Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

January 31, 2008

Paid in Full

Every few days, some kind soul makes their way out to the far North County of San Diego to keep me company for a few hours and give me a much appreciated break from sitting/lying in one of three places in my mom's house that I can tolerate. Today it was Only Child.

I haven't seen him in about two months, though we've talked on the phone a few times before and after my surgery. Some people may think it's weird that OC and I are still friends after the disastrous end to what I like to call our "faux engagement" three and half years ago. But, even though it went as far as me buying a beautiful gown and booking a location for the wedding on the island of Kauai, I can't help but let it go and forgive him.

True, OC blew it by pseudo-proposing to me in a fit of loneliness and desperation, but I blew it too by actually believing his proposal and ignoring my gut by saying yes. Why did we do this to each other and ourselves? Because we became like family to one another and didn't want to give up our very deep friendship. I'm thankful that now we can have the kind of relationship that suits us better. We don't talk all that frequently these days (he's got a girlfriend who isn't all that fond of my existence, which I totally get in theory, but wish she could understand that she's wasting her energy being at all jealous of me) but we both know that when it comes down to it, we are there for each other like a brother or a sister.

I'm sure some of my friends, many of whom have not met OC because I befriended them post-faux engagement, probably think it's a bit wacky that we are still friends. But, God bless 'em, they don't say anything to me about it. If only my Mom would do the same.

You see, my mom is still pretty damn pissed at OC for what happened and refuses to let it go. Actually, after it first occurred, she wasn't so bad. In fact, I remember her expressing affection for him and agreeing with me that he had deceived himself more than anyone and that he feels so terribly about it that any anger I threw his way couldn't compare to how much he's beating himself up. I even remember her saying that she really cared about him and hoped he got his sh*t together so this didn't happen with another girl down the road.

But after the Naval A-hole disaster, her attitude changed. At first, so did mine. I can admit Naval A-hole was a bit of a rebound (I met him about three months after OC and I called it off) and our whirlwind romance kept me from really grieving my relationship with OC. So when it all hit the fan post A-hole, I felt double the anger and double the grief. But OC was so kind to me as I fell apart in the wake of A-hole, that my anger subsided and eventually faded back into the archives of my relationship past. My fiercely loyal, loving mom, however, chose to remain pissed at both of them.

So now I do my best not to even mention OC's name around her to avoid having to hear a snide comment (her specialty, I learned from the Master). But sometimes he just comes up in the flow of conversation and it's like "Here we go again..." In the long run, it doesn't matter. She can think whatever she wants about him. The funny thing is that OC always asks about her and seems to think fondly of her. I always tell him, "Yeah, my mom is still kind of mad at you. I try to tell her that I'm over it so she should be too. But, I guess she's still pissed."

I can see it bugs him but he just shrugs and says, "Well, tell her I said hi anyway. I always liked your mom." And he means it. Next time he said he's going to bring her flowers.

Hopefully she'll get over it someday. I mean, he'll be at my wedding - assuming I ever have one! I have, however, given her complete permission to direct all her hatred and anger towards Naval A-hole instead, since he's the one who still deserves it. In fact, I give the entire world permission to direct all bad energy towards him. Karma needs all the help it can get. But Only Child? His dues are Paid in Full as far as I'm concerned. If only I could get my mom to agree.


January 29, 2008

Remembering What I Forgot

Last night, for a few dark minutes, I remembered what I forgot. It isn't a memory I particularly wanted to recall since it had visited me every single day, many times each day, for the past two and half years. But its sudden reappearance made me realize that, in fact, I hadn't thought about it in quite some time.

What am I talking about? Naval A-Hole of course.

After he disappeared on me without a word in October 2005, I quickly developed the unintentional sick ritual of thinking of him, cursing him, several times a day. His pink-cheeked, babyface punctuated by the Hitler-youth blonde buzz cut would pop in my head and I would angrily stare into his loving, pleading blue eyes trying to spot the lies I clearly missed in real life.

