Eleanore Vs. Nurses

Disclaimer: While the title to some readers might sound like this is going to be a negative account of nurse experiences, I assure you it is not, and I truly hope as many people as possible read it, but especially nurses. I know it’s long, but I implore you. I want you to know that you have many times been my saviors. I simply suck at titling things sometimes. I apologize.

Hello out there,

I have been in bed all day and in and out of sleep because I have a sinus infection on top of the flu. I don’t know what it is; give me a needle to the spine, anaphylaxis, or even rip out my uterus and I can kind of handle it. But a sinus infection with a bit of a stuffy nose, a puffy eye and sorer-than-normal bones? I will whine non-stop for a week. I’m not sure how my boyfriend hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet…maybe I just gave him the idea to, though. *ominous music*

Anyway, I digress. Here’s what I actually want to talk about. I have this amazing friend named Chris. I’ve known him for quite a while and we have a slightly odd friendship, but it is a remarkable one that I am so incredibly fortunate to be a part of. Chris, since I have known him, has only ever wanted to do one thing; okay, well two things actually. The first is to be Captain America. The second is to be a nurse. This isn’t just what he goes to school for. It’s what he craves, what he lives for, what he is fighting for. I have met many people who are passionate, but rarely have I ever met a person as passionate as him.

Occasionally, I try to help him with his homework. I am not nearly as intelligent as he is, but I am fairly talented at making it easier for people to wrangle their thoughts and get their minds turning. In a weird way, it’s kind of what I live for. I’m not sure if he knows it or not, but I thrive on the times he (and others) ask me to help in these ways, whether it’s just talking about something, or editing papers for grammar mistakes. I adore it. Call me a weirdo, but I think it’s just the greatest.

Earlier today Chris and I faced a question, that was possibly the hardest one he’d ever have to try to answer on his journey to becoming what I think will be one of the world’s greatest nurses (I’m not bias at all…nope). The question was, what is nursing? Now, to tell you the truth, I didn’t have the slightest idea where to start. Despite my young age, I have had more experiences than most will have in a lifetime. In some ways, that isn’t something I am proud of. But in many other ways, especially in times like these where I am faced with a question that is far bigger than myself, I can often times start with myself, and the stories my life has collected, because they teach me the most amazing, if not painfully learned lessons.

To estimate, I have had a hundred (if not more) different experiences with a hundred different nurses. But one that has changed my life was my experience this summer at Stanford, where I had my hysterectomy. As most people who read my blog regularly know, I hid my hysterectomy from most of my friends and my family. I also had to fight doctors for it, despite it being a medical necessity. I was hospitalized for five days, and it was five of the hardest days of my life. I am absolutely sure the pain, both mental and physical, would have killed me if not for three of the eight nurses that cared for me. Don’t get me wrong; overall, all of the nurses were great. But there were three who were utterly astounding beyond compare.

The first was Anjelica, who I assume was not much older than I. She was the first one I actually met upon my admittance into the ward after I had recovered from the anesthesia… except for the fact that I really hadn’t recovered from the drugs at all. Anesthesia, I was told, really messes with your body as well as your short term memory. I was not only given that, but also given an anxiety medication to prevent one of my famous panic attacks, as well as intravenous Benadryl to prevent anaphylaxis. I believe the medical terminology for all those drugs being pumped into me is, “getting seriously fucked up.” Therefore, I barely remember anything from the first time meeting her. I remember waking up, crying and confused because I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was, and my body and brain both felt twisted. That apparently was not the whole story. Later I was told that what had really happened, from the eyes of my childhood friend Stan, was that he walked into the room, where I was crying uncontrollably about the fact that I was terrified of being alone.  Anjelica was sitting on the bed with me, holding both my hands, trying to choke out comforting words through her own tears. I later on could briefly remember this image, only a sliver of it; but that sliver makes my heart glow like sunshine, and I am certain it will for the rest of my life.

When I finally woke up in a far less drugged state, I immediately began to have contractions like a pregnant woman (despite doing the antitheses of having a baby). My doctor warned me of hemorrhaging, of death, of infection, of just about anything that could go wrong in surgery. She did not, however, mention that I could have contractions so severe that they would cause me to scream in a hospital bed and twist in agony while nurses scrambled to find me a drug that would make the aliens in my abdomen go back the the hellish planet they came from. It was eight hours before they finally got me to stop convulsing, and I was more exhausted than I had been in any other time in my life. Thankfully, three of my dearest friends, Maya, Jared, and Brian, were there until 1 A.M. and refused to go home, which is quite impressive in itself. But they were only there because my nurse, Anjelica, ignored the 8 P.M. curfew and allowed them to stay with me on a night that I was not at all sure I’d live through.

The second nurse was Marie. She was a bit older than I, and throughout my stay she titled herself my “hospital mother.” She wore that title well. My surgery was in July, and while the hospital temperature was extremely well controlled, I found myself burning up every night. So, every night Marie would tie my chest length hair up into a bun to get it off my sweating shoulders and face, and every morning she would take it down and comb it so that I would look nice for my visitors. She would stay with me as long as she could when she had the time, because she knew that I was struggling with the fact that I wanted my mother there, but that she did not support my decision. I found out that Marie had three young kids herself, so why she wanted another was beyond me, but she was the most perfect “hospital mother” I could have ever dreamed of.

In hospitals there are nurses, and then nurse assistants, which I also had many of. However, the last few days that Marie was my daytime nurse, she always had the same assistant. A man named Mark, my age, who was extremely attractive and just as sweet as she was. After he had left my room one day, while Marie was injecting me with more Dillaudid, she said that she had made sure he was my assistant because, to quote her, “I thought you would appreciate some eye candy during your stay.” I mean, come on. What is greater than that? 

The last incredible nurse I had was Angel. Her tag said Evangeline, which I think is a truly gorgeous name, but she went by Angel. I only had her for one night, and it just so happened to be the one where during the day, a less wonderful nurse gave me a drug that caused me to trip worse than one would at a Grateful Dead concert. I was extremely upset that this had happened, because the nurse had injected me before telling me what it was, and I could have gone anaphylactic. Thankfully, I just hallucinated that I was swimming out of my body. That’s…totally normal, right?

Angel’s shift started right towards the end of my four hour hallucinatory field trip, and I immediately told her that I did not want that drug anywhere near me. She was very apologetic and promised to fix the problem, and she did in a snap. What really stood out the most though was that night, as always, was harder than the days. I am 25 years old and terrified of the dark as well as being alone in strange places. I don’t think I could even stay in a hotel alone. That being said, I told Angel that I was scared, and her solution was that whenever she was free and working on her computer in the hallway, she would sit in front of my door specifically, so that if anything happened to me, or if I got scared, she would be right around the corner. This is something I am sure many nurses would do for a child patient. But for an independent, adult woman who just had a very adult procedure, many would find me a bit strange, as they have before. Sure enough, throughout the five or six times I woke up during the night in a mild panic, every time I looked out the door, I saw her shadow on my hospital room floor. And I heard, through all the sounds of the ward, the gentle clicking of her keyboard. It felt like the most comforting sound I had ever heard; a real live angel working through the night.

When I am 30, 50, 60, even 80 years old, I will still remember these stories and what these nurses did for me. How loving, compassionate, and selfless they were without even taking one second to consider if they were “crossing a professional line” or would have better things to do then sit at my bedside while I cried about the damaged relationship between my family and I, or the anger I felt towards my eternally sick body. Anjelica did not just comfort me when I first met her. She had raw empathy, and shared in my pain. She allowed herself to feel my raging sorrow completely, and I know for a fact that it was a painful experience for her. But she allowed it. Marie, again, without any reservation at all, took the job of being my “hospital mother,” and made me feel loved and cared for. Angel watched over me while I struggled not only with sleep, but with my entire existence.

So, back to the beginning. What is nursing? I couldn’t tell you for certain, really. I believe that ultimately that question is full of a million, maybe even trillion answers, and each one would be completely different, because it’s all subjective. But as a patient, I believe that nursing is the most selfless and most trying career in the world. Doctors see their patients for a few minutes a day. Nurses spend 12 hour shifts with their patients per day. The good nurses are medically attentive, intelligent, and prompt when you need them. But the nurses that are remembered are not the smartest ones; they are the most kind ones, the ones that allow themselves to feel knowing that it puts themselves at the risk of brutal, emotional exhaustion. The nurses that cry with me are the nurses that have, as I said before, added light to my very broken heart.

