Tag Archives: aging

Time may change me… (day 2)

But I can’t trace time…

 

I have always loved this song, it is allegedly a happy accident of a song that was written during a good time in Bowie’s life.  It has always been so  sober a song for me.

This year, as I reflect on how time has changed me… I am ever so much more aware that I can’t do anything about time… other than perhaps to prepare for it.

This came to me as I sat in my dermatologists office today getting screened for skin cancer. I have never been checked out, and have a history of sunburns so bad that I went into shock.

I am currently running this weird mind game where I vacillate between knowing that my post cancer survival rate is beyond awesome, but it is also no guarantee.  There is some country music star that had recurrence, her cervical cancer had spread to her colon and she decided to terminate treatment and go home to live out the rest of her life. So I see this news and i get that feeling of dread all over my body, like something awful has happened… and I feel a little nauseous, and teary. My illogical brain has taken over.

This was something I have observed in others who have gotten the cancer diagnosis, this paralyzing fear of recurrence. In my case it is so ridiculous, my cancer was found so early that my “5 year survival rate” is the same as someone who has not had cancer… But “The Cancer” it changed me, and I can’t do anything about it really. Sure I can choose how to manifest it all but the fact is that there is a change that would not otherwise be there. I don’t think I can come out of this transformed into a new magnificent Blair, where some form of transcendence has occurred and I am a “child of god”, this has a dark tinge to it that I don’t yet understand. As I weave my way around this new dark tinge, taking it all in, I have to consider how much I will let it own me. Own me it does, this dark tinge. I saw this only because this dark tinge wound its way around me and changed me. I am still trying to figure it out, but I am better at being immune to crazy and even more so about knowing what I am going through.

​These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.
~ David Bowie​
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Messages from my mirror

The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.
~ St. Jerome

Today I scheduled a follow-up eye appointment for October.

As I opened up my calendar I realized that the four months would land on the day before I had my surgery, which was when my eye problems started.

In the eight months since my life was spared and my body was torn apart in order to do that… a lot has happened.

One of the things that I find most striking is that my eyes have changed. I have been trying to figure out what it is that I have noticed.

I am not sure when I started to think my eyes looked different to me, but I recall wondering if somehow my irises had become lighter or cloudier in color. Cataracts at my age?

The crux is that they don’t look happy to me, they looked pained, tired, and perhaps even scared.

I don’t know that I am any of those things, but I am a very different person than I was in 2014 B.D.

That B.D. is Before Diagnosis.

This process has been hard, but the hardest part was learning to stand up for myself. Standing up to a mother and aunt that I know love me, but who felt that age gave them some sort of prize that included tearing me down… I am sure that is (was) not their intent… but as they threw things at me that I would have previously have bowed my head to and ignored but in the middle of my fight to feel whole again seemed unduly cruel coming from them. As I said, I am sure they did not mean it, but they still hurt me very deeply on a level that a doctor could not touch.

I think, perhaps, that is part of the cloudiness that I see in my eyes.

It is also navigating my health after a pretty invasive surgery, the unwanted weight gain, the change in shape, the pain, the aches… the health of my eyes included.

They are better now though, the scars left on them through repeated injury (and a misdiagnosis) are healing, are almost gone. The burden of the change of lifestyle for them is permanent… eye drops for life, they said. Keep them moist, they said. I will, I reply.

But when I got home from my appointment today, I looked in the mirror and still saw that certain kind of cloudiness, and I hoped it was not permanent.

Then there is this.

image1

“Behind these eyes there is a girl trapped within her pain – a girl feeling all the emotions of anger and sadness. She’s fighting for a way out.”
~ Chimnese Davids

TEDx yzpdqbil*

I have to admit, I am currently a little obsessed with TED talks.

It all started with this one talk – I think I saw it sometime in the fall of 2008;

I was floored, and moved, and thought “what a great way to put things out there”.

And since this was new I kind of waited to see what it would bring. I made my mother watch it. I sent it to my friends, and have fondly referred to the talk and my reaction to it ever since.

I was not a Ted-aholic, though. I would only reach out to Ted videos when I referred to them.

But something changed.

As I was preparing to host a movie screening with panel discussion, and I could not find anyone willing to serve as master of ceremonies, I realized that the job would fall to me.

