday, February 27, 2014

Evolution

I've gotten a few questions and comments from some people I knew when I was a kid who have seen my blog mentioned on Facebook, read it, and want to know what happened to me.  Why I am so incredibly different at 36 than I was at 16.  Personally, I think this is a stupid question--we're ALL incredibly different at 16 than 36, give or take a few people--and my first instinct is to give a completely sarcastic and smartass answer, but I decided for once to give everybody a break and be nice.  Here you go.

THE EXPLANATION FOR WHY I AM NO LONGER THE PERPETUALLY SMILING LITTLE BLOND CHEERLEADER WHO WAS VOTED HIGH SCHOOL VALENTINE QUEEN, MISS MAY, AND MOST DEPENDABLE BY HER WHOLESOME RURAL HIGH SCHOOL IN THE GOOD OLD STATE OF TENNESSEE WHERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ARE THAT YOU OWN A TRUCK, LOVE YOUR MAMA, AND VOTE REPUBLICAN

When I was a little girl, I always did exactly what I was supposed to do.  I cared A LOT about what other people thought of me, and it hurt my feelings when someone didn't like me.  I made good grades, I listened to my parents, and I tried to please everybody.  If someone was mean to me, I cried.  If someone told me no, I listened.  I lived my life trying to be perfect all the time, and I looked up to my Dad, who was smart and kind and fair, and I strove to emulate that myself.  I thought the world was smart and kind and fair, and that's all I ever wanted-- to live out my life in Cleveland, Tennessee, surrounded by smartness and kindness and fairness, with my big, extended family and everyone else I knew.  Happily Ever After.

But time passed, and with it so did my naivete.  I realized that sometimes even when you do your very best, you will fail.  Sometimes even when you want to please, you'll disappoint.  Sometimes even if you are smart and kind and fair, you'll be repeatedly fucked over, often by people you love, and then you'll die.  Sorry, but it's true.  And, perhaps, I think, more often than not.

To me, life isn't a beautiful gift, it's a harrowing obstacle course.  Consider-- in the moments of our success, we take flight in our joy, high on the power of  breathing and living and being.  But our moments of failure?  Those moments when we, or someone we care about, lose or fail or die?  There's no end to the depth of the hole into which we can plummet.  And where we'll stay until we dig ourselves out and gather the strength to face the next challenge.  To carry on.  The will, itself, to carry on may be a gift, but that rocky pathway we're traveling certainly isn't.

It took a lot of years and a lot of life to shape my viewpoint.  It took a divorce and a remarriage, career changes and university degrees, births and deaths, hopes and lies.  Elation and heartbreak.

Over the years, my family has fallen apart, like somebody dropped an emotional atom bomb on Cleveland, Tennessee.  Look to the McCoy side and all you have left is a drunk uncle who is too stupid and greedy to pay his own taxes, thus sacrificing everything that his own father worked so hard to create.  His family is there too, as worthless as he is.  Look to the other side and there's nothing but lies and drama and bad decisions, all mingled with desperation.  I don't need that shit.  I'm better than that.

And there you have it.  The reason why I'm more likely to say "fuck off" than "bless your heart."  The reason why now, if you push me, I'm going to push back twice as hard.  The reason why I care more about what happened on The Blacklist than whether you like me or not.

I'm still smart and kind and fair, but I'm also strong and unfiltered and fearless.  I think if he was still alive, my Dad would have wanted to be more like ME now.  I think my Dad would be proud.  And that's what really matters.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Learn Something New Every Day