Chris told me that nursing has a pretty high fail rate; so many people just can’t take the physical and emotional challenges of it, which I completely understand. I know I certainly couldn’t do a fourth of their jobs. He also told me that they have a very small chance of happy instances, and that many of the situations they encounter are not just negative, but are devastating. And again, I completely understand that. There was no happiness in Anjelica crying with me the first day I entered her ward. There is no happiness in a nurse having to watch someone’s child die, or someone bleeding out from a horrible accident. Nurses take tragedy day after day, and brave it all, but not without consequence. However, I hope that they know that while they are in those horrific situations every day, the nurses that show love towards us, the patients, are invaluable to our lives. The ones that don’t just serve our bodies, but serve our souls, may not bring us temporary happiness in the moments they are with us, but leave us with permanent happiness, because they were there with us helping, treating, loving, and feeling with us in some of the worst parts of our lives. They do all this, while asking for hardly anything back. And most of the time, they don’t get much back. The words I have written aren’t nearly enough, but I hope it’s at least a tiny something that lets nurses know how spectacular they are.

What is nursing?

To me, it’s being a hero that Captain America could never possibly match.

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied,
Illuminate the No’s on their vacancy signs.
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks,
Then I’ll follow you into the dark.
Then I’ll follow you into the dark.

Ellie Vs. Being the Other

Since I don’t exactly have a whole lot to do lately, I am on the internet far more than I probably should be. One of my favorite internet things, besides puppies and Netflix of course, is a website called PostSecret. If you don’t know what it is, the site, postsecret.com, describes itself well:

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.

Every Sunday, also known as Secret Sunday, I wake up with floating bubbles in my eyes, and while I blink a million times to convince them to leave my sight, I load up the website on my phone. Each Sunday, new anonymous secrets are posted, and many of them hit close to home for me. Last week, I saw this one:

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I feel like the majority of people, especially Americans, would have one of two reactions to this secret. They’d either:

  1. Think the person writing this is selfish, ungrateful, and a horrible partner. They would probably shame the owner of this secret easily and feel that they were supporting the solider in doing so, or
  2. Think that the owner of the secret has every right to feel that way and defend them, because while many people don’t want to say it, the truth is, people who are sick mentally or physically are often times a burden on those who aren’t.

As a both physically and mentally ill human being, I can understand both of these views. However, just like in any situation, any extreme to one side or another is usually somehow ignorant, stubborn, and naive. What I am about to write is not going to be sensitive. This is what I really think. I am a very blunt person, as anyone who regularly reads my post knows. And because of my own situation, I refuse to sugar coat the fact that being me, or a person like me, really fucking sucks sometimes.

Here’s the thing; people like me will always be the “Others.” When I say Others, I suppose what I really mean is people that belong to minorities. I could just say that people who are ill are a minority, but the reason I chose to use Others instead is because it feels a hell of a lot more honest. The definition of minority is the smaller part of a whole: but that fact is, regardless of what minority groups you may belong to, you rarely feel like a part of a whole. You feel like another whole all together, usually a far less privileged one, and the main whole generally rejects you because you are simply different. By illness, ethnicity, and sexuality, I am a minority in America. I’ve been ostracized because of all of those by many people in my life. I know what it’s like to be rejected because of race, religion, illness, and all other differences that make up who I am. But for now, let’s stick to the illness one.

The truth is rarely easy to hear, especially when you’re on the worse end of it. And in my life, I generally am on the worse end of it. The secret I shared is the deep, ugly truth, and though this particular person was brave enough to write it out, there are millions of others that feel the same way. I don’t think there are any people in the world who don’t think about the possibility of a loved one becoming ill, and what they would do if they did find themselves in that situation. Certainly, most people would automatically say they’d care for the loved one, that they’d stand beside them through anything. Sure, we’d all love more than anything to take their word for it.  But the fact is that caring for someone sick is extremely difficult; it requires flexibility, an incredible amount of patience, tolerance, the ability to adapt quickly and for many people, the ability to handle emergency situations that often times come out of nowhere. Loving someone who is ill is just not an easy job, and it is not for everybody. Those who can’t commit to being a part of our lives aren’t necessarily bad people, either. While it really pisses off people like me to be left behind by people who can’t handle us like we hope they could, we can’t actually blame them like we so badly would like to. They’re just not capable of being all the things we need them to be. For us, the Others, that is far from encouraging. If that’s how it will be, and we will forever be disappointed and rejected by those we love, what’s the point in trying to have relationships at all? Why try?

And for the majority of people, does all that mean they shouldn’t even bother with people like us? Should it just be decided that people like us don’t deserve love or attention outside of medical necessity?

Hell. Fucking. No.

Yes, loving someone who is sick is hard. And it is not for everyone. But if you do, you will see your life in more color than you could imagine. You will learn compassion on a level that is far beyond what you thought you had in you. Not only will you be compassionate towards the one you care for, but you may be able to understand human beings on a new level altogether. You will learn about yourself; how strong you can be, how resilient, and how smart you are on some of the most difficult days. I am not romantisizing illness, mind you. But the fact is that though my family, many friends, and many boyfriends have all given up on me and left me because I am ill, I have also seen a few people blossom through the experiences we share together. Not only do people learn a great deal about what it is like in the Others pile, but they learn about themselves. And that’s kind of amazing.

I have been called a burden on my family. I have been called a mistake by boys I really, really cared for. I have been told that I should not even be alive because of my medical history by doctors. I have been told that I will always face the fact that at any moment, someone I love could simply run out of compassion, flip the light switch in their brain, and give up on me while blaming me for it all. I have experienced this more times than I can count on my toes, and trust me, it truly destroys you. However, I remain strong in my belief that while there are so many that give up on us, the few that won’t, and will choose to grow with us, are out there, ready and willing.

We are never going to belong to the great, general majority. But we do belong. We belong to our little squiggly lined circle of being the Others, we belong to those who rain love down on us without making us feel guilty that we need extra care. Those people that envelop us in pure love and kindness we are beyond grateful to, because they certainly are rare. I have often times reminded myself that I could not be friends with or date certain people because I can’t be what they need, but likewise, they cannot be what I need. Though I have been raised to feel ashamed of that, in reality, I shouldn’t at all. I didn’t choose the life that I live, but it’s what I’ve got. Through every tube I get jammed into my nose, for every panic attack, for every arthritic bone in my body and every part of my body destroyed by my disease, I still deserve love. In the end, the fact is that not everyone can love everyone else; but everyone truly deserves love.

If you are someone chronically ill reading this, I hope that you can see the light in the darkness, because while it’s awfully hard to see sometimes, it is there. And if you are a caregiver, or someone like the owner of the PostSecret I shared who is not sure if they even can be a caregiver, I hope you think about it fully before deciding you can’t do it. We know it’s hard. Being like us isn’t exactly a breeze either. And if you can’t take it, it does not make you an evil or immoral person. But to those of you who can take this life with us, and help us to carry the load a little, you are extraordinary for not rejecting us, but rejecting those who tell you all the time that we’re not worth your struggle.

Above all, this is what matters most to me: I am not like everyone else. I can’t do all the things that I want to. I am very, very different. However, if you were to zoom out, forever and ever, until you were looking at Earth from the farthest part of space, you would see a great image, where a great truth lies. You would not see different piles of people. You would not see black people or white people, sick people or healthy people. All you would see is a microscopic speck of light. All you would see, would be us. Whether we feel it or not, whether we fight it or accept it, in the end, that’s all there is.

There’s only us.

*Disclaimer: I hope that those reading this are aware that while I state that being a chronically ill person or being a person of a difference race or religion are all minorities, I do not, by any means, imply that being of difference race, gender,sexuality or religion are the same as being ill, that something is wrong with those who are any of those things. While in the American media we speak of minorities mainly in terms of race and religion, again, the true definition of the word minority is a smaller part of a whole, and that is the definition I am going by in this post, because as chronically ill people, we are a minority. 

I know that I can’t tell you my mind is running circles,
My eyes have begun to swirl, like death that is not as sterile,
I ain’t gonna let you down, I ain’t gonna let you leave me.

I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that life, that it makes me crazy
So I just like to daydream, cause dreams, yeah they make me happy
Will you come along, my love?
Will you come along here with me?

~Angels and Airwaves, Saturday Love

Ellie Vs. The Gaping Hole in the Middle of Her

This is going to be hard.

I have spoken a few times about my hysterectomy in terms of a timeline and about all the medical aspects of it. I haven’t really talked about the emotional part or its affect on my personality on my blog, and I haven’t really talked about that anywhere else, either. I didn’t have much of a chance to deal with the surgery, really. I had the surgery without my family knowing and was mostly just determined to keep it that way. I was in the hospital for a week, was at a friend’s house for a week, at another’s for a week after that, then went back home to pretend like nothing had ever happened while I got ready to move away from my hometown to Saint Louis. So many other events were happening, both good and bad, that I just pretended that I was okay. On top of that, everyone else expected me to be okay, to get over it, and that once the physical pain was gone I would just go back to normal.

But I am not okay. I am farther from it than I ever have been before, and that’s not normal in the slightest.

