Donnerstag, 31. Dezember 2015

New Years Resolutions

I would like to resolve that this will not become an ostomate blog, just as I would like to resolve that my life will not be ruled by the fact that I will soon have a bit of intestine on the outside of my abdomen and that that will be a permanent change.
With that mind, I also want to stay more present  - more present than a woman abroad on holiday who continues to think about an operation and the life that will follow that isn't for another month and is nearly 1,000 km away - while also reminding myself that "this too shall pass" when dealing with something unpleasant.
This is my last trip abroad without an ostomy. I know that my Public toilet Eurokey does not work on Hungarian public toilets, that the "public" toilets (and public use of toilets in restaurants) cost 180-200 forint, but that you don't have to bring in your own toilet paper, as you do in more eastern countries. You can also throw the paper in the toilet. I have also not seen a squat toilet. I know the facts about public access to toilets in so many major capital cities in the US and Europe. (And have cards written in French, German and English stating that I have a non-contagious disease and require access to a businesses staff-only toilet, if need be. Thank you SMCCV - Schweizerische Morbus Crohn / Colitis ulcerosa Vereinigung.)
This is the last time that I will have to schedule lovely days on holidays with my faulty guts in mind and I am a little thrilled about that. I might be able to go to India! I mean, I can go on a hiking holiday and go places with outhouses and not need to ring hotels in advance to see if they have a handheld shower and if they don't to pack my own irrigation bottle!
My doctor has told me that I cannot fully know what living with a diseased, thickened gut is doing to my daily health until I have had it taken out. He thinks that I might feel well on a whole new level, beyond my imagination.
At the same time, I think that some of the stuff I deal with has become so commonplace, that I can't imagine how my external life may change post-op. I remember the time that Ivo came to my gastroenterologist with me and the doctor asked how many bowel movements per day I'd been having and Ivo was shocked when I said "not many - 8-10 per day." 8-10 per day has been a goal since I was 15 years old. When I went for my last scope, my doctor how I'd been feeling. "Great! I only have fistula pain 3-4 times per week!" He rolled his eyes and said that he's looking forward to seeing my surgical success. I have been planning my life around a toilet for 20 years and I just take certain aspects of it for granted.
I still remember the first time I visited Ivo in Providence after I'd moved to Philadelphia and he'd bought a value pack of "softy-soft" toilet paper. When I told my friend Dacia about that she'd said "It's true love!"Oh the trees that will live on once my rectum is removed!
Of course I am glossing over the hassle that awaits in needing a plastic bag and adhesive flange on my hip for the removal of waste. But that stuff is truly unknowable until I've been cut and sewn and swelling has reduced. So I'll leave that for then (look at me following my resolution!).
I'm just looking forward to a new freedom and a different inconvenience.

Donnerstag, 24. Dezember 2015

Enough




I had loads of ideas of what this year would be like and 2015 went and knocked me for a loop.

As the new year approaches and as gift giving is upon us, I feel compelled to recognize that this year was enough; that that'll do.


Mittwoch, 23. Dezember 2015

Holiday help

Braving the shops before Christmas day requires that I bring along some extra patience.
I was hired as holiday help at Gap Baby / Gap Kids at Garden City Shopping Center when I was at school one year. It was described as mostly folding and stocking and putting things from the change room away again. But wouldn't you know, I distracted a few kids while their families were shopping and that became my responsibility for the season. I was so pleased, and my bosses thought that the parents whose children were in hand could buy more and spend more money.
A year or two later, I was off the Gap was pleased to avoid shopping centers for my holiday shopping. But then my best friend and room-mate thought that it'd be a lark to go to the Providence Place mall on Christmas Eve. I didn't really have any gifts left to buy, so the pressure was off and I could just ogle the chaos without anything at stake. On the way out we were stuck in the parking structure for 30 hours. We were in a borrowed Volvo that had no in car stereo and so had a boom box in the back seat. We blasted Christmas music and sang ourselves horse and just had the best time.
Today I was off for some final gift purchases and left enough time to be patient and courteous. But my patience might have been to a fault. At the craft shop, once I'd asked a shop assistant for something, she'd walked away mid-sentence, which seemed to begin with "I'll have a look in the -"
I waited 10 minutes before I finally plucked up the nerve to ask another assistant what my next step should be.
But nevertheless, I got done what I needed to do and had pleasant and friendly interaction with shoppers and shop workers alike and I'm so darned grateful for it. The odd child having a tanty will always evoke my mother's words about how unbearable children can be around the holidays at times. But there's nothing that makes one doubt the joy of the season like unfriendly interactions in the run up to the holidays.
Zürich has "Sonntags Verkauf" (Sunday shopping) through advent. It feels strange to me that the ban on shops being open on Sundays is all about employees getting to spend time with their families and one might argue that this time of year is all about spending time with family.
Nevertheless, I've already gotten to give some sweet kids some gifts and look forward to celebrating with some others tomorrow and hope that my family are having an equally easy time of it.