Recovering from surgery (whenever your husband isn't at work and is thus making sure you don't do anything strenuous) is really fucking boring.  Over the past year, I've gotten a hairline fracture in my foot while running, had my first experience with diabetic ketoacidosis while accidentally over-ellipticizing at the gym when my blood sugar was higher than 500, and battled the flu while taking care of my son who ALSO had the flu.  All of these things were much more difficult than this stupid surgery recovery, but none were even a smidgen as boring.  To fight off some of the mind-numbing frustration that comes from being a person-who-hates-to-sit-still but who is stuck doing nothing much more eventful than an easy walk around the block, I have read every book I could get my hands on, watched every television show that does not feature a Kardashian, and looked up endless recipes of things that I could surely cook if only I was allowed to carry in the groceries from the car that I would have to buy in order to cook them.  IT'S FUCKING MISERABLE.  So, finally, as a last resort, I started the "Random Haley Google."  This is where, whenever I catch myself having mentally wandered off, I stop my thinking cycle and I Google whatever I was thinking about.  What I have learned from this is that no matter how fucked up I think something is that I've been thinking about, there are always at least a handful of other people out there who have, at some point, been thinking the exact same fucked up thing.

THANK GOD.

A LIST OF RANDOM HALEY GOOGLES THAT I WENT BACK AND PULLED FROM MY COMPUTER BECAUSE I KNOW YOU ARE ALL TERRIBLY INTERESTED IN WHAT I THINK ABOUT AND ALSO BECAUSE I WANT A PHYSICAL RECORD OF WHY EXACTLY I WAS THINKING THE THINGS I WAS THINKING WHEN I GOOGLED SAID TOPIC JUST IN CASE THE AUTHORITIES EVER APPROACH ME AND CONFISCATE MY LAPTOP

 1. How intelligent do you really have to be to become a surgeon?
         This was probably the first thing I looked up after Dr. K told me I should have a hysterectomy.  I had seen her degrees and her board certifications, but a piece of paper telling me that you went to undergrad at U of A only tells me that you're a dumb redneck who doesn't have sense enough to get into a university that isn't in the shithole that is Alabama. Furthermore, I had FB stalked her, only to find that her profile photo was of her at a Halloween party, complete with pigtails and a cheerleader uniform.  HOLY FUCK.  THIS IS WHO IS CUTTING ME OPEN?  It only made matters worse that I have a handful of friends who are surgeons and, while I wouldn't call any of them dumb, I also wouldn't refer to any of them as the sharpest tools in the shed.  And I SURE AS HELL wouldn't want to put my life (or uterus) in any of their hands, especially when I've seen most of them stumbling home drunk after a neighborhood cookout.  But I digress.
       What I found out from Google was that really you don't have to be all that smart at all to be a surgeon.  You have to have a decent work ethic.  You have to be willing to study.  But actual intelligence?  Nope.  Not entirely necessary.  AWESOME.  THAT MAKES ME FEEL GREAT.  Next time I injure myself (or need an organ cut out), I'm going to get tanked, give Blaker a knife and the stapler, and let him have at it, seeing as how he's the most intelligent person I've ever met.   JESUS.  That further lessens my faith in oh, so many surgeons.

2.  Do I really have to wait 6 weeks after a hysterectomy to have sex?
       No.  Not if either my husband has a very tiny penis (he does not-- I asked if I could post a photo but he said no, so you'll just have to trust me), or I want to have to go to the ER and request to have the sutures re-sutured in my Queen Victoria (I do not desire to do this, particularly at Murderview).   And I feel like I shouldn't have to tell you WHY I Googled this, unless you are a complete and total idiot, in which case GO FUCK YOURSELF, BECAUSE MY BLOG IS ONLY FOR SMART PEOPLE (AND SURGEONS).

3.  How much wine can I mix with Percocet before it kills me?
       Let's first remember that I don't NEED the Percocet.  Seriously.  Dr. K made me throw back two of them preventatively when I decided I was high-tailing it out of the hospital only three hours after the hysterectomy, which was fabulous because I was high as a damn kite for the rest of the evening until I promptly passed out in my bed from being up since the crack of dawn.  It's fun to be high on Percocet-- I get so pleasant and happy and just plain lovely.  This is in direct opposition to my usual self, who is unpleasant and sarcastic and just plain malevolent.  (By the way, that's my favorite word--malevolent.)  So I save the Percocet for times when I NEED to be nice but it's JUST SO HARD, like trips to TN (note that I will still have most of them until my Mom visits again, after which they will be depleted).  Anyway, you know me and wine-- the two of us will never break up, so I might as well figure out how much the two can overlap, no?
       According to the prescription bottle, one should NOT mix ANY alcohol with Percocet.  According to Google, one can mix ONE GLASS of wine with a couple of Percocet and be okay.  According to HALEY, who thinks that Google isn't much of a risk-taker, one can, actually, mix an entire bottle of a good red blend with two Percocet and still wake up the next morning.  (Slightly drunk and still high, but also really pleasant and happy.)  *Disclaimer:  If any of you try this and die, it's because you are not as seasoned a drinker or Percocet-taker as I am.  Sorry for the confusion.  And the death.

