Friday, December 26, 2008

magic and the monster

the breast, the breast. it is all about the breast. like tending a sick child, nothing else takes priority. i am a good patient and follow all the doctors' orders. and i am a good mother to this wounded breast. soothing balms and healing potions are applied on schedule, ice packs employed on a regular rotation.

i am doing anything and everything i can to assist and speed healing.

there would appear to be no real rush, as the world has shut down in the northwest. between the holiday and the epic snow storm, nothing is moving. i am stuck inside and not happy about it, i'll admit. but perhaps nature is pushing me into inactivity to help with the healing.

my breast looks shockingly, horribly messed up. my first thoughts were so dark, my heart sank when i saw it. did i make an awful mistake? i know my surgeon said it wouldn't look gorgeous for a few months, but this? my breast looks like a monster. dark and colorful with bruises, a crazy series of long incisions, coupled with a shape that is in no way a match to the other. a sad, beat-up monster, one you would take home wrapped in a blanket and nurse back to health.

i wish the surgeon had warned me exactly how bad it would look. i always do better with the facts and don't fare well with surprises of this nature. i didn't expect to feel more disfigured after surgery. but i guess that was silly. i worried about taking care of so many incisions. and i was right, it is difficult. i am squeamish and don't like looking at them. but no band aid will cover them and besides, i have become allergic to medical adhesives. the incisions are held together with glue.

i am held together with glue. oh, it's all far too gory for me and it's actually on my body. is this really happening? is this my body?

thank heavens for good drugs. painkillers that float you away when it's too much and sleep aids to help get that deep rest needed for healing. although i will be so happy to be past the point when i need their help.

the breast looks strange, it feels strange, too. it's tight and prickly with pain. nerves healing? who knows.

i have barely even pondered how i feel about being smaller. i am still working so hard to control the swelling to wrap my head around the look of it. my sculptors' brain is turning this puzzle over and over - how what i see now can possibly heal and relax into even a pleasing shape, let alone a shape that matches the other breast.

my sister assures me she has seen
the process from start to finish, on reality tv and that every plastic surgery procedure looks like six kinds of hell at first. but that then the lovely results boggle the mind, like magic. she tells me that plastic surgeons are magicians and mine is one of the best. that my procedure is something he does everyday, like me going to the studio and making a ring.

i am trying to trust. trying to feel confident and reassured.

so i focus on what i can do. eat healthy, rest well, stroke on my arnica cream and take my vitamins. every couple of hours, ice the whole area. try not to worry. try not to look at it more than once a day.

suspend my disbelief.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

slower than molasses in january. really.

it is very quiet here. almost too quiet, which is saying something from a girl who loves her silence. my city of portland has nearly shut down, with more snow than the area has seen in over forty years. so outside my door, the world is very white and very quiet, everything laying under that soft blanket of deep snow.

inside my cosy apartment, even more quiet. my mom departed this morning, as a window of opportunity in the storm systems opened, which seems like a christmas miracle made just for her, and all my family anxiously waiting back in michigan.

i miss her already.

i don't mind in the slightest that it's christmas and she's gone back home. i am just sad because i don't know when i will see her again. no plans or budget in place for a visit in the foreseeable future. it' always harder to say goodbye when you can't say "see you in...".

well, five days after surgery, the healing is rolling along, taking just as long as it takes, i guess. i am assisting with all my herbs and potions. my foggy brain has cleared for the most part, my bodily functions are back to normal. which is a great relief. if i had been able to write a few days ago, i literally had nothing to say that wasn't about poop. primarily how completely awful it is to be not able ( three days, four nights) and then overly able (every hour for one day). a completely boring tale of shit, which had i had an ounce of humor left in me, could have been spun into a hilarious story. alas, my sense of humor was in very limited supply.

moaning, however, was in abundance. as was pain and general discomfort.

oh, i have been crabby! my mom is really a saint for tending to such a crabby baby as i, these past few days. thankfully, she finds my biting sarcasm very funny.

i had loads to be thankful for, in fact. i must publicly thank laura, and the z.e.n. (zen elf network) for providing a capable and cheerful driver at 6:30am this morning to drive my mom to the airport. i must say, i feel very well taken care of and loved. i'll take a zen elf over one of santa's guys any day!