Freitag, 18. Dezember 2015

New Year's resolutions

Last night, I had the song "Long December" from the counting crows in my head.
Like clockwork, that song pops into my head. But of course it does. "A long December and there's reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last." It's like night swimming when the seasons change to autumn. There's the nostalgia of when the song came out and the mood and the words.
But today, Miranda Hart's soliloquy in the episode The New Me (guilty pleasure)
"Today I've begun the new me. I'm going to be the kind of woman who, you know, just leaps out of bed and just does that (shakes head) and their hair looks perfect.
They then grab a muffin from their Cath Kidston polka dot biscuit tin and head to work wearing trainers at the bottom of a skirt suit to show off they've power-walked in.
They have potted plants that don't die on them. Their fruit bowl isn't full of three-week-old rotting pears because they actually eat fruit. They have day bags, an evening bag and a clutch. For lunch, they just grab a wheat-germ smoothie in between work because that's enough to keep them going, even though at lunch time they jogged and enjoyed it because they don't have flesh that moves independently to their main frame.
And finally, they have easy access to pens to finish a crossword at a car where the man they decided to take as a lover the night before says to them "Hey, last night was great!"
You know, I'll be that kind of woman."
I forget what my resolution was last year - likely something about not becoming crazed about baby making.
This year's goal is to sanely and safely take care of myself. And to make more muffins.

Dienstag, 8. Dezember 2015

"Ch-ch-ch-change


sample ostomy
Turn and face the strange.“ One of my first proper dates with my husband was a Bowie concert in Boston. This handsome, kind man had great taste and good ideas. I was smitten.
Since my husband and tried on my sample ostomy bag, I’ve had the following quote in my head:

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. But once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always." –Margery Williams, The Velveteen rabbit

My husband used to get upset when I would talk about how much I look forward to being old together. I romanticize our senior years and the changes that will happen and how we’ll love the people we evolve into. He wants to stay present, which is sound and healthy. But I wonder if I’m not looking forward to his body betraying him as he ages. That’s a horrible thought, but I think it may be my subconscious’ wish for an equalizing. A healthy person degrades slowly; over time. But being the spouse of someone with a chronic illness can be like being in a relationship with someone who is dealing with things that older people deal with – but all at once – the body not doing what you want it to.

The Velveteen Rabbit quote was thundering in my head when my husband looked ashen in the surgeon’s office yesterday, and he grasped my hand more tightly. And when we were home and he said “damn! Soon I won’t be able to make ‘your mama’ jokes or ‘in your butt’ jokes!” (My mother died two years ago and my husband and I – for some reason – when asked “Have you seen my ______________ (phone/keys/book…)” answer “in your butt.” It’s stupid and childish and always makes me giggle. But my husband’s jokey revelation was a balm. He was joking about some heavy news and that gave me comfort. I don’t think that I can be ugly to him; not with an ostomy; not with my rectum removed and my anus sewn shut…



surgeons always say "I'm no artist"
This non-artist made a rectal removal look very innocuous. 
My surgeon said that laughter is essential post-op for pain management and healthy lungs. I believe that my post op health is in good hands, so long as my best friend and spouse is there to help me find the funny.