Last night I had a long conversation with my boyfriend. A conversation about who we were as people, what we were struggling with both together and individually, and what we could do to try to make it better. And in that moment I erupted, and I cried harder than I had all year, because it all finally poured out of me that my surgery has changed me, has hurt me, and I have been keeping that all locked deep inside the hole in my body where my uterus used to be.

I do not believe that being a woman is defined by your ability to have children. I don’t believe that women who don’t want kids, regardless of their physical ability, are incomplete, or ignorant for making that decision. That being said, I am a woman who has always wanted to be a mother, and to have the experience of being pregnant and giving birth. That experience has been robbed from me.

It was not my choice to have this surgery. I had two options; I either live a life that even doctors told me I shouldn’t be living where I would be unable to walk, constantly fainting, and staying in agonizing pain without relief for the foreseeable future with not even so much as a drug to help me through it. Or, I could have a hysterectomy and be relieved of the unbearable suffering, relinquishing the ability to have my own children, but also giving myself a chance to live a real life that was more than a just losing battle. Do either of those really sound like a choice?

I had to fight for my surgery and beg several doctors to listen to me, because due to my age they believed I was not ready to make the decision. Take a person and throw them into a physical hell for nearly eleven years, then tell them there is a possibility of it ending. Then tell them to their face over and over they aren’t ready to make the decision that will lead to an end to their misery. To assume my age causes me to be ignorant, despite the life I have lived, is one of the most appalling insults ever given to me. And this insult was viciously hurled at me over and over again by both my family and my doctors as they witnessed me lose consciousness, scream in pain, and be carted away in an ambulance while writhing on a gurney for eleven. fucking. years.

After my surgery, a handful of friends were more dedicated to me than I could have possibly imagined. Even now, a few months later and four states between us, they still are dedicated to me just as I am to them, yet no matter how many letters I write them or conversations I have with them I cannot properly convey how they were, and many times still are, one of the only things keeping me alive. They are the reason I had the strength to survive eight ours of excruciating contractions my first night in the hospital, 48 hours without sleep and only searing pain to keep me company, being too tired to breathe without a nasal cannula, and having to learn how to walk and eat without fainting.

Most of my life has been a struggle to simply keep my head above the water; but this summer I was hit with a tsunami and was repeatedly dragged down to the ocean floor . These few people pulled me out of it, and gave me hope, which I did not have a single shred of. However, aside from these people, the other people that knew about my surgery, for some reason assumed that I was completely fine after, and held me to that expectation. Many others I never told, because I didn’t know how, if I should, or what their reaction would be. People get to announce their engagements and pregnancies to every single person on the Earth when those events occur. No one gets to announce their hysterectomy or ask for help during it. No one gets to ask for attention or compassion when their heart is rotting inside of them. People want to hear about babies in pumpkin costumes and kittens playing piano, not this sad, depressing shit, I guess. But this sad, depressing shit is important. I hope someone understands that. I am considering posting this to my Facebook, but I wonder what the use of that would even be. Would anyone read something this long or would they simply think, “TLDR,” and scroll along? Would they know what to say after they did read this? Through every letter I’ve typed out in between tears, would all they would get from this was the fact that I insulted them by saying I am crushed by their expectations of me? I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to find out.

Year after year, I have had so much taken from me, whether it was taken by my health, other people, or just unfortunate situations that even now I don’t understand completely. And this year, one of the biggest goals of my life has again been torn out of my hands. And I am having a hard time dealing with it. I will never feel a life inside me. I will never get to call my best friend or my sister and tell them I’m pregnant. I won’t ever feel something kicking inside of me, saying hello to this world that will all be new to them. I won’t ever feel the horrific pain of giving birth, which to many might seem like a positive, but along with never feeling that pain I will never feel the uncensored emotion of having a new body and life come from my own, that I made. I will never see myself in my child, and I will never be told that they look just like me. All of that has been taken from me, and I am told by so many people to act like that isn’t weighing down on me every time I take a breath.

I didn’t realize it until last night, when, after my conversation with my boyfriend and after we had fallen asleep in peace, I woke up at 5 am in the morning, sat up in bed, and began for the third time that day to cry uncontrollably. My heart is so weighted by the pain of this surgery and by the pain of so much else that I never truly got the chance to face or heal from. I just carry on, which is exactly what you are told to do when tragedy and pain strikes. But carrying on is not enough. I touch my stomach, and I swear to God I feel the hole left by the removal of my uterus. I feel the space, I feel the emptiness, and if I am not careful, it will consume the rest of me, until I feel nothing else but that.

I have to be honest; I don’t know what I need to heal. I do know compassion, care and kindness certainly help, and I’ve been lucky to get that from a few outstanding relationships I have. I try to remind myself that even if I didn’t have the surgery, the chance of me being able to have a child of my own was always slim, not to mention I have three congenital diseases, and while it is not an absolute fact that it would be passed to my children, that was not a risk I’d be willing to take. There was only a one-percent chance that I could have children, but now, that one-percent is a big fat zero that matches the new hole in the middle of me.

I also try to remind myself that while I will never have children from my own body, I can adopt them. While they may not look like me, maybe my daughters will pick up my love of music and writing, or maybe my sons will pick up my love for retro fashion and old television shows. Maybe my children, though they won’t come from my body, will still absorb all the love I am so willing to give, and while they won’t inherit my green eyes, maybe they will inherit my compassion and empathy and have it create a nest in their hearts. Maybe, just maybe, the fact that one dream has been stolen from me has made room for a different one that, on my journey towards healing, I will look forward to even more.

I don’t regret having my surgery. But just because I don’t regret it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less that I had to have it. I still get ghost pains in my abdomen, and that week in the hospital comes rushing back towards me. It scares me. Through the years I hope the pain fades, along with my longing, my heartbreak, and my sorrow. But right now, every breath I take stings, every smile I flash is laced with sadness. My heart is mourning, my brain is scrambling. My body doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. But, as one of my favorite authors, John Green, says, “pain demands to be felt,” and this pain is screaming out bloody murder to get my attention. I apologize with the utmost sincerity possible to my soul for not listening. I am listening now. I hear you.

Oh baby, show me a sign, send up a signal that everything’s fine.
Come on, slide up right here by my side, you know that I, I wanna rest in your light.

~Nate Ruess – Nothing Without Love

Ellie Vs. A Short, Lucky Tangent

Why me?

Do you ask yourself that often? I certainly do.

Being someone with an extremely uncooperative body, I wonder, “why me,” several times a day. When I was younger, mainly due to being born into an extremely religious family, I became convinced that when something bad happened to me, it was because I was being punished for something wrong I did. As I got older, I got more and more sick, I felt even more pain, and my family situation got worse. My family constantly told me I was a burden, and that our family’s problems were my fault, and I believed that I ultimately got what was coming to me.

Now, as I have gotten older, I have realized that, whether a person is religious, spiritual, scientific, all of the above, or none of the above, one fact remains true for us all; there is a certain random chaos to this universe of ours that our religions, equations, and stories will never fully be able to explain. As humans it is our very nature to be curious, and I believe that being curious and learning constantly is the best way to live a life. However, no matter how many books you read, degrees you have, or churches you visit, you will never, ever, know everything about the universe and how it works. Part of it will always be a mystery.

As someone who is curious, stubborn, and never truly satisfied, this really fucking pisses me off.

And yet, getting older and having to fight my health as much as I have has also begun to teach me that there is a certain beauty in being able to say, “I don’t know.” Naturally, it’s always uncomfortable to not know the answer to something. Just the same, it feels really good to teach others about things, to be the smartest one in class, and to be right. But I don’t know the answer to every question I am asked, and I don’t pretend to. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to be okay with saying with confidence that I don’t know the answer, while also striving to constantly better myself and gain more knowledge.

I don’t know why young people get murdered on the way home from school. I don’t know why old men get carjacked and robbed in the city I live in, or why people are starving in my hometown. I don’t know why I have been sick my entire life, or why I’ve been made to withstand excruciating pain that many people never have to feel in their entire lives.

Likewise, I don’t know why some people who are the meanest, ugliest people are also millionaires with more power than any person should have, or why I have been blessed with being able to survive all I have gone through, or deserve an incredible boyfriend, a small group of fantastic friends, or a grandmother and sister who have unconditionally loved me through even their own painful experiences.

What I do know is that no one deserves pain, or to be robbed of their lives, or to starve, or to live day to day wondering how they’re going to survive. From a religious perspective, I don’t believe in the cruel God people have created. I don’t think the Creator (you can insert whichever one you are thinking of) is a jealous or vengeful god, or wants people to suffer. Scientifically, I don’t believe bad things have to happen to balance out the good, or in order for us to be grateful that good things exist. I really do believe that what has made me survive so many near death experiences, what made John Green a famous writer, or what made Green Day a famous band is of course hard work and resilience, but also part luck, which is the only word we have in English for the chaos of the universe that we cannot comprehend.

