The Day Statistics Were On My Side

Statistically speaking, I was kind of screwed from the beginning healthwise. I’m almost always in that 1-5% of people who end up nearly dead from medications — with side effects so rare, doctors sometimes don’t even mention them because there’s just no way I’d possibly suffer dire consequences.

That might be kind of an exaggeration, but seriously I’ve had those side effects more times than I can count, so … you know. I’m jaded.

Anyhow, this is where this blog gets real personal (Mom is cringing already, I can just picture it). The other day, I found a lump.

Like, the kind of lump that makes a person with anxiety and OCD start imagining dead-in-a-ditch type scenarios over and over again. And luckily Mom was in town, so I didn’t go completely crazy, although the thought crossed my mind again and again (and again and again because, duh, OCD). When I told Husband, he immediately hopped on the computer, and said to me, “It says here 85% of breast lumps are benign.” He told me over and over how I was fine, how it was nothing, how I didn’t need to worry.

As it turned out (yeah I wasn’t going to leave you hanging for a long, meandering blog post, don’t worry), he was actually right this time around. The stats were on my side: it was nothing (well, unless you consider naturally occurring lumpy breasts at 30 years of age to be something, which … I’m kind of on the fence about).

So, yeah, I still have a medication-controlled seizure disorder and OCD and major depression (that comes in cycles) and TMJ and carpal tunnel and SI joint problems and chronic sciatica BUT I don’t have cancer. And that makes for a pretty good life.

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The Worst Flight of My Life

Before I get started, let me just say that when you’re in a tube devoid of fresh air and ventilation at 35,000 feet, with a nose that rivals only a bloodhound or a pregnant woman, Bubble Yum is one of the most wretched scents in the world.

Not that I’d know or anything, Vivian. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

Image courtesy of soap.com

Image courtesy of soap.com

To be fair to the airline, the flight itself wasn’t actually that terrible. The flight attendants were nice, the captain didn’t crash or get us killed, and at no point did I have to discover whether those little oxygen masks actually have oxygen in them or not, even though they may not inflate. I even had a window seat, which at the time was my absolute favorite thing (it was a combination of boredom and motion sickness that led me to want the window, despite there not being a whole lot to look at during most of the flight. I’ve since changed my mind and determined the aisle seat in the first three rows, opposite the door side, are actually the best because you can get off that plane right quick.)

Photo courtesy of science.howstuffworks.com

Photo courtesy of science.howstuffworks.com

The problem with the flight actually occurred before I even stepped on the plane, eating a quick dinner with my mother in a restaurant of the John Wayne airport, which has since gone out of business for what I can only imagine are obvious reasons. I ordered a blue cheese burger, and at the time it was really rad. It was good enough, in fact, that I determined I needed to take the rest with me on the plane to finish there. But I was tired, and there are some instances in which tired trumps beef, cheese, and bread (they’re rare, trust me), so I decided to slip into a quick airplane nap, though not before turning to my mother and saying “I want cranberry juice.” About a half hour later I awoke to, not surprisingly, cranberry juice on my pull-down tray, and I took one sip and suddenly realized I was going to be remarkably ill. And instantaneously.

Here’s the thing. I don’t do sick people things in front of strangers, and I especially don’t do them on airplanes, so the wait for one of the rear lavatories to become available was a particularly terrible one, during which I began to sweat profusely and probably freak the passengers sitting in the back of the plane out something fierce. You can indicate with hand gestures that you don’t intend on puking on them, but that generally doesn’t really appease them much.

 

Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

I won’t go into detail about this foray into food poisoning at 35,000 feet, but I will say the airplane lav is even smaller than you think when you’re using it like a normal person and not on your knees, I made about four visits to it during that not very long flight, I upset a few women in the PDX airport restroom outside the baggage claim, I made my dad feel sick on the way home, and I woke up a couple times that night just to finish what was only the worst evening I’d had in a very long time. It took me a couple of years before I could eat beef again.

