#6, 30 Letter Challenge

A stranger.

You chickenshit bastard.  Yeah, you.  You’re a real dick.  You’re also a coward.  That stunt you pulled yesterday because you got your underwear in a knot?  You picked the one thing that matters the most to her, the one thing that keeps her sane, and you shit all over it out of spite.

If you’re not going to be fully in her life, then leave her the fuck alone so she can move on.  That means no checking on her.  No cruising her blog or her Facebook or anything else of the sort.  Stop breaking into her accounts and leaving your footprints all over the place.  No more hitting the board so she can see the “tracks” and know it’s you checking up on her.  She deserves to be able to live her life without you looming all over everything she does.  Especially since you can’t be bothered to get in touch with her directly and actually talk to her.

So she started dating again.  What do you care?  It’s none of your damn business.  You’re married to someone else, with a crazy bitch girlfriend on the side, so leave her alone.  What bugged you the most?  The yipping coyotes?  Or the one like you?  Fuck you, it’s none of your damn business to begin with.

You better hope we never cross paths.  Because so help me, I will light you on fire.

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Post Challenge: Cancer

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer when I was younger.  My diagnosis and subsequent treatment are the reason why I never had children.  The following is the timeline of my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  (I pulled the timeline stuff off an entry on my LiveJournal that I made years ago.)

October 11, 1999
I realized about a week before that I was nearly out of birth control pills and had no refills left on my prescription.  So I called to make an appointment with my doctor, only to be told that she was gone and wouldn’t be back for another week.  So I made an appointment with a different doctor in the same office, Dr. Robert Young.  I found out later the reason that my doctor was unavailable was because she was being treated for ovarian cancer.

Anyway, I went in and saw Dr. Young.  I mentioned that I’d been having some break-through bleeding, and I thought maybe switching pills would help.  So he did my Pap smear, wrote me a prescription, and sent me on my way.  I didn’t expect to see him again.

October 28, 1999
About two weeks later, I got a call from Dr. Young’s nurse.  She told me that I needed to schedule a biopsy as soon as possible.  I was so panicked that I called my supervisor and asked if I could take off work to go to the doctor.  She said it was fine, so two days later, I was back in Dr. Young’s office.  I found out then that I had what’s called a high-grade intraepipthelial lesion on my cervix.  Sounds gross, right?  That’s certainly what I thought.  They took the biopsy samples, which was a load of fun, let me tell you.  I didn’t feel the pinched out little chunks, but when he scraped a sample from the inside of my cervix, I sure felt that!  *shudders*  That was the worst part of the whole thing.

While I was at the office, they told me they wanted to schedule a LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure), just to be on the safe side.  As the nurse put it, “It’s probably nothing and we won’t need to do the LEEP, but if we wait to schedule it, we may have a hard time getting you a surgery slot.”  So I scheduled my LEEP for November 11th.

When I called for my biopsy results, they told me that I would need to have the LEEP done.  I figured, no big deal.  So I had the LEEP done and tried to get on with my life.  Unfortunately, life had other ideas.

The Saturday following my LEEP, I got a call from Dr. Young’s nurse.  She asked me if I could come over to the office that morning, because Dr. Young needed to discuss my lab results with me.  I knew right then that the news wasn’t good, but I had no inkling of what lay ahead.  I called my husband and got him to come home and go with me.  When we met with Dr. Young, he dropped a bombshell on me.  The pathologist had determined that the tissue removed during the LEEP was cancerous.  He had received second opinions from two other pathologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.  They concurred that it was cancer.  Dr. Young recommended that I have a cold-cone biopsy.  This type of biopsy would take a bigger sample, plus it had the added advantage that they would probably be able to get all the cancer with this biopsy.  So on November 23rd, I had the cold-cone biopsy.

The day after my surgery, the day before Thanksgiving, Dr. Young called me.  He told me they didn’t get all the cancer.  He told me that he was referring me to a specialist, a gynecological oncologist, Dr. Janet Rader.  My appointment with her was on December 2nd, one day after my 25th birthday.

We made the two hour trip to St. Louis for my appointment that afternoon with Dr. Rader.  Dr. Young had already sent her my records so she could review them.  She recommended a radical hysterectomy because of my age.  She said that she preferred a more drastic approach for younger women, because chemotherapy and radiation treatments would fry my ovaries and then I would have to take hormones for the rest of my life. The radical hysterectomy would leave my ovaries intact, but would remove my uterus, the abdominal lymph nodes, and the ligaments that supported the uterus.  I decided the surgery was my best option.  I remember telling Dr. Rader, “Just cut this stuff out of me. Get it out. I don’t care what you have to do, just get it out of me.”