This little memory exercise would cause me to instantaneously flood with longing and rage, because I missed him (or who I thought he was) so much and I hated him even more for leading me down the garden path and then leaving me there stranded, without any explanation or hint how to get out alive.

I went through this so many times each day that it became almost a safety blanket as I re-entered the dating world. If I met a new guy and got a little nervous, I would wrap myself up in that blanket a little tighter as if to remind myself, "He's a jerk. He'll leave you just like Naval A-hole. Just wait and see." Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And then I met Wine Guy. I know the whole Wine Guy courtship can sometimes sound like it was easy. Well, it wasn't and I can blame a large part of that on Naval A-hole's ghost that I just couldn't give up. After awhile, his ghost changed from the vivid picture of his face to more of a Black Hole of distrust. If Wine Guy slipped up, the Black Hole would envelop me and I would lash out in fear.

I'm sure Wine Guy never knew what hit him and we spent a few months fighting ridiculous fights that came from nowhere and ended in me crying and writhing in self-pity and abandonment fear that Wine Guy could never understand. How could he? It was my Black Hole and I had to climb out of it on my own. This went on for a good few months, and thank God Wine Guy and I cared enough about each other that we could continue to grow our relationship in spite of it.

Then last night Wine Guy forgot to call me like he promised. He was having a few (platonic) girlfriends over for dinner and promised he would call during the festivities so I could say hi to everyone. By 11pm I still hadn't heard from him so I called him and got his voice mail. I left what I thought was a non-nagging message and then crawled into bed.

As I slipped under the covers I remembered what I forgot - the Black Hole. There it was, pulling me in. Telling me things like, "Wine Guy is tired of you," "He's enjoying a break from you with his friends and probably will want to see less of you," "He decided he's had enough and will never call you again."

I know these thoughts sound ridiculous and hysterical. I would have agreed with you three years ago. But that's why Naval A-Hole is so "special." His actions took paranoia and distrust to a whole new level for me - he made them reality. You know that expression, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." That pretty much sums it up for me.

But this time the Black Hole felt different. It wasn't as well-worn and comfy as it had been in the past. In fact, it felt cold and distant and, well, untrue. Then it hit me - this thing feels so awkward because it's been gone awhile - weeks, maybe even a month or two. Besides being engrossed in healing from my surgery, I'd also been completely immersed in Wine Guy's caring for me. Every day I became more trusting and accepting of his love for me. I had started to believe that he would actually stay. If you recall, I covered this in my last entry titled Falling in Trust.

Not having visited with the Naval A-hole Black Hole in awhile, I explored it for a few minutes while lying in bed, but I just didn't have the heart to embrace it. Actually, I probably had too much heart to embrace it. Either way, I am pleased that it came back at all so I could have the experience of remembering what it is I thankfully forgot.

Yes, Wine Guy called me several minutes later. The night had just gotten away from him and he didn't realize how late it was. Once he did, he found his phone in the other room and called me right away (he didn't even notice that I had already called him until the next day). I chose (rightly) not to tell him about the Black Hole's visit. I just said, "I'm glad you are having a good time. You deserve it." We said our I love yous and goodnights and I settled into bed, happy to be snuggling up with my mom's comforter, my cat, and the warmth of trust surrounding me.

Good Riddance, Naval A-hole.


January 25, 2008

Falling in Trust

Not that I wish harm to any of you, but I now firmly believe that everyone should have at least some experience with limited mobility, especially in a wheelchair. I can't begin to tell you how your perspective changes when someone is wheeling you through the world and all you see are people's waists and legs and potential obstacles coming your way. When people do make eye contact with you, it's usually with a tinge of pity and a shy smile. I don't get upset because, well, I did the same thing not too long ago.

I will never see the world the same since I began taking wheelchair outings with Wine Guy and other generous friends willing to push me around for an afternoon so I could get out of the house. You have to rethink everything - where you sit in a restaurant, going to the bathroom, trying on clothes, shopping in general, opening doors, elevator locations - a major pain!