Samstag, 21. November 2015

Still the same old story

The holidays are coming and traditions will be followed.  I will watch a series of films that were made in my youth and features love songs from my grandparent's youth and get teary and sigh.
On the journey to self improvement, the phrase "there is another way" has been helpful in changing myself for the better. It also seemed to be a theme to the holidays last year. I do feel more sane when I let go of my vice grip on how I think that things should go.
But no matter what has happened between holiday seasons, I can watch a rom com with too much red and green and Dooley Wilson will sing "It's still the same old story..." and things will feel comfortably samey. George Bailey won't want any more plastics or ground floors. Harry Stiles will convince us that it's not because it's New Year's Eve. And Annie Reed will make me feel less foolish when she gets all emotional about An Affair to Remember.
But then Esther Smith will say that it's her last dance in St Louis and she thinks she might cry and you remember that things do change, that it's not the same as last year and that can be good and bad.
It's not the same old story and thank goodness, because I've been with my husband for 11 years and fear that he's heard all of my stories. But he's off in Transnistria over Thanksgiving, interviewing Russian peace keepers and I'm headed to the US to hug my siblings tightly before my ostomy surgery and thank goodness that we can keep having new and different experiences so that we have something to talk about at dinner.

Freitag, 20. November 2015

What if one split second sent your life in two completely different directions? (tagline for Sliding Doors)

I once wrote a breakup letter - a Dear John, if you will - to Crohn’s disease upon the advice of my therapist. I think that I may have blogged it. Her intention was for me - a codependent woman - to stop identifying myself by my disease. I don’t think that it worked. But that might have been because I didn’t do my traditional break-up ritual. 
In the past, after a bad breakup, I’d do the requisite stuff: get a bad haircut, maybe get a dog, wallow and eat things and - most importantly - I’d watch the film Sliding Doors and revel in the alternate universe that I’d veered on to and prepare myself to for what is to come. 
I feel in the need for some Sliding Doors. My marriage is more solid than ever and every day I’m struck with gratitude for my understanding, loving, patient husband. My upcoming surgery will give me so much new freedom and i won't need to run to the bathroom every half hour. But the midriff that I've come to know in the last 17 years will be forever changed and I find myself thinking, "If I'd known it was my last summer of swimming without an ostomy....", "If I'd known that the last time I had / did/ went..." It's those break up thoughts, where you feel surprised by an end. Sure, there's much to look forward to (without thinking about the scary bits) but I've grown accustomed to my middle and will be sad to bid this version of it fairwell. 
So I want to break out the ice cream and warm up the telly, but a sample ostomy arrived and my husband's response to it was relief and optimism, so maybe I'll just take it one day at a time and be pleased that I have no need for Sliding Doors.

Freitag, 6. November 2015

Whatif by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!


    The Whatifs are frequent visitors in my ear. I'm in a 12-step program, which seems to make them more manageable, but then I see my backpack. At the end of the day, I often find myself wondering: Why is my bag so heavy? And then I realize that it's full of what-ifs. I've still not managed to stop myself from preparing for any eventuality.

    When I was new to Zürich and immersed in the "Ex-pat" community, I got the reputation of having what one needed. I don't mean that I was their Shawshank Red or anything, but when someone needed something like a plaster or a tissue or a mint or a tampon or a pair of dry socks or a hand fan or 2 pairs of sunglasses or wet wipes or a sewing kit or a book or knitting or some change for the pay toilets or an umbrella....you get it. Someone would pop a button or cut a finger and turn to me and say "Mummy...." 

    For some reason, I think that I'm improving. I'm not a mummy and I don't have as many useless things in my bag, but my overly laden back pack seems to err towards a constant fear of not being distracted enough. I was walking my dog to the shops and when I was in the tram to return home, I realized that I had my Kindle, my New Yorker, my knitting and my iphone full of podcasts. All for a 2 km walk, with a dog on a leash. 

    But what if I did stop and need something to entertain me? Couldn't I just take in my surroundings? They weigh nothing and fit comfortably on my shoulders. 