During this appointment with Dr. Rader, I learned something startling about my cancer.  Unlike most cervical cancers that start on the outside of the cervix, mine actually grew inside my cervix and moved outward.  I was incredibly lucky, because if it hadn’t grown outward in addition to growing inward, it might have been years before I was diagnosed.  If that had been the case, it could have potentially invaded other organs and spread throughout my body.  I might not have survived.  So I think Someone was looking out for me in some small way.

December 7, 1999
I had been 25 for a week.  A week.  25 years old and diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Totally blew my mind, I can tell you.  I had the surgery and spent Tuesday night to Saturday afternoon in the hospital, then went home to recover for six weeks before returning to work.  It was rough. I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a jug of milk.  I couldn’t drive for two weeks, because I could pop my incision open if I had a wreck.  I questioned everything I’d ever believed.  I asked myself how God could do something like this to me.  I eventually came to realize that there was a reason, a purpose, of which I was unaware.  To this day, I don’t know why I got cancer.  But I know that it changed my life, in some ways, for the better.

Today, I can proudly say that I am a cancer survivor.  I have realized that I’m not afraid of dying anymore.  I guess when you have to face the possibility of dying, it just ceases to have the power to scare you anymore.  I don’t know.  I just know that death doesn’t scare me anymore.  Life’s a lot scarier than death ever dreamed of being.

A friend of my mom’s gave her a card while I was recovering.  On the front, it has two friends walking side by side with their backs to the viewer.  One has her arm around the other’s shoulders.  Underneath it says, “When a door closes, a window always opens.”  I believe this is true.  This is my motto toward life.  I don’t take the door closing as the final answer on anything.  Instead, I’ve learned to look for the open window.

Do I wish I’d never gotten cancer?  Sometimes.  But I think I’m a stronger person for having to deal with getting cancer at such a young age.  I think my marriage is stronger for it, because my diagnosis showed me the character of the man I married and how blessed I am to have him.

I have no regrets.

Post Challenge: My Family Tree

In a previous post, I asked for topics to write about.  A friend responded with over half a dozen topic ideas.  So here I am, trying to figure out what to say about my family tree.

I barely remember my great-grandparents.  I don’t remember any of them from dad’s side (I think they were all long gone before I was ever born) and I barely remember Papa Tyler or Big Mama Jamison.  Sadly, I don’t know their first names or much else, for that matter.

What I do know is the stories that have made the rounds in the family.

Like the one my Grannie (mom’s mom) used to tell about Big Mama (her mother-in-law).  Grannie and Big Mama couldn’t stand each other.  My Big Daddy (mom’s dad) fought in the war.  My aunt Mollie (mom’s oldest sister) was a baby at the time.  They owned one milk cow and Grannie was feeding Mollie the milk.  As Grannie tells it, Big Mama tried to take the cow – the same cow that Grannie was milking to feed my aunt – during this time.  The relationship between Grannie and Big Mama never improved either.

Papa Tyler (Grannie’s dad) died when I was little.  Papa had dementia and so when Mom would take us to the nursing home to visit, he would never remember who we were.  Which was sad, because when Papa was younger, he was a character.  Grannie told a story once about how when she was a teenager, she and Papa were riding through town and a man Papa knew walked out in the road in front of Papa’s truck.  Papa yelled out the window, “Hey, you old son-of-a-bitch!  Get out of the road!”

My great-grandfather on my dad’s side, Dave Maroney, was an Irish immigrant.  He came to this country from Dublin.  (And yes, I do have an Irish temper!)  He worked for the railroad.  Great-grandpa Dave was a bit of a family mystery for a long time.  You see, one evening, he told my great-grandmother and their kids that he was going out to feed the pigs.  Only instead, he disappeared without a trace.  After his pocket watch (I think) was found out past the pig pen, the rumor within the family was that he was murdered, although I was never clear on why.  Something about he owed someone money?  Anyway, he disappeared and left my great-grandmother to raise three kids on her own.

My Papaw (dad’s dad) lived on the same land that he was raised on.  Dad tells stories sometimes about walking through the woods to get to his grandmother’s house (she lived on a small hill about a half mile from my Mamaw and Papaw’s house).  The woods are long gone (the land is mostly pasture now) and the old house is nothing but an overgrown ruin.