4.  Are there any tropical islands that do not have any snakes?
       I'm really cold here in Virginia.  Thinking about it, I'm cold almost anywhere I go.  I despise snakes more than anything on this planet.  So I keep prodding B to load us up and move us to a year-round warm climate that has no snakes.  B says such a place does not exist.  I say, "The hell it doesn't."  Google says that Madeira Island, just off the coast of Portugal, is such a place.  Now, I got REALLY excited about this until I went to the Madeira Island website and saw that the cover photo on the home page IS OF A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SITTING AROUND AT TABLES  BY THE SEA WEARING LONG SLEEVES AND SWEATERS.  Yeah, you heard me.  Sweaters.  WHAT THE FUCK, GOOGLE?  THAT DOESN'T SOUND REAL "WARM CLIMATE" TO ME.  Some further research informed me that Hawaii COULD be such a place, as it has no native snakes, but that people keep finding them now because other people are bringing them over from other places (despite the 200k fine if you get busted) and turning them loose.  WHAT KIND OF AN ASSHOLE WOULD DO THAT?  That's pretty much one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.  Are there that many people who want to take their pet snake on vacation with them, then set it free on the island?  Is someone doing snake dead drops?  Seriously.  LEAVE THE ECOSYSTEM ALONE, PEOPLE.  IT'S ALREADY IN BAD ENOUGH SHAPE AS IT IS.  

5.  How do you keep your kid from becoming an asshole once he/she is a teenager?
       Google says there is no way to avoid this.  Bellamy is 10 and on the express train to Hormone Town.  When Bells hits puberty, all hell is going to break loose.  My first thought was, "Oh, I'll just make sure I'm dead by then."  Then I realized that honestly, since I don't smoke and I wear my seatbelt, unless I'm gonna off myself (I'm not) then I really only have maybe, like, a fifty-fifty shot of that happening (please note that statistics were never my strong point, which only makes me SO MUCH more interesting to you all).  So if I can't be dead, I'm going to have to have a plan in place by 2016, which is the year Belly hits 13.  The cherry on top is that a mere two years later when she is 15, Sutt will be turning 13, and then we'll have two teenagers on our hands for a few exciting (i.e.  fucking miserable) years.  As of this moment,  B and I have no idea how we're going to live through it.  Please feel free to email me with any suggestions that you may feel are worthy of our consideration.

6.  Will drinking a ton of wine actually make me fat?
       I've been a solid wine drinker now for almost 12 years.  I'm not fat, but I'm willing to admit that from time to time (before I'm a few gallons in) I wonder, "Huh.  I wonder if all this wine will make me fat."  I wasn't sure I could trust Google on this one (who knows when the National Liver Association--if there IS such a thing--could be manipulating our Google system) but I Googled it anyway.  What I found was a whole bunch of articles and scientific studies claiming that, while wine has a lot of empty calories, women who drink more actually TEND TO BE THINNER.  (Please note that this is not because they have cirrhosis and have lost their appetites-- I mean, sure, that comes later, but during these studies their livers were still alive and kickin'.)  WHAT THE WHAT?  I don't know how it all magically works, ladies, but go ahead and top off your glass.  Cheers!

