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Not-your-average-mama's mama

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mama Rap

I realize my blog posts here have been more downright falling rather than just a bit "slippery" lately.  I have struggled with writing & shut 'er down, completely, because things were getting so heavy.  I had to come to terms with the fact that even I can not always find the funny in those completely crushing, face plant, can't breathe, brought to my knees moments all the time and this year just happened to be a full year of that shit.  An anomaly, I hope.  So, in an effort to put some funny back in to the slippery, I decided to share a silly little mama rap that I came up with some time ago, but being a work in progress and one I actually hope to perform live one day, I didn't share.  But, screw it... Happy Monday!

Mama Rap (in the style of Eminem, OF COURSE!)

Home from work late about 2:30AM
Finally fell asleep - does that say 3:00
Kid nose to nose at the crack of dawn
Put her on snooze with the TV on

Now it's the dog that's all up in my face
Cat is moaning. What's with this place?
Back upstairs & crawl in to bed
Mama where's breakfast?
Nope, I'm playing dead!

I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP
Cut me some slack
A few hours sleep is way too whack
I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP
Can you back the fuck off?
I'm nauseous and achy ...
Shit, where'd you get that cough?

Off to the dentist with a panicked child
When she finds out there's xrays she's gonna go wild
What's that? A cavity? Son of a bitch!
Can you give her something? I swear, she's gonna flip her switch.

Breathing. Stay calm. I got this shit.
Why am I the one that always draws the short stick?

I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP
Cut me some slack.
Three hours sleep is totally jack
I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP
Back the fuck off
I'm sweating & achy - c'mon with that cough!

Off to location scouting with a kid in tow
Don't give me that look, it's how I roll!
She knows the drill, probably better than you.
She's been working this industry, since she was two.

Playdate today? Three kids deep.
Mama ain't never gonna get no sleep
Finalize details for an out of town shoot
Another blood draw, MRI & audition to boot.
Wardrobe, conference call to nail down crew. Son of a bitch! It's only noon

I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP!
Cut me some slack
It's days like today, I wish I smoked crack
I'm up, I'm up, I'm UP... I'm fucking up!!!!

Oh no. Uh oh. Don't fail me now
Shaking, dry heaves holy cow
Stomach flu, three kids & shit to do

I'm up, I'm up, fuck it.. Man down!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What The Hell IS Wrong with HER... Exactly?

I read this article with tears streaming down my face - by accident.  As I lay here in bed, an unexpected, but recognizable experience of my body being completely uncooperative while my mind races with guilt, fear, depression and frustration following a bout of the flu, a bacterial infection and two weeks of fevers and migraines, all of which I have been attributing to extreme stress, but I know better.  The stress of my marriage hitting the skids on a patch of ice that has the markings of the last nine years of struggle written all over it.  The resentment that often comes from even the most committed and kindest of souls after years of living with a hand you can not fold.  I have sat through many a support group with people who have told the tales of their marriages falling apart at the hands of an illness they can not control.  I have been in my own sessions fearing and trying to beat it at the pass.

I have gone in to robot mode where I do what I must and throw in a few "what I cans" in order to not feel like such a failure as a parent, as a partner or as a hardworking woman.  I play a game with myself to peel out of the sheets, trek through the day, count the hours on the clock, ask the right questions, plan as many fun activities for my child as possible, try not to think about the work I am not doing and the life I am not living.  Try not to let a tear fall from my eye socket before 9pm.  Bedtime.  Then, I allow myself to cry.  I allow myself to sob.  I hope that Lola is right when she says to me "you should just cry mom, it will help you sleep. It always makes me sleepy when I cry."  That makes me cry harder for the knowledge that she knows I am holding back tears and the idea that it might just work.  It doesn't.  So, I read.

I expected another article about autoimmune disease very much like so many others like the author, Meghan O'Rourke, touches on in her article "What's Wrong With Me?" I recommend you read it.... that was the point of this long blog, so you can stop here and just read this - or read both, that would be cool.  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/26/whats-wrong-with-me).

I imagined I would skim through it with my finger scrolling up as fast as I could see the buzz words and feel no additional connection, as I do most articles about autoimmune disease, thyroid cancer or even the industry-related shit I attempt to digest to stay in touch these days.  The first line was all I needed and my eyes welled up.  Then, it began to feel as if she crawled inside my body and wrote this article from there.  Start to finish.  From the reoccurring bouts of Parvo ("You had parvo? My DOG had parvo! Yuck!") and Epstein Barr (I also had several cases of shingles, reactivated mononucleosis and a few other weird things) all the way through to the crazy diet of elimination of everything to the list of doctors on her roster to one finally saying "this is probably the best we can do, the best it will be. 80% isn't bad, is it?"  80% is fucking TORTURE, bitch!" I could hear that ringing in my ears as I read it.  80% is a nightmare to someone that is used to firing at 150.  Not fair.  I continued reading even after I read her diagnosis, which I don't normally do, especially when it is thyroid-related.  I feel like I have read all there is to read about thyroid diseases, people's experiences and the like, but then there she was explaining what it was like in the moments in between when you have a split second where you forget about your body... just a second... and then you realize that moment passed and you pray for that moment back again.  The times you find yourself running and you are praying "God, please let me have this - please let this stay."