The only thing I might fault the airline for was not letting me stay in the lav for the remainder of the flight after making it abundantly clear that one trip wasn’t going to be enough (particularly since there was a second one for people to use, so it’s not like my being there kept them from peeing or anything, and anyways, who wants to use a tiny bathroom after someone doing what I was doing? No one, that’s who. But despite all that logic, the flight attendant kept rapping on the door, telling me I had to get out.

We’re not friends, she and I.

On Getting Older

There will come, at some point in your still relatively young life, when you will inexplicably become a “ma’am.” This is devastating, trust me, and there’s little you can do to stop it. After all, you’re apparently older than all the people, and if you’re married, that really seals the deal. Obviously all the married women are “ma’am”s because what else could we possibly be? YOU COULDN’T USE OUR NAMES OR ANYTHING.

I just found out tonight, for example, that Tom from “The Blacklist” IS ACTUALLY YOUNGER THAN ME IN THE REAL LIFE. How did that happen? How did actors portraying grown up adult characters become younger than moi? When was it that actors in my age demographic started pushing eye cream in commercials? What’s next — Depends? Poise pads for those little leaks?

I don’t want to talk about it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong — there are some definite benefits to getting older. You’re completely content sitting in the back of a concert, for example, and enjoying the music from afar while wearing earplugs. You finally feel comfortable in your own skin, and you care very little about what other people might be thinking about you (this occurred for me in the last year, and it’s been thrilling). People stop carding you at bars (which I realize is pretty moot for me since I always order virgin beverages … if I even order anything fancier than, say, flavored lemonade, but still. It’s nice). It’s okay for you to not have a completely flat stomach because the vast majority of society accepts that, barring the circumstances of you having a personal trainer and nutritionist because you’re famous and always on screen, you’d have to do unthinkable things every day to maintain such a physique. You know, like giving up bread or exercising multiple hours a week. Hours without bread. I mean, that’s just the worst ever. So a little bit of softness is acceptable.

But then the cons are pretty obvious — you can’t eat fast food at midnight and not suffer really terrible consequences the next day (and the next day and the next day and the next day). You can actually somehow gain five pounds in a week just like dark magic. You can run for three miles a day a few times a week and your ankles will get a little thinner. And you tell yourself it’s okay that you have a soft middle because society accepts it. You even write it in your blog like maybe it’s actually the truth.

Your body will start to degenerate in an alarmingly quick fashion, and you’ll be like, “Holy crap when did I become my parents?” Your knees will just never be the same, you guys. And also, it’s amazing the number of pills you can ingest over the course of a day. You look at your grandparents’ prescription stash with shock and awe, but let me tell you, that’s just around the corner for you. I have a flipping pharmacy in my house. And sometimes I actually find pins on Pinterest about great ways to store medications in the bathroom closet, and I RE-PIN THEM. Whatever, it’s cool.

But this getting older business: it appears that almost everyone does it. The (un)funny part about it is that no one makes it out alive (#tastelessjoke), either.

The Night I Needed “Galaxy Quest”

Guys, depression is so, so stupid. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Why human people were built to be able to feel this sad for extended periods of time is kind of a joke, you feel physically unwell (chronic headaches that aren’t affected at all by pain reliever? Cool), and chances are you gain weight.

Which kind of bums you out more.

Although I will say my sleep aid is finally working, and I sleep like a boss these days — and during the nighttime, even, which is cool since there’s really no good TV at 3:30 am. So I mean, little glimmers of hope here and there. And when I’m feeling social and am around people doing stuff I like, I feel reasonably happy — makeup, singing, makeup, singing, it’s all just good stuff.

