With each passing day, I’ve come to realize that for the last twenty-five years I have lived in my body, I haven’t really known the skin I’ve lived in. In the sense that I don’t pay attention to something until I’m forced to look at it by way of injury or illness.
The same questions run through my head every time as I try to access memories I do not have. Has this always been this way? Has this changed? What is different about this? Could it be different? Maybe? Or am I just now seeing this for the first time? These questions are better than what I automatically told myself when I was dealing with things as a teenager. I’m going to die. What I’m experiencing will kill me sooner than I wish. Somehow everything leads to death. I’d imagine myself having a different life from this one very minor but must be a life-altering moment for me. Of course, none of what I imagined actually happened and thankfully, my extreme anxiety has morphed into obsessive questioning (I know they both sound bad but at least one seems slightly more productive.)
Because I don’t pay attention to my body and it’s apparent creeks and shapes, when something out of the norm happens, I’m left feeling like a blind duck, waddling down an unfamiliar street. Without a point of reference, I’m left assessing a body part I haven’t paid too much attention to and asking the questions above while reminding myself not to panic, this may have been always been my normal and I just haven’t noticed it until now.
Referencing an old memory with my body when encountering present questioning is never ideal. I overcompensate for lost memories by creating stories in my head that are probably not true but they must be real because they’re the only things that give me comfort in this very moment. My thyroid has always been this size. Of course, my left hip has always popped. I did hear that noise coming from my left side while I was in the air. I can still walk. My eyes can squint again. That’s a stress zit, not a hormonal pimple. Most of these are true, while some are rationalized statements that don’t necessarily add up to the reality I live in but choose to believe at the moment so I don’t return to that younger version of myself.
This year has been a lot. I’ve realized how much I’ve grown and areas of my life where growth could be good for me. One thing I’ve realized from so many unexpected health issues throughout my life is how much I choose to ignore something until I’m forced to feel it. I do this in many aspects in my life, but my body in particular, has made me realize how much of my own skin and bones I do not know out of fear of what could happen if I do acknowledge it. Though I’m no longer a teenager, I must admit that fear and jumping to conclusions still lingers. Forgotten moments don’t help and questioning or telling myself false truths are good for a little while but not for a lifetime. In moments like these, I often wish I knew more about my body so when I’m in pain or something looks or feels off, I know what’s my normal. Maybe by writing this, I can develop reference points that will keep me from worrying as much in the future.
We gathered together with family and friends to remind each other how thankful we are to have the love we’re fortunate to have in our lives. Thankfulness lingers in the air days after the Thursday holiday is done. Games were played, stories were shared, and the dog stole turkey when no one was looking.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are interesting because it’s a time of closure and transition. It’s the time where the calendar year is coming to a close. Where you begin to realize how fast the year has gone and how it’s almost done.
Christmas lights now light up the night. Soon a tree will be my family’s front room. Pumpkin pie is still in the fridge, slowly being consumed by me and me alone. Friends have gone home and returning to the normal routine is hard for everyone after eating more food in one weekend than most of us probably eat in an entire year.
I’m thankful for so many things that I won’t name here but those of you who know me will know how grateful I am for the love and support I have from you. Without the people in my life, I don’t know where I would be or who I would be. In the next few weeks between the holidays, take some time to look around you and remind the people you love how much you love them. Just because they know it, it’s always good to remind the people you’re close to how much you care.
Eat the pie, put up the tree, and hide the extra turkey from any dogs or cats.
I’ve been blogging for a few years now. And if I’m being honest, some weeks I don’t know what I should write about. I used to plan out what I would say but now I just wing it the day of. I know I should be better at planning things and get back into the habit of knowing what I want to say before I say it.
This isn’t a post about a struggle of blogging or writer’s block. It’s about feeling exhausted and tired after a long day and you choose not to write or post anything on the designated day. It’s about realizing that planning to do something doesn’t always work in your favor. Sometimes, life has a funny way of changing your plans with unexpected detours.
Two weeks ago, I woke up experiencing double vision. Tuesday I was feeling fine. Wednesday morning, I was seeing double and having eye pain. For the last two weeks, I’ve either had eye double or strain in one or both of my eyes. I’ve gone to multiple doctors, had an MRI, and been poked more times than I prefer. And I still don’t have a definite answer.
