Visiting relatives.

Chewie and I are in Ames this weekend, visiting with my sister and Jeff.  And the boys.  Chewie loves seeing his auntie and uncle and cousins, though I am not too sure his cousins know what to think of him yet.  Whenever he gets hyper, he tucks his tail, pins his ears, and runs like a little black bullet around and round and round.  Leroy and Quincy kind of just watch him quizzically, slightly unsure what to make of the new animal in the house.  Occasionally they will jump up on the couch, something Chewie is still incapable of doing, having short little legs, and sit there staring at him with their head cocked to one side.  I am happy that Chewie gets along with the boys so well.  The fact that he can social with other animals makes me happy.  Our family dog, Ginger (rest in peace), was not that good at interacting with other animals.  We never really socialized her the way she should be.  Chewie has the advantage of having two cousins and a sister (Auri, my cat) to interact with.  Though Auri is not exactly the most welcome feline.  She kind of tolerates the hyper little dog that has invaded her space.  Not as many swats atop the head, anymore, so I will call that progress.

Currently we are all lounging in Andrea and Jeff’s apartment (that is approximately twice the size of the little Hobbit hole I call a home) watching Runaway Bride.  Chewie has yet to sit down and is exploring the place and playing off and on with the boys toys.  The boys are curled up around Jeff (most likely hiding from the speedy fur ball running around).  It’s a peaceful scene on a peaceful day.



Tofurkey Day.

Hello all!  It’s Thanksgiving, and in the world of the enlightened bean, that means Tofurkey Day (vegetarian protein based dish of semi-deliciousness).  And it means being thankful for all the things in my life, great and small, good and bad, that have helped me carry out goals, put me on a path towards desired dreams, and have shaped me into the woman I am today.  And the things that continue to shape me.

There are so many people who are in my thoughts today, from the past, to the present, and hopes of the future.  Despite this year being one of the more difficult ones I have ever experienced, I cannot disregard all the painful moments and memories.  Just as the good moments serve a purpose, the bad ones do too.  And despite the heartache and the tears, I hold those things close to my heart because without them, there would be no room for growth, there would not be the opportunities I have now.

I was listening to Savage Garden (moment to gasp and choke on whatever you’re eating or drinking) the other day (and no insults, please, you remember singing along to that chica-cherry cola song, too!) and there was a line in the song “Affirmation” that said, “I believe you can never really appreciate true love until you’ve been burned.”  Out of all the affirmations in that song, that one stuck out to me.  Maybe that’s what needed to happen.  Maybe I got too close to the fire, and now I can learn to appreciate it, the warmth, the heat, the comfort, without losing myself to it.  Without losing who I am and who I will be.  It’s been eight painful months of questions, what-if’s, what were’s, who am I’s, and more, and I think today marks one remarkable moment: I woke up this morning and felt one step closer to whole.  I asked my mom a couple of months ago when it would stop hurting to look back at things between Jonathan and I, when it would feel normal, when would it become just a pleasant memory instead of a pain deep in my chest, and she said she didn’t know, it’s different for everyone, there is no time-table, but one day I would wake up and feel “it’s okay.”  It’s been a gradual process, but you know what… it’s okay.  And I know it will be good.  And then great.  And then fabulous.

Thank you — to everyone, you know who you are — for shaping my life.  And for giving me hope.

And thank you — you know who you are — for your consideration, your patience, and most of all, the smiles, there have been so many.

A week of storms.

This week has not been fun.  I tried to think of a witty, clichéd and colorful way of stating that, but alas my brain is just not up to the challenge.  Pardon any further demonstrations of brain farts and inadequacies in my vocabulary.