Days spent home alone, though? Caverns of further depression. The sleep aid worked a little better than anticipated last night, so when I woke up at 12:00 noon (precisely the time church ends), I was looking at an entire day at home, with Husband, Princess Fluffybutt, and our new old girl who basically sleeps all day long, interspersed with sneezing. Don’t get me wrong — I super love my family and spending time with them, but I usually need some sort of social interaction outside of the home to get me really going.

Post-gaming, Husband declared he wanted to watch “Galaxy Quest” during dinner (which I made out of real actual food that wasn’t pre-packaged or frozen — LIKE A REAL PERSON!), and that didn’t sound too bad because, after all, Alan Rickman. And, incidentally, it was kind of what I needed.

Image courtesy of tortagialla.com

Image courtesy of tortagialla.com

It’s not like I didn’t know the catchphrase of the movie, I just hadn’t been thinking about it a lot these days because mostly that would be weird. But when it came up the first time of the movie, it kind of struck a chord with me (I know, total nerd moment, bear with me). There are few things easier than surrendering to clinical depression — I think I can probably speak on behalf of most depression sufferers when I say that (although if I’m really wrong, please let me know). The bed seems softer and more welcoming, preparing food seems cumbersome, doing anything else seems nearly impossible. And it takes a lot to convince yourself to, like, function like a grown-up person.

This idea, giving up and never surrendering, while a little colloquial and corny simply because of its origin, is also meaningful and important. And I was briefly reminded, during this seriously fabulous movie (don’t even try to tell me you don’t love it because I’ll know you’re lying), that despite my desire to cancel life and stay in bed with my snuggly kitties till I became a candidate for TLC’s “My 600-lb Life,” I need to push on. It’ll be hard, and most of the time it might even suck, but in the end you might save an entire alien specie, make it on time to your Comic-Con event, and get a standing ovation.

And who doesn’t love a little standing ovation once in awhile?

I’m Back

I’ve been depressed lately — the clinical type — and that’s a low point that’s not funny. Plus I’ve  been busy makeuping and, um, sleeping because that’s what we depressed people do.

But things were starting to turn a corner, and I woke up this morning really feeling like today was going to be super rad. I only had two things on my schedule: a haircut, which was sorely needed and rehearsal 10 1/2 hours later, which meant hanging out with really funny, awesome people and singing songs.

I love singing songs.

That left oodles of time for me to drive around the area and buy stuff with Husband’s money, and that naturally got me pretty excited. I was going to be productive. I was going to buy things and do stuff that had been on my to-do list for ages but had been neglected because depression/sleep. And then I was going to come home and make yet another real, actual dinner with real, actual food for Husband and me, and we were going to play video games in our sweats, and then I was going to head off to rehearsal and he was going to snuggle with the cat, and going to bed, I’d think pleasantly upon the day, with a half smile on my face, like they do in the movies. I might have even chuckled to myself WHO EVEN KNOWS. There was a lot of promise.

I feel like the best way for me to illustrate how today went is through a series of selfies you’re welcome.

I got a great haircut this morning. This isn’t abnormal because my stylist is kind of a goddess, but in growing my hairs out, I’ve slowed down on the regularity of said haircuts and only visit her once every two months or so. I was growing out my bangs. But then I got cast in a show where I’m a child character, and we all agreed bangs would really make it better. So the bangs, they came back. And guys, they’re, like, super cute.

If you live in Utah, go to Shep Studio and visit my girl Siara.

If you live in Utah, go to Shep Studio and visit my girl Siara.

I wanted shorter bangs because I make my eyebrows look rad these days and didn’t want bangs to cover them up. Also, it’s inevitable that I’m going to get little kid bangs above my eyebrows for the show (I get into character, people) and didn’t want to shock people too much on April 1st when suddenly I looked ten. I felt great about this haircut. This was the kind of haircut you get and then plan out a full day of being in the public eye so everyone can enjoy it with you.

I might have a small problem with narcissism.