Samstag, 31. Oktober 2015

All Saints - All Souls - Mischief Night

Last year, we had our Halloween party on November 1st. We prefer having it on a Saturday, so even though the holiday was beautifully timed for the weekend, we held it the next day.
On the 31st, we had houseguests, a friend's wife and daughter. I'd been entertaining them and after dinner retired upstairs for a bath and then - Trick-or-Treaters rang the bell. Trick or Treaters! At our door! In Switzerland! This was unheard of.
Autumn in Switzerland often includes a Rübelicht parade (children and their parents carrying homemade turnip lanterns through the early twilight), which feels like the ancestor of Halloween, and Metzgete, which is a harvest festival of sorts, full of massive amounts of various meats. That one feels like an ancestor of Thanksgiving. Some people think that the growing popularity of Halloween is because of the strong American presence in Swiss pop culture. But I think that it's the cancellation of Schulsilverter. When I first moved here, the last day of school before winter holidays ended with a night of school children running around town, making mischief. The vandalism reached an untenable level and so it was cancelled. It seems that Halloween is mainly celebrated in Zürich as am excuse to egg things, tp things, spray paint things and generally make mischief. I always felt oddly guilty on November first when I saw the havoc that was wrought in the name of an American holiday. But last year, there were trick-or-treaters!!
Tomorrow is All Souls day and we're taking Ivo's great aunt to her sister's  - Ivo's grandmother's - grave. Ivo's grandparents are buried in the graveyard behind our house. We used to visit them more regularly, before we had a dog, who is not allowed in. Ivo's grandmother is one of the sweetest people in the whole world. She's in her 90s but remembers everything in the most considerate way. She prays for my mom's soul, for my health, for our chance to be parents. She remembers my siblings' names and loves every animal. And tomorrow she'll visit her oldest sister's grave in the countryside near the airport and then visit her next oldest sister's grave here in the city and we'll make her lunch. I have a candle that I burn for my mother on significant days and will burn it tomorrow. I like the idea of celebrating all souls and am posting this eulogy for Cymbeline because I love it so much.
The eulogy is spoken by Cymbeline's brothers, who think that she is dead and also think that she is a man, with whom they've become very friendly.
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winters rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou are past the tyrants stoke:
Care no more the clothe and eat;
To the the reed is as the oak;
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave.
-William Shakespeare from Cymbeline Act IV Scene 2

Montag, 26. Oktober 2015

childish weekend

Our oldest niece and nephew came to stay at ours this weekend. It was a new frontier. We'd been offering since the little ones were born, but it seems that the spring arrival of my siblings-in-law's fifth child has motivated them to foster their kids' relationships with their godparents, and we're pleased about it.
We'd planned for Ivo to take Luan to the zoo and for me to take Anouk to paint some pottery, but when I met them at the train station, Anouk voiced her interest in going to the zoo as well "aber nur wenn mir unsere eigene Besuch han und nüüt mit Ivo und Luan ume gönt." (but only if we go our own way and don't go around with Ivo and Luan.) Zoos make me sad, but not for the first time, I went for the love of a child. Luckily, the visit was full of questions and curiosity and climbing on things, so it was very enjoyable. And my lil' parrot (who wanted to know all the animals' names in English) scolded some children who were feeding the free peacocks, quoting what I'd told her when she asked if we could buy some popcorn to feed them.
The rest of the weekend was wonderfully enjoyable. Except when the poor kids came to wake us - as we'd told them they should - and I didn't realize that I was trying to speak to them in English, when I meant to speak to them in Swiss German and they looked at me anxiously, wondering what the hell I was saying.
On Sunday, we walked to a nearby playground and the kids wanted to play hide and seek. Having a basset makes this game a snap. And she was the designated seeker, with whichever adult was seeking. The kids got better and better at finding hiding spots (even the younger kid who joined us in our game) and Penny the basset got distracted by some smell or another and when it was my go, I looked around and didn't see them and was awash with a feeling I'd not had since childhood - the hopelessness that came with being the seeker.
I hated being alone as a kid. I tried to blame it on being a twin, but after my brother got used to sleeping in his own room - when I'd moved in with my sister - he seemed to like his solitude. (There was a long phase there when I'd wake up in the night and go to his room, to sleep and/or eventually play. Mom would come in and say "I can't take this anymore! You two waking up at the crocodile...!" - which I later realized was "crack of dawn") When my sister would babysit and want to send me to my room for being trouble, the thought of being alone up there made me hysterical. And being the seeker at play and not seeing anyone around, realizing that the others were such good hiders that I'd not see them without searching everywhere, I felt sure that I'd never find them. The future stretched out, without these people who were hiding, and I felt crushed by this crazily misguided feeling.
This Sunday, I was not the littlest hider and as a seeker, I was 6 months-30 years older than those people whom I was seeking. Of course I would find them. Of course we'd go on to complete our plan of visiting the photo-booth, eating leftover pizza for lunch and finding Wally on the rest of the pages in the book. But for a brief second, I remembered that childish feeling.
Hope is important at the moment and there is a danger of being struck by hopelessness, by letting the future stretch before me with misguided ideas. I'm glad to be reminded of perspective, presence and hope. 