Monday I woke up with a mild fever, a sore throat, nausea, extreme body aches, and headache that could conceivably take down a horse, and just a general sense “I am not healthy.”  The previous week ended with me coming home on the Blue Line and feeling a certain out-of-body dissociative free-floating, mind numbing …and for lack of a better word… blah sensation.  The next morning I woke up with the lymph node on the left side of my neck swollen to the size of a golf ball.  It hurt to turn my head.  Other than that, and a distinct airy feeling, I felt relatively okay.  But as the weekend progressed, I could feel fatigue set in, body aches and chills follow.  By Monday morning I felt a sense of vertigo when I woke up, half stumbling down the stairs, shouting for my mom and asking where the thermometer was.  I registered a low-grade fever and sat in the family room feeling shocked at how strange and sick I felt.  “You should call the doctor Stephanie.”  And so I did.

After asking countless questions, feeling my lymph nodes, checking my lungs, taking my temperature, my doctor decided to give me a strep test, a mono spot, draw blood for “other purposes,” and test me for tonsillitis.  In the mean time he gave me antibiotics and told me to stay off my feet and rest.  I received the test results back on Wednesday and my doctor told me I had evidence of Epstein Bar in my system (the mono virus) but it appeared at levels that indicate me having had mono in the “distant past,” which meant “not the current issue.”  I was also told that my white blood cell count was high which indicates some type of infection or outside force acting on my immune system, so I should continue to rest, push fluids and finish out the antibiotics.  If by today I still felt sick, I needed to call and schedule a second appointment to go from there.

I still have a fever.  My throat still hurts.  My body aches.  My fatigue registers at a 9.9 on a scale of 10.  My lymph nodes are still golf ball-esque.  I get to call and schedule another appointment and discuss the fact that even though my tests show that I had mono long ago, in a land faraway, that three years ago when a doctor thought I had it, there was no indication of ever having it.  So some time in the last three years I had mono and did not know it or I have it now and my body is producing an army of white blood cells to combat against the bitch and it’s causing the symptoms I have now.  Either way, something is happening in my body and I am well aware of it.  The dizzy, dissociative feeling has not left me.  It’s like my mind still wants to work at normal speed but my body is lethargic and unable to compute.

In addition to my sickness woes came devastating news on Monday.  Something I have been hesitant to share, as it is a deeply personal and depressing thing.  Dave, Jonathan’s father, passed away on Monday after battling cancer for over a year.  He had a prognosis of July, and he made it into the first fledgling weeks of August.  When I received the news I went into shock, unable to cry.  I walked downstairs and told my mom with a straight, tearless face that Dave had passed away.  What came next was such venom and anger that I think the word venom does not even come close to describing the heart of my reaction.  He died before his time.  He has a three-year old granddaughter and a one year old grandson.  He was young and in his prime and disease weakened his immune system to pudding so that when he got a slight infection, he became septic and died in the most painful way imaginable.  I received an e-mail from Jonathan on Monday night that described watching his father die.  It stoked the angry fires.  It made me want to scream out, pound my fists, and curse whatever benevolent force allowed for this man to suffer in such a painful and horrific way.  But I hold on to the thought that at least family surrounded him.  They held his hand, told him they loved him, and coached him through his final moments (“It’s okay Dad, you can let go.”  “You should rest now, you’ve fought so hard.”  “Sleep Dave, sleep.”)  I just don’t understand why this type of cosmic folly happens.  Why the good ones suffer.  Why anyone should suffer.  Especially people and families like the Roses.  (Grandpa Rose is still fighting his battle, as is Uncle Mark.)

I am currently in Iowa for the wake and funeral.  This weekend will be difficult.  Not only am I saying goodbye to a man I admired, loved, and cherished, but I will be seeing Jonathan for the first time since our break-up.  The emotions are literally humming through me.  I can feel them under my skin, brushing against the nerves, making me tense and anxious.  I have communicated with Jonathan, being an ear for him, a way to pour out his emotions during this difficult time, but there is something different between calling and texting and e-mailing and seeing someone face-to-face.  There is so much emotion still left there, and when I say that I mean both of us still carry a lot of anger towards one another for how our end came about.  But this is not the time, nor the place, for that to manifest itself.  I commented earlier this week that I needed strength, I could not let myself break yet, I had to carry this shield around with me to make sure that I was the concrete Jonathan could lay his grief upon.  I still need to be that.