even though i could physically drive, i can't get my car out in this snow. also, my little vw beetle is really too low to the ground for our uncleared roads. can you imagine? most of the roads are not even plowed here, after many days. it boggles the mind of this midwest girl to be so stuck with only 12 inches on the ground! the folks who are driving have chains on their tires, something i've never seen even when i lived in vermont the winter they had 18 feet of snow that year.

i guess an epic storm is all relative.

there is much more to share on the state of my breast, but i'll save that for another post. my couch is calling me for a nap and i'm not going to say no today.

thank-you all so much for your comments and emails full of comfort and warmth. you have seen me through so much. i am indeed blessed you keep returning to my story and continue to hold me up, no matter what comes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

home again

just a quick post to say i am home from the hospital. the surgery went well, i made it out alive! have not looked at the results yet, but i'm like a staggering drunk on these pain meds.

so writing more might be comical, but
i'm going to sign off now. sleeping calls.

thanks for the beautiful circle of support. i could feel your good energy all around me last night and today...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the 11th hour

it is nearly go time for my surgery, dear readers. tomorrow morning i check in at 6am. the surgery is scheduled to be 2 1/2 hours, so if all goes well, i hope we will be back home and dozing on the couch at noon.

the past 36 hours have been rough. the snow and ice covering portland was such a burden on my already overwhelmed preparations list. even though worrying accomplishes nothing, i have been beside myself, with a pounding headache, no appetite and sleep has been hard to come by.

did i mention my heat went out last night? ah, yes. we woke very cold and it didn't get better. the repair crew did not arrive til after 5pm and then spent over an hour seemingly perplexed as to how to fix the problem. i honestly thought i was just going to scream and completely melt down.

finally, the heat was fixed, we ate dinner and watched the weather forecast. finally, some hope on the horizon. the ice storm predicted yesterday for thursday morning seems to have been downgraded to just snow. this surgery is at the branch of the hospital on the riverfront, which is a blessing, considering that the worst of the weather will be in the hills of portland.

i am still nervous about the surgery itself, but at least i am going to bed tonight feeling comfortable with our safe travels to and fro.

i am sorry not to have given you all an update until tonight, i literally have been running around like crazy. i have felt crazy!

but now, with the moment nearly upon me, my mom here (oh, my it is wonderful to have her!) and the apartment warming back up, i think it will be ok. at least most of my to-do list is crossed off! we've grocery shopped enough to last us a week(a task that involved going to literally 5 different stores today), the house is clean and my online sales orders are all shipped out. the sale went quite well, for which i am very thankful. only one thing didn't happen, because i spent so long waiting at home for the repairs to be completed. i wanted candles. not just any candles, but
unscented tea lights. you know, the kind in the little tin cups, that fit perfectly in my candle holders- ready and waiting on my new mantle shelf with it's lovely large mirror. i wanted to have that warm glowy prettiness as i lay on the couch this next week. so, if any of my local friends are out and about and want to drop off something...(hint, hint) i won't be up to visiting for a few days, but care packages are always welcome.

emotionally, this surgery has been harder to prepare for than the others. perhaps it's because i have had so much time to anticipate it, maybe it is because for this one, i am choosing it. cancer put this choice on the table, but ultimately, i am choosing this surgery. intellectually, i feel i have chosen the best possible solution given my options. but emotionally? i have been a wreck.

as i have said before, i just don't like the options. for me, i just want what i had. i have mentally accepted that is not my reality. by my heart still grieves a bit.

tonight i fear all the unknowns. will i make through surgery? will the outcome be something i can live with, something i can love? will i get back to feeling confident and beautiful about my breasts?

only time will tell this story. i'll keep sharing, so stay tuned.

p.s. i anticipate feeling woozy but able to come home tomorrow and post a sentence here to say i am alive and well...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

wishing and hoping and working and waiting

has the intensity of this last week left you breathless? if so, you are not alone. the stars are stacked up and opposing each other, it seems. life in my little corner has certainly been an emotional and physical whirlwind.

today, here in the notoriously mild-weather northwest, even mother nature fell into step with the general craziness. a snow storm. modest by northeast standards, nearly epic by portland
standards! the roads are slick and most are staying inside.