I could use a bit more luck in this particular time of my life. And I wish anyone reading this all the best of luck as well. I think most people could always use a little bit more. I am thankful for what I have been given, regardless of the reason. And I don’t think that despite the mistakes I have made and the bad things I have done, that I or anyone else deserves pain and suffering. This is not punishment. This is just simply life. A teacher that I greatly admire once said, “people always ask, ‘why me?’ but really, why not you?” That’s a very good point, isn’t it?

I wish I had more control over not only my life, but everyone else’s. I wish I could make everyone safe, healthy, happy and kind. Maybe there is a way to, and maybe it will come to me someday, either by luck or by my own doing,but most likely both.

I just don’t know, and I’m not sorry for not knowing , because no matter how much you’d like to tell yourself, while you may have your beliefs and opinions just as I do, in the end, you don’t know either. So how do we navigate what we don’t know? Well, it’s just my opinion, but I think it might be good to try to get through it all, together.

Get hot, get too close to the flame
Wild open space. Talk like an open book,
Sign me up.
Got no time to take a picture, I’ll remember someday,
All the chances we took.

We’re so close to something better left unknown.
We’re so close, to something better left unknown.
I can feel it in my bones.

Gimme sympathy, after all of this is gone.
Who would you rather be?
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Oh seriously, you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young.
Come on baby, play me something,
Like here comes the sun.

Gimme Sympathy – Metric

Ellie Vs. Scrambled Thoughts in Saint Louis

Hello out there!

*echo* Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!

It’s been pretty empty around here lately. I’m still alive, I promise. Well, sort of.

My life has been so overwhelming the last few months that even thinking about writing down any part of it is overwhelming as well. So, while part of me says, “go on, write something,” the other part of me says, “let’s hide under the covers for just a few more days.” The latter normally wins this debate. Today, however, I peak my head out from the covers, or bed sheet rather because it’s way too freaking hot in Missouri to use a proper blanket right now, to say a little hello, and attempt to make sense of the fragments of thought in my brain.

My life’s timeline in the last three months has gone like this-

  • Quit my job
  • Had a hysterectomy
  • Hospitalized for a week
  • Returned home to pretend I didn’t have a hysterectomy
  • Packed up my things
  • Moved to Missouri
  • Had several nervous breakdowns
  • Ate some cereal

I’ve been having trouble keeping up. I’m anxious, tired, depressed, and still recovering from surgery, which is awfully hard to do when you’re also trying to set up an entirely new life. However, while I don’t think I’m handling it perfectly, I am handing it well.

Saint Louis is a very interesting place, much different from my hometown. I was raised in a place in Northern California called San Jose, which can easy be described as the conceited younger brother of San Francisco. I love my hometown, don’t get me wrong. The nature that surrounds the city makes those that live there extremely fortunate; go one way, you reach the forests, mountains and canyons. Go the other way, you reach the sparkling ocean. The beauty of San Jose itself, however, is far from natural. The polished buildings and enormous malls are shiny, sure, but empty. There are a few missions, The Winchester Mystery House, and lovely victorian homes downtown that hold our history, but that history is drowned out quickly by the city’s desire to always be up to date on the latest and greatest details of human life.

Growing up in the place like that, even growing up very poor in a place like that, my family instilled the thought in my head that if something looked worn down, old, or had the slightest imperfection, it was filthy and dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. I try very hard to not be a shallow person, but growing up with a shallow family in a city that is just bad makes being any different quite hard. I still fight my parent’s prejudice voices in my head every second of my life, and while I’m proud to say I win, say 90% of the time, they still haunt me, and antagonize my anxiety.

The first moment I arrived at my new home last Friday, I immediately regretted my move and wanted to go home, and my heart sank when I remembered that the place I left was never really a home at all. I felt hopeless. The small apartment complex with red bricks and old wooden stairs was ominous, like a monster waiting to devour me. I looked up at it, and told my boyfriend, “I don’t think I like it here.” He told me to give it a chance, and since I had no other choice, I promised I would.

We walked inside, where all of our boxes and moving supplies had taken over. All I could think of was how much work it would be to unpack them all. I looked around the apartment. It all seemed so small, and so old. I looked out the window of our new kitchen, and all that greeted me were more old, brick buildings as far as the eye could see, with unkept lawns and our gravel alley. My heart sank even more, practically into my shoes. I entrusted my boyfriend with my life- to find us a place to start our lives, that should be safe and affordable, and this is the place he picked? After nearly twenty landlords I had called, this is what he thought would be best? I almost felt betrayed. My emotions, my anxiety, every part of me was whirling around, screaming, fighting for some reason that they didn’t comprehend. I fell onto the bed, and I cried for hours. Hopeless, tired, in a foreign place away from my friends who had taken care of me for so long, I had never felt so alone.

I do believe depression and anxiety both create veils that can blind their sufferer badly. Every person sees the world differently to begin with. But when you have these little monsters in your head, the world isn’t just different. It’s terrifying, foreboding, and becomes an even bigger monster itself. Between dealing with those two on a constant basis and my family instilling constant fear into my head, new things in my life are things that I want very badly to experience, but do not believe I can survive. So it’s really no wonder that my first reaction to my new state was so terrible. Not to mention Saint Louis doesn’t exactly have the best reputation to begin with. Being deemed both one of the most dangerous and most racist cities in America, it doesn’t exactly sound promising. I was already apprehensive to move here because of that reputation, and despite visiting several times, it still felt like traveling to a different planet. But alas, I had nowhere else to live.

As the week has quickly sped by, my worries and fears have been far from calmed. However, I look out at the street and see these old buildings instead of shiny new townhouses, and I realize that these buildings are not decrepit. They are a part of this city’s history. There are happy children running and playing outside, under the blue, cloud spotted sky. And as the boxes in my own apartment lessen, I see that my kitchen is beautiful. Simple, but big enough to have dinner parties, which is something I’ve always wanted to do in my own home. My living room is a welcoming open space, with a huge sectional couch given to us for free by a family friend, which we can fit all our friends on for movie nights. The prints my boyfriend made of The Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, and our other favorites hang on the walls, proudly displaying our love of comics and movies.

My bedroom contains a stunning old fireplace and mantle, the dark cherry wood chipped, but polished to fuse history with present. A photograph of the milky way that one of my best friends took in California hangs in the middle of one bedroom wall, to remind me of him, and to remind me of my old home state. And best of all, in the middle of our little bedroom sits our bed, looking out on the rest of our shotgun style apartment. The bed where every night I fall asleep in the arms of another of my best friends, my boyfriend, and the bed where I wake up to his kiss each morning and he holds me before he has to get ready for work. The very same bed that I cried on upon my arrival to Saint Louis, catching my hopeless tears, is now the bed where my boyfriend and I lay and speak of all the things we will do, all the people we will welcome into the place, and all the work left to create the home that we want.

And best of all, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to fear the people I live with. I don’t have to abide by insane rules made to control me, be bullied by my own family members, or have to wonder if I will have to run away tonight when someone loses their temper and puts me in danger. This city is still strange to me, but I look forward to getting to know it, for all it’s good and bad. My apartment is still new, but every day becomes a little more familiar. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t sparkling or the latest and greatest. But it feels pretty great to me.

For the very first time, after 25 years on this earth, I am finally, finally home.

We work and slave the day away.
We’re raised in perfect families.
We fuck and fight like vagabonds.
We dance like fucking animals.
Don’t stop, the band is coming on.
Rude boys and punks will shout along.
Police cars bring cuffs and loaded guns.
Kids scream, but laughing as they run.

I hope, do you wanna let go?
‘Cause this is home.

This Is Home – Blink-182

Ellie vs. Total Laproscopic Hysterectomy

Hello darlings,

I haven’t written in two months, so decrees the little counter on my last post. I’m sorry I have been absent, but I had an organ removed. Thankfully, it was voluntary, not because of a Repo-Man (someone will get that…I think. I hope. Maybe).

I could write about the millions of things that I have been dealing with, because I shit you not, there are a million. However, the biggest one is my surgery. I’ve talked about the preparation for surgery several times before; fighting doctors, being rejected, hiding it from my family, planning things out…it was by far one of the hardest hurdles of my life. But sure enough, on June 17th at 11:50 A.M at Stanford Hospital, my uterus, cervix and I went our separate ways. Here’s how that went.

I woke up at fuck o’clock because I had to drive in traffic to my friend Cassy’s house, where I had planned to stay for a week after my surgery. I was actually not nervous at all. Just the week before I had my period, and once again was being tortured by my own body. My back, my legs, my abdomen all made me want to scream. And a few times, I did. I was nothing short of ecstatic that it would be the last period I would experience. I met up with Cassy, as well as my childhood friend Stan and his girlfriend Jacquelynn. They drove three hours to be with me during my surgery, which I was thankful for.