Dienstag, 20. Oktober 2015

Time

Jeepers, I'm getting lovely practice at staying present and patience. I had an MRI last Wednesday and will not get the results until tomorrow. So I'm diverting focus - or trying to.
Last night, Ivo said that he was offered the trip to Bosnia to cover the anniversary and I gave my whole-hearted endorsement. We started talking about films made around the time of or about the time of the war and he said "We should watch No Man's Land on Wednesday." I thought about it and the fact that I may get good or bad news on Wednesday morning and said "Maybe next Wednesday."
Then this morning at the gym (hooray for feeling well enough for the gym!!!!!!!) it occurred to me: Back to the Future II!
October 22 is Christopher Lloyd's birthday, and was thus used for Back to the Future II. And as of Thursday, we will be beyond Robert Zemeckis' vision of 2015. So I voice messaged my husband and one of our closest friends and made a plan. I'm cooking some (vegetarian) Lahmachun and we're going to eat dinner in front of the TV and watch what might have been.
I first saw Back to the Future II on Thanksgiving. There was a snow storm and it was meant to get bad and so we canceled our plans to drive to my aunt's for a family dinner and mom took pork chops out of the freezer. We kids were crestfallen. We love, love, love Thanksgiving. My brother's been a massive fan of it since that time we had our great big dinner and walked around a lake (or was it a pond?) and then went home and watched the animated Hobbit movie. It was the last Thanksgiving before our dad was officially out of the house. Thanksgiving is also really beloved because there's no gift-giving stress and the whole point is togetherness and yummy food. But in 1989, there was a significant lessening in our togetherness thanks to snow and there were frozen pork chops.  But then, mom said "why don't we go to the movies" and we did. We asked a couple of friends om our street to come along and we popped into the van and headed - slowly but steadily - to the cinema to watch Back to the Future II.
Of course the conversation on the ride home was mostly about the sneakers and the hoverboards in the film. I wonder if any of those kids in the van are currently "hoverboard"-owning adults. (I understand that those handle-less segways are called hoverboards. I first saw one this summer and involuntarily gasped "the future is here!")
I used to love chats on the rides home from the movies with my family around that time. I still remember my brother and his friend Seth and their loquaciousness on the subject of the possibility of genetically reviving species of dinosaur and the magic of frogs after going to see Jurassic Park. Now, I hop on my bike after watching a movie with others. It's different. Not only is there less chat (I really dislike riding bikes side-by-side in the city - or most places, if I'm honest - which makes anything short of shouting difficult) but that feeling that one gets after an intense film totally takes over one on the ride home. There's an intensity and speed. I'm sure that it's not just me. After seeing 2011 in New York, our walk home to the hotel had me jumpy. Every big building we passed, I could almost see how it would crumble in the big earthquake. But that's another post.
So we saw a movie that made us think of the distant future and then ate pork chops and talked about what we were thankful for and all those things to look forward to or avoid in the future.
But I was correct back there at North Station this summer. The future is now. And my future may be altered at my doctor's appointment tomorrow. But today, I made fun plans with fun people and found a great recipe for vegetarian lahmachun.

Samstag, 17. Oktober 2015

crybaby

My favorite radio story is Starlee Kine's This American Life, where she tries to write a torch song with the help of Phil Collins. I love this story. I love the songs that she plays to demonstrate a great torch song, I love the song that she writes and even bought a copy on itunes.
I was the child who cried most in my family. Though I'd been accused of mock crying at opportune moments, I only ever faked gawping sob-like fish face, but all my many tears were real.
I wasn't maudlin or anything and I was easy with a laugh as well. But I indulged in the catharsis of a good cry.
For me, the cleansing nature of crying can only be used if I then move on to cheer or neutrality or any other emotion afterwards. But at times when I'm sad, I sometimes like to double-down on the sadness; really wallow. I'll listen to a sad song or watch a sad film. After breakups, I used to either watch Sliding Doors and just bawl when Helen thinks that James is cheating on her, or watch If Lucy Fell and weep when it looks like Joe and Lucy wouldn't get together (and then cry harder when they did.) Then there was the decision to not turn off About Time on the airplane home from my mother's funeral and - is "cried like a drain" an expression, or is it reserved for laughing? Because those were the sounds that that cry created. I mean, planes will make me cry at any movie, that tennis one with Kirstin Dunst, or Elf... Keira Knightly's Pride and Prejudice undid me on the way home from visiting Ivo during our long distance relationship ("I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on." Oh the satisfying groan that gives me even thinking of it now...)
I like to try to put limits on a wallow, but I can sometimes get stuck in. When I miscarried a few years ago, a friend sent me the video of Walk Off the Earth playing the guitar simultaneously and singing Somebody That I Used to Know. I then listened to Gotye's song over and over, relishing the melancholy. Throughout the years of trying to conceive, I would listen to Barren Egg by Jill Sobule nearly monthly and allow myself at least a day to properly mope and mourn every menstruation - until we took a break from trying to conceive. We'd made a plan to try IVF and sex was purely sex and procreation was a bookable effort.
One of the ways I try to interrupt the momentum of bummer-dom is also music. I set a gratitude alarm on my phone. Days when I anticipate stress or when I've been feeling blue, I set it every hour or two. It plays a cheery or uplifting song and while turning it off, I take some deep breaths and concentrate on gratitude.
During the month of taking hormones for IVF, this was my alarm playlist:







and our IVF / Path to Parenthood themesong: 



The Zombie's song, as well as the OK GO cover, continues to give me hope despite the years that I have listened to it, wondering if it would be our year to become parents. This will not be our year. But today my alarm sang it to me again and I still thought that This Will Be Our Year for something. It needn't just be procreation. 
In the meantime, I continue to let myself get manipulated by music and try to maintain homeostasis. If surgery is in my new future, I wonder if I'll come up with a theme song for getting an ostomy. 

Dienstag, 13. Oktober 2015

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

I remember my first CT scan. I’d not eaten anything substantial in 2 months, 1 month or so was because I was ill and a few weeks were because I was in hospital NPO. I was told to drink 14 cups of contrast (fruit punch flavor because I didn’t like fruit punch to begin with and I didn’t want an unpleasant association with a drink that I did like.) My nurse told me to tell her if I suspected impending emesis (it was a children’s hospital and she used more colloquial terms, but I don’t wanna be gross.) I did so, she called the doctor and was told to measure whatever was emitted and then give me a corresponding volume of the contrast. I poured two cups down the drain secretly, but all went well with my test. 
My father pushed my wheelchair to radiology and stayed with me every moment until he was shoved out the door for the “could you be pregnant?” question and the administration of rectal contrast. 
My first upper GI, my father was there as well. This time I didn’t skimp on the contrast materials. Though it was similar to trying to swallow a partially-filled balloon, i glugged down the barium. I had an ostomy at the time and the cement-like quality became comical when it was emptied into my bag. I felt like I was carrying wet cement on my hip. Between scans, my dad and I walked around the hospital and he kept me laughing. When  a little boy walked past the light wall and saw the pictures of my barium-filled j-pouch, he said “it’s like train tracks” and that kept us chuckling for the rest of our stay in the radiology wing. 
My first MRI, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if i would feel claustrophobic or not. My mom came along and brought a trashy magazine for the purpose of distracting me. I did feel a bit scared and alone in the machine, and so to soothe me, my mother read aloud (shouted aloud over the thrumming of the machine) an interview with some celebrity of the moment.  The poor dear nearly shouted herself hoarse and I was so grateful for her company. 
From then on, my tests were solo. They were less scary and more standard and I’d had the foundation of loving parents getting me through the first go. Now I fall asleep in MRIs, I chug contrast like a college kid with a beer bong. I don't go with my parents, but I have a loving partner who is there for me when the results come in. 