my small dog knows just what to do after a romp in the swirling flakes this morning. snuggle up and take a long winter's nap. here she is, my miss mia. she grounds me and comforts me in ways that no human ever has. we've shared this life for fourteen years now and every night as we settle down to sleep, i am thankful for another day online sale has gone well this week, another thing i am grateful for today. even as i summon my metal focus to dive into an afternoon of job applications - i feel ok. fear held at bay. positive intention holding the lead.

the finish line is so far ahead, i can't see it. perhaps this quest for a job will be a marathon in the end. i hope i am up to the task. and that somehow, my money expands to fill the widening gap. so far, no encouraging signs have come to light. not a call, not a single email to say "yes, please do come meet with us". i know i cannot take it personally, this rejecting silence. i simply must continue to direct my message out to the universe, out to this slim number of appropriate job postings- and wait.

who likes waiting? not me. waiting sucks. but i am getting better at it, after all the practice this year. it seems like there has been a theme to 2008 for me. persevere. just keep on, keeping on. even when it is boring and difficult, even when it seems pointless and painful, especially when my faith wavers and everything looks dark. just move through each day as best i can.

allot of this year has been just surviving.

in 2009, i want more. more joy in each day. more clarity. more consistent good health, prosperity and confidence. i want this for me and for each one of you.

but for today, i just need to stay warm and keep going on the job search. oh, and try not to think about surgery just four days away now...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

only poetry speaks to this day

blessing the boats,
Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of your understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love you back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this into that

Monday, December 8, 2008

a big day and a small favor

hello my dear readers! today i launch my first online-only sale, just for one special week, december 8 to 15...both my etsy shop, bread + butter and my own website, Honey & Milk will have glorious deals on all sorts of treasures. financially, times are tough all over, so i thought a little sale would help us both! surely you have some holiday shopping yet to finish?

oh, but perhaps no one on your gift list likes jewelry? (i can just barely imagine it.)

not to worry. my small favor to ask is this: can you, would you, send a quick little email to all your friends, colleagues and family with links to my shops? encourage them to buy handmade gifts, created with love by me in my little studio workshop.i am forever grateful for all your support and encouragement this year and i hesitate to ask for anything more...but times are too lean to feel shamed by asking. so if you can, please do spread the word far and wide about this online holiday sale. i will also ship internationally, of course.

by the way, for those of you asking: my surgery is thursday, december 18, exactly one week before christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

two hands with too much to hold

*gulp* just coming up for air. life has been jam packed this past week. holiday show & sale #2 has come and gone. i was helping organize that one, including writing a blog. it went well, even considering the glum economy, for that i am so thankful! not selling a thing for the month of october has made a very large hole to fill, more than one holiday sale can do alone. i am hoping my website sales are on fire for the next 10 days. fingers crossed...

additionally, i have been in the trenches with my job search. chasing down listings all over the internet and writing, writing, writing. each resume crafted to each posting. also setting all my intention and holding it as firmly as i can muster. if you out there reading would join me in holding that intention, i would be so grateful. i need a job and i want one that sustains me with not only money, but also meaning. i am working quite hard on getting out of the way of my destiny and keeping doubts and fears acknowledged, but not indulged.

my body isn't on board all the way with that, however. the past few weeks have brought long painful bouts of intense stress-tummy. stabbing pain to dull ache. tossing and turning at night. eating very sporadically, as almost nothing will go down. it's better this week, however. my chinese medicine practitioner gave me some herbs that are as bitter as burnt bark, but have soothed my insides.

i am keeping the stress at bay, moment by moment.

this month is flying by already. another holiday sale event this weekend, then my last week of job searching and getting my home in order before surgery on the 18th. also before my mom flies in on the 16th. i want to have my place sparkling, so she can relax a bit when she is here taking care of me. the last three times my mom came, she absolutely slaved, trying to bring me and my home back to civility from squalor.

really, it was that bad.

i'm nervous about surgery, my dear friends. it comes on when i lay down to sleep. thoughts racing around, despite my best attempts to breathe deep and stay calm. i know my surgeon is skilled, i just find the thought of surgery so icky and scary. last year i didn't have weeks to anticipate, everything happened pretty quickly.

so i am doing alright in general, i thought you might like to know. holding fear in one hand and positive intention in the other. trying to honor both, yet i would love to put the fear down and use both hands to hold that intention.

can you help me? can we hold it together? oh, thank-you...