So, I began watching them to see what makes for a good speaker, what are things that are compelling, what things did I like.

I even made Squink watch them while he would take a bath, the bio-luminescence ones are super cool!

I think I am a mediocre speaker. I have some strengths, but plenty of weaknesses.

But after the event, I had the idea of a themed series of talks, something like the Ted talks I had been watching for cues.

It is possible:  https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event

But I think the one for Phoenix is taken.

And they frown upon “themed” events.

And when I thought about it some more, I saw so many possibilities and had to chuckle at the notion that each one had at least one “rule violation”.

I thought about one dealing with the many faces of cancer; from the physicians that find it, the pathologists that decipher it, the oncologists that treat it, the people who have endured it, the families of those who suffered it, the nurses who care for them, the scientists researching it.

It would be good, but it is a theme and violates the programming rules.

Then I thought about what it was like growing up as a third culture kid, and how cool it would be to get other people who grew up that way. I think my friend Doralice would have some wonderful insights, as would my friend Sparrow, and my friends Jeff and Erica. I think it would be interesting to give voice to that kind of experience. It is a bit unusual.

I have met so many interesting people, I would love to have an event to hear them talk… the Jivaro indian that had to flee his tribe because he wouldn’t convert, the people who started putumayo, the circus people, the rodeo folks, singers, entrepreneurs of the ridiculous, those off grid (the hardest to organize), photographers, movie stars, cartoonists in the golden era, explorers, survivors, hedonists, narcissists, and so on.

That got me to thinking about what would happened if I was told I had to give a Ted talk…  kind of talk could I give? what would it be about?

My ideas for Ted events is large…. but the list of things I feel I would be qualified to talk about is pretty non-existent.

I suppose I could talk about how being diagnosed with cancer was life changing in some spectacularly subtle ways… or what it was like being born to a bullfighter father and an explorer mother, though that is really their stories. About being a child of divorce (booooooring).  What it was like managing a high stress pregnancy, most of which was spent on bed rest (gag me).

At this point in my life, I think I would talk about why I think vaccines are important, from a theoretical view, and cultural view, and prevention view, a mothers view, a survivors view,

What would your Ted talk be about?

*stands for examine your zipper, pretty darn quick, before I look (a childhood phrase)

A RANT – Catching up, with myself

So, for starters — the biopsy was totally just scar tissue.

But that event led to some pretty radical discoveries.

One thing is that I deeply resent is the people that tried to write my cancer story for me.

There were people who tried to decide my treatment option.

There were people who told people false information about my diagnosis, and refused to tell the real one. “It was DES, that is my story and I am sticking to it”, they said. (for the record, it was not caused by DES).

Oh, who am I kidding it was one person!

The fact that this person is also a cancer survivor makes me all the more incredulous. And bitter. And angry.

The one place I don’t feel gentler and kinder is in those who try to take from me.

We don’t live in a world where we have to whisper the word cancer any more, where the sheets and mattresses are tossed because they are “contagious”…

It is my story.

I don’t like people who interrupt my story with thoughtless perversions of their own.

We seem to live in a land of poor listeners…

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I resent the anti-vaccine movement. My cancer is vaccine preventable. Men and women get cancer from a virus called HPV – we have a vaccine for that. Why on this earth would anyone choose to risk getting cancer????

Read this for a far more articulate version of why: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/say-something/

I had a preemie, a medically fragile baby… to think how clueless I was when I took him out with me after he was born… it makes my heart hurt. I don’t feel much kindness towards my friends who support vaccines but pretend to be anti-vaxxers because they are afraid of conflict (or in one case because they thought it was ironic and funny) .I don’t feel much kindness to my friends putting seriously and DANGEROUSLY false information out there about the problems with vaccines.

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and lastly…

I lost god, or God, or G_D or however one wishes to spell it.

I am totally fine with this, I actually feel some relief in some ways.

It, ironically enough, happened on Easter Sunday.

I was reading some blogs, and came across a few that made claims that were completely incompatible with my thoughts on God… and as I pondered that incompatibility I asked myself about the roots of that… and came to the conclusion that I can’t buy what they said. That I think everything is far grander than they think and that they are so limited in what God means… And just like that, I left God where he belongs, in the hearts of people that need that.