Montag, 12. Oktober 2015

Ariel revisited

A few years ago I blogged about having seen The Little Mermaid at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. It was a sing-a-long and transported me to my days of watching the film on a daily basis with my best friends at the time. While watching the film, I was struck by the coincidence of having been addicted to that particular film and then having followed love to a different world of sorts as an adult.
During my Ariel-addiction, I was staying with my great aunt and got to visit the Kindergarten where she taught. She said that they would be watching The Little Mermaid and I was thrilled. I could not get enough of that film and the idea of watching it with little kids who might be experiencing it for the first time was exciting. But it turned out that my sweet aunt had brought an animated copy of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid. My disappointment was dramatic. The film was grim. The sea creatures were not colorful and cheery, the mermaid was not hopeful and plagued by her less intelligent and superficial-seeming sisters. The titular Mermaid was blasted to bits and eaten by the sea-witch's kampine underlings, if memory serves.
As a 34 year old foreigner, more than 58 hundred miles from the Castro theater, I think that I may more closer relate to Andersen's Mermaid than to Disney's. The 16 year old zeemermin had to clamp oysters on herself, which she found painful. Much like my ostomy bag that I clamped on myself at age 16. And my siblings want and wanted for my good health, just like the Mermaid's older sisters, with their flowers.
At the end of the story, the sisters say „...for every day on which we find a good child, who ist he  joy of his parents and deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at the good conduct, for we smile with joy at his good conduct,…” There’s more about how poorly behaved children contribute to the mermaids’ suffering, but that’s just the traditional fear-inducing nature of old fairy stories.
I’m currently waiting for medical advice and am unsure of the future health or my infertility or choices about how to become a parent. There’s a focus on my long-term health and talk of revisiting adoption.
Today I was thinking of The Little Mermaid. I never saw the sequel, so I don’t know if the ginger-haired Disney princess struggled with infertility or had weird, hybrid mer-babies or something. I just know that I still struggle with not looking at things that seem beyond my grasp and detaching from them. But I know that I have to stop it, or suffer. 

Freitag, 7. August 2015

Fahr vergnügen

We're going on holiday and I'm so thrilled to get to see my family soon. I miss them terribly. But people keep asking if I'm excited about the trip, and I've been feeling neutral on everything but seeing my siblings.
This morning at breakfast, when Ivo gave me a squee face after saying "You're leaving in a couple days!" (He's leaving a couple of days after me.) I admitted to him, that I don't feel squee-ee, and I finally admitted to myself that it feels weird to be planning a trip to the states without factoring in time to see my mother. The last few years, every visit has centered around mom. And when I left the US the last time in spring 2014, I got to mourn her loss in the bubble of Europe.
At the time, I was jealous of those people who were still surrounded by others who were feeling the same loss, but now, I feel like I'm walking down stairs and expecting a step that isn't there.
I moved to Zürich in May 2006, and when I next returned to the States for Christmas, they'd changed the 5 dollar bill. It was jarring. But this is a far more dramatic and emotional change, of course, and I am acutely missing my mother.
I'm grateful that the stroppy, stubborn, immature Jessy who said "I'm never returning to Maine after mom dies" a few autumns ago. I'm grateful that I'll go to one of my mom's (and I wager the family's) favourite places and be surrounded by her sisters and my sister and her lovely family and my loving spouse. I'm grateful for the freedom to take the train with Ivo and for our alone time that we can carve out as well. And I'm grateful to miss mom. She's present in my heart and mind and deserves to be missed. 

Dienstag, 21. Juli 2015

8th wedding anniversary

"Hey-mom told me that you guys picked a day for the wedding!  July 21st, right?  A perfect day as I see it.  Let me break it down numerologically for your punk ass. Twenty one is a perfect number in Black Jack.  We all know that.  But 7, the number associated with the month of July, is perfect too, not just in craps, or in slot machines, but also in the book of revelations, and in popular movies like "seven brides for seven brothers," "The seven year itch," and "seven" (well, maybe you should forget those last two).  Also, if you divide 7 into 21 you get three.  7 and 3 are both prime numbers, the purest numbers there are, bitch.  And three is universally recognized as a perfect number, not only in school house rock, in which it was celebrated as "the magic number," but again in the bible, where yout got all kinds of threes - not least of which is the father, the son, and the holy ghost.  Hello?  Also, don't forget the three stooges, the three Marx Brothers, the Three Caballeros, the Three Amigos, the Three Little Bears, and Huey, Louey and Dewey, the three nephews.  And guess what?  When you add the digits of the number of the day, what do you get?  Two and one are three!  I'm telling you, this shit is unbelievable.  Plus, it'll be the year 07.  That means that not only do you have seven again, but here you have two out of three of the numbers of the greatest spy in History, OK?  And if you say those numbers out loud your practically singing the chorus of one of the greatest reggae songs of all time, "007 (Shantytown)" by Desmond Dekker and the Aces.  So basically,  good going with the date.  I don't even think there could be a better date than July 21st. In fact, I dare you to think of one better.  Go ahead.  Do it."
I think of this email from my brother every year on our anniversary. If luck plays a role, then we picked a lucky day. If the support of family plays a role, than Ivo and I are in for a long and happy marriage.