We drove to Stanford, checked in, and I sat in the waiting room, holding my best friend’s hand. Okay, now I was getting a little nervous. My family though I was house sitting, I had quit my job, and was about to have major surgery that could either change my life, or be a huge waste of time, effort, pain and money. No big deal, right? I was called into the pre-op room, hooked up to I.V’s, dressed is a stylish hospital gown, and waited. And waited. And WAITED. Finally, the surgeon and anesthesiologist came to my room, and the preparation had begun. The surgeon told me that the operation would take about five hours, and she was not exactly sure what she would find. Then the anesthesiologist (who was incredibly handsome, may I add), began to pump me full of drugs…and I felt it right away. I don’t actually remember the last 20 minutes before falling asleep. My best friend told me that I was a bit out of my mind, and that I told him, “If you really love me, you will go get me a box of See’s Candies,” as well as, “make sure my hair looks okay because Chris and Brian are coming later and they’re hot.”

I woke up in a hospital room, and I remember panicking. I didn’t understand why I was in the hospital, or where I was to be exact, and I remember being convinced that I would be left alone there without any of my friends to come visit me. I remember crying and feeling intense fear. What I don’t remember, but learned later on, was that I was actually saying out loud, “please don’t leave me alone here,” and that my nurse, a lovely woman who ended up being my best friend in the hospital, and I were sitting on my bed together and both of us were crying. Stan told me when he and Jacquelynn walked into the room they saw us holding hands, sitting on the bed, crying together. I MADE A NURSE CRY, YOU GUYS. I honestly feel terrible about that, especially because she was so amazingly sweet and kind to me, but in my defense, I had absolutely no control of my brain. On the bright side, Stan did in fact bring me a box of chocolate. Bless my best friend.

I fell asleep for a while longer and woke up to my other friends, Brian, Jared, and Maya in my room. This time I was much less foggy, but still not at all myself. The pain slowly started to creep into my body as I tried to speak to my friends, and before I could fully understand what was happening to my body, I began to have contractions. That’s right. I did the exact opposite of having a baby, and yet I still got contractions. What twisted shit is that?! For those of you who are familiar with doctors, they always ask what your pain level is, one being a small headache and ten giving birth. I swear, these contractions were truly a 10 out of 10. They came in waves, and I screamed and twisted in my bed while my friends watched. One of them, Brian, sat by my bed and held my hand as I squeezed the life out of it. I was truly terrified. If my friends hadn’t been there, it would have been a nightmare, but their company saved me. The nurses kept running in, pumping my I.V with different painkillers, and nothing worked, and I kept screaming. This lasted six hours until finally they gave me a drug called Dillaudid, which is stronger than Vicodin, and the last thing the doctor could try before making the decision to start me on Morphine. Thankfully, the Dillaudid worked, and I finally had relief. My incredible nurse was supposed to kick my friends out at 8 p.m, but she let them stay with me all night. You never understand how important it is to have friends in a terrifying situation until you’re in one.

I was told to expect to be hospitalized for one night. I’m pretty sure that was a joke. The first two days in the hospital I couldn’t sleep, and I got so exhausted that I ended up needing some oxygen because even breathing got to be too much work for my beat little body. After nearly 36 hours of being awake, I was able to have a somewhat normal sleep cycle, interrupted every 4 hours by nurses making me take my drugs in the middle of the night so that I wouldn’t wake up in excruciating pain. The rest of my stay, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was constantly on drugs, and was still in pain. I also had a catheter because I couldn’t urinate on my own, let alone even sit up without blacking out. With the help of many friends coming to visit me, calls from my older sister, and an amazing group of nurses, I recovered in the hospital for six days. I still couldn’t eat upon my departure, but I could drink water and walk to the bathroom which meant my catheter could be removed (and thank goodness for that, because having a tube in my vagina is definitely something I don’t want to experience for longer than a week).

My stay at the hospital is remembered in pieces, I’m assuming mostly due to the ridiculous amounts of drugs I had. However, at one point the surgeon did come to visit me. She told me that I had Endometriosis behind my uterus, sitting right on a nerve cluster in my lower back, which was definitely the cause of my nerve pain in my spine. Mayo Clinic explains endometriosis as:

“an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.”  

As for my uterus, it was swollen, engorged, and inflamed, or as her assistant said, “very, very angry.” later on, the biopsy found that I not only had endometriosis, but also had Adenomyosis, which, as Mayo Clinic also states:

“occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, exists within and grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. The displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — thickening, breaking down and bleeding — during each menstrual cycle. An enlarged uterus and painful, heavy periods can result.”

So, in short, there was a lot of crazy shit going on in my body. No wonder it was so miserable! She said that the normal treatment for these problems are, you guessed it, a hysterectomy. She also said the surgery only took two hours instead of the estimated five hours, and that it went easier than planned. Turns out, I chose the right path. Take that, shitty doctors that rejected me! And suck it, mom!

I am still recovering now, and it’s far from easy. I spent one week at Cassy’s, one week at my friend Andrey’s, and then returned home to act like I definitely did not just have surgery. It’s hard faking like I am alright, because the pain is still moderate at best, and I am still very weak and struggling to do day to day activities that I normally have no problem doing. Despite all that, I am so happy that I had the surgery. My back is already hurting less, and once all the surgery pain subsides in a few months, I’ll really be able to notice the difference. I haven’t been resting nearly as much as I should, mainly because I am moving in three weeks, which is another blog for another time. However, I am doing the best I can. Soon I will have a CT-Scan to check all the inside stitches, and the radiation will probably turn me into a Ninja Turtle, but I’m okay with that.

Broken hearts, broken homes, and broken bones,
Secret love let me go,
You know I gotta find my own way,
Through mistakes that I can’t change.
Because there’s beauty in every sin,
Every single black eye,
Has some blue like the moon just before the sun shines.
No, I don’t believe in all the things that they preach.

~Nate Ruess – Great Big Storm

Ellie Vs. Cipro and a Hidden Waterfall

Hello human thingies!

Two weeks since my last post. My chiropractor that I see every two weeks tells me constantly, “I miss so much when I don’t see you because for you, everything happens within two weeks.” And she’s right. My life is constantly overflowing with madness, and every day just adds more to it. For most people, a lot can happen in a day. But for me, a day can start out as simply as me eating cereal and packing lunch, and end with being on the floor unconscious and terrified. Well, at least I’m not boring, right?

Last week was pretty much a clusterfuck, and this week isn’t really helping. It started out Monday when I had a day off work. I spent the day, after seeing my therapist of course, shopping with my dear friend Cassy who has honestly been a guardian angel in my life since I’ve met her. I am not very good at asking for help, but she constantly gives me what I need. She’s all around incredible, not to mention the best person to be in the hospital with because she’s completely hilarious. Why was I in the hospital? I’m glad you asked! After shopping for a dress she could wear to a wedding, I was feeling sick with a great deal of abdominal pain, not to mention I was peeing every two seconds. I had felt like this the week before, but on Monday, it quickly worsened. I told Cassy and she convinced me to go to urgent care, and even offered to go with me. So, off we went.

The symptoms I described are a no brainer for most women. What makes you pee constantly and gives you pain? A Urinary Tract Infection! That’s right folks! I don’t get them often, but boy, do those fuckers hurt. I went to urgent care, and after being poked and prodded, the doctor said that it looked like I might have a UTI, but he wasn’t sure. I told him that I was having majoring surgery in two weeks, and he said that since I had let the problem go for so long, we needed to kill it fast, because if the infection was severe, I wouldn’t be able to have surgery. You all know what I have been through to get my surgery to happen, so the idea of it not happening is my worst nightmare. So, I was sent home with Cipro, an antibiotic used to kick a UTI’s ass. Unfortunately, the ass that got kicked was mine instead.

I started taking the drug and my symptoms immediately got better, and then were replaced with the worst nausea I have had in two years. I am a little nauseous every day, so I’m a bit used to the feeling, but this was far above that. The last time I was this nauseous was two years ago when I had cortisone shots in my spine. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I was fucking miserable. After no food, and being awake for over 24 hours, I was able to go back to urgent care, where they told me I did NOT have a UTI and that I could stop taking the Cipro. The fuck? What did I have then? I asked the doctor what was wrong with me, and he asked if I had been under stress. Me? Under stress? Chronic Illness, Major surgery that has to be hidden from my family, interstate move, trying to find a place to live, while still trying to have a life here? That doesn’t stress me out at all! I AM SO. NOT. STRESSED. I AM FINE. PERFECTLY FINE. *smashes head into keyboard* I AM SO CALM.