7. Who is playing Four in the Divergent movie?
       Does anybody besides me watch "Vanderpump Rules" on Bravo?  (I told you I would watch anything without a Kardashian-- here's proof.)  If you do, then you know the story of poor Tom Sandoval, the Sur bartender who just couldn't quit cheating on his girlfriend with bottle service girls in Vegas, yet still had his heart broken when the crazy bitch girlfriend screwed his best friend in Tom's own living room, while Tom was in the next room asleep.  ANYWAY.  The whole time I was reading the Divergent series, the character Four looked like Tom Sandoval in my head.  I don't know why.  Four is tall, Tom Sandoval looks average.  Four has really short hair, Tom Sandoval's favorite gift of all time is his flat-iron (true story-- I saw this on an episode last season).  Four's blue eyes are repeatedly mentioned in the books, Tom Sandoval's look.....brown, maybe?  They're dark, I think.  Four is a badass, Tom Sandoval uses more skin care products than any woman I've ever met AND he gets regular spray tans.  ANYWAY (again), there's no real reason for me to picture Tom Sandoval as Four.  And considering his IMDB page, there's no reason to think that he has the acting talent to pull off the role (I, honest to God, think his best-rated movie was ranked at a half-star.  Not joking.)  But THAT'S WHAT'S IN MY HEAD.  It is NOT, however, what is in the movie.  In the movie, Four is played by Theo James, best known for his short run in the series "Goldenboy," although to the Downton Abbey fans, he's the Turk whose bed Lady Mary snuck into in Season 1.  Theo James is handsome.  He's a decent actor.  I think he'll be an okay Four (despite also having dark eyes) but I CAN'T SEEM TO WRAP MY HEAD AROUND IT ALL.  Maybe it's the wine and Percocet mixture coursing through my veins.  But it's weird for me to think about.

That's enough Google for you today.  I still have A LOT to talk about regarding the trip to Italy, but I haven't sorted it all out in my head yet.  I kept a journal while we were traveling, though, and I'm going to bust that out and take it from there.

Soon.  I promise.