Rampaging emotions.

My stomach is in knots; rumbling, grumbling, and issuing painful shots of electricity through my sternum.  Stress and anxiety can cause extensive discomfort, and they become precursors to horribly debilitating anxiety attacks.  Add into the mix that I  eat a considerable amount of food when distressed, and you can glimpse into my digestive freewheeling and its reactive nausea.  Yet, I cannot seem to stop shoveling spaghetti, with marinara sauce and a delicate sprinkling of parmesan cheese, into my mouth.  With the speed I have hoover-d the pasta, it is no small wonder that I have not run to the bathroom and witnessed the Italian feast in reverse.

My gullet craves more exotic fare.  Sweet potato rolls, yellow curry, jasmine rice with vegetables galore, whole burritos filled with black beans, cheese, and guacamole, with small additions of sour cream, fajita seared vegetables, and shredded romaine.  These things have danced through my head the way sugar-plum fairies leap across the stage in the Nutcracker, leaving me craving an unquantifiable amount of food.  If an elephant can eat so many pounds a day and sustain, imagine me with tusks of ivory and gray, weathered skin, or at least I desire their dedication to pounds and pounds of food.

Anxiety is an odd and obnoxious emotion.  It does nothing but create a dull ache within my muscles from being perpetually flexed, my breath shortens and I find it hard to sustain deep, calming in-takes of air.  I just wish I could by-pass anxious.  I would not find myself curled up in a ball, holding my stomach, moaning at the pain the spaghetti baby is causing in my abdomen.

I am angry.  Why did this happen to Dave?  He never smoked, never drank or did drugs, he eats healthy, exercised, so how come those who abuse their body (and I include myself in this representation) are living and flaunting their destruction while a man who wanted nothing more than to be a father and grandfather dies before his time?  How come the universe unjustly deals these cards in a perpetual game of blackjack (hit me, hit me… FUCK!)?  He played the safe cards, but apparently the house won.  And the stakes are so high.

Even in this ocean of words, there is a deep residing fear.  Dave is the backbone, the strength of his family, the heart, the center; he is a man who is loved by anyone who meets him because he emanates something wholly caring.  He is an eternal and perpetual father-figure, a caring man with a guiding hand who loves his family fiercely.  I just wish I was there to help hold his hand, take some of his burden, whisper one last time, “Dave, I love you, you will always be my family.”

I need your positive thoughts.

I am a big ball of anxious worry right now.  Imagine me vibrating around my room with unspent negative energy.  I woke up this morning and immediately tensed when I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from Jonathan.  My heart started beating in double time as I began to dial my mailbox.  What could this mean?  He said he would call if something happened to Dave, other than that he wanted a break in communication via phone.  Could this be about Dave or maybe he wants to talk about something, anything, else.  My heart began to sink as soon as the voicemail began to play.  “Hey, I don’t know if this is your number anymore since you don’t have your message anymore, but if it is I just wanted to let you know that I am in Salt Lake City right now, my dad is in the hospital…”

Dave is in the intensive care unit.  He had a pretty severe fever and Kay brought him in because they could not control it.  Turns out there is an infection that has caused him to become septic.  The whole family is gathering in Salt Lake.  I can feel the cords of my muscles bunching, aching to move about with this negative, anxious energy.  Except the idea of moving, the idea of stretching or running, or exhausting this supply seems inadequate.  It feels like the movement will just become this cyclical thing where I will be burning with exhaustion and still have the mental part.  I will be thinking, thinking, thinking and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear from Jonathan, to know what the next step is.  My mental and emotional self bubbling over words and feelings the way a volcano spews hot lava.  The most I feel like doing is sitting very still and trying to control this energy.