But the weirdest experience of all came last Monday when my friend Big A took me to the mall. I normally f*$king hate the mall but it was the only "activity" I could think up for us with the wheelchair since it was raining that day. It ended up being a perfect choice because the aspect of malls I can't stand (namely the people who frequent them) were literally above me, while I got to slink through on wheels down below. Luckily my friend has a 2 year old and is quite accustomed to pushing a person around all day so she wasn't too inconvienicned either. Which leads me to the craziest part of the day - being at eye level with the little kids being pushed around in strollers. Every time I would come upon one, their eyes would bug out at me in surprise, as if to say, "What are YOU doing down here? You're a grown up?!" I would respond with a goofy face, just to freak them out a little more. Just another secret world I have been let into during this thankfully temporary handicapped phase of mine.

But on to the "Dating" part of this blog. I've had a major realization about love and how different my feelings are for Wine Guy than for any other guy in the past. What's the realization? Well, for the past few months I've been scared that Wine Guy would bail on me the second things got tough. I was sure that this surgery and all the recuperation and care I would need would have him running for the hills. All of this goes hand in hand with my deeply rooted fear that no man would every really go out of his way for me. If it isn't easy, he'll bail. So my pattern has been to avoid asking them for help, just to keep it easy enough that they'll stay. Well, I knew I couldn't do that this time around and I was scared my fears would indeed become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Damn, was I wrong. Wine Guy has gone above and beyond and shown me he has no intention of going anywhere. He's been supportive, loving, helpful, tolerant...all that stuff. And the most important part is that I finally started to let him be these things. I'm sure nothing bothered him more than all the inherent distrust I was projecting towards him as the surgery date came closer. He did nothing to deserve that distrust and I'm sure it hurt. But once they put me under and sliced open my hip, there was no room for bullsh*t fears --I just plain needed him. And he was just plain there.

So, what's my realization about love? Love is Trust.

So I guess I can say that I've "Fallen in Trust" with Wine Guy. And now I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can give back to him and make him feel the same sense of security and warmth. A contest in generosity I suppose. I'm game.

This weekend he is joining me, my mom, my brother Pat-hole and his wife on a trip to the local mountains where my brother has rented a beautiful cabin. There will be lots of snow, a warm fire and yummy food. I know Wine Guy is a tad scared of so much time with my brother (he is under the impression my brother wants to go hunting with him - I have no idea why since my brother has never hunted a day in his life), but I think he will be pleasantly surprised to see that my normally high-strung sibling is quite peaceful and almost pleasant when he escapes to the mountains.

By next weekend I hope to leave my mom's and relocate to Wine Guy's place which is much closer to my house too. I could probably go to my house directly but I can tell that WG really wants to take care of me and, now that I'm in Trust with him, I'm going to let him do just that.

Have a great weekend everyone. Dismissed.

January 15, 2008

If You Can Kill Me, You Can Marry Me

As you can imagine, preparing for major surgery brings up a lot of major life issues and questions. Even if your situation is like mine - voluntary surgery that should likely not end in death, just prolonged discomfort - you can't avoid facing those "what happens if something goes wrong" scenarios.

The first matter to weigh heavily on my mind was my cat, AppleButt. Who would she live with if something happened to me? Sure there are people who would take her in, but who would LOVE her as psychotically as me? I actually had a hard time deciding because there are a few potentials. In the end, I decided not to decide, figuring that if something happened, I had made it clear enough to these special people that my only postmortem concern was that AppleButt was loved and cared for.

With the cat all wrapped up, it quickly occurred to me that I have absolutely nothing else of value or interest that I needed to worry about. I own nothing but a car, which would have to be sold, and a few pieces of nothing-to-brag-about furniture. My landlord can screw himself as far as his apartment is concerned and I will probably die wearing my only slightly expensive jewelery, a pair of small diamond earrings, that can go to whoever wants them most.