Monday, February 24, 2014

Pulling Through At Murderview

       Sometime in 2012, I started having a weird pain in my lower, left abdomen and realized that, if I poked around on my stomach, I could feel a lump in there.  My first thought was, “Oh.  That’s can’t be good.”  So what did I do?  I waited two years to see a doctor about it, of course!  (Okay, that’s not exactly true.  I had a good friend who is a general surgeon poke it with his finger and say, “Huh.  I don’t know what that is.”  I considered that a preliminary diagnosis and put further exploration off for six or eight more months.  Then I had my gynecologist do an ultrasound on my ovaries and say, “Huh.  Your ovaries look fine.  I don’t know what the problem is.”  And then I just ignored it for another year and a half.)  It hurt like HOLY FUCK, but not ALL the time—just, like, two weeks out of every month.  I knew it wasn’t a muscular pain, as I’ve pulled and torn muscles before and know what that feels like.  You know those little prickly brown balls that fall off some trees?  (No, I can’t describe the trees they come from any better for you.  I know jack shit about trees, although I do find them lovely and enjoy buying them for B to plant.  I don’t dig holes.)  Anyway, whatever was in my abdomen looked, in my imagination, like one of those prickly balls.  Round and full of sharp points that stabbed me in the gut even when I sat perfectly still. 
Eventually, after two years of carrying around a prickly ball that hurt like fiery hell, I figured I should probably do something about it, so I went to a different gynecologist.  I figured she’d put me on some version of The Pill (that, I've deduced over the years, is the gynecological answer to anything from irregular periods to world hunger), the little prickly ball would go away, and we’d all live happily ever after.  I had already positioned this plan in the forefront of my mind as I sat in Dr. K’s office while she asked me questions and typed away at her fancy computer with her perfectly manicured nails.  (Obviously that stereotype about doctors working a zillion hours a week is WRONG, as Dr. K clearly has plenty of time for manicures.)  I was bored and it was freezing outside, so I just wanted to get out of there and go back home to hibernate and drink wine, which is basically what I do from January to April, unless I’m working.
Fifteen minutes after I sat down with Dr. K, and without any previous medical records OR an exam (Dude, how often do you go to the gynecologist’s office and get to keep your pants on?  NOT OFTEN, I TELL YOU.) she looked up, batted her pretty blue eyes at me and said, “I’m pretty sure you have adenomyosis.  You need a hysterectomy.”
Well, fuck.
I really hate surprises.  ANY surprises, barring something NO ONE can hate, like an unexpected flower delivery, or the library calling to tell me that a book I requested them to put on hold came in.  (Yeah, I’m exciting.  I know.  I didn’t fucking ask for your opinion, though.)  Hearing the doctor say “hysterectomy” came as a huge fucking surprise, and definitely not the flower-delivery kind.  I mean, I have no particularly attachment to my internal lady bits.  I don’t really have any use for them anymore, seeing as how I’ve birthed more than enough babies for this lifetime.  But still.  Having them chopped out?  That just felt…..weird.  Hysterectomies are for OLD bitches.  This bitch is only 36.
Dr. K sent me on my way giving me some time to think about it, and told me to call her up when I had figured out what I wanted to do.  I could keep all my reproductive organs, likely including the prickly ball that nobody had yet been able to diagnose but that Dr. K felt sure was something ugly in my uterus, or I could throw in the towel and let her cut that sucker out.  The upsides to surgery:  no more periods, no more pain (hopefully), and a ‘scrip for sweet pain meds.  The downside:  well, aside from the surgery being performed at a hospital called Maryview but that everyone I know refers to as “Murderview,” I really didn’t see any.  And honestly?  Surviving surgery at Murderview might make a DAMN good story someday.  So I high-fived myself and scheduled to have everything except my ovaries hacked out, including the tubes.
Now, you should know that during this decision-making process, B was very supportive.  Even when I waffled back and forth a bit, he “did encourage” to me.  Possibly, this was to see if I really would survive Murderview, thinking worst case scenario, he got to return to the dating pool.  Possibly this was to get me to quit bitching so much about my abdomen hurting.  But I think the most likely scenario was that he knew that I could never again bail on one of his McPhail and Extended Family Extravaganzas and blame it on cramps if I had no uterus to cramp (I tend to use this excuse at least twice a month.  No one seems to have caught on yet.)  And once I made the decision to go through with it, he did what any kind and loving husband would do for his wife—he threw me a “Happy Hysterectomy” Party.  (Here we have a slight bit of disagreement.  The actual name he gave the gathering was “The Superfluous Uterus Party.”  His reasoning was that my uterus WAS superfluous, and that he really wanted the challenge of finding an appropriate word that would also rhyme with “uterus.”  I, on the other hand, feel that, not only do “superfluous” and “uterus” NOT truly rhyme, but also that THAT’S A FUCKTARDED NAME.  Therefore, I renamed it the Happy Hysterectomy Party.  My lovely friend Heather even made uterus cupcakes for the occasion (as in, they had frosting uteruses drawn on them, not uteruses as part of the ingredients, in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own).  The whole shebang made me feel loved and supported, and then the following Tuesday rolled around.  Surgery time.