And then it was off to all the fun stores to buy all the fun props for my birthday party photobooth. Not to give it all away because at least one person who’ll be coming will probably read this blog post (incidentally, more strangers read my blog than friends/family — is that cool? Is it sad? Hmm), but WANDS AND A BOA. ALSO A COWBOY HAT AND PINWHEELS. I should have know, however, that the day was going to turn when I was going down the aisles and found artificial butter flavoring.

Artificial. Butter. Flavoring.

I don't ... think that's a good idea.

I don’t … think that’s a good idea.

Look, I get it. There are women in the world who desire pristine white frosted wedding cakes that are pure as the driven snow and are willing to DROP THEIR MORALS and let their bakers use clear, artificial butter flavoring for their buttercream. These women are grossly wrong. Grossly, grossly wrong. They should be smacked.

But I was buying photobooth backdrops and a birthday tiara for myself, and that felt like a little tiny blip. Insignificant — we’ve got nothing to worry about here, everyone, the day is going to be great despite making a rather upsetting discovery.

And since we’re talking birthdays, we might as well announce right now that mine is coming up in a mere five days (four if you are willing to agree with me that my being born on the 23rd in Korea = my actual birthday being the 22nd in America … Husband remains unconvinced, but he’s probably just jealous). And with that comes a lot of free food. No seriously — all the restaurants want to give you free food for your birthday whenever you want, and it’s fantastic. I pulled into the parking lot of my local Noodles & Company, pulled out the ole phone to bring up the coupon FOR A FREE NOODLE BOWL, NO BIGGIE, and was met instead with a bunch of messages from Gmail essentially saying “You literally have no emails from anyone with noodles in the name or about noodles or your birthday or free noodle bowls, give up on life now.” And trust me, I looked really, really hard. I searched all the terms. No dice.

I JUST WANTED SOME FREE NOODLES IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK.

I JUST WANTED SOME FREE NOODLES. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK.

Yes, it was too much to ask, in fact, so I drove away, quite dejectedly, to go to the Walmart Pharmacy, at which I’d already had a fairly heinous experience in the past. Note to self: just because the pharmacy is close to your house doesn’t mean you should, like, use it. Go to another state if you have to, just avoid the Walmart Pharmacy like the friggin plague.

I stood in line. I stood in a line of only one other person and myself for a really long time. I posted two pictures to my business Instagram page. I texted a friend. I checked some notifications. And finally it was my turn. (Yay! It’s the little things! And I’m going to get my anti-depressant and take it and be happyyyyyyyyyy!) So the crabby man asked for my name, misspelled it once, and said, “You have to go to the drop-off desk. They have to talk to you.” Not sure why they needed to talk to me, I headed on over, where I stood in front of a woman on the telephone, looking at a computer screen, and not actually indicating that she was aware there were other human people around.

I waited for her to get off the phone.

I waited for her to talk to the pharmacist.

I waited for her to talk to the other pharm tech.

AND THEN VICTORY WAS MINE and I gave her my name, and she said, “Your medication was recalled. There was something wrong with the batch, so we’re not dispensing it. But we might get it in tomorrow? So … just call tomorrow morning?”

In case you’re wondering, anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications are literally the worst to recall. We’ll risk it. Just give us our drugs.

Figures. First no noodles, now no meds.

Figures. First no noodles, now no meds.

But, like, they’d called me twice about my prescription being ready. No one said anything about a recall or not getting meds, and IF THEY HAD, I would have probably had the prescription transferred to the Rite Aid AT WHICH I’D USED THE RESTROOM A COUPLE HOURS PRIOR.

The drive home was a somber one. I can’t even remember if I listened to the radio because all I could really think was “No noodles, no meds.” over and over again because, you know, OCD.

I parked, I opened the trunk, I discovered the half gallon of milk I’d purchased (whose safety seal was perfectly intact, so how any of this went down I have no idea) had leaked in the bag all over and into the upholstery of my car. Which is rad because milk gone bad smells awesome. I ran to get it inside. I had a little incident with a couple bags and my keys and the cat ran outside (don’t worry, she does this thing where she runs immediately and then freezes like she has no clue what to do). Milk on the entryway floor. Milk on my favorite suede boots.