My first instinct is to think that this very short inventory of my life's possessions makes my life pathetically unaccomplished. A 35 year old woman should have more evidence of her existence than a cat and a mid-range car, right? But then I stop being self pitying and realize that this is something to be proud of. My life is not formed by posessions but by the the people I've collected along the way. People who care deeply about me (confirmed for me again over the past week) and, if I died, would miss me a lot more than the used car dealer who was lucky enough to sell my car.

When the hospital paperwork arrived I realized I had neglected a whole other set of concerns. Who was going to take care of me if this surgery went wrong and I was incapacitated? Who would get to decide when I should stop fighting for survival? Who would decided to kill me? Yes, the good old Advance Directive.

I wanted to rush through it, put my mom down for everything, sign it and not think of it anymore. But I knew it was irresponsible to put that kind of pressure on a loved one who is probably too busy being upset about you and shouldn't have to make guesses about what you might want. A Jewish funeral? Do I want to live on a machine? What do I consider a life worth living? Plus, as much as I hate to think about it, my mom will likely not outlive me. Therefore, I needed to find someone else that I trust with my life.

At first this seemed like a rather simple matter. I have many dear friends who are as close to family as I'm going to get. I also have other family who I wouldn't want coming within 50 feet of the machines that are keeping me alive, let alone know my address to send me a card once a year. But who is it fair to ask?

I put the forms away until about 2 days before surgery, hoping the magic answer would come in my sleep. When the time came to fill them out, I had only come across one person that made sense. You guessed it, Wine Guy. The way things feel and are between us these last few weeks and months, how prominent we have become in each other's lives, make it seem like a no-brainer. I trust him more than anyone and it's starting to feel assumed that we are "together forever." But we're not talking buying a couch together here. This is life and death.

So finally I bit the bullet and passive-aggressively asked him what he thought, "So, I have to fill out this stupid Advance Directive form where I designate agents to make medical decisions on my behalf if something goes wrong."

"Yeah?" he replies over the phone.

"Uh huh. I'm putting my mom down as first choice but kind of think I should have a second just in case, you know. But I don' t know who to put."

Awkward obvious silence.

He replies, "Well, you could put me if you want."

"Can I? Would that be weird?"

Here's where my communication skills turn to crap. Instead of saying that I feel he is, without a doubt, this important to me and I would love for him to play that part, I make it sound like he is weird and crossing the line for even suggesting it.

He replies somewhat hesitantly, "I don't think so. Do you?"

Luckily I catch myself.

"Not at all. It's just a lot to ask and don't want you to be uncomfortable with it. It's a pretty big deal."

"Go right ahead. Put me down."

So I did and if felt right. But later that night as I was trying to sleep, it occurred to me. I just gave Wine Guy the full legal authority to put me out of my misery in case of a medical mishap. At this point, shouldn't we just be married? I mean, is there any difference?

So how's this for a marriage proposal, "So, as long as you have the right to kill me, how about putting a ring on this finger?"


January 13, 2008

Check Your Dignity At the Door

I wasn't sure how to open this entry, my first since I signed off before the surgery last week. But then my mom made it easy for me a few seconds ago with this question shouted from across the house so Wine Guy and I could hear,
"How's the pooping situation?"

Ah yes, Check your dignity at the door.

Today is the first day since my surgery (Jan 7) that I haven't wanted to die. This whole thing has been much worse than I ever could have imagined. And it wasn't because anything went wrong. In fact, if you asked the doctor, he would probably tell you it all went pretty smoothly. I just had no idea how awful hospitals are resting, sleeping and healing. Kind of ironic, huh? I think I was paired with every moaning, semi-hallucinating, explosive-diarrhea-making old woman who needed a hospital bed. Sleep was not had. Plus the anaesthesia made me terribly nauseous all the way through until just last night so eating was not happening either. And the fact that I can do ANYTHING for myself is frustrating for me and my caretakers I'm sure.