*Quick side note:  those of you who have followed my blog for some time know that I FUCKING DESPISE TUESDAYS.  Tuesday is the worst day of the week, and HORRIBLE things always happen to me on Tuesday.  We’re talking the DEATH AND DESTRUCTION kind of horrible.  So OF COURSE Tuesday was the day that Dr. K performed surgeries.  So OF COURSE, my surgery was scheduled for a Tuesday.  At fucking Murderview.  OF COURSE.  WAY TO GO, UNIVERSE.  THANKS FOR THAT.
            B and I got to the hospital right on time, but found that we had to sit in the waiting room (dingy, creepy, looked-like-it-was-filled-with-child-molesters) for a bit.  Then a rather grumpy nurse named Amanda came out to get me and take me back for pre-op stuff that included, but was not limited to, a near fistfight with another nurse (named Carla—if you’re ever at MV and run across her, I encourage you to punch her in her damn face) who refused to put my iv in the crook of my arm, rather than my hand, even though I told her that I KNOW MY OWN FUCKING VEINS, BITCH, AND EVERY TIME ANYONE PUTS A FUCKING IV IN MY FUCKING HAND, THE VEIN RUPTURES AND THEY HAVE TO TAKE IT THE FUCK OUT AND PUT IT IN MY ARM.  AND NOT MY FOREARM, AS THOSE VEINS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AND IF YOU FUCKING STICK ME MORE THAN ONCE I AM GOING TO FUCKING RIP YOUR HEAD OFF AND THROW IT AT THE NURSE’S STATION, HOPING TO HIT AND IMMOBILIZE THE FIRST FUCKING NURSE I SAW WHO WAS ALSO A TOTAL  BITCH.  Jesus.  I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for nurses, but after the hysterectomy experience, that respect is limited only to nurses who do not work at Maryview.
*Another side note:  I won this argument after the anesthesiologist heard me swearing up a storm at the nurse and came over to see what the problem was.  When she told him, he shrugged and said, “Yeah, you can put it in her arm.  I don’t care.”  BAM, BITCH.
Once that was handled, the anesthesiologist told me he was going to give me something like liquid valium in the iv to calm me down (he was likely terrified of me after watching psychotic hissy fit I threw) and then once they got me to the operating room and settled on the table, they would knock me out with general anesthesia.  His iv valium must have been some excellent shit, though, because I have no memory of ever leaving the little curtained pre-op area, reaching the OR, or getting on any table.  I just remember something cool trickling through my veins, and then I woke up.
Waking up around 2pm, I saw that I was in yet another curtained area, where both B and his dad (where did HE come from?) were staring at me.  As promised, the first thing B told me was that they didn’t chop me open and find a bunch of cancer (this had been a possibility— Dr. K was doing the procedure laparoscopically, but she said if she went in and saw anything that looked bad, she was hacking back through my c-section scar and scraping out anything she could get her hands on.  AWESOME).  Once I heard that things were okay, in my head I passed back out, but in reality it seems that I was EXTREMELY happy and conversed at length with the orderly assigned to drive my bed up to the 5th floor where they planned to park me for a day or so.  (I’m told I was highly impressed with his bed driving skills, as I “can’t even push the racecar shopping carts at the grocery store without crashing into shit.”  Hey, at least I was honest.)  A lot of laparoscopic surgery cases get to go home the same day as the surgery, but with my diabetes and everything, the doctor wanted to keep me to help manage my blood sugars and whatnot.
Thankfully, I sobered up quickly, realized the nurses on Floor 5 sucked just as bad, or potentially even worse, than the ones in the pre-op section of the hospital, so I took out my own iv, got dressed, and said, “Come on, B, we’re going home.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  B took off work the next day and forced me to rest, but when he returned to work on Thursday, I got up and resumed my life. 
For the record, I realize right now that you are thinking, “That Haley is a BADASS.”  Why yes, yes I am.  I might be bleeding through my steri-strips, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to keep me from doing the fucking laundry.  I didn’t even take my pain meds (well, I didn’t take them for PAIN—I did take some in order to spend a few hours with my sister-in-law and not go postal). 
Tomorrow I will be two weeks out from surgery.  The prickly ball in my abdomen is gone (turns out the adenomyosis diagnosis was correct, says Pathology, and that created both the lump and the pain).  My belly button is looking far less gross (it was pretty bruised and bloody-looking for a couple of days).  I may be missing a few parts now, but whatever.  How many people come through this life with everything intact?  Not many people I know.  Belly is missing her tonsils.  My Mom is missing one of her boobs and all of her sanity.  Sutt just lost a tooth (not sure if that counts, but I’m adding it anyway).  The point is that I came out of Murderview alive, and actually, better off.  I’m calling that a win.  YAY ME.

Catching Up is Hard To Do

I'm way behind on my blogging.  Yeah, I suck, whatever.  Since I last blogged, B and I spent a good chunk of October traipsing around Italy, the holidays came and went, Sutt has become a Pinewood Derby Celebrity, and I lost a few of my internal organs. 

They won't be in order, but I promise to blog about them all.  First post goes up in about ten minutes. 

Try not to hurt yourself as you deal with the excitement.