Okay. So. Clearly I’m kind of stressed. The doctor told me stress can even cause frequent urination, and definitely causes abdominal pain, so that was the most likely cause. I wasn’t exactly happy with that diagnosis, but I was thrilled that I didn’t have any viruses or infections. I was sent home, this time with nausea medication, and was basically told to wait it out. So I did. Despite taking the Cipro only four times, the last day being Tuesday night, it is now a week later and I’m still a bit sick from it, though not nearly as bad as before. One thing is for sure though; I am never, ever taking that stuff again.

Despite being bedridden most of last week and on the weekend, Sunday I had promised a friend I don’t see much that we’d go hiking. I love nature, and my friends, and this particular friend I have never really hung out with before outside of parties, so I didn’t want to bail on him. Sunday I felt better, so I figured I’d push myself to get out of bed and see what I could do.

We ended up at Uvas Canyon, which is by far my favorite place on earth. It’s a beautiful, massive canyon with a river and several waterfalls right in the middle of it. The rest is covered in trees, dirt, bridges, rocks and cliffs. I was so caught up in the moment, being in a stunning place and being with someone fairly new, that I was able to mostly forget how much pain I was in. I often forget what it’s like to not feel physical pain. When your body hurts every single day of your life, it feels like you’re imprisoned in it. However, every now and then when I am lucky, if I am with wonderful people or in a fantastic place, the pain fades away a little, and I am so grateful for the moments that it does. I even climbed a little cliff, which I hadn’t done since I was 14, with a few little pushes from my friend, of course. I was so proud of myself. We went on multiple trails, and many off road ones, and I felt like I could finally breathe after a week (and a life, really) of pain. I had to take breaks here and there, and nearly passed out at one point, but my friend was kind and patient and allowed me to rest as I needed.

At one point, we found an extremely tiny little trail among the trees. I didn’t even notice it at first, but my friend did. The thing I love about Uvas Canyon is that despite going there for years, is that every time I explore it, I find something new. This tiny trail lead to a broken rock wall, and as we climbed over it, we found a hidden waterfall. It was truly beautiful; despite the severe drought here in California, a small, steady stream of clear water trickled down a wall of shining rocks. It was surrounded by even taller walls, covered in bright green moss, and at the very top, all the massive trees made a canopy above it all. It was like a little secret spot of heaven, and we were so thrilled that we had found it. One of the rock walls was quite small, and had several large rocks jutting out of it, so we decided to try to climb it. I was honestly intimidated. Like I mentioned before, the last time I climbed anything, aside from climbing into bed, was when I was 14 in Monterey, before my health got as bad as it is now. But I am a stubborn little asshole, so I was going to at least try to climb the cliff before I said I couldn’t. And guess what. I DID.

I was stupidly proud of myself and I couldn’t really hide it. For my friend the cliff was nothing, but for me, I felt like I climbed Everest. Between my bad back, bad legs, and my marshmallow core, I’m not exactly great at that sort of thing, yet still, I prevailed. I PREVAILED, YOU GUYS!

After five hours of hiking I felt amazing, if not tired and a tiny bit hungry (I hadn’t had anything to eat that day but a little rice, but Cipro destroyed my appetite, which is saying a lot since I’m normally a foody fiend). I drove home, said goodbye to my friend, then took a shower and a nap. However, the moment I hit my mattress, I was flooded with pain. My abdomen, legs, sides, and arms all felt like they were swollen and strangled. My stomach felt like it was attempting to be an acrobat, flipping and twisting and making me too nauseous to move. I was in so much pain I couldn’t fall asleep, yet so exhausted I couldn’t be fully awake. Talk about torture.

Clearly, five hours of hiking after a week of sickness and immobility just might have been a teensy bit too much too soon. The pain from the Cipro and hiking has still not subsided, and to put the cherry on the top of the clusterfuck cake, my period came this morning! So now I am barely able to walk, in tremendous pain, sleepless, and just a miserable little ball of awful right now. But still working!

Despite the fact that I am barely holding myself together right now, I don’t regret my hike. Yes, I definitely overdid it, and I don’t enjoy the overload of pain, but I pushed myself extremely hard, and I discovered a little slice of magic deep in a Canyon. How awesome is that? While I’m sure we were not the first to discover it, it was the first time for us. I haven’t felt that happy or that healthy in years. So fuck you, muscles. I still kicked ass.

As for my period, my partial hysterectomy is only two weeks away! Can you believe it?! It went from barely a concept, to a concrete idea, to a rejected concrete idea, to a possibility, to a plan, to my very near future. I truly cannot wait for it. I’m terrified, excited, and other feelings that we probably don’t even have the words for in the English language. I’m struggling a little with the whole, “I’ll never give birth” thing, while daydreaming about the day I get to adopt children who are in need of my love. It’s a pretty complicated mix of emotion, and some days are definitely easier than others, but I think I’m on my way. The thought of being able to walk better, passing out less, and being all around healthier is what keeps me going.

Sitting here now, my body swallowed in excruciating pain, I’m mostly just excited to not be this way anymore. I really just can’t do it. But there’s a lot I can do as well, which I often forget. Climbing that cliff not only reminded me how beautiful the world is, but how strong I can be on my own. Most of the time I feel my strength is drowned out by anxiety, depression, and physical and mental pain. But buried under all that nastiness, I do have strength, and courage, and resilience. That’s a little hard to remember when I can’t stand being in my own skin, but I’m trying to remind myself, because in the end, while friends and family should always support us, your biggest fan and cheerleader should always, always, be yourself. I don’t think I’ve made the team quite yet, but I’m getting there.

Rise above, gonna start the war!
What you want, what you need, what’d you come here for?
Well an eye for an eye, and an “F” for fight.
They’re taking me down as the prisoners riot.
The shackles on my words are tied,
Fear can make you compromise.
Fasten up it’s hard to hide,
Sometimes I want to disappear.

Houdini – Foster the People *this is one of my favorite music videos 

Ellie Vs. A Figurative Elevator

My life is literally a fucked up elevator. Figuratively speaking, of course.

It is very early in the morning, so if this doesn’t make any sense, forgive me. When I first woke up it was 2:34a.m, and I was more stoked about that then I should have been, but I suppose we should take those charming little things about life wherever we can get them.

Last week was a pretty rad week overall. Work was mostly a breeze, I got to see some friends, one of which I rarely ever get to see which was a wonderful unexpected thing to have happen, and my body was feeling good. The friend thing especially made me quite ecstatic, because he’s one of the people I am going to miss the most when I move. I am trying to see my friends as much as I can before I go, but some of my friends are extremely busy, which can make that plan a little hard to actually put into motion. On Saturday, I started packing for my move, and packed six entire boxes all by myself over the weekend, without any help. That’s saying quite a bit considering my shit health and my shit spine. It completely exhausted me, and I felt like I wanted to fall over by about 6p.m, but I was summoned to a game of Munchkin, which can never be denied. I stayed up until 3a.m with a group of friends I didn’t know too well, got to know them better, kicked some ass at Munchkin, and went home. Sunday I packed even more, wanted to fall over again, but promised a friend I’d watch Age of Ultron with him, and I was determined not to bail.

All of these things were pretty great for the most part. However, all those nice levels were either preceded or followed by some less than fun ones. I found out a person who I thought was my friend for years dislikes me intensely and has been excluding me from things for months, another friend was friend angry at me and still is, my spine gave up being a spine because of all the heavy lifting, my period came to destroy my body as always, and, to top it off, I broke down in tears during Age of Ultron. Crying during Age of Ultron? Really, Ellie? Yes, really. But hear me out. The reason I broke down was because,


in one part of the movie, Natasha Romanov, A.K.A Black Widow, and Bruce Banner, A.K.A The Hulk, are talking to each other in a room. Natasha wants to be with The Hulk in the romantic sort of way, but Bruce is all, “Oh noes I am teh Hulk and I am dangerous oh gawd you can’t like meh Natashuh,” but Natasha is all, “Broos But I still like yew pleez luv meh.” Why did they just turn into meme cats? No idea. Just roll with it. Anyway, at one point Bruce says that because of his genetic enhancement he cannot have children and there is no future with him. Natasha then states that neither can she, because when she was turned into a super-mega-hottie-spy, she was sterilized by the people that “created’ her. They never wanted her to have children, because children could be more important than the mission, and they simply can’t have that.

*********OKAY. YOU ARE SAFE*************

Aaaand that’s why I broke into tears. As I have talked about before, I am having a hysterectomy in June to have my uterus removed because of the excruciating pain it causes me.Sidenote: my surgery actually got approved! Hooray! I am so excited, when I got the news I was crying, for once, from happiness. Even if I were to keep my uterus, I still can’t have children, but since I have decided to have the surgery it has been a massive reminder of that fact. Then this movie comes around and forced the reminder into my brain even more so. I need to have the surgery, and I have not once reconsidered it since it is my greatest chance at a life far better than the one I have now, but it still is emotional for me.