In my story, I went from her diagnosis of Hashimotos Thyroiditis to Thyroid Cancer  after a long year of being told I was fine.... oh wait, you have a rare cancer... oh wait, diabetes... oh wait, you're anemic.  The cancer diagnosis came two weeks after they said "it's JUST an autoimmune thyroid disease we can manage with a pill." I swear the doctor said it with a tone like "Ta Da!" and held her hands out like jazz hands.   I had spent that entire year potty training a two year old in between bouts of my own vomiting or other immediate forms of incontinence after every meal - then, after any food at all.  Needing to know where every reasonable public bathroom was from your house to your destination where you could feel ok with your toddler standing at your feet with her hands on her stomach while you try to calmly say "hands on your tummy - *barf* - it's ok - *barf* - mommy's ok - *barf* - hands on your tummy" was a daunting task at first, but it became routine.  Having an attack of not being able to hear, blurred vision and perfuse sweating while you stood in line at Target trying to distract your kid with suckers or toys, praying that you would not faint for fear someone might steal your baby and your purse, but mostly would just be embarrassing, was no picnic.  It did not get better.  It would not get better, but I kept telling myself it would.  I read and I researched.  I changed my diet.  I eliminated gluten and sugar and caffeine and alcohol and meat and eventually anything that gave me any pleasure at all.  After the bouts of withdrawal that came with those things leaving my body, I had a few moments where I did think I felt better and then I did feel better and then, I was diagnosed with cancer.

No thyroid is worse than a broken thyroid.  And, another journey began.  I went through it.  I came through it.  I had needles jabbed in my neck and elsewhere.  I had my neck cut open and that blasted thing removed.  I panicked when I had no voice and was told that it was possible that my vocal chords were damaged.  They weren't.  I had multiple rounds of radioactive iodine treatment that came with weeks of isolation from my baby, my family anyone that might be able to hold my hand or tell me a joke.  The guy with the Geiger counter became my best friend.  I knew a lot about his life and he knew way too much about mine.  I stayed the course on my diet regime and I started exercising to show my body who was fucking boss.  I would be damned if that stupid cancer was going to steal one more thing from me.  I ran.  The girl who hated to run and refused to run when she was a spry, vibrant, active teen - the one who cheated EVERY time that timed health week mile bullshit came around - started to run, slowly.  I went from a few minutes to a mile to three miles to five, five days a week, every week, over the course of a year.  I added weights and yoga and pilates and any other damn class I could, including a gut-wrenching pre-Thanksgiving boot camp thing in 2009.  I remember that, because it was my last one of those and because I remember thinking "you are a badass motherfucker!"

I slowly started to feel my body slipping again, but this time my mind was going with it.  I was losing words - a career killer when your job is to memorize words and use them to entertain people.  My hair started falling out in clumps.  Food would not go in, would not stay in and my weight dropped from 130 to 115 then to 110 on my 5'7" frame.  I had my first seizure, my first spinal tap and I added a new doctor to my roster - Neurologist.  I would have three different ones before I found the one that would save me - a little.  Test after test would show everything and nothing at the same time.  I became a frail, bed-ridden, young person, but I hid it as best I could from the outside world.  Inside, it was a shit show, literally and figuratively.  While my friends were having babies, I scrambled to find an ounce of hope that I could experience the joy of having another healthy baby one day.  I saved up every ounce of energy I had for my child, work and doctor's appointments.  I needed those things to stay alive and I believed the rest could take care of itself.  I was wrong about that part. I know that now, but I did the best I could.  I would spend another year trying to determine if the cancer had spread or if my body was just giving up for no good fucking reason.  Diets weren't saving me. Healthy living wasn't saving me. Meditation, therapy, healing was not saving me.  I hated my body and my body hated me.  No more running.  I was barely walking.

It would take a trip to the Mayo Clinic and many more doctors to, officially, tell me I had another autoimmune disease which they would call Lupus "for now."  We treated it as such and we still call it that, although my newest doctor has started to walk down the path of an autoimmune syndrome or a cluster that includes others.  I stopped the lupus "meds" several months ago with my doctor's OK.  The anti-malarials and others were causing me other problems and my life was still just 80%, so why the added toxicity to a body that was overreacting to every thing?  He agreed.  I haven't slept a full night in six months.  There isn't a sleep medication that works without causing neurological interference.  It has been months since I have been to a gym. I mourn that every day, but I know I have bigger things to mourn now.  My daughter is now ten.  She isn't standing with her hands on her tummy beaming with pride with not much thought of the color in my face or how much time I spend in bed. I can't hide shit from her today.  She is smart and empathetic and she notices everything.  Luckily, I haven't had to until now.  I have been 80% for a long time and I have gotten great at living, traveling, working, laughing and dealing with the moments in between.  The last two months have been a different story.  The shit show has returned, but it has eeked in, slowly.  My home life was shifting so dramatically, then the flu hit and my body began to dip below 80.  Now, we are on to addressing it - all of it.  I cry a lot and she has cried a little.  I have to remind myself that I will get back to 80, but at 60 you are really mourning 100.

I talk a lot about my fears of sharing these types of stories here or anywhere for fear I will be discounted in work or in life.  My work is so important to me. My life is, too. I did an interview yesterday where they asked me to tell them one interested fact about myself.  My heart said "tell them you are a survivor," but my mind said "do NOT mention that you are a survivor or they won't want to work with you, because they will be afraid your cancer will come back or lupus will kill you - IF they even know what lupus is."  That is my 60% self talking.  I am convinced that auditions aren't coming and jobs aren't happening, because someone is sitting in a room somewhere saying "See! She is sick and sick is unreliable. Next."  That is not even my 60% truth.  This article was exactly what I needed as I lay there deciding that the slipping had started to go beyond me.  I was reminded that I am not alone and that some people do get it.  I am reminded that even though illness might have me cornered some days, it is not me - it does not own or define me. I will get back to 80% and 80% has got to be ok.  It is far better than the alternative.

In the end, my 80% is better than most people's 100%.  That is my 100% truth.