I think the most frustrating part about it is being told different things by different doctors. The neurologist ophthalmologist says one thing, the endocrinologist says another. It’s a lot of back and forth. Right now, the thinking is this could be caused by my thyroid. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s back in February. The neurologist ophthalmologist is pretty certain that my eye problem is caused by Graves’. I got a blood test to see if this is the case. It’s strange because the blood test I got last month and last week for my Hashimoto’s didn’t show any signs of Graves’.
Right now, I don’t know what’s causing this. The endocrinologist says Hashimoto’s can cause eye problems while the neurologist ophthalmologist says it’s very rare for Hashimoto’s to cause eye problems. Until I get the results of my blood test results, I have no way of knowing one way or the other. On Monday, I was at the neurologist ophthalmologist for a good three hours, which pretty much exhausted me for the day, hence why I didn’t post on Monday.
Writing is therapy for me. It allows me to write the thoughts that have been circling in my head for the last two weeks. I’ve been reading a lot more, both books and articles. I’ve been leaning on what makes me happy. Playing with my cat, watching Friends and This Is Us. I know I will be okay. If this is indeed thyroid related, it can take six months or longer for this to go away. That’s a long time but I’ve learned that time moves faster the older I get.
One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.
One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.
One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.
On Saturday, the 25th of August, I will be turning 25 years old. My golden birthday. For those of you who don’t know my story, I’ll give the short version. I was supposed to be born on November 25th. My mom had a liver transplant when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me on July 1st. I was born at 27 weeks on August 25th, 1993. I weighed 2 lbs 2oz when I was born and dropped to 1 lb 7 oz shortly after. I had to spend the first five months of my lifein the hospital and I was on oxygen for the first two years of my life.
Everyone who I have told this story to over the years has responded by saying I am a Miracle Baby. I’ve known this my entire life. It’s a weird thing to live my life knowing all that of this traumatic and scary events happened that I have no recollection of. How I spent the first five months in an incubator. How it must have been for my parents to see me so helpless. How nerve-wracking it must have been to have a child who was going to have challenges beyond their control. How worried my parents were about my later development of both walking and speech. There were so many things that could have gone wrong.
I know how lucky I am to be here. I know that had it been just a few years earlier, I would not have survived. I arrived at just the right moment where medical technology knew how to help premature babies have a good chance of surviving. Though I’ve developed later than most people throughout my entire life and I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that began as bronchopulmonary dysplasia when I was an infant, I’m so fortunate to not have any serious problems that have stuck with me from being born three months early.
We all have stories and events that define our lives. Miracle Baby was put on me long before I could comprehend anything about life. It’s been a part of who I am. I don’t know what life is like without this story that’s still mindblowing to understand. Every so often, I will stop and think, that really happened. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve been given a unique perspective from what happened to me when I was a baby. Every year on November 25th, I give a little moment to the day that seems so far away from my actual birthday. I think about the person I could have been had I been born on that date. But I’m also thankful for the person I am and for the life I’m so fortunate to live.
On my birthday, I always watch the news broadcast that was done on my early arrival. My mom and dad had a news story on them a month earlier to talk about my mother’s liver transplant while being pregnant. The first few years I would watch the news broadcast, I would think I was looking at someone else’s life because that’s the only way my young mind could comprehend this incredible story. It was only when I turned 12 that I began to process the fact that this story is mine, that little baby that looks like a tiny baby doll is me. This year on my golden birthday, I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last twenty-five years and how all that I’ve gone through has only made me stronger.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!
If you want to read my entire essay, “Finding My Voice,” you can purchase Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction on Amazon or Z Publishing.
Internet culture has its pros and cons. With sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, you can interact with like minded people without leaving the comfort of your couch or putting on clothes. You can stay up to date with friends and family with the click of a button. You can spend too much money when shopping online for items you don’t need but are 86% off. There are also major downsides for spending anytime on the Internet. Sharing your opinion or life can become personal when someone decides to threaten you over what you’ve chosen to post. People don’t realize that just because their anonymous doesn’t mean anyone won’t take the threat personally. I’ve often seen people say whatever they like, not thinking about what their words mean or say about them. Words words still sting, no matter how they get to you. Words hurt more than people realize. There are ups and downs to everything. Learning how to protect yourself online by blocking trolls and listening to your gut reaction when something doesn’t feel right is key when being involved with Internet culture.