The way I put it to my therapist was that the fact that I can’t have children was always a fact, but a very abstract one, and now it’s becoming more concrete. And that concrete idea feels like it is crushing my heart. I have a lot of goals in life, but one of my biggest ones was to always have children and a loving home. I know I still can have children, but not being able to have your own is really a hard situation to deal with. I suppose in a way I have never had to really, truly face it before, and now I am, what feels like mostly on my own. Thankfully, I was with one of my most wonderful friends, Michael, who knows what I am going through right now, and though I pulled myself together during the movie, when we got back to the car, this and everything else turned into a giant clusterfuck and destroyed my brain and I cried again, harder and with even more boogers.

My friend was incredibly supportive, which I am extremely thankful for. Since that part of Sunday, though, I am feeling a little numb. I guess I am going through a lot right now. Aside from dealing with normal life, and then dealing with my own personal version of normal life which includes a dysfunctional family and constant pain, I am preparing for life changing surgery, preparing for an interstate move, trying to figure out how I’ll pay for it all, still dealing with that stupid pile up from like two months ago, all while still trying to care of my job and my friends and all the emotional turmoil this is all causing me. So. I guess this whole numb/overwhelmed/grasping to stay alive feeling isn’t actually all that peculiar given my circumstances. I just feel like it is because I have been conditioned to not express myself, but that is another story for another time, because holy crap, I am sleepy.

I truly do believe that everyone’s lives are, figuratively speaking, literal elevators. We are always going in and out of them, soaring up to the higher levels or descending down into the lower ones. I think each elevator has a different speed, and depending on what your struggles and situations are that you must deal with, it can either drop you from level 50 to level 48, which isn’t too bad, or fuck you over and take you from level 50 to level 3. Personally, I feel like lately, my drops in the elevator have been pretty severe, and now I’m struggling to push a button at all.

I guess ultimately, the most important thing is to just get inside the elevator, rather than giving up and just staying on the same level for the rest of your life.  Though they often cause us to go plunging down, they also send us high up, and missing the view from the highest places would certainly be a shame. Don’t let your elevator leave you behind. Even though it can be frightening, a step into the unknown, and a rough ride, at least the doors are always open. Open to what, I’m not sure, but there’s only way to find out for sure.

Here’s to going up.

Forget me, I’m tired of waiting.
Still underrated, but I’m finally awake.

Let us remember, life’s such a beautiful mistake.
It’s precious and fragile, sometimes more than we can take.

It’s stronger than fire, greater than all things men create.
And I don’t know what you want from me,
But I don’t want to be perfect anymore.

BT- Forget Me 

Ellie Vs. Mother’s Day

Warning: This post is not going to be entirely sweet or sentimental. This is going to be brutal, and probably a little sad at most parts. If you want a happy Mother’s Day post, this is not one of them. To those of you who do read this, thank you. To those who move on, I hold nothing against you. Mostly because I won’t really know, but, you know. Just putting that out there. Onward! 

I fucking hate mother’s day, and I am not sorry for it at all.

I was raised by my grandparents and my mother. My mother has done a few pretty great things for me, like paying for my medical treatment when I was younger, or taking my family on trips, or working very hard to get us our own house to live in. And I appreciate all that stuff, I do. However, my medical struggles through my life has made her resent me for being her sick child, and became about how stressful it is for her, turning her into a martyr. Our family trips were always ruined by my mother’s short temper, control issues, and lack of ability to handle anything going slightly different then planned. Our house became no better than my grandparents’, because we soon learned that she was exactly like her own father, and rather than escaping him, it only amplified her rage.

For a long while, as in, the first 16 years of my life, I wanted nothing more than to have my mother love me, accept me, and want me. However, no matter what I did, I was never good enough, and was always a bitch or a disappointment. She would drive me to school every morning, and within that short six minute drive would somehow manage to break me down, sending me to school with tears streaming down my face. My mother beat my self esteem into the ground, then filled the hole with concrete so that it could never get out. She has done this to all three of her children, but for some reason, it was always the worst with me. I’m assuming because I was the most rebellious and didn’t go along with all the bullshit like my siblings did. I was never a bad child, but I did learn very early that just because someone is older than you, does not mean they will automatically do the right thing. Life is not that simple and questioning my mother never ended well. When I got older, and she constantly reminded me that I was a burden on my family and that I was worthless, I finally conceded and stopped looking for her approval and acceptance. I gave up trying to be what she wanted, because what she wanted was not only impossible, but also not who I wanted to be.

The closest thing I have to maternal figures in my life have always been my sister and my grandmother. Both are incredibly strong women who have been through far more pain and trauma than my mother ever has, yet somehow, they still manage to be kind, loving, and selfless to the people they love. My grandmother always protected me from the rage of my grandfather and my mother, and was the one who dried my tears. When we got older, while I cried and my mother ignored me or screamed at me to stop, my sister would make me home made chicken soup, and while I laid on my stomach and wished I was dead, she would rub my back to take away the pain, and stayed there until I fell asleep.

I may not have the best mother. But I do believe a mother is more than someone who just pops out a child. A mother is someone who loves, who protects, who guides, and who helps the other person get through this rough thing called life. Being a parent is a title you earn, not just by having children, but by acting as what a parent should be. Parents constantly demand respect from their children, but they must learn that they have to earn ours, just as we earn theirs. I have always found it interesting that our parents many times treat us as the biggest problems and burdens in their lives, yet we had no choice in whether we were born or not. We were their decision, they were not ours. It may be sad, but just because some people are physically capable of having children, does not mean they should. Likewise, those who cannot physically have children are not always meant to be childless. The world is kind of silly that way.

The person I love with all my heart, who I do hope to marry one day, does not have parents either. Truthfully, it does make me a bit sad that our children will not really have grandparents, or that I will never have a mother-in-law. But that being said, it certainly does not make people like my grandmother, sister, or his grandparents who raised him, any less important. It does not make all they have done for us lesser because they aren’t our mothers. Our family may not be a clean and tidy standard family, but it does have love and a ton of goodness. And I’d trade that over a shitty mother and father any day. You can count on that.

I think Mother’s Day always brings a little stab to my heart, my boyfriend’s heart, and to all other people like us. Even though we’ve come to terms with the fact that our parents failed us, and that we’ve learned to cope with it, it still stings a little. Therefore, this morning I have decided that until I can have my adopted babies, and am everything to them that I believe a mother should be, every Mother’s Day my boyfriend and I will do something wonderful for ourselves, and let the people who raised us know how valuable they truly are. We will celebrate our little family, and we will have love.

I know, I know. The holiday is just a greeting card holiday, and really doesn’t matter. And that may be so. But the things it makes me feel, both the sorrow and the adoration for the good people in my life, does matter. It matters a lot.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the good mothers, the soon to be mothers, and the men and women who took the role of a mother without expecting anything back for it, and who made those they love never feel resented for it. Thank you for being what we need.

Hey mom, there’s something in the back room.
I hope it’s not the creatures from above.
You used to read me stories,
As if my dreams were boring,
We all know conspiracies are dumb.

Aliens Exist- Blink 182

Ellie Vs. A Ferocious Friday

Friiiiiday Friiiiday. Something something Friiiiday.
I sing that every Friday to the 15-year-old girl I nanny on the way home from her school. At first she would get annoyed. Now she sings it with me. Nanny win!

Hello dear readers, I hope you are all well and are enjoying the sunshine. I am such a giant fan of sunshine. (Did anyone else imagine an enormous ceiling fan of light? No? Just me? Oh. Okay).

This week overall was pretty calm and easy, and then Friday happened, and it was so intense that I think all of this would have been much easier if it had been spread out through the week. Since it’s a whole lot of life balled up into one single day, I decided to write it out in a timeline. So. Here we go!

10:46a.m: Watching Scrubs, eating breakfast, I happen to check my e-mail and sure enough, one e-mall headline states, “You have a new message from your doctor at Stanford Hospital!” My heart flies out of my chest and out the window. I frantically go to the website, log in, fail because I am nervous, log in again, read the message, and to my utter joy, it is my doctor telling me that the board director has approved my surgery and believes it to be a reasonable solution to my condition. I couldn’t believe it. With tears in my eyes, I read further, taking in the instructions for the next step in the process. Have my therapist call her, talk to a social worker (which I had the day before, who also supports me), bring a friend to the next appointment. Done!

12:30p.m: Drive to see my medical doctor, the one who has known me the last eight years, to talk about the surgery. She was completely supportive, and said the gynecologist had called her and she explained to the gynecologist that this had been something on our mind for years and that it was now seen as my best chance. Happiness level: Over 9,000!!!!!