The good news is that I have terrific caretakers - my mom and Wine Guy - who have been so amazing that it makes me teary just thinking of it. They have worked together and separately to keep me afloat and I love them for it. WG has even stayed over at my mom's with me these last two nights and it's like having -- I guess they call it family -- by your side for those trying hours in the middle of the night when you need to pee, feel like bone is poking through your skin, and you can't get to your walker (yes, walker,) on your own. Speaking of my pimping form of transportation (won't be moving to crutches for a few more weeks) WG has "tricked it out" with colorful and necessary cushioning on the handles so now I'm looking stylish among the granny crowd.

I won't horrify you with too much more detail, plus typing on Percocet is a challenge to say the least. (It has provided me with a few interesting hallucinations though, mostly in the form of dogs, cats and other creatures that aren't really there darting around the hospital/bedroom. Strange.) But I was eager to get on here the moment I could to thank you all so much for your e-support, words of encouragement and concern. It has meant a lot to me. I look forward to catching up on what's been going on in your lives and hope to have more entertaining stories to tell you in the weeks ahead that hopefully won't have anything to do with poop, scars, bloating, or poop - did I say that already? My mom just asked how her Gatorade/Metamucil concoction tasted so it's on my mind :-)

Thank you all. Dismissed.

January 6, 2008

We'll See....

I can't tell you how many OTHER posts I had planned to kick off the blog in 2008. But I'm trying to be Zen about what has occurred over the last three days so I'm just going to tell it like it is. I got home from my holiday road trip with Wine Guy on Jan 2nd and headed into my last day at work on Jan 3rd. This was my final day in the office before taking about 8 weeks of medical leave for my surgery. My plan was to take Friday, Jan 4th off for some last minute errands, cleaning, packing, a pedicure, etc and then spend the weekend enjoying my last days of mobility and a crutch-free life. It was not to be.

Instead, Thursday afternoon I started aching all over. By 11pm Thursday night I was vomiting. By midday Friday I was basically immobile, unable to keep anything down and was completely panicking that my surgery was going to be postponed. This went on through Saturday afternoon when I finally I had to go to urgent care to get put on an IV because I was so dehydrated. It is only today - Sunday - that I can sit up, slowly gnaw on a piece of dry bread and sip Gatorade. But this is a major improvement and makes me just a little giddy that I can do these simple things.

I will say that Wine Guy has been quite incredible during these trying few days. Don't get me wrong, he's not my mommy, which is who you really want babying you while you think you are dying with your head in a toilet bowl. But for a guy, he was pretty darn wonderful and has taken great care of me. Today was his first time out of the apartment this whole weekend and he kept checking on me to make sure I was OK. Now he's coming home to make me my first "meal" since Thursday afternoon - chicken broth! Yum, yum!

I am hoping and praying that the surgeon will give me the OK to still go through with tomorrow's surgery.There is nothing worse than getting totally emotionally prepared for something as big as this and then have it all go to crap. Postponing it would probably mean months since it involves booking two surgeons for a five hour procedure in an overbooked hospital. Plus my mom has totally rearranged her life to take care of me post-op and Mendoza Line's parents were going to stay in my vacant apartment during their extended visit to San Diego to escape the frigid Iowa winter. It would suck for everyone if this thing got postponed. But, it seems like the docs feel confident that this virus will be out of my system in time and, as long as I continue to stay hydrated, I should be OK to do it.

So basically I'm sitting here on an unusually rainy San Diego afternoon hoping I DON'T hear from the surgeon so I can get up at 4am and head to the hospital for yet a few more weeks of physical misery. But man, I can't imagine anything worse than this stomach bug so I guess this might have been an exercise in "looking at the bright side."

So, if you hear from me in the next two days, then, well, they cancelled it (and I assure you I will be upset). If you don't hear from me for awhile, then assume I'm high on morphine, learning to walk on crutches and eager to get a hold of my laptop to tell you more tales from the Battlefield.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year and that 2008 is treating you far better!