Dear God, Are You There? It's Me, Mary.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Mary.

In case you’re curious, when I pulled up my email on the computer, I totally found this beauty within seconds.

Happy birthday indeed, Noodles and Company.

Happy birthday indeed, Noodles and Company.

And this is what lunch looked like instead.

The ratio of mayo to sandwich was pretty on point, though.

The ratio of mayo to sandwich was pretty on point, though.

Lessons You Learn When You Have OCD

— or — “A Lesson in Self-Discipline, Age (Almost) 30”

It seems these days all I take pictures of and blog about is makeup, makeup, makeup, and thusly I’ve neglected this blog (once again, just like Puneet Sandhu *ahem* has neglected hers). I worry sometimes that people will think I’m airheaded, that I’ve lost my intellect, that maybe I made up the whole getting a college degree thing since, you know, I never once profited from it and worked as a secretary, which had its own form of mindlessness, for seven years. But I did — really — go to college and learn critical thinking skills and critiqued literature till I was cross-eyed and blue in the face. I still know big words like pandemonium (I love that word) and extraneous AND how to use them. Well, most of the time. I CAN SPELL THEM, AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS. I have opinions on things going on in the world around me and would like to see my life shaped into something spectacular and meaningful, alongside Husband and kitty.

But I digress.

We all read that uncomfortable post I wrote awhile back about having OCD (and if we didn’t, then we can access it here). Perhaps only uncomfortable to me and my parents, but something that felt vulnerable, and if there’s one thing I really hate to feel, it’s vulnerability. But luckily I am not a famous person, and I am never met with harsh words from strangers EXCEPT on XBox Live, which, I know right? Weird. Anyhow, since then I’ve been working through my stuff. Stuff like inability to keep a clean home, inability to sleep (we’re still working on that, as was made apparent after last night’s hour and a half of sleep, which took place somewhere between about 1:00 am and 2:30 am), inability to act like a normal person sometimes. Because sometimes I feel terrible inside. Not depressed (I think we successfully got rid of that, thank you 10,000 iu of Vitamin D), but wound up, finding difficulty in breathing, not wanting to express myself and unsure if I can even if I tried.

But through all of that, we hit some high points. Most recently: the dishes. I can spout off a few reasons why the dishes plagued me, and plagued me bad, man — I don’t like getting dirty, I don’t like germs, I don’t like getting wet, etc. I would let them go for a couple meals and then suddenly the manageable plates and smattering of silverware became a mountain, and don’t even get me started when I had the irresistible urge to bake something. Dishes for days. Dishes  for weeks. Dishes for what seemed like an eternity, till I honestly considered throwing them away and purchasing new because that felt easier to deal with. Husband said it was unreasonable, coached me through it, encouraged me whenever I emptied the dishwasher and put plates in it.

And you know what? I felt like a damn baby. Because what 29-year-old needs her husband to turn dishes into some sort of game in order for her to complete them? Or push her till there’s an outburst and a vindictive, “Oh I’ll show you, Mister” reaction, till not only the dishes were clean but the countertops and probably one bathroom to boot. Also, organized papers. It was humiliating and demeaning, and although Husband never once put that on me, I felt as though it was there. And some fears rose, like, “What if he wakes up one day and realizes this is a total joke and leaves me for a woman who can function like a normal grown-up?”

He stuck with me. He stuck with me through the dirty dishes and unmade bed and unvacuumed cat fur and anxiety and here he sits behind me, playing a video game while I start a load of laundry and blog, till he finishes his mission and we play a round of cards. Do I deserve a man who puts up with all this? I’m not sure. I’m not sure I’ll ever be certain of that. He even took me out on a date after I essentially threw a temper tantrum from a combination of being hangry (def: hungry and angry, especially when the anger is induced by the hunger) and frenetic from missing a couple dosages of medication (which, by the way, I think I’ll be stuck on forever because the side effects of “weaning” off it are wretchedly wretched and not entirely worth it).