3:330p.m: Pick up the kid, sing the chorus of Friday to her, go to the house, do nanny stuff.

5:00p.m: Receive a call from a very frantic receptionist at Stanford, telling me someone called on my behalf and didn’t know why. I explained the person calling was my therapist, because the doctor asked for her to call them. The receptionist then said my therapist did not leave a number (which turns out, she did, but this lady was just sort of crazy all together), and because this was such a disaster to her, she called my emergency contact. My emergency contact is my mother, who is not supposed to know about my surgery. Panic and rage ensues. Like really though, what the fuck? Who calls an emergency number because they lost a phone number in a non-emergency situation? For those who know me, I have a very, veeeery long fuse when it comes to my temper. It’s rare I blow up at anyone, let alone a stranger. But I blew like a volcano. Boom.

7:30p.m: Pick up my friend Brian, sit in the car crying my eyes out from fear because I still didn’t know what the receptionist did and did not tell my mother. I calm down as best as I can, then drive us to the theater to meet up with the rest of our friends so that we all may bask in the glory that is Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie was really fantastic. Not quiet as good as the first, but certainly not bad by any means.

12:30a.m: Come home after a long day, try to sleep, but can’t, so I cruise through the interbutts mindlessly. (Don’t tell me you don’t do that when you are sleepless. I know you do!) Then, PLOT TWIST: I get a message from a friend I haven’t talked to for nearly seven months, apologizing for falling off the face of the Earth. I was furious at him, partly for bailing on me and constantly flaking on me since I’ve really known him, partly because I had been extremely worried about him, and partly because I unfortunately get left behind a lot by people for one reason or another, most of the time for reasons that really aren’t reasons at all. I don’t know how in one day two different people got me to snap.

However, we talk for a very long time, and after I go through my initial, “you bailed on me and I fucking hate you know,” phase, I went back to my normal, non-threatening self and admit that I love him dearly, and that I really, really missed him because he truly was one of my dearest and closest friends. Which ultimately did make his prompt exit out of my life that much more painful. After first giving me what I like to call an automatic robo-apology, he gave me a real one, along with telling me that I was important to him, and it made everything better. I am so happy that we decided to be friends again. I don’t trust many people, but the few that I do trust mean the world to me. So when they go away, or hurt me, whether intentionally or not, it’s like a knife through my little heart. Ouch.

This whole event though was just an overload of feels. All the feels at once. ALL OF THEM.

3:30p.m (where it gets really interesting): After talking to my friend for ours and reclaiming our awesome, Chris Evans loving friendship, I feel amazing and happy and all the good things in my soul. I thought that I would easily be able to go to sleep after all that, so I get comfortable and tried to sleep. Instead of falling asleep to dream of The Avengers, I instead lay awake, my heart suddenly pounding faster and faster, my body becoming overwhelmed with pain. I felt so hot, and my heartbeat was so blaringly loud, and I was so nauseous, and I was suddenly so everything bad. I sit up in my bed, sweating as if it was currently placed on the sun. My nausea gets worse, and I decide to go to the bathroom because I thought I would throw up.

I walk through the hallway, and right before I got to the bathroom, I faint in front of my mother’s bathroom. Our house is really quite small, so this was a very short way from my room. She wakes up and comes out, to the hallway, and I was on the floor, laying on my back. I couldn’t get up and everything was hurting, and my brain was apparently not working very well, because she kept asking what was wrong, and all I could muster, “please call help.” I said that phrase over and over, and my mother argues with me saying there was no reason for an ambulance because I have fainted before. This was not like the other times though. I usually didn’t feel so much pain and nausea, and I usually snapped out of it quickly and was aware. I was feeling confused, and I couldn’t speak, and finally I just scream a blood-curdling, zombie raising scream, because I was scared, and I was in pain, and I just couldn’t take any of it anymore. My mother finally stops fighting me and calls an ambulance.

While she was on the phone with the dispatcher, I realize I had to at least try to go to the bathroom, because peeing myself in front of five strangers didn’t sound all that appealing. So, I crawl to the toilet, and lift myself up onto it, but then my vision goes out. I was still concious, but everything turned black and I really could not see. I try to get up and wash my hands, because even in the worst situations, I am still slightly germaphobic. Then I faint again.

I wake up in my room on my bed, with the three paramedics surrounding me. The scariest part of this all was that I opened my eyes, saw them, then closed my eyes once again. When I did, I feem like I am paralyzed. I hear what is going on, but no amount of energy can get me to open my eyes, speak, or move. I was frozen. They ask me questions and I can’t reply. They force me up to lift onto the gurney, and finally I am able to look around, and after the third time of them asking me what my name was, I finally could answer. Into the ambulance I go.

The rest of the night/morning: We got to the hospital, and I still felt partially paralyzed, but I was at least more aware. I was intensely sleepy though, and struggled to stay awake. I felt a nurse play with my hair, and she said in her Southern accent, “poor girl.” I don’t know why, but her doing both those things was just so amazingly soothing, and for the first time all night, I felt a little less scared. The paramedics told me my blood pressure was freakishly low. 72/something. I have normally low blood pressure, but never that low, ever. They were very worried.

After about six hours in the hospital, the wonderfully sweet doctor who I had seen at my arrival came in and told me that I passed out from too much pain. He said that my body basically got overwhelmed from pain, clamped down on itself causing my blood pressure to drop, resulting in my vasovagal syncope being triggered and causing me to black out and faint. I told him that this was the worst episode I’ve had, but not the first, and as I told him before when I first met him, my periods since I had them give me absurd symptoms. I didn’t tell him about my plans for a hysterectomy, because people are so strange about the subject, but after hearing about what I’ve gone through and seeing the result first hand, he told me that though it is tough, he would really have me consider a hysterectomy, because this isn’t living and these periods are impacting my life far more than they should. He said I should have done it years ago, and that just because I didn’t have a uterus, didn’t mean I would have to give up being a mother if that’s what I wanted. I was so ecstatic to hear his response! I told him that I was in fact planning to have the surgery, and that I had a lot of support from doctors and friends, but my family didn’t support it. He said while it was unfortunate my family didn’t support me, I should still do it for my own well being, and that I could add him to the list of doctors on my side.

After being up for over 24 hours, I finally was able to sleep, and have been mostly resting since. Going through all this absolutely, totally sucked; however, I feel like at this point, God is slapping me in the face saying, “THIS THING NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW! FOR ME SAKES!” I get the point, God. Thanks for the signs, man. I read you loud and clear. And it is wonderful to now have yet one more doctor on my side through this grand adventure to improving my quality of life. I just can’t do this anymore guys. I can’t.

Despite Friday being as overwhelming as possible with so much good and so much bad, yesterday was filled with mostly kindness from the amazing people in my life. My friend came to pick me up from the hospital at 7a.m, one came to help me do basic things since I am very weak, and another just showed up to my house to surprise me with ice cream, my favorite chips, and the amazing book called Goodnight, Darth Vader (since I had to miss a May the 4th celebration, she said the book would make up for it). I am very unlucky that I am constantly battling pain and sickness, and to do it all with a very unsupportive family. However, I am beyond fortunate to have so many good friends that make up for the lack of support, and lend their hand to me when I need it the most, and sometimes, without me even asking. Those few people make all this far more tolerable. I can even try to explain my gratitude.

I worry constantly that when I move in two months, I will be leaving these amazing friends behind, and will never find ones nearly as incredible as them. To an extent, my condition makes it so that I always have to rely on others at least a little. Personally, I despise that. I generally try to be as independent as possible, but my life reminds me often enough that realistically, I can’t do this on my own all the time. I do make sure that they do know that even though I need help, I am always there to help them as well. There are a group of people in my life that I would honestly do absolutely anything for, no questions asked. While I will miss my friends when I go, not only because they help me, but because they are in general a group of extraordinary humans, I maintain a glimmer of hope that there are good, kind people all over the world, wherever I will go. They may be hard to find, but I do honestly believe they’re out there.

Today, I will be apartment hunting, resting, and hopefully will get to spend some time at the lake by my house. It’s so odd because as I said before, my life isn’t all bad or all good. It is this giant puddle of everything a person can feel at once. I guess that isn’t the worst thing in the world, but let me tell you, it sure is exhausting.

I am all circuits and wires
Conducting symphonies of heat exchange energies
Fueled by a nervous system thrust through the great unknown
A timid mess of frightened bones
I pledge to make no difference
I aim to take no stand
This bitter silence is the only play I have
In light of all their laughter, I’ll take to keeping shy
A resolution that I’ve finally had enough
Can’t speak, can’t speak, can’t speak at all
Don’t even think you know the reason.

Circuits and Wires- Motion City Soundtrack