We found out much later, when my aunt (dad’s older sister) started doing genealogical research, what happened to great-grandpa Dave.  Apparently, Dave was a bigamist.  As I mentioned, he worked for the railroad.  His work landed him somewhere in either Alabama or Mississippi (can’t remember which), where he met and married a woman who was NOT my great-grandmother.  They either had just had a child or were expecting their first child when he mysteriously disappeared.  He apparently jumped a train and rode it to northwest Louisiana, where he met my great-grandmother.  He married her, they bought around 100 acres or so, and he settled into life as a farmer.  They had three children together and then he up and disappeared.  Turns out, he went back to the first wife and they had a couple more kids together.

Then there’s my Mamaw’s side of the family.  Her maiden name was James.  According to research done by one of Dad’s cousins, Mamaw was a relative of Frank and Jesse James.  According to local lore, back in their outlaw days Frank and Jesse used to ride through northwest Louisiana, sometimes even down into central Louisiana.  They would leave their tired, run down horses in place of healthy horses that they “borrowed” from the locals.  They’d come around every few months, returning the horses they had “borrowed” and retrieving their own horses (which were now recovered from their time on the trail).  I’ve never seen pictures of Mamaw’s uncle Frank (her dad’s brother), but he is supposedly a dead ringer for Frank James (Jesse’s brother).  So we’re related to the James brothers, but I’m not sure exactly how.

So on dad’s side of the family, we have a bigamist and bank/train robbers.  My dad’s family is not what I’d call normal.

I don’t know much about my ancestry other than my paternal great-grandfather was Irish.  There is supposedly some Native American in both Mom’s and Dad’s families.  Because my Big Daddy was so tall, there was some speculation that he had some Scandinavian blood in him.  On Mom’s side, there is also a bit of Dutch, Welsh, and English blood as well.  I’m not really sure about Dad’s, but probably something similar there.

Maybe one day, I’ll spring for a paid membership on Ancestry.com and start researching my family in depth.

After I wrote this, I got on Ancestry.com and started playing with the family tree I started on there back in 2010.  I’m still too cheap to spring for a full membership, but I’ve made a lot of progress with the family tree.

#25, 30 Letter Challenge

The person you know that is going through the worst of times.

I know right now you’re going through a really rough time.  It’s just piles of shit upon piles of shit and something’s got to give, right?

Your Wolf walked away without a backward glance six months ago, after coming back into your life after 20+ years of radio silence.  He left you to deal with the crazy, possessive bitches he surrounds himself with, which was incredibly chickenshit of him.  I know how hard getting over him has been for you.  Because he understands who you are.  He brings out things in you that you didn’t realize were even there.  So when he yanked the rug out from under you by walking away without a backward glance?  Yeah, I’d have trouble dealing with that too.

Then your Cowboy walks back into your life, after disappearing for months, and proceeds to shake it up like a snow globe.  He doesn’t give a damn about the Wolf.  He refuses to be concerned or intimidated.  He also brings out something in you, but after your previous experience with the Wolf, it scares you to death.  I don’t know much about your Cowboy, but he seems like a pretty good guy – even if he does cluelessly stick his foot in his mouth sometimes.  I think his intentions are good, even if you are suspicious of them.  Give him a chance.  Don’t automatically lump him in with all the other guys who have shit on you in the past.

Then your young friend M was killed just last month.  The guilt is tearing you up because before he left to go over to the Sandbox, y’all had a huge fight about … something.  I don’t know the details, but I know you were pissed off at him about it.  (Enough to throw things at his head!)  But none of that matters now.  It’s irrelevant. You had spoken to him since then, you had told him he was important to you, you told him you cared.  It just sucks that a 25 year old kid lost his life in a war we’re never going to win.  Because the enemy?  They’re like cockroaches.  They scuttle off and hide when we shine the light their way.  But as soon as the light moves on, they come crawling back out.  You’ve been asking yourself why him.  Why did it have to be him?  I have to believe that there’s some reason why the angels called him home, even if none of us understands what that reason is.

I know his death hurts.  I know how much pain you’re in.  But you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Live your life and honor his memory with your accomplishments.  He believed in you.  Don’t quit on him just because he’s not walking this earth anymore.

You’re worrying me because you haven’t been taking care of yourself.  You’re not getting much sleep.  You’ve admitted that you haven’t been taking your meds.  How are you ever going to get your diabetes under control if you don’t take your medication?  You mentioned once that you have an uncle with raging uncontrolled diabetes because he refuses to take care of himself.  And I see you going down that same path because you don’t eat right or remember to take your medicine.

I want you to know that even though you don’t think you’re important, there are people who worry about you, who care about you.  Who want you to be around 20 years from now.  Start taking better care of yourself because I want to be able to enjoy the blessing of your friendship for years to come.

I love you.  Don’t give up on yourself.