So I made a decision, a couple weeks back (and we’re not going to call these decisions resolutions because if anything, a New Year’s resolution kills my resolve) to be better. To try harder. To do the damn dishes every damn day because they’re not hard, they don’t kill me, and at the end, I feel better. I like how clean my counters are. I like that I can make anything and have clean dishes in which to do it (not that I would actually do that because duh it would create dirty dishes). And you know what? I’ve made it. I’ve done the dishes for the space of an entire week now, and, really dry hands aside (and I use gloves … I mean, what kind of weather is this that my hands get chapped and dry EVEN WHEN I WEAR GLOVES), things have been great. I’m considering adding regular laundry washings to the mix to see how that suits me.

I’m hoping it suits me great. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll scroll through my blog and find this post and think, “Oh … I vaguely remember feeling that way” because I’m not forgetting breathe and I’m regularly productive and I do regular chores on a daily basis because that’s just how my life is, and it’s fine. I want a fine life.

Why We’re Here in the First Place

Remember that very first post I ever wrote in this blog about how my body is essentially broken and regularly requires doctor visits and MRIs? (No? Oh, you should totally spend the next few hours reading all my posts from then till now.) Well, kids, I’m sorry to say the back/hip pain is back, and it is back with a vengeance.

I’ll admit that I eventually stopped going to physical therapy because I was working part-time at BYU and part-time as an accompanist and was also in “Hello, Dolly!” and even when I did have time to go, it was unlikely that I’d haul myself out of bed at 6:00 in the morning for it (especially since I was feeling so much better at that point). So I said, “I’ll be back, I promise,” and walked out the door and then kind of didn’t go back. Not because I didn’t think it wasn’t working or anything — I just stopped. And then we went through a couple periods of no having health insurance. And, you know, life.

And for awhile, I was able to cope with everything pretty well. I remember laying in bed, early on in the crisis, crying because I could not bear the idea of living in pain like that for the next 50-60 years, but I got used to it and grew weary of worrying about what was going on in my body, if the labrum was tearing yet again, if I had pinched my SI joint even further. And living the way I was for 50-60 suddenly didn’t sound all that bad. It was definitely doable. And I was hiking and biking and doing outdoor things with Husband I’d completely avoided the summer prior because I was rendered essentially immovable. And it was fun! And I loved it! And I started to think I was going to live a normal life after all.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

Okay, scratch that. My brain will never let me live a normal life. I am already planning a makeup night in mid-January because I’m an incessant pre-planner, while singing the song of my people I’m doing for the vocal competition tomorrow over and over and over again in my head and biting my lips because that’s a new OCD thing I do (???). BUT, mental instability aside, I was physically ready to conquer as much world as I was interested in.

But then things started to hurt again. And Husband noticed one side of my hips remarkably higher than the other. And sleeping became a thing only healthy people did because there’s no comfortable position I can get in to actually fall and stay asleep. And sitting? Well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t do it in a non-ergonomic desk chair 5 hours a day any longer.

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Do I feel discouraged about this? Well, yeah, naturally. It’s not like I thought I was invincible, but I was holding out this modicum of hope that things would stay as benign as they’d been so I could be reminded that I’m not infallible but also so I didn’t want to cry all the time. All this has led to me eating a lot of chips. Also candy. So, I suppose, the only thing I can do is head back to my physiatrist and get another prescription for physical therapy (which will inevitably be for something ridiculous like four weeks) and go to the office twice a week for three or four months and try to beat this thing once and for all.

And if all else fails, I’ma get a cortisone shot rammed in my back so everything goes numb. Or … however it’s supposed to go. Because we’re there, guys.