I still strongly believe that religion (in any form) has some very important cultural fundamentals and is vital for many people who struggle to make sense of things… but that as I struggle to make sense of things, that ideas on God no longer require fitting in. I am happy. I would encourage people to find God… I just don’t. I don’t need re-birth in a Christian sense, I don’t need to be saved in a Christian sense, I don’t need those things at all to find my path in this world. I can make all of those transitions and shifts without God. I also don’t consider this to be a simple kind of faith.

To be fair, though… most of the things that caused me to go were about Jesus. Not God, that is if you consider them separate (in any form) and while I followed a Christian based spiritual path, I never felt that Christ was my “It” guy. I had believed that I understood God, but that all got called in to question. And I realized that the version of God that I had in my heart was based on the magnificence of things, most of those things being based on reason, some of those things based on how I made sense of the world. But, and here was the kicker, I really did not need God to keep that delight in magnificence. It was there even as I let go. I still deeply love this world. I am not about to become an atheist poster child. I don’t even like the word atheist. But I don’t feel like I fit the mold for agnostic any more either.

I am still navigating this path… but I am ok, I don’t see it as a path of reason, it is just my path.

Maybe, someday, I will change my mind again, though I feel less inclined to care. It just is.

I still believe in vaccines, though!

trolling and menopause

As I have been pondering my move over here…

I have been thinking about how I have heard my mother and aunt say that because they are over a certain age, post menopausal,  they are entitled to speak their mind freely and as they want. Frankly, at this point, I think this makes them out to be more like trolls (definition here) than adventuresome women who are fearless.

I recall I time when I heard them say this and thought it was so wonderful, that they were fearless. But does age really allow us to be rude?

I don’t think rude is ever good.

I actually think it, this tendency to speak ones mind freely and without censure,  is more about the anonymous public thing…  when you don’t have a sensory interaction with another person, it is as if you have a license to be a rude asshole. I have seen it in a few different places. With other people. In general, I don’t like internet assholes… and it takes a special talent to interact on the internet without coming off that way, I can only name a few active “online” friends who can usually manage it with a modicum of grace, most others are just rude assholes.

There is enough bullying going around.

Notice how when you see a face, or hear a voice… that you often have a deeper understanding of the situation and I would guess that we are kinder and gentler in those circumstances.

Journalists, of course, suffer this consequence… being a silent voice to challenge and stimulate conversation Journalism is certainly not for the faint of heart in this. But I have never thought of bloggers as journalists. I tend to think of them as people willing to expose a part of themselves. In my case, I started my blog so I could document my pregnancy. I found tremendous support through my friends who read it, but the strangers who came across it were kind and gentle with me. I developed several friendships with people I had never met. They are different kinds of friendships than the people I know if life. But they were deep enough to get invited to funerals, to foster connections, to grieve together via email. It was kind. It was gentle.

I myself have engaged in an ungraceful manner on-line. I usually realize it and apologize… and have tried really hard to be mindful that we have enough horrid in our daily lives that something kinder and gentler is probably more productive.

There is even a news piece about how to deal with anti-vaxxers saying that putting them on the defensive may cause more harm than good.  And what happened when this writer met her cruelest troll.

I think people are feeling disconnected.

I just see how ugly and horrid things like politics has become – in the case of politics both sides using horrible terms to refer to the other side, names for the president that are shocking (at least to me), names for our female politicians that are misogynistic at best… I recognize that this is not new, but it is more vulgarly inflammatory now.

Then there are what I traditionally avoid when reading news stories… the comments section. Often full of hate and vitriol, scathing off the cuff accusations against the author or subject… its a little much.

As I age, I am finding it mandatory that I be more gracious and kind. That I invite into my life (and by default my family) something kinder and gentler. That I find a way to shift the ugliness of character in myself, that I allow my exposure to grace to be the driving force. Age is not allowing me to tell people to fuck off, it is not allowing me to be mean, it is not allowing me to speak my mind with freedom.  It is calling me to be quieter. It is calling me to be gentler. It is calling me to use a phone or move to be in person when I have a concern or opinion.

I know that we all need to face ugly and deal with criticism and hear unseemly things, but there is just so much. And as I sit here, managing life after a cancer diagnosis (which shifted my way of thinking) I want to commit to gentleness. I want to commit to kindness. I want to avoid trolling.